Ubud is the cultural home of Bali and a spiritual haven for tourists from all over the globe. Unlike the popular areas along the coast, Ubuds main attraction lies in its lush surroundings that ooze tranquility and peacefulness. This 3 day Ubud itinerary highlights all the most popular sites in and around Ubud.
3 Day Ubud itinerary
- Day 1 Itinerary
- Day 2 Itinerary
- Day 3 Itinerary
- How to get to Ubud?
- Where to stay in Ubud?
- Where to eat in Ubud?
- Should you visit Ubud?
Ubud is a must-do on any first timers itinerary. However, if you’re looking for a quieter, more secluded destination I’d highly recommend taking a trip north to Munduk.
Day 1 Ubud itinerary
- Tegenungan Waterfall
- Pura Tirta Empul Temple
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace
- Satria Coffee Plantation
- Goa Gajah
For your first day in Ubud, I suggest you hire a private driver to take you to the various attractions. These main sights are close to one another and you need roughly an hour to explore each of them.
Private drivers can be found all over the main streets of Ubud and cost as little as 500 000 IDR ($35) for the day. Because it’s not a set tour, you need to suggest places to visit, and the driver will recommend the best route.
Tegenungan Waterfall is easily one of the most popular waterfalls in the area. A trip to Ubud wouldn’t be complete without visiting this famous spot. For this reason, Tegenungan Waterfall was my first stop of the day as I wanted to avoid the crowds that would flock there later.
I arrived around 8 am and the waterfall was empty, and I truly loved it. The swim was extremely refreshing and the water clean. But, make sure you arrive before 9 am or else your experience of Tegenungan Waterfall will be very different.
Entrance fee for Tegenungan Waterfall: 15 000 IDR ($1) to enter and another 10 000 IDR ($1) to visit the other side to take that Insta snap!
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple stands for “Holy Spring Water Temple”. As the name suggests, it’s a place for spiritual cleansing. People wade through these pools and crowd around the water fountains to seek spiritual purification and prosperity.
There were long queues of people waiting for their chance to experience the powers of these water baths and so I didn’t partake. But seeing how this ritual was performed intrigued me and was special to watch.
Entrance fee for Pura Tirta Empul Temple: 15 000 IDR ($1)
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
The Tegalalang Rice Terrace lies to the north of Ubud and is the source of those iconic photos you see all over social media. And yes, it is as beautiful as it looks! But my experience was somehow hampered by the effects of over tourism in the area.
There is no entrance fee to access the beautiful Tegalalang Rice Terrace, but huts are scattered all over the fields where you can make a donation to the local workers. I have no issue with paying this donation and helping the community out. I was enjoying their land, their country and they should be the ones to profit off of it.
Why I didn’t enjoy Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Throughout my hour walk around Tegalalang Rice Terrace, I came across numerous donation huts and was told that I had to pay at every single one of these points. The Tegalalang Rice Terrace isn’t big which meant a “donation” is required after every 10 meters or so. I eventually ran out of cash and after being yelled at by all the locals, I was forced to turn around.
On my return to the entry/exit point, I approached the same people I’d given money to before, and they demanded that I pay them, again! This experience left a sour taste in my mouth. I’d become so fond of the local Balinese people and their behavior towards me and my friends ruined my experience of the Tegalalang Rice Terrace.
So yes, it is a tourist hotspot. It’s best to avoid a visit to Tegalalang Rice Terrace in the middle of the day. But with only 3 days in this beautiful part of Bali, I wanted to fit as many activities into my Ubud itinerary as possible. Because of this, I couldn’t visit Tegenungan Waterfall and Tegalalang Rice Terrace on separate days – which I recommend you do.
Entrance fee to Tegalalang Rice Terrace: Donations
Satria Coffee Plantation
Ubud is home to many coffee plantations specializing in the famous Kopi Luwak. This Civet cat eats berries which it then defecates, and this poop is used to make the speciality coffee. Satria Coffee Plantation wasn’t initially on my Ubud itinerary, but was recommended to us by our driver and so we decided to pay it a visit.
We began with a tour of how coffee is made and were finally led to a tasting area overlooking gorgeous trees within a lush jungle setting. 10 varieties of local Balinese teas and coffees were brought to taste and we could later purchase these. I didn’t try the Kopi Luwak as I was extremely put off from drinking something that was made from cat poop!
The truth behind Kopi Luwak
Since visiting Satria Coffee Plantation I’ve read a few horror stories about how these Civet cats are caged, force-fed and abused. After all, Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. Many coffee plantations have jumped on the bandwagon in order to profit off these animals.
As I travel, I learn. And this is just one of those experiences that have opened my eyes to animal cruelty for human pleasure. 8 years ago I rode elephants in Thailand, not knowing the truth behind these “elephant sanctuaries”. These majestic animals seemed healthy, happy and well cared for. Little did I know what actually happens behind closed doors.
Unfortunately, the same applies to the Civet cat. When these cats produce coffee beans in their natural habitat, they are not harmed and so Kopi Luwak that is “wild-sourced” is perfectly ok to drink. But due to its demand, and high value, some coffee plantations in Indonesia use unethical means in order to produce the sought-after drink.
So, enjoy this coffee plantation for the delicious teas and the beautiful scenery, but don’t pay any attention to the Kopi Luwak on sale. Would I visit Satria Coffee Plantation again knowing what I do now? Definitely not!
Entrance fee: Free tastings
Goa Gajah (The Elephant Cave)
Edging towards the end of a busy day, our last stop was Goa Gajah Temple or Elephant Cave. What makes Goa Gajah a big attraction is the impressive elephant visage carved into the rock face of the cave temple. The cave itself is tiny and filled with different stone carvings and shrines.
Goa Gajah is smaller than Pura Tirta Empul Temple which I’d visited earlier that day. If I had to pick one of the two temples to visit, it would be Tirta Empul Temple. However, they are both very different and you only need about 30 minutes to wander around Goa Gajah.
Entrance fee to Goa Gajah: 15 000 IDR ($1)
Day 2 Ubud itinerary
- Hike Mount Batur
- Sacred Monkey Forest
- Enjoy a full body massage
- Kecak Fire and Trance Dance performance
Hike Mount Batur
Just over an hour north of Ubud lies Mount Batur. If you’re feeling adventurous, then a hike to the peak of this active volcano is not to be missed! Yes, it’s strenuous and yes, it’s an early morning wake up call. But you’ll be rewarded with a stunning sunrise and beautiful views of Lake Batur and Mount Agung.
Want to know what hiking Mount Batur is actually like? Check out this post.
Cost: 350 000-500 000 IDR ($25-$35)
Looking for more hikes in Indonesia? Hiking Mount Inerie in Flores will put your body to the test! It’s a relatively unknown hike but has some of the best views I’ve come accross.
Sacred Monkey Forest
Slap bang in the center of Ubud lies Sacred Monkey Forest. This beautiful forest is home to over 600 mischievous monkeys who aren’t shy to get up close and personal or steal your belongings. With over 120 different species of trees and several temples, the experience is about more than just monkeys.
Entrance fee for Sacred Monkey Forest: 50 000 IDR ($4)
Enjoy a full body massage
There are plenty of spas scattered all around Ubud and a relaxing treatment will be well-deserved after your morning hike. You can book an hour massage from one of the many local spots and their prices are hard to beat elsewhere.
Cost: 150 000 IDR ($10)
Kecak Fire and Trance Dance performance
For an evening filled with cultural appreciation, I highly recommend the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance. It is one of the most famous Balinese dances and will have you captivated throughout the unique performance.
The Kecak Fire and Trance Dance revolves around a group of about 50 men who go into a trance-like state and rhythmically move their bodies in sync with one another. Wearing bright colored makeup and extravagant costumes, these men chant the sounds of the hypnotic and captivating “Chak-a-chak”.
Where to watch the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance in Ubud
There are various temples in Ubud where this performance can be seen, but I recommend the Pura Dalem Kecak dance. The show starts at 7:30 pm and tickets can be purchased from one of the locals selling around the main streets.
Entrance fee for Kecak Fire and Trance Dance: 80 000 IDR ($6)
Day 3 Ubud itinerary
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ridge Walk starts in the heart of Ubud and passes through rice fields and villages, before ending at Karsa Cafe where you can enjoy your morning coffee.
It’s a leisurely nature walk that takes about 2 hours to complete and covers a distance of 9 km in total. This walk is best done first thing in the morning to avoid both the heat and the crowds.
How to get to the Campuhan Ridge Walk
The starting point to the Campuhan Ridge Walk is in the center of Ubud, to the left of the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa entrance. Keep going straight down this road and you’ll pass the Pura Gunung Lebah Temple. The path then opens to magnificent views of the lush greenery in the Balinese countryside.
Yoga in Ubud
Ubud is Bali’s spiritual hub with yoga studios on every street corner. Like most travelers, Yoga was on my Ubud bucket list and I was looking for a quiet, serene yoga experience. After doing some research, I soon realized that the “hip” yoga studios in Ubud were NOT for me!
Yoga studios in Ubud
The Yoga Barn
The Yoga Barn is one of the most popular studios in Ubud offering numerous classes daily. Their large-scale studios are built to fill the masses and have gorgeous mountain views. The Yoga Barn attracts a big audience and I was put off by the popularity of it. So, I gave it a skip and went in search of something a lower key and more relaxed.
It’s hard to believe that Taksu Yoga is in the center of Ubud. It has a dense tropical jungle setting with quiet, calm surroundings and offers a change from the busier yoga houses in Ubud. The studio is small and intimate and opens onto a stream. I took one class at Taksu Yoga and was one of 2 people in the class. It was exactly what I was looking for and if I had more time in Ubud, I would have joined for more classes at Taksu Yoga.
Ubud Bodyworks with Ketut Arsana
Ubud Bodyworks was founded by spiritual teacher and yoga instructor Master Ketut Arsana. It is located in a traditional Balinese family compound which I found by chance on my walk home one afternoon.
Ubud Bodyworks was everything I’d envisioned yoga to be like in Bali. The instructor couldn’t speak English and he was so caught up in his art with copious amounts of energy filling the room. This was by far one of my best experiences in Ubud. I took the Tantra yoga class at Ubud Bodyworks and was joined by another woman who had signed up for a retreat in search of her own personal healing. This is a place to seek spiritual comfort and really disconnect from the external world.
Cost for yoga in Ubud: 130 000 IDR ($10) – price varies between yoga studios
Explore the markets of Ubud
Colorful handmade crafts, souvenirs, traditional clothing, straw bags, accessories, sarongs – you name it, the markets in Ubud will have it! I suggest you end your time in Ubud at these market to stock up on some last-minute shopping and gifts.
How to get to Ubud?
Whilst Ubud is only 35 km’s from the popular areas of Seminyak, Kuta, and the airport, the drive can take over an hour due to heavy traffic leaving these areas.
Taxi to Ubud
You won’t have a problem finding a taxi to Ubud and it should set you back around 250 000 ($25) for the trip.
Grab taxi to Ubud
Grab taxis are available in Bali and are far cheaper than the local taxis, costing only 150 000 IDR ($11) for the hour drive. You can easily find Grab drivers in the areas of Seminyak and Kuta, but you may have to use local taxi’s if you’re coming from Uluwatu and Canggu to Ubud.
Where to stay in Ubud?
When it comes to accommodation in Ubud, there is something to fit everyone’s budget.
If you’re pressed for time, I suggest you stay in central Ubud, near Monkey Forest Road. Ubud is a small village bustling with tourists and everything is within walking distance or a quick taxi ride away.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed stay in Ubud, perhaps the quiet countryside is the place for you. The neighboring villages of Penestanan and Nyuh Kuning are a popular choice for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle. Waking up with views of the stunning landscapes and rice fields are perks of staying outside Ubud. But you’d then need to hire a scooter or get a taxi into town daily.
Where did I stay In Ubud… The Peacock Inn
The Peacock Inn is a budget accommodation option in the center of Ubud and includes the luxuries of the more pricier alternatives. The large double room includes a private bathroom, aircon, breakfast on the porch with views of the swimming pool. It’s a short walking distance to the market and the staff were very helpful in booking both my Mount Batur hike and ferry to Gili Trawangan.
Cost: 520 000 IDR ($37) per room which includes breakfast
Where to eat in Ubud
Ubud certainly does not lack great cuisine. Common Indonesian food includes Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles). The food in Ubud was too die for and the best I had during my 3-week visit to Bali.
I only ate at local warungs which are small, family-owned restaurants serving affordable, mouth-watering dishes. I’d HIGHLY recommend these restaurants in Ubud if you’re looking for an amazing, budget-friendly meal.
- Fair Warung Bale
- Warung Biah Biah
- Ibu Rai Restaurant
- Warung Citta Ovest (Pizza and pasta)
Should you visit Ubud?
There are so many places to visit in Bali and deciding between all of them is a difficult choice if you have limited time. Here is my honest opinion as to whether you should visit Ubud or not.
Visit Ubud if you:
- Want to eat delicious Indonesian cuisine – seriously, the best I had during my trip to the island
- Are intrigued to see what all the hype is about
- Enjoy traveling to new places and exploring foreign towns
- Are willing to make peace with the fact that you will run into large crowds
Do not visit Ubud if you:
- Want an escape, but you don’t have the time or budget to stay at a villa in the countryside
- Are chasing those Instagram pictures you see and are expecting a quiet, serene experience chasing waterfalls and exploring untouched rice fields
Did I love Ubud? Yes! It’s a unique village and a culturally rich paradise with plenty of things to do.
When compared to Seminyak, Ubud is far more laid back and I loved the break from the crazy nightlife and busy beaches. In contrast, Uluwatu offers a more relaxed atmosphere than Ubud with fewer people roaming the streets.
Each part of Bali offers something special but if you give yourself 3 full days in Ubud, you’ll experience a unique part of the island that you won’t regret.