Ubud a town in central Bali is the artistic heart of Bali. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, with the town and nearby villages brimming with artists’ workshops and galleries.
Central Ubud has three main streets: Jl Raya Ubud, Jl Monkey Forest and Jl Hanoman. The town sprawls for several kilometres in all directions, with all of the small villages within a five km radius of the central market being loosely referred to as “Ubud”. If you choose a reasonably central place to stay, it is easy enough to get around on foot.
Temples and historical sites
- Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), Bedulu village near Gianyar. The centerpiece here is a cave dating back to the ninth century, the entrance to which is an ornately carved demon’s mouth. Inside are some fragmentary lingam and yoni statues, as well as a statue of Ganesha.
- Gunung Kawi (Poet Mountain), Tampaksiring (18 km northeast from Ubud). Dating from the eleventh century, this is presumed to be the burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his many wives. Reached by climbing down 371 steps, the location at the bottom of a steep valley lined with paddy fields, is quite stunning.
- Pura Kehen (Kehen Temple), just north of Bangli town centre, which is about 30 minutes north east from Ubud. One of the most attractive temples in the whole of Bali. The temple was founded in 1206, and has an especially impressive 11-tiered meru in the inner courtyard.
- Puri Saren Agung (Royal Palace, Water Palace), across Jl Raya Ubud from Ubud Market. This was the palace of the kings of Ubud until the 1940s, and some royal descendants live there to this day. Parts of the complex are off limits to the public, but entry to the rest is free, and this is Ubud’s best setting for dance performances.
- Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring (20 km northeast from Ubud). One of the holiest temples in Bali built around hot springs that still bubble in the central courtyard. The Balinese come here to bathe and purify themselves physically and spiritually
Museums and Galleries
- Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA). Walter Spies, Adrian Jean Le Mayeur, Rudolph Bonnet, Arie Smit, and Radan Saleh is exhibited here.
- Blanco Renaissance Museum. Spanish artist Antonio Blanco was an absolute fixture on the Ubud art scene. Think Salvador Dali transplanted to Asia.
- Museum Puri Lukisan (Museum of Fine Arts) The first private museum in Bali. Exhibits by noted artists I Gusti Nyoman Lempad and Rudolph Bonnet, amongst others.
- Museum Rudana. A wide range of Balinese paintings is exhibited here, both traditional and modern.
Neka Art Museum. This museum houses perhaps the most important art collection in the whole of Bali.
Ubud has a vast assortment of art and jewelry shops. Head for the boutique type stores on Jl Monkey Forest and Jl Raya Ubud for higher quality goods (with appropriately higher prices), or down to the market for bulk-produced cheapies.
Ubud is renowned in Bali for its wide range of restaurants – Ubud is home to some of the most creative eateries in Bali. At the other end of the scale, travellers on a budget will not be short of options, as there are many simple warungs serving up the standard Indonesian staples.