12 Reasons Why Ubud is Better Than the Beach

Why You Should Really Visit Ubud

Here are 12 reasons why Ubud should be your base when holidaying in Bali. This upland town is best known as the island’s artistic and cultural capital, and it's where most visitors go to when they’ve had enough of the sun, sea and sand found in the popular resort coastlines. What Ubud lacks in coastline, it makes up for with green valleys and adventures into nature, as well as vibrant historical sites and an eclectic shopping scene.
Ubud central is usually the starting point where you can find all the main highlights along the Jalan Raya Ubud main road. However, the surrounding villages and areas, such as Payangan, Kedewatan, Campuhan, Peliatan, Batuan and Tegallalang, are dotted with hidden gems: cascading paddies, sacred water temples, magnificent archaeological sites, rushing rapids home to scenic rafting excursions and villages home to master painters, woodcarvers and goldsmiths. Here are 12 reasons why Ubud is better than the beach.

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More Relaxed Atmosphere

Ubud's Nature

Cool highlands following a slow-paced village lifestyle and an overall laid-back atmosphere make Ubud a favourite destination to unwind. It’s cooler and greener compared to the southern coasts, and it’s no wonder that it attracts spa-goers, yogis and wellbeing practitioners. Nature lovers are also treated to great natural views, particularly along the Ayung and Petanu river valleys. Most of Ubud’s landscapes comprise rice fields backed by green hillsides.

Like Kuta and Legian, Ubud is popular among backpackers, thanks to its collection of cheap guesthouses and homestays. You can find a good selection of hotels that are under US$50 a night, and most of which provide you with a homey vibe as most of these are locally run by Balinese families – all which offer a closer connection to genuine village life. Some of these budget stays in Ubud also offer the soothing green views that Ubud is famous for. Read More...

Ubud also offers a good selection of luxurious stays with amazing views. You can expect elegant chalets and villas, pools, water features, amazing onsite dining venues and spas that are set against natural backdrops of lush river valleys and green forests. Some cover a whole valley side, such as the Four Seasons Resort in Sayan, the Royal Pita Maha, and the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, among others. Read More...

If you’re into arts, culture and history, you’ll find a wealth of highlights to discover in Ubud. It’s home to numerous art museums and galleries, such as the home and studio of the late Antonio Blanco, the Neka Museum that houses numerous historical masterpieces of famous Balinese painters and the owner’s own collection of rare ‘kris’ daggers, and the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) which regularly features rare performing arts, onstage at its open amphitheatre. Batubulan village, slightly outside Ubud, is famous for the Barong dance performances. The Puri Saren royal palace and even some restaurants in Ubud offer cultural dinners with vivid dances such as the Legong. Read More...

Ubud is surrounded by stunning sceneries, which come in a larger variety compared to the resort towns down by the beach. The most famous vista is probably Tegallalang with its beautifully terraced rice fields, but there are so many more lush and green valleys around Ubud to discover. There are also many extraordinary temples, such as Gunung Kawi, set under foothills or into rock faces, just waiting to be explored. Read More...

When it’s time for bargain-hunting, Ubud considerably offers many more choices than what you would find in the beach resort areas, say Kuta or Sanur, for instance. The Ubud Art Market in the town centre is usually first choice, while others such as the Sukawati and Guwang art markets offer immersive shopping experiences where numerous and different stalls display paintings, woodcarvings and locally crafted curios of all sorts. The Jalan Raya Ubud main street and its branching routes such as the Monkey Forest Road are lined with various art shops and even some high-end fashion boutiques. For authentic Balinese crafted gold and silver, head down to the craftsmen’s villages of Celuk and Mas. Read More...

With its more rural settings compared to Bali’s developed southern resort areas, Ubud has many warungs (small, local and usually roadside restaurants) and a variety of local restaurants to try out. Looking for Bali’s famous spit-roasted Babi Guling? Try the popular Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka near the community hall and across the road from the Puri Saren Royal Palace. Want to try Bali’s popular crispy duck or slow-cooked betutu chicken or duck? The mid-range Bebek Bengil and the Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurants are worth-trying. And if you’re looking for world-class dining, there are great spots such as the Wine Spectator-awarded Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique by Chef Chris Salans, who’s worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as the acclaimed Locavore Restaurant. Read More...

If surfing’s among the main attractions down at the coastline, Ubud has plenty of rice trekking and village cycling options – and it also has much to offer if you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities. Start at Ayung River, home to Bali’s white-water rafting scene, where you can enjoy an exciting day out along longest and largest river. Along the course, you can cool off under a waterfall, wade through or jump into crystal-clear freshwater pools, and catch the occasional sight of exotic birds and wildlife. Canyon tubing is also a great way to cruise, which takes place along a smaller stream in Payangan, up north. For slightly drier (but oftentimes muddy) action, rev up and conquer some highland dirt trails on an ATV quadbike or a two-seater buggy. Read More...

Due to its cool upland location and soothing nature scenes, it’s no wonder that Ubud has evolved into a spiritual healing and wellbeing destination, attracting yoga practitioners from all around the world. It has the most number of yoga and spiritual shops compared to the other popular beach resorts on the island. Furthermore, apart from standalone workshops or yoga retreats offering regular classes, almost all hotels and resorts here offer yoga or meditational classes as among its main guests’ activities. The annual Bali Spirit Festival tops it, with most of its yoga and dance events taking place in and around Ubud. Read More...

Ubud’s home to among the island’s most outstanding spas, most of which are set amongst breath-taking nature or with unique features to complement your pampering experiences. Among the many, check out the Riverside Spa at the Maya Ubud Resort, with its spa treatment pavilions on the bank of the Petanu River, or the Lembah Spa at the Viceroy Ubud, overlooking green hills. The Mango Tree Spa at Kupu Kupu Barong Villas features a set of six exclusive treatment rooms that are uniquely designed in the style of bamboo tree houses, but filled with luxurious amenities dedicated to spa treatments. The soothing highland locations and climate complements the settings and overall experience. Read More...

Ubud is as mystical and mysterious as it is beautiful. You’ll find such vibes at the famous and ancient sites such as the Gunung Kawi rock temple, and deep within the heavily forested sacred Ubud monkey forest where moss-covered and shadowy temples for the deceased are hidden from the adjacent roadside art markets, and shaded pathways where the nosey macaques commonly mingle around equally curious visitors. Read More...


Different Kind of Sunset(s) than the Beach

Sunset in Ubud

Sunsets in Ubud can also be as exceptional as down on Bali’s favourite beaches, with undulating rice paddies and mountain silhouettes in place of the rolling surf. You can find such scenery on an afternoon walk along Ubud’s famous Campuhan ridge, or simply with an afternoon tea at one of the beautiful restaurants along the Sayan ridge, the likes of the Ayung Terrace at the Four Seasons, or from a table setting at the Sayan House.

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