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25 Things To Know Before Visiting Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)


Canadian Journeywoman, Amit Janco entertained notions of working as a documentary filmmaker, news producer or lawyer. After two life-altering experiences, she read the writing on the wall and joyfully opened up to doing what she does best: traveling and stretching every creative muscle in her body, spirit and soul. Amit has been thriving in Ubud for over a year, and is installing an all-natural labyrinth at a local meditation retreat center. She blogs about her healing journey at This is what Amit told us about her Ubud and surroundings ...

Crème de la crème..
You're in Bali, after all, so live like a princess whenever you can! If you're looking for the most hedonistic sleeping splurge around, head no further than the Four Seasons Resort, in Sayan overlooking the Ayung River and some of the most spectacular lush scenery in Bali. Other equally self-indulgent options include the Uma Ubud, Five Elements Resort and Spa in Mambal, or the Alila and Amandari resorts, also in Sayan. If your budget doesn't stretch quite that far, drop by to gawk at the vistas or for some oohing and ahhing at the gift shops.


Affordable sleeps...
For reasonably-priced guesthouses a stone's throw from the madding crowds of Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Monkey Forest (Jalan = JI. = Street), ask your driver to drop you off on Jalan Kajeng - a narrow road with hand and footprints embedded into the cement pathway. A little further off, the neighborhood of Tebesaya boasts a number of compounds-cum-homestays, hidden behind shops and warungs, where you'll want to stick around long enough to attend at least one of the family's temple ceremonies. At Jalan Sukma 39, within easy walking distance of the city center, the reasonably priced Family Guesthouse welcomes every visitor with a smile. That's just one of the reasons that many guests return year after year. While mingling with travelers from all around the globe, you'll enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruit, banana pancakes or jaffle sandwich amidst their lush tropical garden. For a different experience, book yourself into the Suly Resort and Spa in the village of Peliatan, Ubud. The Bali Global Foundation established this hotel and tourism school five years ago to support and provide skills-training to underprivileged youth. Student trainees aren't merely staff at the Suly Resort; they also entertain, dance and play in the resort's gamelan performances.


Where to eat ...
A wide range of warungs (restaurants) offer local fare all over town. On Jl. Sukma in Tebesaya, pop into Mama's Warung and try the nasi campur (mixed plate of vegetables, tofu, tempeh and rice, (and available with chicken, too). Other good bets are Lada Warung on Jl. Hanoman and on Jl. Gootama, check out, Dewa's Warung, Warung Lokal, and Warung Saya - with 3 small tables, it must rank as the tiniest restaurant in Ubud. If you're on a tight budget, stop in at any Padang restaurant, where you can find a wide array of vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, cooked jackfruit salad and more all laid out in a buffet-style display case. A favorite among locals is Puteri Minang Masakan Padang on Jl. Raya near the Ganesha Bookshop. Finally, if you are travelling with your partner and looking for a romantic place to dine, the upscale iconic Bridges restaurant in Campuhan is the place to be.


Organic smorgasbord! ...
If you're looking for organic edibles, you'll have struck gold in Ubud! Dig into a scrumptious salad, creamy soup, towering sandwich or nutritious smoothie at Bali Budha, Kafé, Down to Earth, Soma, Juice Ja or Yellow Flower Café. Strolling through the rice paddies? Take an organic health-food break at Sari Organik. Or drop by the weekly organic markets, where you can find nature's best - from organic ginger and kombucha drinks to moringa powder and mouth-watering beet brownies. Here's the current list of markets: Pizza Bagus (Saturdays) and Café Arma (Wednesdays) in Pengosekan, Warung Alami (Tuesday mornings) in Penestanan, and Warung Sopa in Padang Tegal on Sundays. After a busy day of shopping, museums or walking about town, there's nothing quite as refreshing as a daily glass of coconut water (es kelapa muda)- or go for the whole coconut, more freshly and cheaply sold by local vendors with carts.


Sweet tooth? ...
If you're an early riser, you can see local women at the market dishing out bubur injin, a sweetened red-rice porridge, sprinkled with palm sugar syrup. And local food vendors set up shop just about anywhere, selling mini green crepes filled with grated coconut and sugar, boxes of cookies, round cakes, fried dough and brightly sugar-colored muffins. Later in the morning, head over to Kue on Jl. Raya for some of the city's freshest chocolate croissants, truffles, cookies and cakes. White Box on Jl. Andong(just north of Delta Dewata supermarket), daily whips up quiches, tarts and a fabulous mango yogurt mousse. If you're a chocoholic like me, you won't want to miss the chocolate and avocado cake at Clear Café and other locally-grown cacao-based goodies at Alchemy.


Free 'n Easy...
Everybody loves a few freebies. Start by dropping in at the post office on Jl. Jembawan, where you can choose from a selection of postcards (card free, you pay for postage). Then, take a walk up the street to the Love Space, where you can dance, join a yoga class, paint, read or just engage in conversation with other visitors - all gratis! After that creative activity, you'll surely want to relax. Head over to Namaste where Wednesday evenings are dedicated to screening movies with a spiritual message. Further up, at Black Beach Restaurant on Jl. Hanoman, hunker down for Italian movies on Wednesday nights or French cinema classics on Thursday evenings, all starting at 8 pm See: Finally, want to get an idea of what Bali was like before the tourist buses arrived, Rendezvousdoux on Jl. Jembawan screens a continuous loop of a silent, black and white documentary film about Balinese dance in the 1930s. Enjoy!


Jam Karet...
This is a common Indonesian phrase that translates loosely into 'rubber hour' or 'elastic time.' Punctuality is neither a priority nor a virtue in Bali, so if you must be somewhere on time, you're better off setting off earlier than intended. Or, better yet, remove your watch and follow the day's clock: Rise at dawn, meander through town - especially the morning market - to watch daily life unfold. Take a break from the heat by watching Balinese women weave and prepare their intricate offerings for the next day. Gaze at the effects of the sun rippling on the water in the lotus pond in front of the Pura Dalem Saraswati on Jl. Raya. If your timing is right, a midday gamelan performance or dance rehearsal might be in progress in the Royal Palace courtyard. Then head over to nearby Localista on Jl. Suweta for a gluten-free cupcake and cappuccino .


A Reader's Paradise...
Feeling guilty about all that lazing around? Take a break by picking up a book or two. Pondok Pekak, library and learning centre adjacent to the Monkey Forest football field is a good starting point, where you can borrow a book and stick around for an Indonesian language class, Balinese dance lesson or coconut leaf décor workshop. You can watch women's gamelan group rehearsals and the Genggong Frog Dance (the only one of its kind in Ubud, Fri evenings at 7:30). Buy a second-hand book or make a donation in support of the library's efforts to increase Balinese literacy and preserve traditional arts. As an extra bonus, the library is also one of the few places in town where you can refill your water bottle cheaply. Other options for your inner bookworm include Periplus on Jl. Raya. At the centrally-located Ganesha Bookshop, browse through the array of locally-authored books, recipe collections, books about Balinese architecture and festivals, then stock up on new or secondhand bestsellers .


Is the drinking water safe?

If you want to avoid contracting Bali Belly while you're enjoying your stay in Ubud, please take note. Pack a re-usable water bottle and refill (at a low cost) with safe drinking water at various locations around town. Two easy ones to access are Bali Buda and the Pondok Pekak Library. You can also purchase small or large plastic bottles of water at shops and supermarkets everywhere - though it's not advisable to buy more than one; recycling is still virtually non-existent. Restaurants provide bottled water as well. And remember that it's hot in Bali so stay well-hydrated.



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