Ubud is a town on the Indonesian island of Bali and one of the island's most important cultural, artistic and spiritual centres.
With an array of historic sites, galleries, museums and craft shops, Ubud is the ideal place to experience Balinese culture first-hand.01 Get your culture on and visit Pura Taman Saraswati
Pura Taman Saraswati is a small village temple dedicated to Dewi Saraswati, the Indonesian goddess of wisdom and art. The inside of the temple features beautiful carvings of Dewi Saraswati and her consort, Ganesha. There are also fountains that gush from the front of the temple and fill a large limpid pond area. The pond is covered in lush lotus blossoms and it is customary to bathe or drink the waters in order to harness some of the power of the goddess.
02 Get a taste of Balinese coffee culture
Rusters is a creative compound fusing Danish and Bali design. They are passionate about coffee, food and craftsmanship. Thier aim is to serve the best coffee in Ubud and to contribute to the ever-growing coffee culture in Bali. The experience is breathtaking with sunsets over the rice paddies, surrounding mountains and forest. More than a cafe, Rusters has additional attractions like pottery and events. Be sure to check this one out!03 Go royal at the Puri Saren Palace
Puri Saren Agung is also known as the Ubud Royal Palace and is close to the Ubud Art Market so you can easily take in both places at the same time. It is located in the center of the city and dates from the 1800s when it was built during the reign of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel.
The Royal Family still lives in sections of the palace which is also used for ceremonial reasons but you can still walk around the gardens here and enjoy the Balinese ornate architecture. It is also known as the best place to come in the evenings if you want to take in a traditional Balinese dance performance.
04 Stroll to the Rudana Museum
This pretty museum overlooks some lush emerald hued rice fields and belongs to a Balinese politician called Nyoman Rudana and his wife, a fellow art lover called Ni Wayan Olasthini.
The museum spans three floors of art related memorabilia and you will find some 400 pieces which include vivid traditional paintings as well as antique pieces like a calendar that was made in the 1840s.
There are also modern pieces of art here and there is also an adjacent gallery where you can buy your own pieces of Balinese art work.
05 Test your tastebuds at the Gianyar Night Market
The Gianyar Night Market is found a little way outside the center of Ubud but it is well worth visiting if you are looking for something to do in the evening.
The night market is known for its delicious food and you will find a range of typical Balinese snacks such as satay, fried bananas, and dainty little cakes.
There is also the ubiquitous roasted suckling pig for which Bali is famous as well as other items for sale like clothes and toys.
06 Watch 12th Century traditional Balinese dancing
One of the best cultural attractions in Bali is the Legong dance which is based on a legend from East Java that dates from the 12th century.
It is the story of a maiden who was kidnapped and then imprisoned and much of the story is dedicated to telling the tale of how she is freed.
Expect amazing dance moves and hypnotic music and you can watch the dance at a range of venues in and around Ubud such as Puri Saren, Peliatan Village, and Pura Dalem Puri.
07 Add Balinese cooking to your skillset
Bali is famous for its food, so if you want to have a go at making some of your own then you need to head to the Casa Luna Cooking School in Ubud.
Not only can you take a cooking class here but you will also get to learn all about the history, culture, and religious beliefs associated with food in Bali, and can then make a variety of Balinese classics.
Each of the traditional ingredients will be explained to you and participants are given recipe cards to take home as well as class notes so that you don’t forget anything you have learned.
Dishes change on a daily basis and you will then sit down and eat the fruits of your labors with all the other class participants.
08 Duck on the menu
Another one of Ubud’s most famous restaurants is called Bebek Bengil which translates as the ‘Dirty Duck’. The restaurant backs on to pretty rice paddies and the story goes that when the restaurant was being built a group of ducks waddled through and gave the building its name.
As you would expect, duck features heavily on the men and you can get traditional dishes such as crispy duck rubbed with a Balinese blend of herbs and spices which was first pioneered here in the 1990s, or you can enjoy fusion dishes such as duck salad with melon.
09 Smell the flowers
One of the delights of Ubud is that you can find some lovely green spaces in the center of town.
The Botanic Garden was designed by Stefan Reisner, a German journalist who modeled the area on the Royal Garden’s in Berlin using local shrubs to give the gardens their own Balinese identity.
The gardens run over 14 acres and you will find different themed areas as well as some greenhouses and a children’s area.
10 Go Ape!
You can’t come to Ubud and not visit one of its signature attractions which is Monkey Forest.
This is actually a series of three temples that date from the 14th century and sit in a nature reserve which has also been turned into a conservation area.
The complex is now overrun with cute primates, as you would expect from the name, and the monkeys here are said to be spiritual animals that guard the temples.
You can buy bananas to feed the monkeys here but take care with your personal belongings as the monkeys have been known to snatch items like sunglasses from visitors.