Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
Everyone, it seems, loves Bali. No one could believe I’d never been. See, I had always thought that Bali was for honeymooners. Or women trying to find themselves a la Julia Roberts and Eat, Pray, Love. And after visiting Bali, I can say with some certainty that I wasn’t entirely wrong. BUT what I didn’t realize until visiting Bali is that it’s big with the digital nomad crowd too. There are a lot of long-term expats in Bali, zipping around on mopeds in their flowy trousers and rattan sandals, in search of fast wifi.
So did I like my week in Bali — Ubud, specifically? At the risk of damning it with faint praise — it was…nice. Did I like Bali as much as Thailand? Or Vietnam? (And now Laos?) Probably not. Simply, Bali traffic killed me and Ubud is really not a city for walking. There are just so many cars and so many mopeds. (I spend a lot of time when I’m traveling thinking about how many cars there are in the world and if we really need any more.) I don’t mind traffic so much in Vietnam, where the streets are wide and there’s at least some room. But in Bali, if felt like most streets were one way or just had one lane in both directions and if you hit the road at the wrong time of day, you just sat there. I hate just sitting there. And bear in mind — this was with the volcano about to explode any day! Apparently tourism was down 25% because of Mount Agung and still the traffic just didn’t move.
My Ubud Hotel Recommendation
While in Ubud, I stayed at the Instagramilicious Bisma Eight. Bisma Eight is hitting Instagram HARD. My room had an (absolutely useless) Japanese bathtub but lovely pocket doors and interesting local yet somewhat Danish modern design. It was also HUGE. I liked my room a lot. Which was good. Because I spent a of time in my room, working. 🙁
You know what else I liked? Bisma Eight’s rooftop restaurant where I hit the Asian breakfasts super hard. Guys, Asian breakfasts are my jam and have ruined me for Western breakfasts forever. I need more Asian breakfasts in my life.
In short, this is a beautiful hotel with very nice staff — it’s a great place to spend a week in Bali. It’s the type of place you honestly don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. It also felt very popular with couples, just fyi. I survived. More than survived. So will you. Stay here.
Lunch in Ubud at Nusantara
A few friends had told me I had to eat at Locavore. I showed up without a booking and boy was that a bad idea. (I know, I know. My bad. Normally I am smarter than this.) Even though the restaurant was only about 40% full, they were fully booked. Bah. I told them that they could count on me to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time but they weren’t having it. So they sent me to their sister restaurant down the road, Nusantara, which was 5% full and where I had a very nice meal with forgetful service. (I mean, when there’s only one other table seated, how hard can it be to remember a customer?)
Shopping in Ubud
This is where I had a little bit of fun and where Bali really shines. I think shopping is truly one of the best things to do in Ubud, Bali. Two shops that I enjoyed and would definitely recommend to others are:
Sensatia: Monkey Forest Road. This little shop has a ton of amazing, self-branded natural beauty products. I bought everything…cleanser, moisturizers, oils. And I love it all. Wonderfully scented and products with a mission as well! Sensatia is a profit-sharing cooperation where employees are 20% shareholders of the principal production company. I’ve already been trying to figure out how to get these products in the UK. (No luck yet.)
Ikat Batik: Monkey Forest Road. (Right in front of the Monkey Forest. Monkeys are evil, by the way.) If you like batik as much as I do, this is the place for you and is one of the coolest things to do in Ubud, Bali. I got a great sarong that I absolutely love. It’s the type of shop where everyone that works there follows you around which is a tiny bit annoying, but the products are fantastic and I totally wanted to buy everything. Great if you like fabrics.
Spa in Ubud
Putri Ubud Spa: If you are looking for things to do in Ubud, you MUST go to a spa and have the full treatment. The Putri Ubud Spa was a 5 minute walk from Bisma Eight so on a particularly dreary day when it was pouring down rain, I headed over here for a massage, facial, pedicure and hair wash. Although I enjoyed the hair wash — when’s the last time you ever spent AN ENTIRE HOUR getting your hair washed — I didn’t think the products were all that great — I’m pretty sure they were just standard supermarket brands. Omg these are the most first world sentences I’ve written in a long time and I hate myself. This was overall a nice experience and the prices were *really* right, but I’ve been to nicer spas so I think I would try somewhere else next time.’
I’m sure I’ll go back to Bali and Ubud some day. But there are a lot of other places I’d like to see in the world first. Like Zanzibar! Who wants to go to Zanzibar with me??