With less than 7 days to spare, as it basically took us a full day to get to Ubud from Los Angeles, we didn’t want to waste a single minute on our trip. However, with limited time, we really had to pick and choose what we felt were worth visiting.
There is so much to do in Bali and a week is just too short to see it all. We weren’t able to meet up with Instafriends in Canggu, we didn’t get to see the epic sunrises everyone talks about at the beaches, and we didn’t have time to squeeze in a day trip to the Lembongan Island. However, we made the most of the time we had and jammed our schedule to fit in at least 10 major activities during our trip.
So here is a list of what we did during our week stay in and around Ubud, starting with things we absolutely thought were worth it down to what we think can be skipped and/or just overhyped on Instagram/tourist traps. We added in a couple additional tidbits and places we ate at as well - enjoy!
Funny story, we landed at Nungnung waterfall by complete accident and didn’t even realize it until after we got back to the hotel.
We had requested a driver to take us to Tegenungan waterfall in the early AM, through the hotel we were staying at. However, I guess there was a miscommunication some where and when the driver asked us at pick-up if we were heading to the waterfall, we confirmed —but he never said which waterfall to us. We assumed that he knew where he was going so didn’t second guess it. About 3 hours later, with 800 steps in total (to and from the waterfall), we figured out that the photos we took looked nothing like Tegenungan waterfall. We then asked the hotel staff and showed them photos, and they confirmed we had gone to Nungnung that morning (hah). However, the mix-up was totally worth it!
Nungnung is an hour and a half to and from Ubud, requiring a minimum of 3 hours of your day. It is typically open at 9AM, but it’s not closed off in any way so if you want to beat everyone, come around 7AM like we did. It took us about another 30 minutes to get down there, but we were the very first ones there with another couple showing up around 8AM.
Be prepared to walk down 400 steps to the waterfall and another 400 back up, it’s a killer workout. The water is nice, cool, refreshing, but be prepared to get wet by the mist. Bring a towel! There are a couple smaller waterfalls along the way and the trail is super easy to follow. You cannot get lost and you do not need a guide. Our driver waited for us at the top, we spent about an hour and half total with all the walking. It was honestly way more beautiful in person, these photos do not do it any justice so I highly recommend visiting during your trip!
2. Mt. Batur Sunrise Hike
If you’re up for a wake up call at 2AM and down for a active volcano hike at Mt. Batur, then may I suggest that you book a private tour via TripAdvisor like we did?
We wanted to do something out of our comfort zones but after reading reviews of how this hike wasn’t easy, I had major hesitations. However, I figured it’ll be something that would not only challenge us but also give us a memory of Bali that was out of the ordinary.
We were picked up at 2AM from our villa, drove about an hour to the place where the hike started and met with our hiking guide, who was extremely patient with me. I literally asked to stop every 20 minutes because we were hiking upwards on steep gravels and rocks. While I had on hiking shoes, it was a bit loose on me which was probably why my grip was so shitty. I slipped a few times and then another guide had to come and hold my hand the rest of the way (hah).
3. Mt. Batur Hot Springs
If you happen to book the private tour I suggested above, the hot springs is included with the package.
The hot springs was a short drive from Mt. Batur and because we rushed right back down, after the sunrise, we were one of the few ones there until an hour later. The warm water hitting you after a long ass hike is the best feeling in the world. Not to mention the view, absolutely gorgeous.
Note: You do receive a locker to put your things, towels, and a welcome drink of choice.
4. Swing at d’Alas Warung Restaurant
There are plenty of swings all over Bali, so you don’t necessarily have to go to the one I went to. However, this swing at d’Alas Warung restaurant had no line and it was so peaceful to swing over the rice terrace below. Also, you can grab lunch right afterwards at the restaurant.
I will have to warn you that the initial drop is a bit scary, as it goes pretty fast. Once you get past that, the rest of the time is just beautiful. Swinging high in the air, without a damn worry! You’re strapped in and I felt completely safe the entire time. There is an option to swing backwards on your second run, but I opted out of that.
Note: this swing ride cost $15 (USD) for two rounds.
5. Ubud Monkey Forest
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty hesitant in going to the monkey forest because of the DM’s I received from friends who said that the monkeys can get aggressive. Also, I witnessed a monkey in the streets, stealing a cup from a passerby.
However, I am glad that KSOLE talked me into going as it honestly wasn’t that bad. As long as you respect their space and don’t look them in the eyes, you’re fine. The monkeys roam around freely, basically mind their own business and are completely used to having humans around.
We spent about 40 minutes here, but since it was so humid that day, we chose to not do the entire trail. It’s a fun place to stop-by, but I wouldn’t spent more than 30 minutes here.
6. Luwak Coffee Tasting
If you aren’t familiar with Luwak coffee, it is an expensive cup of coffee made from part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by a Luwak. I know, it sounds weird but it seems to be a popular thing in Bali.
We decided to do a Luwak coffee tasting, located near Tegenungan waterfall. The tasting started off with a tour through the garden, a brief meeting with the Luwaks they had on location, and a demonstration of how the coffee is made. It took about 15 minutes for all this before we were seated and brought 12 samples of teas.
Please note that if you want to try a cup of Luwak coffee, it is an additional cost and not included in the tasting (despite the name). It’s about 150,000 IDR for one cup and to be honest, it tasted like regular black coffee to me. I loved the teas much more and ended up purchasing two bags of teas (mangosteen and ginger) for the flight home.
Is it worth doing? KSOLE thinks so, but I personally think you can skip it if you have other options in activities.
7. Tegalalang Rice Terrace
One of the most Instagrammable locations in Bali and yes, there are swings here. We arrived to the rice terrace mid-afternoon and it was pretty packed, so I didn’t even want to try to get a shot. We also weren’t as amazed at the sight of it, mainly because we had already experienced the rice fields at Mandapa.
Also, we stayed at an Air B&B the second half of our trip, which was on a rice terrace too. I guess we were rice terrace out by the time we got to Tegalalang, but I still think it’s worth visiting while you’re in Ubud.
8. Ubud Art Market
So we didn’t get photos of the exact art market in Ubud, but if you’re ever been to a Santee Alley in downtown LA, it’s pretty similar. It gets a little chaotic and if you’re claustrophobic, I would suggest not going.
FYI: It’s okay to haggle and they expect it, so why not have some fun?
I ended up buying a pack of incenses and a cute straw bag. There isn’t too much variety in the items, as most vendors have the same things so it comes down to who can give you the best price.
9. Tegenungan Waterfall
So everyone told me I had to go see the Tegenungan waterfall. It was the first stop on our tour and we literally spent 15 minutes here. We didn’t bother going down to get a closer look because we visited this waterfall after Nungnung, and as you can see from the photos, Nungnung is so much prettier.
It was also really crowded and we got here around 9AM, so if you’re trying to get a good photo, come much earlier than 9AM (haha).
There is a swing here and a cute bird’s nest, both had lines, but the wait wasn’t too bad. Also, be prepared to walk down quite a few steps to the actual waterfall!
10. Elephant Temple
There are several temples around Bali but our tour guide decided to take us to the Elephant temple, Goa Gajah. This historical site dates back to the 11th century and was built as a spiritual place for meditation.
The cave inside the temple was pretty cool to see, but it got really hot as more people crowded inside of it.
Please be mindful of the rules when visiting any temple in Bali. You must wear a sarong and they are provided at the entrance, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. Dress appropriately and respectfully, and it is prohibited for any woman on their menstrual cycle to enter.
Hire Bali Drivers / TripAdvisor
So here’s the trick to managing to see all these places within 2 days - hire a private driver. We booked two private tours through TripAdvisor and funny enough, ended up with the same driver on both days which was nice.
The full-day private Ubud tour started around 9AM, in which the driver/guide picks you up from your hotel. You are asked what you’re most interested in seeing and can customize your itinerary from there. The price you pay includes admission for activities listed under your itinerary, anything outside of that, you have to pay yourself (i.e. we had to pay for the swing). We got back to our hotel around 4PM, and I think if we were staying in Ubud, we’d probably get back sooner. Our Air B&B was 90 minutes outside of Ubud.
We loved our guide, Kantun, he was really knowledgeable, very polite, and was so sweet to even go out of his way to find a marigold field for me (as I mentioned I wanted to shoot in one). Kantun even welcomed us into his home at the end of our tour. We met his family and got to see what a Balinese home looked like. I really enjoyed having him as our driver and highly recommend him to anyone so if you are heading to Bali anytime soon, email me for his number — email@example.com
Where to Eat
Unfortunately we didn’t get to try many restaurants on our trip as we ate mainly at the hotel or our Air B&B, as they cooked us meals every day.
The two we did try though were super cute and delicious, so check them out during your stay!
This place is adorable and right upstairs is a spa, so why not get some food and then relax with a massage?
Don’t make the mistake that I did and remember to take your shoes off before entering. They give you a little number card in exchange, while they put your shoes away in a cubby.
With plenty of vegan and healthy options, Clear Cafe is probably a great spot to catch up with friends over coffee or grab brunch before shopping at the Ubud Art Market. We ordered fresh fruit, toast, and pancakes. All were delicious!
Watercress is a two-story cafe in Ubud that has live music during the evenings. We honestly were attracted in by the band and stayed after seeing the variety in the menu. The cafe is open all-day, although we only had dinner there.
We ordered a bunch of items (because we were starving) but really loved their curry, calamari, chicken wings, and fries. Their drinks were also delicious, they had some fun looking cocktails and beer. Def a cute date night spot!
While it was a short trip, it certainly wasn’t our last trip to Bali as we have so much more to explore.
It’s a beautiful place with the most humble people who are always smiling. Cannot wait for our next visit, but until then, thank you Bali for what you’ve shown us so far.