Ubud - what to see
I remember my first time in Bali. I arrived in Canggu and loved it so much that I couldn't imagine going anywhere else. Back then locals would ask me about what I loved about Bali so much, what places I visited and I would reply – I just stay here, in Canggu. I love it. They would be pleased to know but at the same time, they would always say that I needed to go to Ubud, that I will love it too and it's beautiful. So next time I came to Bali I decided to explore. I was ready and couldn't wait. I've been a couple of times to Ubud and I'd love to share with you what I loved the most about it and what I would recommend to see or skip if you're on holidays and want to make the most of your stay in Bali (especially when beautiful Nusa Penida and Gili and Lombok are just around! ).
I'm obsessed with waterfalls. I would research every place I intend to visit and see if there's any waterfall. In Bali, there's plenty. There are so many of them that it can be challenging to pick just a few that you want to see! So here is my top 5.
Canyon Waterfalls around Goa Rang Reng – the waterfalls that I enjoyed the most in Bali and would definitely recommend, even if you had to pick just one. They are not the most spectacular but they are not crowded ( I've been to them twice and each time there were no tourists there).
Goa Rang Reng – they are just next to seeCanyoon waterfalls, they have a couple of pools where you can chill after the treck to iCanyoon waterfalls.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall – I've been there twice. Once when it was raining and the weather was not that encouraging to have waterfall experience and I loved it. It was a bit cold, but I could have a whole place to myself. The second time, it was hot and so crowdy. I think it's one of the most popular waterfalls because it's easy to reach, and very beautiful. It's great to have a picture there but not really to swim or just chill.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall - the most beautiful waterfall I've ever seen. The sunrays that reflect on the falling water make it so spectacular. It's a great Instagram spot too. That means it will be very crowded. Be prepared to wait even an hour in a line to have a picture taken. If you want a picture, it may be worth it. If you don't care about but just want to enjoy your time, maybe it's better to skip this waterfall and go to gCanyoon Waterfalls instead!
Tibumana Waterfall – a waterfall that is very easy to reach, both by car and a bike. It is beautiful but not as spectacular as Tukad Cepung which means there won't be that many people who aim to have the perfect Instagram. You'll see just regular people who want to enjoy their time, have a swim and move to another attraction.
If you want to see a typical Balinese landscape, you need to go to a rice field. Rice fields are pretty much everywhere. However, there are two that are the most popular ones and I'd recommend you to pay a visit to at least one.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace – if you're short on time, definitely choose this one. It's very close to Ubud, easy to reach and not too big. This means that is full of tourists too ;). Best time to visit is just before the sunrise. I was there at 5.30 am and there was no one. However at 6 am, people started coming in. If you want to have this place to yourself or have a nice picture, definitely make an effort and wake up earlier ;).
Jatiluwih rice terrace – it's the biggest rice field terrace in Bali, designated by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage. It's a bit further from Ubud, and much bigger which means you'll need to dedicate more time to visit it.
If you spend a night in Ubud, make sure you see a Balinese dance show. It's held in different places, restaurants. Most likely, you'll have it at your hotel too. I'd recommend you to see it in Ubud Palace though. I feel it's the best place to see if, where you'll feel the spirit of Bali most. The tickets are not expensive too and the place gets really full! Make sure you arrive early to get the best seat.
Holy Water Temple
There are a lot of temples in Ubud so if that's something you're into, just dedicate a couple of days and see them all. However, if you were to visit only one, I would say go to Holy Water Temple. It's a temple where you have springs with holy water and you can take a purifying ritual bath. It's worth taking a guide so that he can explain to you what to do and when and what is the meaning of each step, plus you have someone to take pictures of you ;).
How to get around Ubud?
I've been a couple of times in Ubud, myself or with friends. If you're on your own, I'd say it's best to hire a driver on a scooter for a day so that he can take you to all the spots you want to see or maybe recommend some to you too. If you're with a friend, it may make more sense to hire a driver with a car so that you can share the cost and spend some time together. Just be aware that getting to places in a car will take way more time so maybe plan more days in Ubud. Where do you find a driver? Simply ask around, ask people in your hostel, maybe a driver that took you home from the airport. You can negotiate the price and usually, drivers are very happy to do this kind of job.