Villa Shinta Dewi Ubud rests on the edge of Tegallantang, a quiet village just north of Ubud. The villa looks towards a verdant wall of mature trees edging the ravine at the bottom of the garden. Life is unhurried in this peaceful rice-farming neighbourhood of Balinese families and traditional temples. Yet within a short walk are signs of more modern times – a growing number of excellent warungs (local cafés) and even a batik studio. A few kilometres south, central Ubud beckons with museums, galleries, temples, boutiques, restaurants and spas.
Your villa manager, will have a wealth of information about places of interest and will help arrange transport and make any bookings required. Do also ask the staff about the area too. Most will live nearby and can give an interesting insight into some of the fascinating aspects of local Bali life.
In the meantime, here’s a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of Shinta Dewi Ubud.
If you want to purchase artwork of any description then you’re in the right place. Classic, contemporary and abstract paintings, fine art, folk art, framed photographs and decorative wall panels can all be found in Ubud’s numerous galleries, studios and art shops.
A strange, natural phenomenon occurs each evening just north of Ubud in the village of Petulu, a few minutes drive from the villa. Thousands of white herons arrive here to roost for the night before flying off again in the morning. The birds first began coming here after a communist massacre in 1965 but no one is sure why they continue to return. Local lore holds that these are the souls of those that were killed. Such a predictable gathering of these large and beautiful birds is a spectacle not to be missed.
The sprawling Indoor Ubud market caters mostly to souvenier hunters but makes for an interesting early evening visit. Be sure to haggle – negotiation is expected – otherwise you may end up paying triple what something is worth. For a different experience, explore the never-ending Andong Road, a few kilometres north of Ubud, where you will find wooden handicrafts and bamboo wind-chimes galore, at half the price you’d pay anywhere else.
The Sacred Monkey Forest in the centre of Ubud is home to a band of about 125 long-tailed grey Balinese macaques. They can be very mischievous, but they are interesting to observe, especially with their young. The Monkey Forest is a great place to escape the heat of the afternoon, but mind your belongings; the steady stream of tourists has made the monkeys bold enough to even reach into pockets in search of something interesting!
No visit to Ubud is complete without seeing at least one traditional dance performance. Although the performances are very tourist-oriented, this is a great opportunity to see classic Hindu legends being told through dancers in colourful, traditional costumes. Ubud Palace is a popular place providing shows nightly, as is Pura Dalem, which has twice-weekly shows and fire dances performed outside.
Ubud and the villages in the surrounding area contain dozens of examples of beautiful Hindu Temples. Most temples are free to visit or ask for a small donation. Proper attire is required, although many temples will loan or rent a sarong for your visit. Pura Penataran Asih in nearby Pejeng is a charming temple containing the largest bronze kettle drum in the world. Pura Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is Bali’s most sacred temple site. A complex of 23 temples can be explored on a day trip from Ubud.
Although not quite on a par with Seminyak, there’s a good variety of restaurants and bars in and around Ubud. Visit one of the local warungs (eateries) on the main Sayan road for a simple traditional nasi campur lunch (rice with vegetables, meat or fish). Alternatively, the five-star hotels on the Sayan Ridge all have first-class fine-dining restaurants. Closer to Ubud, Mozaic is the only restaurant in Indonesia to have received the exceptional honour of entry in the refined worldwide guide of ‘Les Grandes Tables du Monde’ (reservations essential). Another memorable eating experience is at Locavore where you will probably need to make a reservation two to three weeks in advance. Other recommendations include Bridges (French), for refined dining and great wine, Siam Sally (Thai), Casa Luna (great for cakes and desserts), Kafe Batan Waru (classic Indonesian dishes taken from old family recipes), Café Lotus, with its romantic outlook over the beautiful lotus pond of Puri Taman Sariswati, or Indus where you can enjoy delicious home cooking and another glorious valley and mountain view. Naughty Nuri’s is a rustic Ubud institution, with a daily barbecue and dangerously strong Martinis. Although there is little in the way of nightclubs in Ubud, there are many venues which have quality live bands performing a variety of music between the hours of 8 and 11pm. Laughing Buddha, Casa Luna, Bar Luna and XL Shisha Lounge are a few examples. At least one venue will have a live performance every day of the week.
Although only an hour to the north of Ubud, many people make at least a day trip to the Kintamani region, home to some of Bali’s best scenery, and to Mount Batur, an active volcano that regularly smolders and surprises visitors with minor eruptions. The largest crater lake in Bali fills part of Mount Batur’s caldera while small villages cling to the rim. The views of Kintamani from the nearby village of Penelokan are well worth making the trip.
Being in the centre of the Island, Ubud isn’t the place to base yourself if you’re after a beach holiday! But if you fancy a day trip down to the coast, Sanur (25 kms) is probably the best option although Candi Dasa (35 kms) is less crowded. To make a full day of it, drop in at the Bali Marine and Safari Park and the traditional village of Tenganan en route.