Where to stay
Sara and I stayed at Dewa hostel which was very close to the monkey forest so very central and was run by Bim who was adorable and helped us with everything we needed to book. The downside was that as it was so central everything in the area was pretty pricey but after a 20 minute or so walk you can find cheaper areas for food etc aside from a few little exceptions that I will detail below.
Where to Eat
Our hostel did amazing Nasi campur and was actually very cheap. We also had breakfast included so every day were served sweet banana pancakes! Ubud is filled with relatively expensive vegan hipster places and we visited a couple. Bali Buda was a little underwhelming but decent in terms of portion size however for something really special and incredibly colourful the food at yellow flower cafe was AMAZING and served proper coffee! It is hidden away up some jungly steps and has gorgeous views. It also sells beautiful jewellery which is incredibly dangerous for budget travellers! One of our favourite meals was the Vegan buffet at The Daily Buffet close to Yoga Barn. The jackfruit curry is amazing and they also make gorgeous banana breads. All the food is free from onion and garlic but still has so much flavour and for 50,000IDR for unlimited veg deliciousness is so worth it! Just five minutes away fro our hostel is Dewa Warung which was a bargain for classic Indonesian staple meals and does a brilliant Nasi campur.
What to Do
In terms of touristy must-do’s most people we met recommended hiring a taxi for the day to tour some of the hot spots. We tried to narrow down our favourites and headed out on what turned out to be the rainiest day of our stay. Our first stop was the Tegenungan waterfall which was unfortunately too muddy to swim in but still an impressive natural feat. Despite the rain it was still very touristy so possibly one to avoid in place of another beautiful waterfall as there are plenty in Indonesia. We also visited the Tirta Empul water temple which was pretty but again really too tourist filled to properly enjoy. The one stop that we would both recommend was the visit to the rice terraces. When you arrive head to the entrance furthest right when facing the terraces to avoid the crowds and after a steep trek there are some GORGEOUS views!
We made sure to also do the trek to Mount Batur which is definitely a must do. It is a horrible early start leaving at 2am which meant we didn’t get really any sleep before we started. After a brief stop for a coffee and a little fig biscuit thing we arrived at the start point and after a wait for other groups to begin, joined the hundred person strong snaking march to the top in the dark. With so many people doing the walk there was a lot of stopping waiting for people in front to continue but after about 2 hours we made it just in time for a glorious sunrise. With the walk being so sweaty, at the top it does get pretty cold so definitely bring a jumper. We were given a hilarious little packed breakfasts of a boiled egg, banana and two bits of bread with a mini jam but were pretty ravenous after the walk so if you are generally a hungry person like sara and I, perhaps pack some snacks! We also didn’t bring backpacks so had to tie our cardboard breakfast boxes to our bumbags using plastic bags – simply for that reason I would suggest a small rucksack! When you get to the top watch out for stray dogs which weed all over our stuff or monkeys which have no problem pinching any food whether or not you have it tightly in your hands! On the drive back we made a very boring stop to a coffee factory to learn about Luwak coffee so just prepare for this too – we were both just too exhausted after a sleepless night and 4 hour trek to really concentrate!
However our favourite activity by far was our time at the Yoga Barn. We opted for the three class membership and did gentle yoga, yin yoga and Tibetan bowl meditation classes which were brilliant and in the most gorgeous yoga complex. I would thoroughly recommend for value for money and for a very ‘ubud’ experience!
We also caught some live music at the Laughing Buddha but plenty of restaurants in the center have live music most nights too.
Our final activity was a trip to the Cinema Paradiso that offers indie films in a cute sofa filled cinema where for 50,000 IDR you can catch a great film and redeem your ticket price against some of the gorgeous vegan food or drinks on offer there!
Other General Bali Tips
The beaches In Canggu and Seminyak are largely black sand and pretty busy so a Hostel with a pool is a great alternative and such a good way to meet other travellers. Ulu Watu peninsula I believe does have some prettier beaches but without a moped and with expensive taxis we didn’t actually make it down there.
In terms of transport we relied on taxies but local taxies can be way too expensive. Uber and Blue bird are cheap alternatives but there is violent tension between them and local businesses so many drivers will not come to certain areas because it is to dangerous for them. We just played it by ear most of the time and tried to find wiling uber drivers where possible.
Haggling is key in the markets and you can definitely shop around for some bargains. Use ‘Mahal’ to indicate that something is too expensive. Our favourite market was probably the sprawling second hand market outside of Canggu known as the Frog Market in Pasar Kodak. It takes a lot of rummaging but you can get some great pieces all for about a quid an item.
Food wise we were never far from somewhere selling Nasi goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles) or Nasi campur (Plain rice with a fun selection of side dishes). In terms of prices you can get meals as cheap as 10,000-20,000 or average prices of 30,000-50,000. The classic hipster cafes seemed to do mains typically around 50,000-70,000.
(Photos; Smoothie bowl at the Yellow flower cafe, The waterfall, rice terraces, the water temple, waterfall, our hostel pancake breakfast, ice teas at a classic hipster caf, yoga barn, after our yoga class with Simone and Leonie – our first travel mates from all the way back in Goa!!, Gado-gado and Nasi campur at Dewa warung, Yoga barn, mount batur 1, 2)