The Tegalalang rice terraces are a must seeif you visit Ubud. The entrance fee is a minuscule IR 10,000/person and the views are nothing short of amazing. I would, however, bring pocket change! The terraces are private property and “donation stands” are spread throughout (you are expected to pay).
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex home to over 600 free-roaming macaque monkeys (also known as Balinese long tailed monkeys). The complex is a popular destination in Ubud, attracting hundreds of tourists every day.
Go early (it opens at 10am) to avoid the crowds and make sure you read the safety recommendations before entering. The monkeys are harmless as long as you don’t do anything stupid and keep your wits about you…Tourists have been bitten and scratched in the past!
A couple of things to be mindful of:
Don’t look the monkeys in the eyes (especially the large males as it is a sign of aggression)
Never run- they will chase you
Do not panic and stay calm
Be mindful of your belongings (One particular monkey lovedfiddling with my watch. Another expressed interesting me every time I opened my satchel)
Because the forest is not enclosed, you will notice the monkeys roaming nearby streets. Many shop owners use slingshots as defense when they get too close or start to bother people. We witnessed one monkey grab for a woman’s grocery bag. She squealed, dropping it on the ground. Within seconds, dozens of monkeys were sprinting towards the free buffet, while the woman watched in horror.
The following day we did theCampuhan Ridge Walk. It is free! Before motorbikes, villagers used the ridge walk to transport their goods into central Ubud.
Along Campuhan Ridge Walk we met I Wayan Surana, a miniature painter. Miniature painting emerged from a small farming village north of Ubud (Keliki) in the 1970s. Paintings range from as small as 2 x 3 inch to as large as 10 x 15 in. Surana’s paintings run anywhere from $75-$30,000 dollars.
Ubud is Bali’s cultural center. Known for its traditional craft and dance, the town is a popular tourist spot. It was also a destination in the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love.
From Nusa Lembongan we took a ferry to Bali followed by a taxi to Bhuwana Ubud Hotel, our accommodation south of the Ubud city center. Bhuwana is a beautiful and quiet hotel located in the Pengosekan region of Ubud. Surrounded by tropical gardens and rice paddies, the hotel’s mission is to promote healthy living and a connection with nature. Bhuwana means “Earth”.
Every morning, Bhuwana offers a free sunrise tour through a neighboring rice field. We were surprised to discover ducks living in the paddies. Ducks are an effective farming technology used in many Asian countries. Not only do they eat harmful insects, but their movements aerate the soil and their feces fertilize the ground. Kites were also strategically placed throughout the fields to keep animals and birds away.
A short 15 minute drive from Bhuwana is the city center and the Ubud market. Regardless of whether or not you are a shopper, the Ubud market is a must. It is the perfect place to practice your bargaining skills and hopefully build some confidence!
That being said, the market can be overwhelming…here are some tips…
The second you make eye contact or point is the second you’ll have a vendor nipping at your heels. Be prepared! At first I felt rude walking away mid-sentence but you have to…otherwise you might as well get ready to camp out
Keep your cool and don’t let vendors take advantage of you. Explore other stands to compare prices (and practice your bargaining skills) before you decide to buy. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure and cave-Don’t do it! Hold your ground!
Vendors will say, “Cheap price for you” or “Sale price.” Take this with a grain of salt. They say this to everyone-you are not special. It is their way of reeling you in and they are very good at it. Bargaining is a game and they know it!
That being said, do be somewhat realistic. Offering 10,000 IR for a painting that is clearly worth 10x that can be offensive (my brother got yelled at a couple times for low-balling).
My rule of thumb when bargaining? Cut the price in half and increase. I’ve also found that saying “price too high” and simply walking away is your best bargaining tool. 99% of the time they will run after you with a lower price. With the hundreds of stands in the market (selling similar goods), they do not want to lose your business.
Directly across from the Ubud market is the Ubud Palace. The palace isn’t all that impressive but it’s worth a quick pit stop and it’s free!