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Top Things to do in Ubud, Bali

18 June 2012

Rent a motorbike and get lost exploring!  For about $5US per day (or 50,000IDR) you can get a motorbike and helmets.  Yes, the driving seems intimidating--not only is it left-side driving, but the road rules are "looser."  However, don't let this stop you.  Just be vigilant, watch what others do, and smile.

It's a great way to get out of the city and see the more rural side of Bali.  You'll enjoy views of the rice paddies and seeing the locals go about their everyday lives.

Spa, spa, spa everyday!  Take advantage of the great prices and easy availability.  I already wrote a lot about this here.

Eat at Sari Organik.  It's a bit of a trek to get there, but that's half the fun!  You'll see gorgeous views of the rice paddies, and the food is incredible.

The View from Sari Organik
Enjoy a cecak, or fire dance, performance.  These traditional Balinese song & dance performances are held at the local temples almost every night.  Admission is 80,000IDR (~$9US.)  Pictured below is the culmination of the dance, which is a guy walking through hot coals.  My apologies for the poor quality photo!

Go to the Ubud market for shopping.  Make sure you don't miss the local fruit.  The mangosteen is especially great to try.  It's being hailed as a super fruit that has many health benefits including the reduction in free radicals; however, all that aside, it's super tasty!

Go to the Monkey Forest for up-close encounters with our distant relatives.  However, beware that they might be found sitting on your car, bicycle, or motorbike when you return to the parking lot!

Check out some of the {many} temples in Bali.  Yes, they are a bit of a tourist trap, but they also carry a lot of history and beautiful grounds & statues.  Expect to pay a small admission fee at each, as well as hear sales pitches from the guides-for-hire.

The little offerings to the Gods, found all over Bali, in front of every business & residence.
Men are required to wear this sarong style garb at the temples.  They provide it on-site for a small donation.
This is at Goa Gajah {Elephant Cave} temple. 

Tanah Lot temple

Admire the cute kiddos.  They love posing for photos!

While I enjoyed the food, the spa, and the relaxing environment of Bali, I was slightly disappointed with the spiritual aspect of the place.  Many people {whose opinions I respect} rave about Bali and what a wonderful, uplifting, spiritual place it is.  Without realizing it, I developed some pretty high expectations.  The Balinese people were friendly, and they practiced many of the dogmatic aspects of their religion fastidiously.  Every house & business has a little shrine, and they put flowers & incense in it daily.  However, I didn't get nearly the spiritual vibrations that I felt in India...and I was disappointed to visit many temples and not find a single person praying or meditating.  So, to me, it seemed like the foreigners were really the ones in Bali for yoga & meditation.  Perhaps it was simply my lack of attunement, but I was disappointed that the spiritual side of the location didn't live up to my expectations.

I also felt like almost every local wanted something from us.  There are literally hundreds of men that line the sidewalks of the main roads and ask the foreigners "Taxi?  You want taxi?  Maybe tomorrow?"  Sometimes they start their pitch by saying "Hello" or "Good morning."  It got really annoying after awhile and made me feel slightly hardened against interacting with the locals.  Most of the spas do the same sort of thing, although not to the same degree.  Every shop you walk past, the shopkeeper will say "Yes. Please. Have a look."  If you do try to peruse their shop, they will be hovering over you the whole time, showing you items and trying to make sure you buy something.

I did truly enjoy Bali and I'm really glad that we went.  I loved all the activities I listed above, and found it nice to have leisurely days on the island.  For me {and I can speak for my husband, as well}, it's a destination that I probably won't return to.  I think once was enough...and I'm probably one of the few people that would jump at the chance to return to India instead of Bali.

Next stop: Hanoi, Vietnam


  1. I don't know much about Bali and I'm sorry it didn't live up to your spiritual expectations. It looks so different than anything I've ever seen before.

  2. Those all seemed like fun adventures! And I don't blame you for feeling the way you did when you left. To be honest, it's one of the reasons why the husband and I don't have the desire to go. It's true that all tourist destinations will have people trying to sell something constantly, but I think some places really kick it up a notch. ;-)

  3. It's too bad to hear that you had a bad experience with the locals. Other than that, it has always seemed like such an incredible place to visit!

  4. i really have no desire to visit bali. im glad you didnt say it was the the spot that everyone haaaaaaaaaaad to see in their lifetime. now i dont feel bad about not wanting to see it hahah

  5. I wouldn't even know what to expect from Bali or any place really in Southeast Asia, but that's the great thing about having blogger friends that travel. It's a shame that it didn't live up to your expectations in a spiritual sense and it does sound a bit annoying to have the local shopkeepers and all try to get you to constantly buy something or other. I think I would still make a trip to Bali because it does seem to be one of those places I'd like to visit at least once, especially if I'm doing a whole Southeast Asia trip, but at least I have your perspective to keep in mind. And it does seem like a beautiful place otherwise, from what your pictures show. Hope all goes well on the rest of your trip!

  6. I love this list, but I'm disappointed to hear your experience with spiritual connection there. I can totally see how that may be the case after Eat Pray Love came out. I wonder if it's getting jaded there. So sad. I would still love to visit the temples.

  7. I would love to visit tropical Bali someday!

    A friend of mine was there for her honeymoon and she couldn't stop talking about it

  8. I'm a new follower of your blog & have enjoyed reading some of your posts. Gosh I would loveeee to visit Bali one day!!

  9. I'm looking up some sites to send to a friend who's going to Bali and I found this. I felt compelled to add my view!

    The best thing I did (Dec 2012) was hire a house in the middle of the ricefields, on my own, and make friends with locals. It changed everything. My local friends took me on a 24 hour Hindu Pilgrimage to the island of Nusa Penida which blew my mind!But note I was waaaayyyy out my comfort zone. I spent days with people who speak little English, ate weird foods, used hectic bathrooms etc...
    I also went to many ceremonies and helped prepare and take part in some. And spent time with the local shaman (balian).

    If anyone wants my bali friend's number let me know. You can find me via my business website (the Centre for Integrative Law). Wayan runs a spa and is a tour guide. I'd be happy to refer him some business - he and his wife and kids are my Bali family and I wept when I left after my month there.

    At the end of day I think one's trip depends on the intentions you set - I was very clear that I was there primarily for a spiritual experience. And my best advice: stop. Just stop. Stop reading and internetting and photographing and making itineraries. Just breathe and set your intention and step out for a walk with no destination and see what happens.

    My warmest wishes


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