We skipped the super touristy south Bali to get straight to the cultural heart of the island. Here you will find a hustling artistic hub, with remarkable temples nearby.
Our first drive in Bali was an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’ve been skydiving, bungee jumping, and diving with sharks, but nothing quite compares to the adrenaline hit I got from our first taxi ride. I’ll give the man some credit…he was an incredibly talented driver. The moves he was pulling were heart stopping…I had to close my eyes on various occasions. From what I can tell, there are almost no road rules in Indonesia. Combine that with an extra crazy driver and you will get the ride of your life! After the initial shock subsides, you will become fairly accustomed to the way their roads work.
Everywhere we went in Indonesia, we witnessed wild dogs, cats, chickens, and roosters roaming the streets. I tried to make friends with a few, but they couldn’t be less interested in people. I am a big animal lover, but I could have done without the roosters crowing all throughout the day and night. It’s safe to say that earplugs are a great investment…for more than just one place!
If you are in need of a driver based in Ubud, contact our favorite Indonesian, Wayan (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’s awesome!
What to eat:
I shouldn’t have to say this, but you should always try the local cuisine! It may not be your cup-of-tea, but the food is part of the culture and should be experienced at least a few times.
We adamantly tried to get a taste of Indonesian culture by trying various local dishes. Unfortunately, there were very few that we loved. I’m a big fan of most Asian cuisine, but can’t say that Indonesian food is my favorite. The dishes that we did find decent were Suckling Pig, Nasi Goreng and Mi Goreng.
Almost all the restaurants that we went to had the same stuff, an Indonesian menu and a western meals menu. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that we indulged in many western meals, but the local food just didn’t do much for me.
What to do:
Our first full day in Ubud consisted of a day tour to various places around Bali. Most places we visited charged about 15,000 rp/person (1.50 USD). Some of the temples had guides available for an extra fee. They speak good English and are usually worth the money. Some are very forthcoming with their price, while others just start leading you and expect a tip at the end. Remember, you can negotiate the price for almost everything here; so don’t be afraid to haggle. Here is our itinerary and my thoughts on each place that we went to:
1st – Elephant cave- Very nice big temple (both Hindu and Buddhist) set amongst lush greenery and trickling streams. Definitely worth a visit. Get a guide….there is a lot of interesting history here.
2nd – Rocky temple- Very cool spot. Lots of stairs…good workout ☺ One of the locals who lives there took us through the rice terraces to a hidden waterfall. Ask them about it!
3rd- Holy Springs Water Temple- Very interesting and glad we saw it. Not much else to see here but the people purifying themselves in the springs. Fairly quick stop.
4th- Coffee Plantation- Thoroughly enjoyed this stop, as it was quite interesting and educational. A tour guide takes you through the farm and shows you everything that is growing and how they actually get the coffee bean from plant to cup. Bali actually has a special type of coffee called Luwak…find out where it comes from and have a taste for yourselves! Delicious! ☺ At the end of the tour, you are given an array on sample sized teas and coffees, free of charge. You are given the option to purchase a cup of Luwak coffee as well as other products that they make from the plants on their plantation.
5th- Tegallalang Rice Terrace- BEAUTIFUL! Must see!
6th- Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (Ubud)- Monkeys everywhere, people everywhere. Some monkeys were really aggressive towards Dan. They looked all sweet and innocent until the teeth come out. This place was just okay…it’s convenient being within walking distance to town center. However, there are better ones to see outside of town.
A couple days later we did another tour:
1st- Monkey forest of Sangeh- Definitely the best Monkey Forest that we went to. Technically the admission price pays for a tour guide, but tipping them is pretty much mandatory…and I thought that our guixzcdv bge3szdrde definitely earned his tip. After entering monkey forest, we soon realized that there were really no other people around…it was lovely. The guide seconds as your personal photographer, which was nice to get pictures with both of us in it. The monkeys here seemed much more friendly and the guide had them climbing all over us. Very cool!
2nd- Floating Temple- Not that impressed. I don’t really know the history of this one as we didn’t get a guide, but I’d say skip it if you don’t have a lot of time.
3rd- Tanah Lot- cool….but VERY TOURISTY and crowded. This is a landmark that you will see paintings of everywhere. I’m glad I saw it, but feel no need to ever go back…too crowded!
The day we left Ubud for Ahmed, our driver stopped in Mas Village, which is where artists do their woodcarving. This place was very interesting and it is definitely worth a look.
For any tours or drivers needed around Ubud, look no further than my boy Wayan. He’s awesome, as I’ve already said in my various Bali posts ☺
Tour & Driver
Mobile: 081 338 664 812
Where to stay?
We stayed in a place called Sania’s Hotel Bungalows. It was located right in the heart of town with a market, as well as restaurants and bars right at the doorsteps. We actually spent quite a while here because Dan came down with a 3 day fever. I really can’t complain though…after always being on the move, it is nice to sometimes just stay in one place for a while.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Sania’s Hotel Bungalows a 7. Paying only 350,000 rp (about 35 USD) per night, it was great value for money! The hotel’s atmosphere was amazing…it felt like we were staying in a Balinese temple. Our room had air conditioning, thank god! This is pretty much a MUST…everywhere in Indonesia (but not necessarily standard). The price also included free breakfast in the morning, consisting of coffee or tea, fresh fruit, and various main options to choose from. The people working here were very accommodating and friendly. The boss man even offered Dan a shot of their local brew of Araq (which is known to occasionally cause blindness and death among Westerners). What a treat! He apprehensively took a sip and thankfully lives to tell about it ☺