10 Things to Do in Ubud off the Beaten Track

Best Nature Attractions and Activities around Ubud, Bali

These unusual or hard to find things to do in Ubud will show you all the good reasons to spare some time over the course of your visit to this popular destination in Bali’s central, artistic and cultural heartland. You can spend a half day or even up to two, depending on your length of stay, to escape the traffic and the paved townscape that the modern Ubud hub now offers. Indeed, Ubud proves there’s more to Bali’s beaches, but there’s still a lot more to see in and around Ubud alone.

Discover the natural beauty, either hidden in plain sight behind the rows of art shops and galleries, or simply waiting for you to stumble upon on your adventures around Ubud’s borders. Off the beaten track things to do in Ubud include scenic walks up valleys and mountain ridges just north of Campuhan River Valley, and for extra thrills you can plot a whole day up in the mountain village of Payangan. Here’s all the best nature attractions and activities around Ubud you ought to know! Bring drinking water and, definitely, a camera.

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    This is one of the closest and most scenic places in Ubud that you could easily walk to from the paved town footpaths. Campuhan ridge offers a nature trail that is hidden between the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa and the Gunung Lebah Temple complex, following the Campuan River upstream. It is free and relatively easy, providing you with a great option for early morning jogs to simple sightseeing while staying in Ubud. Midway you’ll enjoy green savannahs, cool fresh air and probably the most gorgeous hillside vista in the region. Venture the nine-kilometre hill track if you’re game. Read More...

    • Location: Campuhan, Ubud
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    Gunung Kawi Temple

    As one of Bali’s most magnificent mountain temple complexes, Gunung Kawi stands out with its unique collection of ancient shrine reliefs carved into the face of a rock cliff. Its main archaeological site overlooks the sacred Pakerisan River, flowing with water from the holy springs of the Tirta Empul Temple, around a kilometre upstream. You can easily walk up to the rock temple courtyard, as well as cross over the river to the more contemporary Balinese Hindu temple complex. Getting down to the main site from the main road of Tampaksiring is a 300-step walk, rewarded with lush paddy and valley views, away from the hustle and bustle of town. Read More...

    • Location: Tampaksiring, Ubud
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    Spare a half day and gear up for an exhilarating inflatable raft ride down Bali’s most famous white water river, Ayung. This river is where the island’s white water rafting craze all started, being the island’s longest and largest, and welcoming all experience levels. With various starting points near the village of Kedewatan, a kilometre northwest from Ubud, you and a gang of up to six including a guide get to team up and work your way through a series of rapids, rocky bends, and calming streams, including a brief stopover to cool off under a waterfall. You’ll also catch occasional sightings of kingfishers catching river fish or plantain squirrels running through the canopies along the course. Read More...

    • Location: Ayung River, Kedewatan, Ubud
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    Yeh Pulu

    Yeh Pulu is one in the collection of fascinating archaeological sites that you can visit in the central Bali highland village of Bedulu. After a descent on foot following a lush forest trail, you will discover a rice field, freshwater springs and an impressive 25m-long array of carvings etched into a rock face, depicting mythological wayang or shadow puppet characters, Hindu gods, as well as people going about normal village life. Read More...

    • Location: Jalan Yeh Pulu, Blahbatuh, Gianyar
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    Travel northeast to the Bayad community in the village of Tegallalang, where you can join in on a nature trek through dense forests, local plantations and an 11th Century-old labyrinth carved into the base of a hill. Along the way, you can learn about and see up close the varieties of tropical plants in their organic gardens and throughout the trek. Before reaching the Goa Maya cave, you traverse small streams, waterfalls and purpose-built bamboo bridges, all accompanied by birdsong and sounds nature. The cave is believed to be a meditational site and dates back to the 11th Century, featuring stone idols dim-lit by oil lamps inside. Tours are around USD 60 per person. Read More...

    • Location: Jalan Sentanu No. 9, Bayad, Tegallalang, Ubud
    • Tel: +62 (0)361) 901-874
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    Discover ‘real’ Bali up in the rural mountain village of Payangan, some 15 minutes north from downtown Ubud. One of the best ways to do so is to get down and dirty with exhilarating rides on quadbikes, also known as ATVs or ‘all-terrain vehicles’. You can rev through forest trails and designated village routes with ease. Alternatively but equal the fun is by specially designed buggies that can seat two (so you can take turns in handling the wheels for desired level of fun). Payangan offers cool temperatures and lush hillsides that make for an ultimate stress relief. With this tour option on site, adrenaline junkies get more fun. Rides start from USD 99 per person – the more the merrier. Read More...

    • Location: (Headquarters) Jalan Wirasatya VI, 9X, Suwung Kangin, Denpasar
    • Tel: +62 (0)361 720 766
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    Bali Canyon Tubing

    For a totally unique kind of thrill, try this aqua-based adrenaline rush down a hidden stream in the hills of the Kerta Village in Payangan, north of Ubud. After prepping up with EEC standard gear and your own single-rider raft or ‘tube’, you drift down the crystal-clear Siap stream and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. A guide escorts your party in his own tube, and will provide you with instructions on what lies ahead. Surely, bends, plunges and short sections with rushing rapids are among the surprises to be had. The adventure is operated by the same guys behind the Bali Quad Discovery rides and can offer packages to get the most of your day out in the mountains. Tubing starts from USD 89 per person. Read More...

    • Location: Siap River, Payangan, North Ubud
    • Tel: +62 (0)361 720 766
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    This fun and insightful birdwatching tour is perhaps the only of its kind in Bali. Bali Bird Walks was established by ornithologist Victor Mason, and takes you on a day’s adventure through Ubud’s lush country sides and a wide option of trails. Along the way, you will get to learn about the diverse variety of tropical birds in the area, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see over a dozen species from the hundreds. These include endemic species such as the Java Kingfisher, Bar-winged Prinia, Java Sparrow, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker and many other dazzling birds. Also highlights are butterflies, exotic trees, medicinal plants and wildflowers. The walks start from USD 47 including lunch, and usually take up to four hours; held every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Murni's Warung on Jalan Campuhan. Read More...

    • Location: Penestanan Kelod, Ubud
    • Tel: +62 (0)361 975 009
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    These falls are a great stopover for nature lovers spending their time in Ubud. You can reach it within only a half-hour transfer southeast from the town centre via Sukawati, and is a great tie-in with tours to the Sukawati Art Market and the Goa Gajah ‘elephant cave temple’ in the village of Bedulu. Although you can go down to the rocky base around this 20m-high falls, it can become treacherous with flash floods during the wet season. Nevertheless, it is a magnificent sight to behold, serving as a focal centrepiece to the verdant green valley surroundings. Tickets into the site are only under a dollar. Read More...

    • Location: Kemenuh, Sukawati, Gianyar
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    Green School

    Although it’s an international school, Green School Bali in the village of Sibang, a half-hour’s transfer south from Ubud, also happens to be a magnificent showcase of sustainable architecture. The structures are shaped and built entirely out of bamboo! You can join a tour of the school to see the amazing bamboo classrooms, thatch-roofed bridge over a river, permaculture gardens, a ‘living foods’ lab, a bird sanctuary, and all sorts of sustainable projects including their hydro-powered electricity generator. Tours are held on predetermined dates, and start from IDR 160,000 (USD 12) per person, which all goes to the school’s Local Scholars Programme that supports local students. Read More...

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