8 best things to do in Ubud – Bali

Ubud is the most touristy place in Bali ( of course I skipped the popular beach destinations such as Kuta, Seminyak and Uluwatu ) that I enjoyed and where the crowd was there but didn’t feel disturbing. As the matter of fact Ubud and the surrounding attractions offered me a few of my most memorable Bali trip moments. Ubud itself is small but packed with plenty of restaurants and cafes, however if you are after a different sort of experience head to :

1. Greenkubu Cafe

It’s just a short drive from Ubud and it seems to be still unknown for the tourists  or I was just lucky when I went there, but it wasn’t busy at all. It’s perfect for a delicious lunch in a scenic setting, where food comes at reasonable prices and it’s served by friendly waiters, that are generous enough to give you also a passion fruit right from the hanging vines that are all over the venue. It’s easy to spend a few hours here because it’s not only the great food, drinks and desserts that may keep you staying , it’s also the typical Balinese swing that you can hop on for a modest 25K IDR, whereas at other places for the same fun they charge four times more. 

2. Tegenungan Waterfall

With so many waterfalls on this island, there’s a few nearby Ubud too and you won’t escape the huge crowds at them. If you’re in the zone it does worth talking a look at Tegenungan, but swimming there is a no,no,no, as the water is dirty and lots of rubbish all over. 

3. Tegallalang rice terraces

The magnificent rice terraces for sure offer an outstanding view from any angle you’d look at them. The most popular and visited rice terraces in Bali, usually teeming with tourists, around 4 pm on a weekday I surprisingly bumped into just few people. 

4. Mount Batur sunrise trekking

My ultimate best Bali moment and my very first night trekking that rewarded me with a gorgeous sunrise at 1717 m . It’s a must-do if you’re a nature lover with a fairly good fitness level. On the main street in Ubud there are numerous companies selling their tours and the prices start from as low as 280K and can reach double. The driver picked me up at 2 am at my accomodation in Ubud and after picking up a few more people, we were driven to have breakfast – at 2:30 am for God’s sake! – followed by an aprox 1 hour drive to the base of Mount Batur, where we met the local guide that handed us a torch and off we went up the mountain… For like 2 hours. It was steep and not always easy but we made it just in time for the sunrise. At 6 am sharp we all looked in the same direction and were lost for words when the sun popped out from behind Mount Agung and started coloring the sky in a harmonious variation of pink, orange and purple. Even the monkeys started to gather around us for the show, we thought, but in reality they were just after our food. 

5. Campuhan Ridge walk

A much easier walk than Mt Batur, which is free and starts right in the center of Ubud, the Campuhan Ridge walk is a great way of escaping for a moment the noise of the village and just enjoying the surrounding nature. It takes aprox half an hour to reach the end of it and the best time is to go early morning or late afternoon because it can get quite hot and there’s no shade at all along the whole walk.

Instead of shade, there is another of my favorite places though:

6. Karsa Spa

Following the Campuhan Ridge walk, almost at the very end of it you’ll spot Karsa Cafe and the spa with the same name. I’ve booked my treatment aprox two weeks in advance because I read it’s a very popular place and gets booked out  quickly, so I wanted to make sure I’ll not miss out on my two hours of pampering. The one hour traditional Balinese massage was followed by half an hour scrub and another half an hour flowerbath. My therapist had been a real sweetheart and did her best to make my experience a special one, even hopping up on a chair to take the perfect photo. 

7. Kajeng rice field walk

One of the reasons I fancy Ubud is that there’s a few walk routes that you can do in nature. The starting point is in the center of Ubud and the walk takes you through the village of Kajeng, which is authentic and it has a local charm to it. The whole loop takes around one hour.

8. Ubud Market

I’ve spotted a few boutiques where shopping was tempting, however if you’re after the local vibe and you’ve got the bargaining skills, it’s Ubud Market where you should head to. From clothing to handmade purses and perverted bottle openers, everything is available “at a good price” as the vendors say.

Good to know: the first “ good price” they offer is always the highest, in most cases they drop it to less than half when you’re ready to walk away without buying their product.

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Munduk and around – Bali travel tips

I’ve never heard of the little village of Munduk before my travel to Bali, but people that have been there described it as peaceful, mountainous and pretty. I thought it does worth a try, so spontaneously hopped on a shuttle bus in Ubud, direction Munduk. The ticket cost me a modest 150K IDR and the journey took three hours. The drive to Munduk is in particular scenic, passing next to rice fields, lake and the mountains. The road is almost the whole way very curvy, I’ve been warned by a fellow traveler that I may get sick, but that didn’t happen, I was just enjoying the panorama.
When the driver suddenly pulled over and claimed we’ve reached central Munduk, I was looking with disbelief though because that didn’t look like a center at all, unless the center consist just of a restaurant on the side of the road. It was just me and another traveler, the rest of the passengers continuing their way further north. We got off and looked around, nodding towards each other that it’s impossible to be right in the center of Munduk and there’s nothing around. Luckily her internet reception was working, cause mine refused loading, this way we figured we’ve got more than 1 km to walk to actually reach the village and our accomodations. With our backpacks on ( cherishing the fact that I travel light ) and a few bad words told, we started rolling ( not literally ) downhill for the next few minutes until eventually reached the actual center of Munduk. According to the locals the shuttle bus normally drops people on the top of the hill, which is still bizarre because it’d really take just some extra minutes drive to the village itself. 
However, the mountainous setting is gorgeous and very peaceful, gives you the feeling that you’ve just traveled back in time. 
In any direction you look there’s the stunning Mother Nature smiling back at you.


Not only nature is beautiful, the locals are in particular nice people. It was enough to walk once from one end of the village to the other and locals were already calling me by my name, but they have never heard of the existence of my country. Once in Munduk don’t forget to:

Indulge in delicious local food 

As small of a village that Munduk is, it still offers numerous restaurants with spectacular views. 
Warung Classic has been my absolute favorite for the amazing food and the best spot to watch sunset and Warung Dong Paloh for the super delicious breakfast and the signature Balinese black rice porridge .

Take a dip in the gorgeous waterfalls 

I could rave about the great food, but it’s not just food that I’ve been so enthusiastic about, it’s also waterfalls. Yes, the Munduk area is probably the best in Bali when it comes to ticking off the list the most spectacular waterfalls. Walkable distance from the village center, there are three of them: The middle falls, Melanting and Red Coral. Each of them require a visiting fee of 10 -20 K IDR. I made it only to Red Coral waterfall and I was more than delighted with the scene, but I’ll let the picture speak for itself.


A short drive from Munduk, followed by a little steep but enjoyable hike, nestled in the lush forest, it’s the spectacular Banyumala Falls or simply Twin Waterfalls if the Indonesian name sounds too complicated. An absolute must visit, Banyumala is gorgeous and so refreshing. The best time to go is early morning, before the crowds invade it. I got there around 8:30 amand no other soul was there, except my two travel buddies for the day, but one hour later, when we were leaving there were already people coming. The entry fee is 30K IDR and it includes a small bottle of water, which comes handy considering the hike. Regardless, carry plenty of water with you wherever you go, it’s hot and humid at any time of the day and night in Bali. 

Visit temples and lakes

Lake Bratan, with its famous Beratan Lake Temple is located near the town of Begudul, less than an hour drive from Munduk. It’s the second largest lake in Bali and rated by Huffington Post as one of the 20 most beautiful lakes in the world. Tourists from all over the world visit this place, the temple being the icon of Indonesia. It’s certainly beautiful, but since it’s so extremely touristy it doesn’t represent anymore such a strong cultural and religious meaning.

If most people visit the popular Beratan Lake Temple, the hidden gems hunters go trekking through the jungle and canoe over the lake to find the less famous version of it.
Lake Tambligan Temple is situated beside Buyan Lake and although you can drive there from one side, it’s way more interesting, challenging and satisfying to sign up for a two hours jungle trekking adventure.
The cost of the trekking with an English speaking local guide is 275K IDR and it does worth every penny. First things first, our guide, Gudi ( I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong spelling ) handed each of us a bamboo trekking stick and we started venturing into the rain forest, following carefully his passionate explanation about the trees that we were seeing.

Along the way, in the middle of the jungle we stopped at a little temple, which he educated us about, mentioning that locals trek there on a daily basis to do the traditional offerings ritual. Quite an effort of them to do that daily?!


Gudi told us also about the previous years floodings and many more interesting information that kept us interested while following the trail. Time passed quickly and we weren’t even tired when we reached the lake and have been invited on the canoe, where we didn’t even have to paddle. Crossing the lake in the canoe has been relaxing and filled with beautiful mountain views. The temple is quite unique and the whole trekking and canoeing experience just adds to it.

Get your photo taken at Handara Bali Gates

Heading to the Begudul area it’s impossible to miss the famous picturesque gates that are all over social media. It’s actually the entry to a golf course and resort and in no time became so popular, that now they even charge 30K IDR for a 10 minutes photo session in front of them and the receipt you get is called  Selfie ticket. Hahaha!  Been there, done that…

Relax in Bali Botanic Garden

It provides a great escape to enjoy the cool temperatures under a tree and get familiar with the rare tropical plants and wildlife in their natural habitat. Ideal for any age, the gardens offer a vast variety of activities and families, including accomodation or treetop adventure park. 

Wake up for the sunrise 

Munduk is great not only for sunset, but sunrise is spectacular too. The early hours of the day are being announced by the roosters ( which annoyed me most times ),  I didn’t need to set an alarm, but after I dragged myself out of the bed I was in fact grateful to the noisy creatures.  Needless to say that the hardworking locals were not even close being as sleepy as I was, it looked like they were going full power already at not even 6 am. 

I’m sure there’s much more to do in and around Munduk, but I’m afraid my only three days there allowed me to do just the above mentioned ones. It’s been one of my favorite parts of Bali though, lots of memories made, nice people met and beautiful places visited. Sadly, during the hikes I did around there I’ve seen a lot of trash left behind, which seems to be a general issue in Indonesia. On that note, I’d like to add a reminder: while traveling please, please :

Padangbai and it’s hidden gems

Most people use the little coastal town just as a transit from Bali to the Gili Islands or Lombok, without knowing that Padangbai has more than that to offer. 
I spent not just one, but two days there, indulging in finger licking delicious and ridiculously cheap local food and sunbathing on the nicest beach I encountered during my Bali trip. 
Everything is within maximum 15 minutes walking distance, but for those that prefer the two wheels, of course renting a scooter is easy to arrange.
Not a fascinating place at first, but when you reach the white sand beach, you surely have a different opinion.
Bias Tugel or White Beach or Secret Beach, as locals like to call it, is easy to reach, although it requires a light hike, hence advisable to wear sneakers. I wasn’t having the best of the time in my flip-flops, but no major difficulties occurred either.

The way is pretty straightforward, the trail is easy to follow, what’s slightly confusing is that the few signs indicating the beach is 300 m away appear all along the way and the number doesn’t change. It’s like you walk and walk but there’s still 300 m to go?! Anyways…
It’s a small, but serene beach, which happened to be quiet and most importantly clean!

Sadly, most of the beaches I’ve seen in Bali were not left without trash, so I was delighted to have found one where the sand is soft, the water blue and clear and no leftover plastic bottles and such. The few little restaurants by the beach offer not only food and drinks, but also beach beds and relaxing music for the perfect ambiance. 
Locals proudly let me know that it’s not only Bias Tugel that they’ve got, I should check out also Blue Lagoon. With such an inviting name and after such a positive surprise with the white sand beach, of course my next stop later that day was Blue Lagoon. And there dropped my enthusiasm … Basically the exact opposite of the first one, this beach is dirty and I certainly didn’t feel any desire of even stepping into the water because the plastic bottles were floating even there. It’s meant to be a good snorkeling spot, I can just hope that people will stop leaving their rubbish behind. I literally spent 10 minutes at Blue Lagoon and struggled to avoid the trash while snapping a few shots.


There’s a nice looking restaurant overlooking the water though and the walk from the town to the lagoon is enjoyable, but at this time I’d suggest going there with no high expectations.
Other than that, Padangbai is relaxed and friendly, locals are very eager to invite you to try their food at the warungs. My favorite eating place has been Padangbai Billabong, which is on the way to the lagoon. The food is fresh, well prepared and service is great.
I also noticed that fastboat tickets from Padangbai to the Gilis or Lombok are sold at half price than in Amed, although the distance is longer. 
Thumbs down: everything  seems to be moving in a slow rhytm in Padangbai, which is not such an issue in general, but nobody seems to be respecting any sort of schedule when it comes to transportation. I’m literally waiting for a shuttle bus for more than an hour and no sign of it as of yet. 

Gili Air sunsets and chilled out island life

I reached Gili Air by fastboat departing from the little coastal town of Amed. The journey took roughly 40 minutes, however the boat leaves following a not well defined schedule, ticket sellers claiming it could be 9:30 am or 10, in many cases ending up 10:30 or even 11 am. The average ticket price for one way is 300K IDR, which includes a complimentary glass of water on board. 

Gili Air is the quiet sister of Gili Trawangan, known as the party island, the favorite of young British backpackers. The third of the Gilis, Gili Meno is the smallest of the three and for strong swimmers it’s reachable in a few minutes  by swimming from Gili Air it’s that close.
As I wasn’t looking for the craziness that Gili T has to offer, nor for total isolation on Gili Meno, the most suitable for my taste sounded to be Gili Air and frankly, as soon as I stepped on land I was convinced I took the right decision by choosing it.
The locals greeted me with friendly smiles and kind nods, offering their services in a generous but not insisting manner. At the harbour horse pulled carriages were available to transport you to your accomodation, those being the only transportation method, apart from the regular scooters and bicycles that you can rent at every step for just a few dollars.
As nothing is far away by walk actually, I made my way to my accomodation by strolling the cute, unsealed roads of the island, passing next to the mosque and other important buildings, such as health clinics and warungs ( aka local restaurants ). Speaking of mosque, the Gili Islands are predominantly Muslim, while Bali is hindu, but the rest of Indonesia is also Muslim. Confusing? It was for me as well, hence I asked some locals and the only logical answer I’ve got was that considering Bali islands geographical localization and the resistance to the new religion at the time, together with the Dutch colonies that preferred hindu over Muslim , the predominant religion on the island remained Balinese hinduism, while the rest of the country adopted a strong Muslim influence.
The small island vibe is pleasant and enjoyable, such a joy watching how simple the locals live and keep the positive outlook over life, even though natural disasters brought challenging times on them on several occasions in the past in forms of tsunamis and earthquakes.
The island is still in recovery after last years distructive tsunami, which Made, the chatty warung owner describes as : “ the scariest event that  I ever witnessed.”
Between the activities specific to the region is snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding and other water sports, but a simple walk all around the island will be very rewarding too. It took me in total two hours to walk around and the best time to do it it’s at sunset, the Gili Islands being famous for magical sunset views.
Plenty of restaurants and beach bars to choose from also, Gili Lumbung in particular serves amazing food and has live music every evening, except Friday. But watch out: whether in the hammock, on the swing or next to a cocktail, chilling on Gili Air becomes addictive after a while, my stay ended up being extended with two nights and I wouldn’t mind returning there .