Holy smokes…this place. The thick jungles, monkeys, beautiful mossy temples and sculptures are all here and it’s an AFFORDABLE vacation paradise. Rooms from $20 bucks a night. Yes there is lots of rain and the buzz of the jungle will keep you up at night, but it’s so worth it. Ubud is gorgeous. We stayed here for a few days, visiting temples, hiking the ridge walk, floating in pools and running from aggressive monkeys (funny story).
Where we stayed:
DD Ubud Jungle Villa
Jalan Raya Cebok, Banjar Cebok,
Kedisan, Tegallalang, Kedisan,
Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
T: +62 851-0007-4102
Places we checked out:
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3, Ubud
Ubud Market Jalan Karna
Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Bali Pulina Kopi (Coffee) Plantation
Sekumpul Waterfall (North of Ubud)
We stayed at DD Ubud Jungle Villas – private villas in the middle of the jungle. Romantic and rustic. You’ll have to be OK with a gecko chirping in your rafters and sharing your outside bathroom with a frog, but that’s a part of the magic in my book. The villa’s are about 15 min from the city center. There were two vans that will drop you off and pick you up for free each day if you want to spend your day in town and your evening at the villa (very convenient). The rooms even come with a mini fridge and coffee maker! We would shop in town and bring back food and drinks to snack on during the evenings and mornings.
I think my favorite part was listing to the rain at night and waking up to a hot jungle with breakfast and coffee on the porch.
Breakfast… for pennies! We’d stock up on goodies from Ubuds market and keep them in our fridge at night. Instant coffee with bottled water 😉 + Salak (or snake fruit) taste a bit like crunchy green apples and mangosteen (my fav) tastes like a combo of peaches, sweet strawberries and vanilla. They’re so good.
Evening swim overlooking the jungle
Such ambiance – the path leading down to our villa was beautiful and so slippery! I ate IT walking down in the rain one night. I had a giant bruise on my booty for the rest of the trip. After inspecting myself for broken bones, we had a good laugh.
We walked around town and stumbled across Pura Taman Saraswati Temple. A lotus pond surrounds the temple with a path leading down the center. There are restaurants within the temple walls that you can have lunch at while enjoying the view.
I’d highly suggest Campuhan Ridge Walk, it’s beautiful! Start it early in the morning so the sun won’t fry you alive. We started our walk around 10:00AM and wished we did it even earlier…it’s scorching! Bring LOTS of water, sunscreen and a hat. The hike is definitely worth the sweat! Some of the best views in Ubud.
^^^Our buddy Dany joined us half way through Ubud. What a trooper – she was ready for a full day of trekking through rice terraces and coffee tasting after 21 sleepless hours of traveling!
Coffee tasting at Bali Pulina. The tasting is free (or maybe we got a deal bacause we brought our driver buddy with us) but I think it’s free. You’ll have to pay for tasting the Luwak coffee if you dare (cat poo coffee). It was a fun and cheap tour that takes about 30 min. They have a fantastic view of a valley rice terrace while you sip your coffee and tea. They serve, lemon tea, ginger tea, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee (my favorite), chocolate coffee, pure cacao, vanilla coffee and Bali Pulina coffee were all tasty and free! There is a shop at the end of the tour where you can buy the tea and coffee that you like.
^^^Dany roasting coffee beans.
^^^View from the tasting deck at Bali Pulina coffee plantation.
A walk through the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. If you hire a driver, they’ll most likely drop you off by the shops on the far side. You’ll start by walking down a staircase where you’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the terrace. We hiked down and up to the other side…the further you hike in the more “donation stations” you’ll run into – giving you access to go deeper into the terrace and away from the majority of the tourists. I think we spent about $3 USD each.
Ducking into the Ubud market on a rainy morning. And when it rains here it RAINS! Bring an umbrella when you’re out and be sure to haggle, haggle, haggle if you plan on going to the market! It’s fun, frustrating, and hilarious! I think markets are one of my favorite places to checkout when we travel. Ubud’s market has everything from fruit and veggies to knock-off purses, coconut bowls, Bintang shirts, fake designer watches, leather bags and beautiful macrame wall art. I usually like to offer 1/3 of the asking price and then settle around 1/2ish. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and sometimes you won’t, but it’s all fun.
^^^Guys and their jewelry. Barong a Balinese Hindu God – guardian and protector spirit portrayed as a lion/bear like creature with long fangs. Villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals to this day.
^^^After Shopping around the market, we stopped for matcha latte’s and taro ice cream in a covered cafe on Jalan(street) Karna on the side of the market.
Sun’s out scooters out! Getting around bali can be quite difficult if you aren’t used to riding motorbikes. Almost everyone uses them for transportation here. We saw 3 kids under 10 and their dog all on one scooter! If you don’t feel comfortable riding one, you can always hire a driver, but they cost more and they’re harder to get around in traffic. Roads in Bali are narrow and crowded – especially Ubud. They even have motorcycle uber-like apps ( GO-JEK or Grab app) where you can hire a scooter driver and you can hop on the back.
Lunch at Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3, Ubud. Crispy crackling pork skin, wonderful spices and okra. Thumbs up.
^^^The Sacred Monkey Forest! What an awesome place. The monkeys are a bit scary here, so be aware and try not to make eye contact with them (I guess they find it threatening). But the experience is like no other! Make sure you don’t store any food items in your backpack. They’ll find them. Entry Cost: 20,000 IDR = $1.64 USD.
^^^Monkey on the bridge
^^^Best sign EVER!
^^^Monkey Incident #1: This monkey decided he liked the rustling of the plastic bag sticking out of Dan’s pack. He proceeded to sit on Dan’s head, rip the bag open and chew on our art that we had just bought from the market. Damn you little monkey! I clapped at him and made eye contact (my bad). He hissed, jumped off Dan and tried to attack me while I ran away screaming. Fun times.
Monkey Incident #2: I left a bag full of fruit at the ticket counter so the nice lady could protect it for us while we walked around the sanctuary. I picked it up from her when we were leaving. We walked down the street and my arm was yanked back…I thought I was being mugged. Nope, just a big ass monkey stealing my bag of fruit. He had been watching me. I fought with him and pulled back until the bag broke and the fruit went flying everywhere. He scurried to pick up what he could hold and ran back into the forest to share his bounty with his friends. Terrifying and hilarious.
^^^So many mandalas! A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism. Mandalas offer balancing elements, symbolizing unity and harmony for Hindus, it means “circle” and represents the universe. It’s also a spiritual and ritual symbol which stands for protection, good luck, and the notion that life is never ending. Lovely. We found these all over Bali, especially in Ubud.
Refreshing drinks after being robbed by a monkey
^^^from our walk around town
– Northern Bali and Sekumpul –
We hired a driver from our place in Ubud to drive us to Lovina – a beach town on the northern coast of Bali (which I wouldn’t fully recommend staying here), it’s somewhat necessary if you want to see Sekumpul. The ride from Ubud to Lovina is about 2 hours on a map – up and over a big mountain with a windy road if you have a fast driver. We had a cautious driver (thank the lord), so it took us about 3-4 hours with a food stop along the way. This road is one of the steepest roads I’ve seen and I wouldn’t recommend driving a motorcycle or even a car of your own…hire a driver who knows this road!
Lovina was once a thriving tourist town, but in the early 2000’s there was a terrorist bombing which scared off most of the tourists. Things have gone down hill ever since. It’s sad really, to see the socio-economic impact on towns when terrorism has left its mark. This town was empty, “this is the aftermath of a bomb, this is what bombs do, this is what terrorists do. This is not just one initial bomb, two initial bombs this is the domino effect, the aftermath of terrorism.” — Gloria Goodwin.
We stayed in the massive Sunari Beach Resort…it looked like what once was a royal palace by the beach with at least 200 rooms, but the place was empty and the rooms were abandoned, paint was peeling, doors missing and the garden overgrown. It was creepy and dilapidated. Some call it a ghost resort. Don’t believe the pictures on the internet. We ended up staying in a room with a missing door knob, so we pushed furniture up against the door during the night. We were the only ones at the hotel! The town had an eerie feeling. Have you ever felt a place that gives you chills?
Now I don’t want to contribute to making Lovina’s situation any worse, but I do want to be honest. I wouldn’t go back. Maybe you’ll like the ultra quiet fishing beaches and no tourists. But none us felt comfortable here. To make a longer story short, we were recommended to stay here (probably a friend of a friend helping a guy out) so we hunkered down for the evening and arranged an early morning driver to take us to Sekumpul Waterfall! And boy was it worth it! (Below)
The picture doesn’t even do it justice! It’s breathtaking! We literally had to gasp when we came up on this view. It’s about 262 feet of cascading magic! It’s crowned the most beautiful waterfall in Bali. Our driver dropped us off in a dirt parking lot. We were practically forced to hire a guide (although I’ve heard of people avoiding them and finding it on their own without any trouble). We paid around $40 for a group of 4 of us to get a guide for Sekumpul. I know…that’s crazy expensive for Bali, but our driver was giving us a glare and the group of “tour guides” sitting under an awning smoking Lucky’s seemed hard-up for some business. We didn’t want to piss-off the man in charge of watching our luggage so we agreed. A nice young guy 20 something (really into tatoo’s), walked us through a small village – a windy stone path lined with modest houses, flowers and cacao trees. We bought a fresh pod from from a farmer and shared it while we walked. The trail came to a steep cliff side. 20 minutes or so of switch backs and then we made it to the bottom of the canyon. What a spectacular place! And we had it all to ourselves. Bring your bathing suits…you can swim at the base of the falls. So fantastic! – worth the long car ride, creepy Lovina hotel and over priced guide! All worth it. I don’t think it can be topped!
^^^Fresh Cacao pod fruit! It sort of tastes like creamy, sweet citrus. This is where chocolate comes from! You can eat the pulp and leave the seeds for drying/roasting and then grinding into 100% pure cacao. Mix it with milk, sugar and cacao butter and you’ll get milk chocolate.
^^^Hiking along the Sekumpul river to get to the base of the the waterfall.
Ginseng coffee and boiled peanuts on the way to Canngu. A typical Indonesian snack.
^^^We stopped by a monkey hangout by Danau Buyan (Buleleng) crater lake. They were the cutest and so much friendlier than Ubud monkeys! And they REALLY love bananas. Now onward to Canggu for the last week of our trip.