30 July 2018

a guide to ubud, bali

Location: Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

Hi again, welcome to part 2 of our Bali guide! 
This post will focus on what we did in Ubud. I had previously been to Ubud before, but just for a day trip (as most of the famous tourist locations are all in this area). It is about a 2 hour trip from Seminyak and is possible to do within a day - for example, Monkey forest, Rice Fields and Tegenungan waterfall but you will be exhausted! 

I wanted to try something different this time and booked a bamboo villa in the jungle of Ubud. We booked it through an amazing deal on Scoopon and it was nothing like anywhere we've stayed before! Bali has a lot of villa deals on Scoopon and Groupon but I do recommend you individually search the hotels, as sometimes the deals are the same price but just include a lot of bonuses and you can find a lot more cheaper villas/hotels on booking websites. 

Our Scoopon deal however was a fantastic deal and this is what it included:
3 nights at $299
One way pick up or drop off to airport
2 x three course meals for 2
2 x 1 hour massage for 2
One full day tour or half day tour with private car
Villa tour can be found here on Youtube

The villa itself was amazing but there were some negatives to staying in the middle of the jungle. It was nowhere near anything and about a 20-30 minute drive to Ubud centre. Cabs do not drive that far out but you can order a car from the Villa for 100,000IDR/10AUD which is a lot more pricier than what a regular cab would cost. Their little restaurant, while tasty had a limited menu and after eating mie goreng for breakfast and dinner almost three days in a row, safe to say I won't be eating another one of those for a good while. If you are scared of bugs, lizards all sorts of creepy crawlies, BEWARE. I saw the biggest flying bugs I have ever seen in my life here. The villas do come with a mosquito net over the bed, however the bathrooms are semi outdoors which would bring in bugs and lizards. Our villa had a communal pool which is shared by about 6 other villas so we never had it to ourselves, but a private pool isn't a necessity as I didn't even use the other one in our villa. Besides that, it was great great to get away from everything and stay there for 3 nights. We fell asleep to  the sound of cicadas and woke up to birds chirping and completely surrounded by nature. 

On our way over to our new villa the first stop of the morning was the famous Bali Swing! 
We were recommended to arrive early as the line gets quite long. We arrived at 9.30 and there were a few people there but not busy at all. The grounds were very well designed and safe but it is also VERY expensive. It was 35USD around $50 Australian per person which gave you unlimited rides on the swings, nests, etc and also included a meal. However, we only really went on 1 swing and about 2 nests and the food was....questionable. 
As we ventured around Ubud, we found that almost every major tourist attraction had their own swings which were about 200,000IDR/20AUD for a ride or even less! In hindsight, I would have preferred to take the swing at the rice fields, coffee plantation or waterfalls where I could've gone on swings with different views  instead of 7 swings with more or less the same view. For those who are worried about the safety and height, it does go up quite high but you are safely strapped on with a harness (not sure about the other locations but the swings are much smaller) and the swings vary in height so you can choose whichever one you feel comfortable with. I would definitely say this is a must-do in Bali though! Just explore your options!

After spending an hour at the Bali Swing we headed over to the Sacred Monkey Forest! We visited it last time but there's already been some changes in the three years since I've been there. They've renovated the entrance and there'a whole information desk/ticketing area now that is BEAUTIFUL. Previously you were allowed to buy bananas off ladies there which would lead the monkeys to climbing onto you and getting VERY close and friendly. However too many bananas made the monkeys aggressive as not all the monkeys got them and also made them very picky as they are usually fed a diet of sweet potato and corn. We arrived at around 11am and there were a few people there but it wasn't crowded or busy and the entrance fee was 50,000IDR/5AUD per person.

Our driver asked a staff member for us if we could get a photo with one of the monkeys and we tipped him around 10,000IDR/1AUD. However, a lot of the younger monkeys are so cheeky and will happily come up to you and play with your skirt and in my instance, try to take it home with them haha. I loved coming here for the second time, the grounds are beautifully kept and the monkeys are looked after by the staff.

I've previously visited this waterfall and it wasn't the best...it's quite crowded and not the cleanest, the water is also a lovely tinge of grey and the falls are too strong for you to actually go in. I have seen people standing around in the waterfall, but it is quite shallow and VERY rocky at the bottom so it is not a pleasant experience. We originally had plans to visit some of the other beautiful waterfalls such as Git Git, Sekumpul, Nung Nung, Aling-Aling but they were too far away. Tegenungan, whilst very popular, is also probably the easiest to get to. It was around 30 minutes from the monkey forest so most people visit this waterfall when they take a day trip to Ubud. 

Entrance fee is 15,000IDR/1.50AUD per person and you have to climb down a couple steep steps to reach the waterfall - would have been much easier if I wasn't in thongs! The walk up is even worse, I had to take a few breaks but I'm also not the fittest person soo... Once inside there is also a "Bali swing" which you can pay extra for and if you would like to go ontop of the waterfall it is an extra 10,000IDR/1AUD. I would recommend you go up higher as there is a bit more to see up there. There is also a little "bath" area with pure holy water that you can have a wade around in, the water was clear and much cleaner than the actual waterfall water. We spent about 30 minutes here. 

After waking up to the sound of birds and bees, we decided to take advantage of our free half day tour included in our villa package. A member of their staff accompanied us and we had a private car for our entire journey. Just a mere 5 minutes from the villa was our first stop, the coffee plantation! I initially thought this was going to be very gimicky and a tourist trap, but I actually really enjoyed our time here. We were greeted with a member of staff and she took us around the grounds and explained the whole process of the famous 'cat poo coffee', how the Luwak coffee is made collected and then how it makes its way into your coffee haha! The grounds were beautiful and overlooked a lush forest and rice fields. They also had their own 'Bali swing' here that looked very safe and had beautiful views, for only 200,000/20AUD. We were able to fly our drone and they have a few 'Titanic' photo points which makes for a super cute cheesy photo. 

We were offered to try all their teas and coffees for free and the added option of the famous Luwak coffee 'catpuccino' for an extra 50,000IDR/5AUD - which of course we did and it tasted like filtered coffee just in case you were wondering. It did prove to be a tourist trap though, it trapped me into buying a few packets of coffees and teas before leaving, but how could I leave empty handed without a taste of Bali coffee even though I don't drink coffee!! Overall a lovely experience and glad we did it, and you feel very awake and ready for the day after 10 cups of various coffees and teas.

A 15 minute car ride from the coffee plantation, the Tegalalang rice fields is one of the most popular locations in Ubud. There is another UNESCO rice field that is much further away, so most people opt for Tegalang, which is BEAUTIFUL anyway. I do recommend coming earlier in the morning or around sunset as it gets very hot during the day. If you're not too into trekking through the rice fields, you can take in the views at one of the restaurants that line the streets. For the rest of us, the entrance fee is 15,000IDR/1.50AUD per person, but you do need to give a donation of around 5,000IDR-15,000IDR to the families in each section of the rice fields. I think each section of the rice fields belongs to a separate family. We passed through around 5 donation points, but we did walk prettttty far. 

Once you get inside there are more cafe's and Bali swings, but the walk is not for the faint hearted! It gets VERY hot and super sweaty and climbing back up the stairs...I wanted to throw myself into the soggy rice fields. We also bumped into a few people actually farming their patch of field and they even let us have a shot! (For a small donation of course). I do recommend you walk into and amongst the rice fields as it is a completely different experience, compared to just viewing it from the top. 

Lunch break finally!
Our tour guide asked us 'Do you want some lunch with a beautiful view of Mount Batur?'
He took us to the Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant, it was a buffet style with plenty of options. Although not very tasty and a bit overpriced, the view of Mount Batur was definitely worth it! There are quite a few restaurants lining the street, so perhaps check out if there are any other food options! 

Thus concludes our 2 days in Ubud and our week in Bali. I am already itching to go again and hopefully these two posts inspired you to visit Bali too! 
Here is a link to our full itinerary.
Here is a link to our travel VLOG on Youtube
Our driver, Budha was 500,000IDR / 50AUD per day 
Super friendly, fluent in English, LOVES Aussies



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