Though Bali is an awkward shape, and it would be hard to figure it out, you can safely consider Ubud as the ‘center’ of Bali. It is surrounded by picturesque rice terraces with farmers working, but also where you will find some of the fanciest villas and 5-star dining. It is a mecca for vegans and yogis, with many retreats and cafes dedicated to this growing breed, and prices to match! Despite its huge popularity, Ubud still has a lot of charm and is definitely one of our favourite areas that we keep going back to. After 4 weeks here, we’ve now found some of the best day trips from Ubud.
Transportation from Ubud
You can get to these places from Ubud by using a scooter as we did, or hiring a taxi and driver. Ask your guesthouse or hotel for a recommendation for hiring a bike or taxi. Or just walk down the streets in main Ubud. You’ll quickly walk past loads of men holding up a taxi sign and asking if you need a driver.
Here’s a list of the best day trips from Ubud that we’ve done so far:
Mount Batur is an active volcano north of Ubud. Its elevation is about 1,717 m, and it last erupted in 2000. I would say it’s the younger sibling of Mount Agung, the other volcano and the highest point of Bali. Mount Batur is still impressive though and a nice day trip from Ubud.
There isn’t an official gate or entrance for the volcano, but as we were riding through the last main town, a guy waved for us to stop. Once we skidded to a stop, he explained that we needed a ticket to get into the Geopark area. It was about 30,000 IDR per person and we kinda got an official ticket thingy.
What we think
The main road Jl. Raua Penelokan will take you to the top of the crater bit where you will see the volcano in all of its glory. You can see the lake from up there, and the impressive black ashy patches where I assume lava once flowed.
We didn’t go down to the lake, but apparently, there are hot springs and restaurants along the way. We parked at the top of the main road, as we really enjoyed our view from up there, giving us a fairly eye-level view of Mount Batur.
We even found an awesome little eco-coffee shop called Kintamani Coffee, away from the main tourist hub where all the big buses were parked. The view was so good from the coffee shop that we stayed for a couple of hours!
From Ubud to Mount Batur
About 1 1/2 hours from Ubud.
The whole way leading up to Mount Batur is on a slight incline so you don’t go through any steep areas. It’s just a gradual slope. The road was really good and fairly wide as you got closer to the volcano. Just be aware that the locals see it as a highway, so you get some 4WDs and big trucks zooming past you. We nearly got sideswiped by a tourist bus!
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
This is also a nice day trip from Ubud. Much shorter than the trip to Mount Batur. Tegallalang Rice Terrace is famous for that one picturesque image of the rice-fields that you’ve probably seen on google or in a guidebook. It is impressive but super touristy. We couldn’t even stop for a minute to get a photograph without someone trying to charge us for parking. We instead opted to find a warung (restaurant) that overlooked the rice terraces and also gave us a good view of the swings.
What we think
Tegallang has lots of art shops; paintings, stone/wood carvings, etc. and if we had a proper home (instead of living out of a suitcase) I would’ve been inclined to pick up a cool wood carving or painting for my imaginary living room.
The rice fields in the ravine are also known for their giant swings. From our vantage point at lunch, we could see down in the valley where people were getting strapped into giant swings that were attached to coconut trees. I’m a scaredy-cat, so I wasn’t keen on getting into one, but the swings sure did seem popular. There were quite a few of them, and it seemed like tourists were going from one swing to another with their tour guides. Definitely a worthwhile attraction, and hilarious to hear the excited screams echoing during our lunch!
From Ubud to Tegallalang Rice Terrace
30 mins or so.
The road leading up to Tegallalang is again fairly straight from Ubud. We went from the east side, from Gianyar, so we had to go through some narrow and winding narrow lanes through rice fields. Really nice. There was a bit of up and down, some a little steep, so if you are motorbiking, make sure you’re comfortable with it. Some potholes too, but because the road is smaller, it’s much quieter.
Goa means Cave in Bahasa Indonesia. This is a religious 9th century Buddist cave just outside of Ubud and a very popular day trip.
It was a steep 50,000 IDR per person to get in, and as soon as you park, there are quite a few touts trying to sell you stuff. They will try to sell you a sarong, as you will need one when you enter the religious site, but once you buy your official ticket, you actually get a free sarong to use. This is for males and females, as all knees need to be covered up!
Menstruating women are also not allowed into the area, as made clear by the numerous signs outside. This is an odd one for me, and something I’ve only seen in Bali so far on my travels. I get that it’s an old belief that periods are dirty, unclean etc. which I find untrue, but I also want to respect the old culture, especially in a foreign country.
Luckily, I was not menstruating (TMI, I know), but just be aware of this rule when visiting religious sites in Bali. I don’t think they check (I should hope not), but I have always preferred to be safe than sorry, just in case a spirit smites down on me or something!
What we think
The actual cave is very cool, you walk in and you can just feel that is was/is an old, religious area. Other than the cave, there is a small waterfall and some impressive stone carvings. It is a smallish attraction, so it won’t be a whole day activity. I kinda wish we had a tour guide with us so they could explain the history and meaning of the carvings. Oh well, next time!
From Ubud to Goa Gajah
15 mins. Very easy, just off the main road.
There are a few waterfalls just outside of Ubud. Waterfalls in general, are an awesome way to beat the heat and get some nature in. The following waterfalls are close to Ubud and some require trekking to get to:
Goa Rang Reng waterfall
Kanto Lampo waterfall
What we think
We went to the Goa Rang Reng waterfall on Lionel’s birthday. It was really nice to get close to the water after being inland bound for a while. We paid 15,000 IDR per person to get in. The guy offered a guide to take us to a further waterfall for 100,000 IDR but we just chose the closest one.
The waterfall is reached by walking down lots of steps from the entrance. When we got there we were the only ones there which was nice. You can climb up next to the waterfall using a secure rope to check out the top of the waterfall. This was the most impressive thing for us, as you can see how thousands of years of gushing water has carved these amazing shapes into the rock. Photos just don’t do it justice.
While we were there, another touristy couple and a bunch of locals arrived too. But it was still fairly quiet and peaceful. A guy who I can only assume is the ‘waterfall keeper’, stripped down to his underwear and started jumping around and in the waterfall, picking up logs that were stuck in the stream. He was jumping around so much that it made us want to join him. He helped us into the waterfall, showing us which rocks to stand on, and which were too slippery. It made the whole experience really fun, so we tipped the guy at the end.
From Ubud to Goa Rang Reng
About 30 minutes away. Very accessible, as you can pretty much park at the entrance and then walk down to the waterfall. Some of the other waterfalls near Ubud will require about an hour’s trek into the jungle, so make sure you have plenty of time and water with you.
Padang Bai is a small port town that connects Bali to Lombok with hourly ferries. There is a main street with quite a few dive shops and restaurants. It is always dusty and busy due to the trucks making their way from Java, through Bali, and onto the island of Lombok.
What we think
It’s a nice little stopover, and along the beach, if you fancy a day away from Ubud. There are some small cafes serving the usual.
From Ubud to Padang Bai
Over an hour through small roads leading out of the main Gianyar town, and then onto a big, wide road.
Best Day Trips from Ubud
Ubud is a very cool place that you have to check out when visiting Bali. With yoga clothing stores nestled in-between vegan cafes, and fancy cocktail bars, it can seem a bit overwhelming. So once in a while, it’s nice to get outside of Ubud. Check out some of the above best day trips from Ubud, and let us know if you’ve got any other suggestions in the comments!