Rice fields, spirituality, yoga, organic and raw food, meditation… all this is part of the Ubud cliché! But despite being overwhelmed by the tourism the place is beautiful! And for sure that Ubud still has the magic touch that attracts so many visitors, that transform this rural area in one of the most popular destinations in Bali Island!
But at the first look, is hard to believe that this was a rural area less than 20 years ago, due to the concentration of shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and guesthouses… a sequence of shops, with western orientated products, sophisticated and with high quality.
But behind this commercial activity, a bit away from the main roads of Ubud, everything is green, from the rice to the coconut trees!
Being a rural area a walk along the rice fields is a must, with the vivid green landscape creating a bright contrast with the blue sky, where the white cotton clouds aren’t enough to hide the strong sun, that makes these hikes a very sweaty experience, intensified by the strong humidity of the air at the rice fields area.
On the opposite side of the cosmopolitan and westernized lifestyle, the temples, spread a bit everywhere in Ubud, keeping a proud serenity, with their guardians watching and protecting the sacred place keep hidden behind the red brick walls.
Being Bali the only Hindu island in all Indonesia, that is the country with the biggest Muslim population, the religion here has a constant presence in everyday life, with rituals and offerings being made at home and on the temples, in order to pacify the gods and the spirits, special the evil spirits responsible for diseases and disasters. Having a strong connection with the Hinduism practiced in India, the traditions in Bali have many differences, looking almost like a different religion to a foreigner’s eyes.
About Ubud, many things were written and there’s a lot of information about lodging and food, but here I mention a proper budget places… not budget for two-weeks-holidays-tourists but for long term travellers, where each cents has significance 😉 So here is a simple suggestion about cheap local food, budget accommodation in a homestay.
Where to sleep in Ubud (budget option):
If you want to run away from villa, resorts and luxurious places, the best options are the homestays. There are many of this type of accommodation in Ubud, and the best is just walk around and find a sign that looks less catchy to the eyes, as this are usually the unpretentious and cheap places.
Walking down Jalan Hanoman I found this pearl between many posh options in the area: Dewi Ayu 2… don’t have any idea if exist a number 1, but this place suited me. This is a proper family homestay, very well located in the center of Ubud, with different types of rooms.
The cheapest ones (100.000 Rp) are very spacious, fan, basic furniture, cold shower and a terrace in front, where the breakfast is served, facing a garden. The place is very clean but showing the effect of the time. The breakfast include coffee, a generous portion of fruit and the “usual” banana pancakes… a standard of Indonesia tourist breakfast, don’t really know why!
The family is very friendly, and during the Nyepi day, where all the restaurants are closed, all the guests were treated with two homemade meals, cooked and offered by the grandmother… delicious and super kind!
Address: Dewi Ayu 2, Jalan Hanoman, 41, Ubud, Bali
The quiet streets of Jalan Sugriwa and Jalan Jembawan, streets parallel to Jalan Hanoman are also a good place to look for budget homestays in Ubud.
Where to eat local food for a cheap price:
Padang food: this is the budget option in terms of food in Bali. The “padang” or “masakan padang” are eateries, with a big range of food, from meat, fish, tofu, tempeh, eggs… and rice, of course! The meals can be eaten inside the restaurant or packed for take-away. The portions are generous and a meal cost around 20.000 Rp, less than 1.5 €. The base of padang food is the rice, and each person chooses what to add from a big variety that is show off at the window of the eatery… from meat, fish, tofu, vegetables, curry, tempeh, etc…
They open around 11 a.m. and close around 8 p.m… others close after lunch, specially in small towns and villages.
- Rumah Makan Sari Minang (Jalan Ray Pengosekan, nearby the junction with Jalan Raya Nyuh Kuning, opp to Alfamart)… my favorite!!!
- Sanak (Jalan Hanoman, 7)
- Puteeri Minang (Jalan Raya, 77)
Warungs: These are local restaurants, usually simple and informal. They have a menu, sometimes posted on the wall with the usual range of Indonesian foods: nasi goreng, gado-gado, nasi campur, etc… the prices are between 20.000 to 40.000 Rp.
- Warung Lokal (Jalan Gootama, 7)
Street food: there are a few options of street-food away from the main touristic streets. Usually, these stalls start around the sunset… you can find satay, bakso, martabak (a roti filled with vegetables or egg), goregan (deep fry stuff), injin (pancake stuffed with rice).
- Junction between Raya Pengosekan and Jaan Made Lebah, in front of a supermarket
- On Jalan Raya Ubud, between Jalan Jembawan and the Anjuna Statue (Jalan Raya Andong)
- Around lunch time, you can spot same ladies nearby the market area, with a tray on the top of the head that usually have nasi goreng, deep-fry tofu, meat…
Exchange money in Ubud:
There are a lot of money exchangers in Ubud… and there are also many stories about scams with exchanging money.
I didn’t have any problem the three times that I exchange my money in this two places, the process is easy and you don’t need to show the passport:
- PT Bali Maspint Jinra, located at Jalang Pengosekan… nearby Bening Bungalow s
- PT Bali Hastie Indomalaya, located on the west side of the Jalan Raya Ubud
Move around Ubud:
Move around is not an easy task in Ubud, as the Uber, GoJek, Grab…. and others transport companies are banned from town and cannot operate there due to the pressure of the local taxi and moto-taxi corporation, who’s drivers stay on every street and every corner offering their services.
Bemos apparently also don’t operate in Ubud, at least during the time I stay there I couldn’t see any.
To visit the rice fields and hike to Campuan ridge you can do all on foot. But if you want to go further than three kilometers you must hire a taxi or a moto-taxi that, if you are alone, is the cheapest option.
There isn’t a fixed rate, and the price must be negotiated before the ride… usually, the minimum that they ask is 50.000 Rp, but you must bargain. A 3 km moto-taxi ride shouldn’t cost you more that 20.000 Rp, even on a rainy day!!!!
What to do in Ubud for free:
- Walk along the Campuhan ridge: very popular and a bit crowded at the sunset. It starts on the west side of Jalan Raya Ubud, before the bridge.
- Walk in the rice fields: easy and pleasant walk but without much shade. It starts on Jalan Raya Ubud, just before Museum Puri Lukisan, and ends nearby Desa Temple, also in Jalan Raya Ubud.
- Walk to the river: pass by some rice fields, if you want you can go to the river and on the way back it passes by a more shady area. This walk starts on Jalan Raya Ubud, nearby Eden House, where you need to turn left after a few meters. When you reach the sign that points the river (doesn’t worth the effort to go down), you can turn right and follow the water ditch along the rice field and join the path that ends nearby Desa Temple.
- Petulu and the herons:To reach the trees where the herons gather you need to pay 20.000 Rp, to help the development of the local community.This small village about 6 km north Ubud is famous for being the gathering of the herons, that around sunset return to the village filling the trees of white dots and the air with their chirp.The show of the herons doesn’t really worth the money, but the road that leads to the village of Petulu, that start somewhere on Raya Petulu, is quite nice, as you can have an idea of how Ubud look like before the tourism arrive here. It’s a long walk, and the part along Raya Petulu is uncharacteristic and with some traffic.