05 Mar Beautiful Bali: The Best Experiences in Ubud
How To Make The Most of Bali: Best Places to go in Ubud
Ubud has much to offer travellers, holiday-makers and adventurers. Read on for where to play, dine, spa and shop in Bali’s hippy haven.
Uma Papel Swings
Feel like a big kid in a playground and take a trip to one of Bali’s now famous swing parks. Two years ago when I first came to Bali, there were no jungle swings, but now they’re everywhere… and they’re a lot of fun!
The most famous and biggest one is called Bali Swing but it costs $35 AUD to get in, and I don’t really see the point unless you want to do water rafting or some of the other activities, which cost extra anyway. Meanwhile, very close to the famous rice terrace there is Uma Pakel where the cost is $15 and you get so much included!
As it was quite a lot cheaper I thought it would be really limited, maybe 2 swings and a nest. I didn’t realise that actually there are several swings and nests, coffee tasting, viewing platforms and an entertainment team.
Plus the restaurant across the road offers local and international cuisine with a real luxury vibe and live music.
I recommend the lumpia – Indonesian spring rolls with incredible crunch and flavour. Prices seem kinda steep but order a veg dish and a side of tempe (huge, and just $2!) and you won’t spend much.
Back to Uma Pakel, Andrew and I tried out the nests to pose in to begin with (safe to say I need some practice for the perfect Insta-pic), before moving on to the individual swings.
I went first and honestly I’m such a scaredy cat so I barely made it through my first go. They practically had to push me off against my will (lol, not really, I felt perfectly safe the whole time).
Andrew was shouting at me to let go so we could get a good pic but I was adamant that I was clinging on for dear life.
The assistants both then jumped on either side of the swing and hung upside down, laughing, as I was swinging mid-air
By this point I decided, right I’m being silly, and these guys are awesome… so I let go. And I had the best time! It was amazing! Now I just need to go back for that perfectly elegant pic.
After the individual swings, Andrew and I went on some of couples swings for the cheesiest photos ever (which we both secretly loved), then did the free coffee tasting. All were delicious and we bought the hot chocolate and spice tea to take home. Our tour guide was really awesome too and acted as our personal photographer the whole time, getting into the most awkward places for the perfect angle.
Jewellery Made in Bali
If you want to take away a meaningful keepsake which reminds you of beautiful Bali, have a look around Yin jewellery and their Mule collection.
Each piece is locally made and inspired by spirituality, yoga, veganism and redemption. Much of this has those Eat, Pray, Love vibes which are so prevalent in Ubud. So many travellers and expats I’ve met, women in particular, are here finding themselves.
But with Mule especially it’s not just the symbolism of the piece you see that matters. Rather, the medium is the message, too.
Mule jewels are handmade by inmates undertaking a Silversmith rehabilitation program in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison
There are six prisoners including the remaining Bali Nine continue to make the jewellery, receiving a small income and healthy lunch sponsored by a local woman. In the workshop there are also screen-printing, painting, cooking and graphic design skills programmes, but Mule started the silversmith one.
The project helps equip inmates with skills and a trade they can use when they leave and go back into the outside world, while providing them with a creative outlet and improving their quality of life and sense of purpose in jail.
Participants in the program who have been released from prison have a relapse rate of 0%, and some have been employed as silversmiths.
I just love the messages here.
All leather used (and there’s a lot) is vegan synthetic. Sterling silver and gold plated brass makes up the metals. Crystals and stones with healing energies feature also, with plenty of options for both men and women alike.
Relax at Rembulan Spa
I tried an ear candle for the first time right here at the gorgeous Rembulan Spa! I’d always been curious and always get paranoid that I’ve got bugs in my ears when I go somewhere tropical or if they feel blocked… is it just me?!
During my ear candle treatment, the lovely therapist gently put a paper funnel in my ear and soothingly massaged all around my face while it burned down. This might just be what they do at Rembulan Spa, but it was very pleasant. I had a feeling the massage around the ear area actually helps the wax come out.
What I saw at the end was a pretty gross dark yellow substance in the remaining funnel, and there was more in my right ear than my left. It looked like loads to me but my therapist said it’s not a lot. My hearing hasn’t improved much but I do ‘feel cleaner’, and I’m really glad I got it done – I’ll definitely be doing another ear candle in a couple of years.
In my 28 years I’ve never thought I need an ear candle. Then again no-one ‘needs’ to brush their teeth!
At the spa I also had a gorgeous hour-long Balinese massage followed by a full body scrub using turmeric and rice, which was not too abrasive.
Then, while I was face down, my therapist put a cold wet solution all over my body. I asked her what it was and she said yoghurt and cucumber to moisturise the skin… by this point I was half covered and I don’t have any allergies so I let her get on with it. If you are vegan like me or if you have allergies, please ask the therapist to skip this step in advance! I’m sure some body oil would do just as good a job.
After this I had a shower and flower bath in the same room. The therapist left me to it of course so I did this in privacy. The spa has beautiful tiling and pastel green draped curtains in the bathing areas of each room, to make you feel like royalty at the end of your treatment. My bath was fully covered in pinky red petals and felt really special. There was shampoo, conditioner and body wash to hand.
A cup of delicious lemongrass, ginger and pandan leaf tea gave me a boost of energy and hydration on my way out. This was the perfect 3 hour getaway from the rain that poured down in central Ubud on a Saturday afternoon.
Check out Rembulan Spa Instagram for more info and make sure you head down for a dose of ultimate relaxation and pampering. They also have gorgeous accommodation on site for $30 a night which gets booked up quick!
Vegan Feast at Earth Cafe
Fully vegan but you’d never know, the all-organic Earth Cafe in Ubud also Seminyak is great to go to with vegan and omni friends alike. I visited with my omni boyfriend and we ordered a selection of food so flavourful and delicious, he was left wanting for nothing and I was seriously impressed as well.
My favourite dish has to be the mozzarella pizza, which costs just $5.50 but is super filling, substantial, covered in delicious roasted peppers and melt-in-the-mouth cashew cheese. We were both hungry and in need of winding down after a crazy busy day exploring Ubud.
We chose a balcony seat with a view, and with a local Bintang beer each to wash it down, the pizza was the perfect relaxed starter to share and it actually filled us up quite a bit more than expected!.
For mains we got a Middle Eastern plate for 1 to share which was plenty, but when you go make sure you order one extra pitta. We also shared a tempe reuben sandwich, which was tasty but it didn’t have that moist loaded meat, peppery and mustardy flavour I was craving. Both pictured in the Instagram shot above!
I would DEFINITELY recommend ordering a Jerusalem mix wrap though. This grilled seitan sandwich is outstanding in flavour and a menu winner, along with the mozzarella pizza.
Earth Cafe is a must-visit and they also own an adjoining cinema business, Paradiso. A $5 film ticket is redeemable against food on the menu, so it’s a fantastic date-night choice.
PLUS: Make sure you go to a performance at Ubud Palace!
Theatrical dance groups perform traditional 13th Century stories in the beautiful setting of Ubud Palace every single night of the week, for a fee of $10 (10,000 rupees).
I went on a Wednesday and watched the Legong & Barong Dance, and it was so worth it despite my tight traveller budget.
The elaborate regal costumes, theatrical makeup and unique dancing style were very impressive and gave a real insight into the island’s religious, cultural and art history.
Upon entry everyone was given a piece of A4 with the stories written on so you could follow, and I think if you didn’t have this you might not be able to make sense of the scene.
There was drama, love, seduction, fury, power struggles, mystical monsters and a generous helping of comedy – truly something for everyone!
Dances start at 7.30pm and last an hour or so but I recommend getting there at least 15 minutes early for a good seat.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace, Campuhan Ridge Walk, and Tegenungan Waterfall
The Tegallalang rice terrace is one of the most picturesque in the area, cascading down a huge hill with tall, looming palm trees framing the setting.
It is free to see but you’ll pay a bit more at one of the restaurants looking out directly onto it, which is totally worth it in my opinion.
Andy and I got caught in a storm and it was actually a lovely way to spend a couple of hours with that gorgeous view.
Campuhan Ridge Walk is easy and free, located near Monkey Forest. Find it on Google Maps or Maps.me and take a stroll all the way down the ridge of the hill.
There are cascading views of nature and little houses either side and tall lonesome palms trees along the path. Eventually you’ll get to a picturesque village where you can grab a drink or bite or even find a place to stay over.
The Tegenungan waterfall meanwhile is the most popular around and costs $2 to get in. Again I think this is well worth it.
It’s absolutely stunning and there are lots of picture opportunities all the way down to the waterfall, and there’s even a cool clifftop car bar pumping party music into the evening at the top.
We didn’t make it there as you have to go up a completely different way and we’d already made dinner plans! But I wouldn’t definitely try check it out next time…
So make sure you go to Ubud when you get to Bali, and check out all these places to experience the very best!