Ubud, Bali’s cultural heart, if full of a flabbergasting array of places to eat, pray and love;) But it’s also full of tourist traps and robbers. Hopefully the list below of some of our favourite places will help you cherish the former and avoid the latter. On that, our #1 tip must be, BE VERY WARY OF CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD SKIMMING. It’s happened to us, on top of our villa’s cleaner stealing cash stashed away in a bag for the journey back home.
- Don’t ever let any waiter or other wander of with your card.
- Ask around for skim-save(er) ATMs applying common sense precaution when you withdraw money. Look for an ATM with security camera.
- You can buy a card device that protect your card from skimming. Investigate (then let us know!).
- Get an insurance, for when the shit hits the fan. We were lucky and got all of the over 500 A$ which were stolen back from our bank.
Now that the dirty linen is out of the way, let’s talk about all the good stuff. FYI, our kids were aged 0, 3 and 5 when we were in Bali.
Our favourite places to eat
Dragonfly – on the way to Sari Organic Farm this oasis of peace and tranquillity is all vegan, conscious, well thought through and simply gorgeous. There are also huts to stay, a pool and spa and yoga shala for retreats. One of the best vegan places I’ve eaten at.
Swasti Eco Village – a beautiful hippies haven tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Ubud’s centre. Delicious raw cakes and a wonderful conscious kitchen sourced right from the little farm on the grounds. Rooms and villas to stay in also available, as well as two open air yoga spaces, pool and gardens. We loved hanging here and once were even lucky enough to catch a traditional Balinese dance performance which a resident yoga retreat had organised.
Cafe Vespa – best chai (apart from my own) in the world, ok raw cakes, though totally expat but good vibes. Fusion of a bit of everything, all made with love and conscious thought. Coffee is great and coffee art at times impressive. If your budget drops to local level (like our’s did after a few days indulgence only) right around the corner is …
TJ’s Warung which serves delicious, local dishes at 1/4 of the price. A word of caution on the little veggie shop opposite, it totally screwed us over, charging 10 times the usual price and only putting half of the produce we paid for in the bags.
Moksa – this came strongly recommended by a friend. Once again, vegan fusion, sourced from own gardens. Amazing presentation, but personally we found it slightly over-prised under under-tasty, but I left feeling we should have given it another try.
Yellow Flower Cafe – Tucked away little oasis spot past Intuitive Yoga Flow Yoga. Perfect stop for ok priced, food prepared with love.
Our favourite walks
Rice paddie walk to Sari Organic – the tiny farm itself we found slightly over-marketed, but the walk is easy to access from the entrance to Ubud’s main street, beautiful and has many great value-places of all kinds on the way to stop, including my highly recommendable Vedic Astrologer, and our favourite tiny, low key Cafe right next door. In the latter, an old Balinese guy makes the most freshly pressed delicious Coocnut Oil your skin and taste buds will ever have felt and tasted. Dragonfly Village, the resort and vegan restaurant mentioned above, is also on this strip.
Campuhan Ridge Walk – quite a bit longer and less cruisy than the other one, yet also much less full-on than we expected. And we did it on a hot day with three under 5s! Once you are past the water-temple, the ridge part of the walk is breath-taking jungle like. Then about half an hour later you get back into art-vendor and Cafe zone but much more chilled out than in Ubud’s centre. Stop for a juice, fresh coconut or lunch. Easy to spend half a day.
Our favourite places to visit
Saraswati Water Temple – beautiful beyond words. Not massive, but the (for us much less impressive) royal palace of Ubud, as well as the famous arts museum Puri Lukisan are right next door to make it a full morning, or even a day if you add a few Cafes, ponders and wanders in between.
Monkey Forest – although it’s commercial and touristy, those little fellows are just the cutest. If you apply common sense, you’ll be safe of bites too.
Danau Beratan Water Temple – one-of-its kind scenery water temple an hour and a bit north of Ubud.
Tegenungan Waterfall – a hop away from Ubud and, although once again touristy, the natural beauty and display of Mother Nature’s force is simply breath-taking (the walk past choppa-block parkings and hassling tourist traps not so much).
Museo Blanco – a fascinating journey on a Spanish artist’s intriguing path into Bali’s heart.