Bali’s Cultural Heart: Ubud

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Atmospheric, artistic centre with a magic of its own

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To know Ubud takes time and is best achieved by wandering and exploring at a leisurely pace. This Ubud cultural travel itinerary shows you how to do it. Judicious use of local car hire, and a lot of walking can give you a good overview in just two days. But some sacrifices will be called for, and a vow to return will be made. Better still, spread it over several days. Ubud is best known as an artist colony; where traditional artists, artisans and dancers flourish alongside modern painters and sculptors.

Ubud Cultural Travel Itinerary: Day 1

Begin your artistic journey by hiring a car with a driver for the morning to explore the outlying villages, each specialising in a particular craft. Begin at Dewa Malen Wood Carving in Mas, the woodcarving centre of Bali, before continuing to Bara Gold and Silver Smith in Celuk to watch talented silversmiths crafting exquisite jewellery and intricate creations. Round off the morning with a visit to Bali Stone Carving , a stonecarving workshop in Silakarang, north of Batubulan, before returning to Ubud. Conclude your car hire at Museum Puri Lukisan , a conveniently located gallery which provides an excellent historic overview of Balinese art.

Nearby, Casa Luna Restaurant is a good place to stop for lunch, or down the road, is Cafe Lotus Ubud where you can lunch alongside a relaxing lotus pond gazing across to the lovely Pura Taman Saraswati. Alternatively, for a legendary experience, try the renowned “babi guling” (suckling pig) at Warung Babi Guling Bu Oka located down a narrow alleyway off Jl. Suweto.

After lunch, walk to Ubud Palace , traditional home of the Ubud Royal family, before crossing to the Art Market which, despite an upgrade, will give you some insight into a traditional art market. Window shop down Monkey Forest Road, admiring the range of silver jewellery, artworks and homewares. Stop at one of several cafes along the way for a cool drink. Where the road bends is the Ubud Monkey Forest, worthy of a visit for the Temple within, if not for the cheeky primates. Hold tight to your sunglasses and valuables!

Leave the forest, continue up a slight hill to the end of Monkey Forest Road, before turning right at the roundabout. After around 200 metres, you will come to the Agung Rai Museum of Art a delightful setting in which to spend the remainder of the day absorbing Balinese art and culture. Round off the day with a traditional dance performance at ARMA Museum, the Palace or Pura Dalem Ubud.

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Day 2 in Ubud, Bali’s Cultural Heart

Artistic cravings satisfied, today discover the heart and soul of Ubud; the people and the natural beauty of the area. Explore by bike or on foot. A downhill cycling tour provides insight into rural life and an opportunity to interact with villagers. While several companies offer this activity, Bali Emerald Touring is based in Ubud and provides a safe and enjoyable experience.

Alternatively, embrace the essence of Ubud by trekking. There are several walks from which to choose. One of the most popular is the Campuhan Ridge Walk which you can do as a linear return journey or a longer, three hour circuit. Finish near the bridge at Campuhan where you will find the iconic Murni’s Warung, a perfect venue for lunch. Another short option is an 800 metre trek through picturesque rice paddies to Sari Organik.

After lunch, catch up on some ancient history. Hire a car and driver for a half day and visit the 11th century Goa Gajah, before heading further north to Tampaksiring and the even more ancient, holy springs of Tirta Empul.

By now you have earned a re-energising massage. In Ubud you will be spoiled for choice. For something different and a little funky, try the grotto-style setting at Hotel Tjampuhan .

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