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


Back to (Art) School ...
You just might need to extend your stay when you try to decide between the most tantalizing choice of arts and crafts classes you could ever dream of: silver jewelry, carving (wood and stone), batik making, painting, bamboo and lontar weaving, ceremonial offering and mask-making. The Gaya Ceramic Arts Center in Sayan offers workshops in raku, glazing, hand-building, culinary clay and yoga and clay. If you feel like getting your hands dirty, indulge your inner artist and head up to the BCAC (Jl. Tegallalang) on the first Friday evening of every month for painting, food and drinks.


And now for something completely different ...
The Kado boutique of Saraswati Papers on Jl. Dewi Sita carries beautifully textured cards, journals, calendars and picture frames made from recycled hand-crafted paper . Manufactured in partnership with the Bali Safari and Marine Park, many of the products come from the Poo Paper Factory - using tons of elephant dung!


Buying local...
Thinking of gifts to bring home for family and friends? You can benefit the local artisan community by seeking out handicrafts made by Balinese craftspeople whenever possible. Start off at the Ubud market to get an idea of what's available, then stock up there on you souvenirs or, if the crowds are swelling, consider taking a trip to the Sukawati market - a 20-minute drive out of town. Threads of Life on Jl. Kajeng provides extensive descriptions about the origins of their wares, while Seniwati Gallery (Jl. Sriwedari) displays extensive artwork by Balinese women. Their calendars make a perfect souvenir! Other choices for locally-produced souvenirs include clothing, colorful kites, honey, cacao powder and chocolates, Bali coffee (Kintamani or Luwak are best), palm sugar, kris knife, silver jewelry and anything made from bamboo. Mingle Café on Dewi Sita sells their handmade and reusable bamboo straws (buy 10 get 2 free). Homemade low-sugar jams and fruit compotes -papaya, guava, pineapple, tamarillos and more - are concocted locally and available at Confiture Michele on picturesque Jl. Gootama.


Calling all Yoginis ...
The secret's out: Ubud excels in attracting teachers, advanced practitioners and beginners from around the world, so you will have lots of options to choose from. Intuitive Flow in Penestanan (also known as Linda's studio) offers classes in hatha and restorative - perfect for a beginner or anyone recovering from injury. The Yoga Barn (Pengosekan) has an extensive menu of classes ranging from flow and iyengar to power, acro-yoga, ashtanga and so much more. Yet more choices are available at Taksu, Taman Hati in Nyuh Kuning and the newest kid on the block, Radiantly Alive, centrally located near the Post Office. Forgotten your yoga gear at home ? You're in luck! A stroll along Jl. Hanoman will lead you to most of the yoga-wear shops, like Ompure, We'ar, SatyaYoga and Karma Collection (with a second store on Jl. Raya). A sweet little shop called Anjaly Bali on Jl. Dewi Sita sells imported designs.


Cooking classes...
Want to do your own local food preparation? Want to meet other visitors and locals? Take a cooking class at Mozaic restaurant, Bumi Bali or Janet deNeefe's Honeymoon Cottages. Yum!


Sky Shows ...
So much is happening on the ground in Ubud, that you may forget to look to the sky but don't because there is beauty if you turn your gaze upwards. When school's out from midday on (during dry season), the skies fill up with kites - of varying sizes and colors. As much as Balinese men love their fighting cocks, the boys love their kites. You may even see two or three boys carrying a large owl-shaped kite to the nearest field to test out. Starting every evening shortly before 6 pm, look skywards and you won't miss the spectacular dusk migration of white herons to their nests in Petulu just north of Ubud's center. If you want a closer look, ask a driver to take you to the birds' village in Petulu, off the main road of Tegallalang. Yes, they have their own village! And if you're in Ubud during the full moon (Purnama), you'll see more offerings grace the roads and an unmistakable buzz in the air. If you live in a metropolitan city, you'll be thankful during your stay in Ubud that there's not nearly enough light pollution to prevent star gazing. it's breathtaking!


Not tired yet?...
No worries, there's so much more to choose from! First stop should be one of the many dance performances offered throughout Ubud - including Barong, Legong, Keris, Joged and childrens' shows. If you don't have time to search further, Oka Kartini on Jl. Raya is the go-to place for a Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) show. Laka Leke serves up buffet dinner with a view and the fiery all-male Kecak dance. The Chillout Lounge (Jl. Sandat) offers giant Twister, painting, BBQ and "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" nights. Bar Luna holds poetry slams. Music plays at numerous places (especially along Jl. Monkey Forest), including Laughing Buddha Bar, XL Shisha Lounge and Bunuté. Kick up your heels while salsa dancing at Cage Havana or Jazz Café. The Round Bar in Penestanan boasts furniture made entirely from recycled materials, including bicycle wheels incorporated into bar stools.


Don't forget to pack ...
The roosters and dogs are known to shake many a tourist awake in the too-early morning hours, so ear plugs are a must for light sleepers. With a sun that beats down hard, you'll be glad you brought sunscreen and glasses. A reusable (plastic, aluminum) water bottle is handy and can be refilled with filtered water at your hotel or a few places around town - including Bali Buda across from the post office. You may want to tuck in a collapsible umbrella if you get caught in a sudden downpour while strolling through the paddies. If you plan to rent a scooter while in town - they're cheap and plentiful, don't leave home without an international drivers' license and ... travel safely everybody!


PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: If you plan to visit Ubud during peak season (June-August), be prepared to deal with daytime traffic jams on the main roads in town as they become virtually impassable due to the large number of hefty tourist buses unloading passengers wherever they please and idling for hours on end. Your best bet is to wander beyond the city during the day, limiting your mid-town shopping, spa and dining experiences to the morning or evening hours.


BONUS Tip -What to pack...

I suggest packing lightweight T-shirts, shorts, capris and summer dresses. However, if your budget allows, have some fun. Take very little with you and buy whatever you need for a fraction of what it would cost at home. Sarongs can be worn over shorts for temple visits and slip-on sandals are ideal -- easy to slip off before entering shops & places of worship. Don't forget to pack closed shoes for serious walking (tennis shoes etc.). A hat (foldup is perfect) is essential as it is very sunny and hot year round with temperatures hovering between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit or 24-33 degrees Celsius. It's a good idea to take a long-sleeved sweater or shirt for slightly cooler evenings and air-conditioned buildings.

Submitted by Teena Hughes, Australia


She comes of age in Bali ...

Would you like to see a menstruation ceremony? The invitation was disconcerting. Intriguing, but disconcerting to one who grew up when such functions were rarely mentioned, let alone celebrated. Publicly celebrated. I'd heard that visitors are often invited to Balinese funerals, Balinese weddings, Balinese feasts. But something as personal as this?

So there we sat, the other menstruation guests and I, on folding chairs in the home of the girl whose new maturity we were honoring. My place was among a covered portico between the heavy gate and the courtyard where the ceremony would take place. More...



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