Ubud: often referred to as the spiritual centre of Bali

Located in the centre of the island of Bali, 200 metres above sea level, is the magical town of Ubud. Known for its coconut groves, rice terraces, sacred rivers, ancient temples, and, perhaps most notably, its forest full of monkeys, Ubud is a popular spot for day-trippers and holidaymakers looking for a more relaxed, mountainous vibe. Its elevation means the weather is a little cooler than the coastal areas, with regular cloud and rain. Made up of 14 villages that can be easily walked by foot, the town’s centre features three main streets: Jalan Raya, Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Monkey Forest.

Lush, green and cosy, Ubud is often referred to as the spiritual centre of Bali. It’s not surprising, then, to learn that many Balinese and foreign artists call the area home. Perhaps the most famous artist to have taken up residency was the Filipino painter, Antonio Blanco. While visiting Ubud, the young artist was robbed and subsequently given a piece of land by a local prince as compensation. The beauty of the Ubud jungle and the half-naked village girls greatly influenced the painter’s style and he spent the rest of his life worshipping the colours of the tropics around him as well as its female inhabitants. Blanco became a local legend and is often referred to as the ‘Dali of Bali’. His house cum museum is now one of Ubud’s main attractions. Some of the other major art attractions to visit in the area include the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA), Neka Art Museum, Museum Puri Lukisan and the Gaya Art Space. There are also many smaller, boutique galleries such as Owl House which is the home and studio of Wayan Sila who exclusively paints owls. Tourists can purchase canvas art in Ubud while the nearby villages are famous for their wood carvings, beading, and basket weaving products.

Ubud’s ever-growing ‘green’ fame is another aspect that attracts people to the area. The community of local expats have created a unique net of eco-conscious establishments including organic cafes and shops, yoga studios and alternative medical practices. Many customs from the New Age movement can be found here: tantra classes, ayurvedic clinics, cranioscaral therapy, past time regression therapy, tarot readings, crystal healing, and raw cuisine. Combine this with Ubud’s historical sites such as the Royal Palace, the holy springs of Tirta Empul, the historical carvings of Goa Gajah, and the temple of Pura Kehen, and you have yourself a town that welcomes the contemporary to its bends and twists and secret gardens, by celebrating its own tradition.

See what other visitors have to say about Ubud over at Tripadvisor.

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