It’s pretty easy to get into the Ubud vibe if you have a week or two to burn and the luxury of time to explore the town and surrounding villages. On the other hand, with just a precious two-day weekend to make the most of, you want every spot you hit to be bang on. And let’s face it, you can’t really rely on the tourist guides.
Planning a short weekend in Ubud? Here are Ubud’s best bits, handpicked by us.
Where to stay in Ubud
Starting from the top of the range, Alila Ubud is a deliciously luxe hotel if you really want to treat yourself. UMA by COMO is an elegant luxury boutique resort in Ubud that’s easy on the pocket and super family friendly. In the mid range category you have Maya Ubud, that offers all the trappings of comfort and beautifully set along the Ayung River at a very good price. However the rooms are rather dated and there’s lots of them, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Finally, if you’re after a budget-friendly Eat, Pray, Love experience check out this wood carver’s pool villa, set in the rice fields of Junjungan village. The rooms are massive and overlook the rice paddies. It just doesn’t get any better than this at that price. It’s a wee way off the main strip, but there’s a fleet of scooters parked outside the villa and a zippy five minute ride into town.
The Ubud yoga scene
A visit to either Yoga Barn or Radiantly Alive is a must. Especially if you’ve never done yoga. It’s life changing. Unlike the show pony gyms in the west, the classes in Ubud are not intimidating at all. Take it from this out-of-shape-never-been-to-yoga writer.
Intimate yoga studios set in the rice paddies are dotted around Ubud. You’ll stumble on a few if you take a walk to Sari Organix for brunch.
Ubud’s best eats
Of all the raw cafes in Ubud, Down to Earth is the best breakfast and lunch café. Especially if you’ve never tried raw cuisine and you’re not willing to compromise. The smoothies are divine and the Mediterranean dishes are so Moorish, you won’t believe you’re eating raw. Their guilt-free raw desserts are not to be missed.
Now it’s Saturday night and you want to dine somewhere snazzy. Somewhere new and stylish where the cocktails are fresh, the atmosphere is lively and the menu is unbeatable. Book a table at Uma Cucina, and you might be pleasantly surprised by a cool live jazz performance.
Sunday’s rolled around too soon as it always does. You’ve been so busy zipping about Ubud that you haven’t made much time to get intimate with the rice paddies and you want a place where you can mull over a second cup of coffee. From the end of Ubud, walk up along a narrow path through the village and rice paddies towards Sari Organix (and kill two birds with one stone).
Where to get a good coffee
Let’s put it this way; Seniman Coffee Studio is the place to be seen, Freak coffee is the hole in the wall café on Jl Guatama when you don’t want to be seen, and KAFE is a social breakfast, coffee and smoothie joint where visiting yogis and Ubud expats hang out. How do you like your coffee? Take your pick.
Ubud survival tips
We’ve saved the best for last. Nobody likes walking into a tourist trap. You might have noticed that tourist attractions were not included in this list. Trust us, this is intentional.
Ubud’s Kecak dances were a spectacle of size; lot’s of people, lots of action and very little spirit. Might give that a miss, thanks.
Find out the standard price for transport from the centre of Ubud to your hotel and don’t let the drivers overcharge you. The more times they get away with it, the higher the cost of those short rides get. I’m not a big fan of cattle trading over a few dollars, but you have to look at the big-picture impact of shady practices.
Always wear a helmet. We got pulled over by a police officer in a sea of local riders, also not wearing helmets. You can imagine what happened next…
Carry small change, hawkers and drivers will play the “no change” game. They’re all in on it. No change, no deal.