Moving from Seminyak to Ubud was quite a paradigm shift for us. Sights and sounds changed drastically. Bustling rows of restaurants and bars melted away to lush green rice fields. The air smelled fresher…(nope, just kidding about that one). Ubud was different from Seminyak in many ways, and it was a rather rejuvenating experience! For city kids like us, it took some getting used to, and I can’t say that we were able to embrace it entirely, but it was enjoyable in an unconventional way.
The hotel we stayed at in Ubud was Anulekha Resort & Villa. Newly opened just a couple of years back, this resort had a personal touch to it, being small-scale and located out of the town centre. We were greeted warmly with a welcome drink, cold towel and flowers for our hair! Even Sam got a flower, haha! xD It was really sweet of them to decorate our room with flower petals, and I was so excited to see that we had a canopy bed!!! It’s my dream bed, literally. Haha always wanted to have a princess bed! This probably sounds totally silly to you, but I had fun drawing the curtains to our bed every night.
We had breakfast overlooking rice paddies every morning, which was an incredibly therapeutic experience. Just sitting there, with a lovely natural breeze surrounded by peace and quiet – it was a great way to start our mornings. Unfortunately the breakfast was rather lacklustre, especially after the spread we had at IZE Seminyak. There was no buffet breakfast, but rather, a set menu of 3 choices, which was rather limited. There were options for sides on the next page, but we were informed that the sides were to replace what was originally in the set menu, rather than add-ons! And when we asked if we could order more, we were not allowed to. Rather unsatisfying breakfast I must say.
Overall, we had a pleasant stay here. But little niggles make me doubt if I should recommend this hotel. You might want to consider other places, and do suggest some alternatives to me as well! ^^
So, what’s so different about Ubud? Here are 6 Back-to-Nature things you can do in Ubud:
- Explore Ubud’s Rice Terraces
Immerse yourself in the lush greenery of Ubud by visiting the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. While you may be surrounded by rice fields for the most of Ubud, rice terraces are less common. It was an interesting experience exploring these terraces, and they make a unique backdrop for photo ops!
You pay a small fee (less than $1 if I remember correctly) to get a ticket to go in. But along the way, there are huts like these, where the farmers will require you to make a donation to pass by. We did so at the first one to gain access to the terraces higher above, but it got annoying when we saw that there were several more along the way and decided that it wasn’t worth paying more.
2. Take a leisurely trek through Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a beautiful, leisurely trek that takes 1-2hrs depending on the path you choose. It takes you through rice fields and greenery, with some shops and restaurants along the way (see next point).
3. Have a meal overlooking the rice fields
An iconic experience that you should really experience when you’re in Ubud is to dine in one of their traditional establishments overlooking the rice paddies. Sari Organik is located along the Campuhan Ridge Walk, and searching for this restaurant was an adventure in itself. Don’t be alarmed if you have absolutely no idea where you’re heading. We only saw one sign right at the beginning of the path, and after that, we simply just kept walking till we found the restaurant. The food is simple, yet wholesome and green. If you’re hoping to get a detox while on holiday, Ubud is the place to be, for its numerous options for healthy food. The walk out of the rice paddies was in pitch darkness, as there are no street lights at all. Just be prepared with a torchlight, and you’ll be absolutely fine (:
4. Go white-water rafting
This was possibly one of our favourite experiences in Bali! You can book a white-water rafting trip from anywhere in Bali, but we chose to do it on the Ubud leg of our trip, as it is located much nearer to the rapids we were going to (which means that you get picked up later – more time to sleep!). Vendors will usually quote you a price that is much higher than you should be paying, and we eventually bargained it down to RP 300,000/pax. This includes a two-way ride from the hotel, rafting gear, lunch, showers and insurance.
It was a pity that we didn’t manage to get any photos of our whole experience because we didn’t bring our camera along :(( Although I guess it was the perfect opportunity to soak in the atmosphere and fully enjoy ourselves. You don’t have to worry about your stuff getting wet though, as they usually have waterproof bags provided. There are various routes you can choose from, and we went for the Telaga Waja River route with BMW (not the car) which was an approximately 2hr ride. It was super fun!!!! It’s safe for beginners (we’ve never done anything like this before!) and very manageable.
5. Connect with your body, mind and soul through yoga
I’d heard so much about The Yoga Barn before I came to Bali, and I was so excited to try it for myself! Housed in a beautiful airy two-storey loft, the yoga studio was completely open to nature with an amazing natural breeze that cooled the place. No fans required! Yoga mats and various equipment like blocks and blankets are required, so you don’t have to bring your own. A single drop-in class is RP 120,000. It was so different practising yoga in Bali, amongst a bunch of yogis who were really serious about their practice! It was intimidating, yet inspiring (I wonder when I’ll ever have that kind of strength to do arm balances), but the good thing was that the instructor helped everyone along, regardless of which level we were at. I enjoyed the class so much that I only wished I had more time for it!
6. Dig into Bali’s local delicacies
Okay, this last one is a bonus. It’s nothing back-to-nature, but it’s a quintessential Bali experience that you can’t miss when you’re in Ubud! While Seminyak gives you plenty of options for international cuisines that you’ll be hard-pressed deciding whether to opt for the roadside nasi campur or chill in one of its gorgeous cafes, Ubud is where you can get your fix of local cuisine. That’s not to say that Ubud doesn’t have its cafes, because it does! In fact, the cafes in Ubud have such unique characters that they are really an experience not to be missed.
There are two things you have to eat when you’re in Ubud/Bali – Bebek Bengil (Balinese Crispy Duck) and Babi Guling (Suckling Pig). I was rather apprehensive about both of them, since they seemed rather fried and unhealthy, quite unlike what I was hoping to have in Ubud. Since they were traditional Balinese dishes, I decided to go ahead with them nonetheless. For the former, we went to Bebek Bengil (a.k.a. Dirty Duck Diner), and I totally fell in love with the food there! Somehow I’ve never really been impressed by duck confit, which is probably the french equivalent of this crispy duck, but this completely surpassed my expectations! The skin of the duck was was deliciously crisp and crackly, yet the meat inside managed to retain its juices, lending an incredible flavour and texture. This was paired with an appetising spread of sauces and side dishes that complemented the duck perfectly. We had ribs there as well, which were not too bad, but definitely couldn’t beat the warung we had at Hog Wild.
We had to go to great lengths to get our hands on the famous babi guling from Ibu Oka. Sam would know :P Ended up packing it to the airport because we didn’t have enough meals to eat it in the shop itself. This was a rather sinful meal, but definitely worth a try! For a very affordable IDR 50,000, you get suckling pig, deep fried pork, sausage and rice, with a delicious sauce that you have to eat together with the pig.
And my favourite meal in Ubud definitely had to be at Casa Luna, where we had the BEST SATAY EVER. Nothing like the dry satay we have in Singapore, and not even the best ones in Malaysia can beat this. Thick, juicy chunks of chicken meat, that were marinated and grilled perfectly, paired with the best peanut sauce I’ve ever had! It was so goooooood. We also had a Balinese paella, which came with a really generous amount of seafood. While this meal did not come cheap, it was definitely more affordable than Singapore, and very worth the money.
Ubud was a really unique travel experience for us. Though I probably wouldn’t come back here if I visit Bali again (there are so many other places to explore!), I’ll definitely miss the yoga!