From scenic hikes around the Campuhan Ridge walk to discovering all the lovely local cafes or simply relaxing by one of the numerous infinity pools, there are lots of things to do in Ubud. Another great thing about the village is that it is conveniently located in the center of the island which makes it a perfect starting point for some of the best day trips from Ubud to Bali’s east, west, north, and south.
We visited the island twice, both times staying for a month in winter. Ubud in February is absolutely lovely and definitely never boring, and we sometimes found it challenging to get out of the village and to go exploring. Every time we did though, it was always such an awesome experience. The great thing about Bali is the fact that not only the destinations but also the road between them are usually absolutely stunning.
We did all the trips by bike but the routes are also suitable for cars if this is the vehicle you feel more comfortable about. The routes are relatively easy, without complex hairpins or much traffic.
If you are traveling by bike, we would advise full coverage to avoid sunburns. If you are a newbie on the bike, we would also recommend checking in with the weather forecast to avoid riding long distances under the tropical rain, especially when it gets dark.
For most of these destinations, a standard entrance fee between 10,000 to 25,000 IDR will apply. Also remember that Bali is an island of around 20,000 temples, which means that almost every destination on this list will have a temple. Having a sarong in the backpack might be handy unless you want to rent at the entrance to some of the recommended destinations.
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Explore waterfalls close to Ubud in Bali
Waterfalls are the signature feature of Bali, and the great news is, there are quite a few splendid waterfalls located within a 2-hour drive or less from Ubud. The absolute favorite on our list is Tukad Cepung. Despite the popularity of Bali and thousands of tourists visiting it, Tukad Cepung is still one of the hidden gems of the island.
To get to it, you will need to leave the bike on the upper parking and hike through the jungle, down the hand-made wooden stairs, through the creek, and into the cave (for this route, comfortable shoes would be a better fit than flip-flops).
That being said, we can not leave Kanto Lampo unmentioned. This is a lovely waterfall just within 20 minutes by bike from Ubud. It is very photogenic, too. The cascade of Kanto Lampo looks unapproachable in pictures but is in fact very easy to climb. If you are traveling solo, take your camera with you. For a small tip, the locals that work there will gladly help you to take a picture.
Head to Kusamba Black Sand Beach in Bali
Kusamba beaches may not be on the top of the Bali bucket list for many but we strongly recommend that you give the location a little nudge up.
For starters, a black sand beach is the essence of Bali, the volcanic island. Plus, this area gives an inside look into the local life of Bali with its salt farms. The art of harvesting Balinese salt is more than 1,000 years old. In Kusamba, harvesting is still manual unlike at the pink lakes of Kinburn.
The families that live in the area start every morning by flattening the sand beach and sprinkling it with the water from the sea. They carry the water in the leather baskets. Balinese sun quickly turns the water into salt and the locals then harvest the sand with salt crystals and rinse it several times.
They leave the brine in pallets, allowing the water to evaporate and the bigger salt flakes to rise to the surface. One family can produce up to 10 kilos of salt per day.
To find the salt farms, head towards Kusamba, the GPS coordinates are -8.570507, 115.447266.
Take a morning walk at Tegallalang rice fields near Ubud
There are two iconic rice terrace fields in Bali, and one of them is the Tegallalang rice terrace walk near Ubud. The drive should take around 20 minutes.
It is best to head to the terraces early in the morning. By doing so, you will be able to park easily, avoid the crowds as well as the exhausting heat. Tegallalang is an active hike with a trail going uphill and then downhill, plus it is exposed to the sun so the earlier you go, the easier it will be.
By the time you are done with the hike, some of the local cafes will start opening, and you will be able to also enjoy a refreshment with a view.
Try seafood in Jimbaran
Jimbaran bay is famous for its seafood dinners. The seafood cafes are located on the beach and you can walk through the stalls choosing freshly caught fish, clams, and other delicacies. The restaurant owners will then cook it all for you right there, at reasonable prices.
If you are a beginner on a bike, beware of the traffic in this part of the island. It may get pretty intense.
While in the area, you might also want to try exploring some of the most popular beaches of Bukit, including Melasti and Dreamland.
Enjoy tea tasting on plantations near Ubud
The more suitable subheading for this section would’ve probably been coffee tasting and sampling Luwak coffee in particular. However, we feel conflicted about advertising Luwak plantations. They are an inevitable part of any tea tasting so you won’t miss out on the experience. But we did feel very uncomfortable observing these animals in cages.
The tea is great, though. You’ll be able to try all the different tastes, from classic green to more exotic mangosteen or ginger teas. Plus, many tea plantations around Ubud are nestled on the hills with lovely terraces facing the jungles. Many of these also have awesome swings so you can check simultaneously two Bali bucket list boxes.
Head to Tirta Empul fountains and discover their meanings
Pura Tirta Empul is a Hindu temple famous for the sacred and healing power of its springs. The water gushes into the clean pools through the fountains, and bathing in them is a way to cleanse the soul. The purification ceremony at Tirta Empul has a routine to it, with sacred meaning and function attached to each fountain.
The ritual is known as Jaba Tengah, and you start in the bigger pool. Cup the water onto your face 3 times, then over your head 3 times, then you will need to dive under the water. Continue with the ritual along the rest of the fountains in the first pool. The final two are reserved for the dead.
Once you pass the fountains in the bigger pool, move to the smaller ones. The water is sacred, and for the sake of the ritual, you are not to dry yourself with the towel once you’ve completed the routine.
Each of the Tirta Empul’s fountains has a meaning. For instance, the first one protects the ones who travel and are away from home. The second one is meant to cure the skin. The third one soothes psychiatric disorders, and the list goes on.
Check out the Temple of Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave is hiding in the lush jungle, in a park that is an adventure well within itself. Like with many other destinations on the island, it is best to come here early in the morning to avoid the crowds and to enjoy the serenity and the sounds of nature.
Also, the entrance to Goa Gaja tends to get very popular around noon and if you’d like to take a picture without needing to stay in line, morning is the best time to catch a good shot.
The entrance to Goa Gajah is truly a masterpiece. Carved in the rock, it depicts mythical scenes and tells a ritual story. Hiding inside are the 15 niches built here for meditation. The cave’s been here for centuries.
In addition to Goa Gajah, you will find two temples and the ruins of the ancient baths with statues symbolizing the 7 sacred rivers of India. As you keep exploring the territory, you will also come across ponds with lilies, a small waterfall, and a walk by the river.
Discover Charlie’s Chocolate Factory in Karangasem
This is one of our most favorite day trips from Ubud. The chocolate factory in Karangasem is a story worthy of telling. Once, a US citizen named Charlie discovered the unique cocoa resources of the island and cooperated with the locals to open the production of chocolate products on Bali.
The road to the small factory winds through the palm grove and the factory itself is built at the seafront. Reminding a bit of a mix of Hobbiton and a hidden pirate harbor, it has a swing, a production building, where you can observe the process of producing chocolate, a small cafe where you can drink hot cocoa with almond milk, and a shop with soaps.
If you are lucky enough, you will get to meet the owners, including Charlie. And you will most definitely get to meet the goose, a pet, and a mascot of the factory. Plus, their swing is an absolute treat!
Watch the sunrise over Mount Batur
A journey to the Kintamani valley may be extended to more than a day or cut to a short day trip from Ubud if you don’t feel like waking up at night and climbing the volcano.
The road to the Kintamani valley lies through the monkey forest where you can stop to feed the primates. There is no way in the world you’ll miss it. The monkeys will be sitting along the road.
Should you opt-in for the sunrise hike to the top of Batur, it might be a better idea to buy a guided tour. In this part of the island, the locals are strongly against self-guided hikes up, and things might get brutal.
The guided tours start around 3 am. The trip up is not very complicated and requires comfortable shoes and some warm clothes. It will be chilly on top of the mountain in the morning. The sunrise above the island is stunning and well worth the early wake.
There is also lots to do in the Kintamani valley if you choose to skip the hike. You can go for a swim in the nearby hot springs, enjoy the panoramas, discover the local farms, and venture into an ancient village and its spooky Trunyan cemetery.
Wander through Gunung Kawi
Gunung Kawi is the royal graveyard dating back to the 11th century. The tombs are carved in the mountain and the valley of the kings looks impressive and a bit spooky at the same time. To see it, you will need to descend 371 steps down into the ravine. Yes, we know what you are thinking… 371 steps down means that you will then need to climb them up, too.
Just think about a sumptuous breakfast in a small cafe facing the volcano that you can treat yourself to on the way back.
From the Gunung Kawi tombs, continue walking down towards the river. There is a calm and peaceful spot by the water, with magical jungles and mesmerizing sun rays penetrating the leaves.
Discover the local arts and crafts in the villages near Ubud
In Bali, there are entire villages dedicated to particular crafts. Such is the case with Kusamba where around 40 families harvest the sea salt. Ubud is the heart of the artistic life and you will see that when you head to the local markets and whole streets specializing in selling art objects, unique furniture, and more.
Here are some other villages that we can recommend:
- The village of Batubulan specializes in rock sculptures. It is amazing how the local craftsmen mastered the art of turning stone into statues.
- Head to Mas to discover spectacular carvings on wood. This is an ancient Balinese craft and the locals use tik wood from Java and valuable black wood from Sulawesi.
- The village of Celuk is a Klondike for everyone looking for jewelry. It has plenty of showrooms and you can bargain for the best deal, as well as order custom silver and gold jewelry.
- The craftsmen in Tampaksiring are known for carving ivory.
- You will find some of the best hand-painted fabrics in Tohpati.
Feed the koi fish at Taman Tirta Gangga
A noteworthy stop on the eastern route around Bali, Taman Tirta Gangga is a beautiful palace. It was built by the last king of the Karangasem area. The word Tirta stands for sacred water, and the word Gangga is a reminder of the Ganga river in India.
Architecture-wise, Taman Tirta Gangga represents three levels. The lower one, Bhur, is the world of demons, with its complex system of gardens, ponds, bridges, and fountains. The middle level is Bvah, which symbolizes the world of humans and hosts baths. The entrance to them costs 10,000 IDR. Finally, the upper level, Svah, is the divine world and the residence of the king.
At the entrance to the palace, it might be a good idea to buy some food for the koi fishes swimming in the pond. Plan at least two hours to explore this location.
Explore Taman Sukadasa Ujung
Located just a short ride away from Tirta Gangga is Taman Sukadasa Ujung, the second legendary water palace of Bali. It is an absolute must on the list of the best day trips from Bali and the two palaces can be easily combined into one trip.
The residence at the seafront in the secluded part of the island was build for the royal family of Karangasem and has three levels.
Architecture-wise, it is very similar to Tirta Gangga and represents the three worlds – the worlds of demons, humans, and gods. The lover level has ponds with yellow koi fishes, as well as sculptures and the lotus-shaped fountain. The middle level has baths, and the upper level hosts the royal residence and guest bungalows.
It might be a bit of a challenge to climb up to the upper level but the views of the palace and the sea are well worth it.
Discover authentic Balinese life in the village of Tenganan
Inhabited by Bali-Aga, the traditional tribe of the Balinese people, the village prides itself on being the heart of Balinese culture. First settlers to this village arrived back in the 16th century.
Walk the streets of Tenganan to learn more about the locals who managed to preserve the authentic rituals and lifestyle. Around 100 families of Bali-Aga still live in the area. This is a wealthy community that owns a lot of land and hires people from nearby villages to take care of it.
You will see that the architecture of the village differs from the rest of the villages in Bali. Four gates are the entrances to Tenganan. There are three streets, houses, and local stores. The community is especially good at producing fabrics and osier bags.
Head to the most sacred spot of Bali – Pura Lempuyang
This location is a tricky one. It takes a bit more than two hours to get here by bike. On the way up to Pura Lempuyang, you will need to manage a series of hairpin turns. We do not recommend these if you are a newbie on a bike as this might be quite a dangerous experience.
The iconic gates of the temple with the view of Mount Agung, the sacred mountain of the island, are probably the first thing that came up in your research when you were looking for things and facts about Bali.
This view may also be the one you will need to chase after. On a rainy day, the clouds will cover the mountain, hiding it completely. We knew people that traveled to Pura Lempuyang a number of times before they got their perfect shot.
Of course, getting a perfect Insta-snap is not the main reason to head to Lempuyang for a day trip from Ubud. This is truly a place of power, a magical spot with an indescribable energy. Divided into two levels, the lower gates, and the upper temple. Pura Lempuyang is the essence of any trip to Bali and surely a well-recommended trip.
Written by Inessa Rezanova
I am a Kyiv-based screenwriter with 10+ years of experience in producing scripts. I love my job, and no, I did not quit it to travel the world. I see different countries in my spare time. As a storyteller, I believe that it is the emotional journey that matters the most. This is why together with my sister I started this blog to encourage everyone to travel and to do so with a heart and mind opened to adventures.
Images by Natalie Rezanova
I am a photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am lucky to be able to do what I love the most for a living. Photography is an endless source of inspiration for me. My mission on this blog is to inspire by sharing some of the favorite captions from my journeys. I also provide professional photography tips to help the readers bring home some beautiful photo memories.