First off! You’ll need to get plenty of rest the night before. there are plenty of private villas and bungalows located in remote rice fields to accommodate the perfect nights’ sleep (leave a comment if you need a recommendation). A lot of these villas will bring out a private breakfast waiting for you on your terrace or patio which I highly recommend as this will give you an early jump start to your day. You’ll want to eat breakfast between 7 to 7:30a in the morning that way you have enough time to shower and get dressed to be out and about by 8am.
I recommend hiring a private driver versus trying to rent a motor bike or rent a vehicle to navigate through the narrow and often unmarked streets.
Have your driver take you to a local money changer first. Read my blog The Currency Conversion Game about why you want to go to a local money changer versus exchanging your money at the bank or airport.
Convert about $200 USD to IDR cash. You’ll need it for paying your driver, eating, going to the sites listed below and a little bit of shopping (p.s. you can take out more money if you’re a shopaholic as the local markets in Ubud are by far a shopping lovers dream).
First stop head to Monkey Forest. Monkey forest is exactly what it says it is – a forest filled with real monkeys that freely roam around uninhibited. You are merely a visitor in their humble abode. So if the idea of freely roaming monkeys freaks you out I recommend skipping this place and use the time to shop instead.
If you’re up for the adventure then be my guest and proceed ahead! Make sure you walk all the way around as there are cool looking temples in the back of the forest as well as a natural spring. I’d spend about 1 to 2 hours if you’re really into the monkeys if not I’d spend no more than one hour here.
When you’re done head across the street to some of the local shops where you can buy some handmade jewelry, Indonesian inspired pants, colorful artwork and paintings, and of course souvenirs. The keyword here is negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! If you haven’t learned the art of open market negotiation – now is the time to start. Don’t be bashful either as it’s culturally accepted to bargain.
Next up have your driver take you to one of the open are rice fields. This is a quick pit stop unless you plan to walk through the rice fields. Don’t be surprised if someone stops your driver when you arrive to charge you a fee to park the car and look at the rice fields. The fee is nominal and it’s actually really worth it to look at the breathtakingly beautiful stair step rice fields.
After your breath is taken away by the amazing rice fields head on over to one of the local coffee and tea plantations. When you arrive, there will be a knowledgeable guide that will walk you through a slew of locally grown teas, coffee’s, herbs, spices and more!
Indonesia is known for their coffee particularly in the region of Java, Bali, & Ubud (hint ever heard of Java coffee). The Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world which originates from this region. Most likely the plantation you tour will have a live Luwak animal onsite (the story behind how they get Luwak coffee is not my cup of tea!). At the end of the tour you will get to sample an abundance of their locally grown products. By far my favorite part of the tour!
After you finish drinking your self to pieces buy a few to-go coffee and tea items from their store to bring back home to share.
Next you’ll want to head to one of many hindu temple sites that allow tourist entry. My driver took me to Tirta Empul. It was pretty popular and well trafficked when I arrived. You will have to wear a traditional sarong before entering. If you do not have one they will let you borrow one in exchange for a small donation. This temple was pretty cool as it’s architectural structure was quite fascinating. If you’re not careful you can spend a lot of time looking around here. Keep track of time and spend no more than one hour walking around.
At this point you are probably right and ready for lunch! Ask your driver where the best bamboo roasted duck is. Trust me – you will not be disappointed! ALL the food in Ubud is by far the best food I had throughout SE Asia.
After lunch you can either take a stroll through the many art galleries nearby or head on over to a waterfall like the one below.
When you are done, depending on your energy level, you can either head to a traditional Balinese cultural dance performance or simply take a nap before heading to dinner (I recommend finding a place that grills local fish).
And that’s your day folks! Whew! If it sounds like a lot it’s because it is, but guess what?
You can now claim that you Ate. Prayed.and Loved Ubud in one day.