Bali Travel Guide: Five Days In Ubud
After five beautiful days in Seminyak, we were off to the jungle! Ubud is located in the southern-middle part of the island. It was about an hour drive from Seminyak. We were very excited about this leg of the trip because of the adventurous endeavors we were planning! That being said, Ubud is a completely different experience than Seminyak. Be prepared for a lot of movement, adventuring, and animals!
Ubud is a jungle. There are waterfalls, lots of greenery and animals, and trees! Do not expect to see beaches.
The climate is a little different in Ubud compared to Seminyak. Instead of experiencing the scorching sun, we felt the area was more humid and cooler at night.
There are no taxi's in Ubud! It is best to plan with the hotel to accommodate rides.
Walking is a bit easier in Ubud. I only recommend this option if you visually see side walks.
There are wild animals so be aware. We actually found a snake in our open-air bathroom. Luckily, it was a baby and very easy to trap in a cup.
In terms of needing a tour guide here, I recommend one for the more adventurous excursions. You'll absolutely need a guide for Mt. Batur. I would say no guide is needed for the ridge walk or touring waterfalls.
We stayed in COMO Uma Ubud the entire five days. Upon arrival, we were given the grand tour of the resort-style hotel. It was a bit further away from Ubud center; away from the hustle-and-bustle. We were blown away with the beauty of the grounds. Plants and palm trees were everywhere, incredible gardens throughout, and everything was very taken care of. Our room was tucked in the back of the property so we felt a lot of privacy.
Our room was a hut-style pool villa. We had a large sitting area with a huge couch and TV, bedroom, bathroom with a French tub, an indoor and outdoor shower, large closet, kitchenette, huge back patio with a private pool overlooking the jungle and tons of outdoor lounging options. We used that private pool every single day. It was incredible and the view of the jungle was out of this world. This was easily Mike's favorite hotel!
COMO Uma Ubud
Como Uma has three dining options. The first night, we tried out their Italian restaurant perched in the front of the hotel. It was good; I got a pork chop while Mike ate pizza and pasta. The hotel also offered breakfast included in your stay. The third dining option was my favorite.. the pool bar! I had salad and calamari at the bar one night and it was exceptional.
COMO UMA'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT: MY PORK CHOP, MEAT AND CHEESE BOARD APPETIZER, AND MIKES PIZZA
Como Uma also had a spa in which we could not get into the entire time we were there. I assume that means it's pretty good! The fitness center was small but had everything I needed; a treadmill, cable machine and dumbbells. The most impressive wellness offering was the daily yoga in their yoga shala. I was able to attend a 4pm class; the rain was coming down and it was the most breathtaking sight watching the rainforest while doing yoga. The class was full of yogis both new and well-trained.
Things to do
This is a top attraction in Ubud. Monkey Forest is just that... a forest full of monkeys! These monkeys are indeed wild. There are some rules to the road here.. don't look them in the eye, don't approach them, if they sit on you or touch you don't try to pet them, etc. You also don't need to necessarily run away when they come up to you! These monkeys are very accustomed to tourists and they like bananas. So the monkeys are generally nice. I do want to emphasize "generally"; there are many stories of people getting bit and getting rabies. So please proceed with caution. If you want funny photos with the monkeys, the locals will help you with where to put your hands, what to do, where to put the banana... etc. You should tip these employees or locals because they do help you get fabulous photos.
Hike Mt. Batur at sunrise
This was my favorite adventure in Ubud. Hiking Mount Batur is not only difficult in itself, but hiking it at night is more than a challenge. Mount Batur is an active volcano about an hour from Ubud. This volcano erupted last in year 2000! It is surrounded by water so when eruptions do occur, most people are safe because the lava flows into the water.
To see the sunrise, you must wake up early to drive and begin your hike by 4 a.m. The average hiker takes about two hour to hike the mountain. This is due to the incline as there are no switch backs, just straight up! It's also due to being pitch black outside; there are no overhead lights anywhere and most people where headlamps. The lava rocks are slippery and steep so this hike isn't for the first-timer.
It took Mike and I about 1 hour and 40 minutes to hike up; I had to stop and breath MULTIPLE times. That's how steep this baby was. Our guide, Norman, was a bad-ass Balinese man who was a spark of energy. Especially during the sunrise, our guide was the absolute life of the party. Anyways, once you reach the second view point, you find your way to a seat and watch the magnificent sun come up over the clouds. Nothing was more surreal than being perched on top of clouds. Mike and I were sweaty yet cold, so bring layers. I started wearing just a sports bra, and ended with a long sleeve top and sweatshirt. You actually get colder the further up the mountain.
The sunrise is something I'll never be able to describe over text, over description, through visual.. nothing. This view is something only the eye can understand. My husband and I felt so much love and gratitude at the top of this volcano.
After the sun rose, the monkeys come out to play! We took a different way back down the volcano so it took half the amount of time getting up the volcano (around an hour for us). This way down the mountain is typically for ATVs and motor bikes so you must be careful and watch out.
Health Check: Pack tons of water for this hike! Since your up early, its easy to forget to drink enough water especially knowing there are no bathrooms. I was extremely thirsty when we reached the top and soon realized I had not had water yet that morning! Dehydration can lead to dizziness, so you don't want to be falling down this volcano!
HIKING MT BATUR VOLCANO AT 4 AM
Tour a temple + talk with a local priest
To be honest, we thought about skipping this day of excursions. I am so glad we did not. We ventured to a community temple where the local priest lives and were pleasantly surprised. The Balinese people welcomed us into their sacred practices of blessings, singing, giving offerings and talking to the priest. He spoke only Balinese so we were lucky a translator was present. Everyone spoke very broken English so we put our patience caps on and indulged in everything we learned. The priest was able to tell Mike and I our signs, our lucky numbers (which oddly enough was the same! 29.. which is the date we got married!!). He told me my role as a wife and what I should explore in terms of my career. It was extremely interesting. The best part of the day was being a part of their blessing. Another surreal moment where we stood with other balinese people, rubbed rice and water on our face and had bracelets tied around our wrists. It was magical.
Health Check: This is a personal preference, but many times we were offered food & drink by the lovely Balinese people. Mike and I declined every time.. not because we were "fasting" or not sure of the ingredients; we declined because their sanitation and preparation is much different than the United States. Be careful when trying local fruits, vegetables or liquids to avoid Bali belly.
Buy sculptures from local woodcarvers
We thoroughly enjoyed stopping at all of the local and handmade shops; but our favorite was the woodcarver. There are plenty of these shops among Ubud. We bought little carvings for ourselves and for our siblings to bring back. Personally, I purchased a dolphin made from mahogany which is a local Bali wood.
We specifically explored Kanto Lampo and Tegenungan Waterfall. Tenenungan waterfall was a huge, very powerful waterfall that no one could truly swim underneath but you could get into the water and swim around. Nearby, a beach club was playing loud vibrant music and the energy flowed throughout the land. The second spot was Kanto Lampo waterfall. This waterfall was Mike's favorite. It was inside a jungle; although powerful, many people were letting the waterfall hit their faces. Us included!
Health Check: Jump right in! Bring your swimsuit and take a leap into the water. Many times, my brain will say "no, too much of a hassle.. I'll just watch". This closed off mindset would have kept me from experiencing an active and fun afternoon.
KANTO LAMPO WATERFALL
Swing at Tegalalang Rice Terrace
We were "those tourists" and paid to swing a Bali swing! It was fun, but the coolest part was the rice terrace this was located in. This specific rice terrace is HUGE. The whole town shares the profits versus just one family.
Hike the Campuhan Ridge Walk
The ridge walk was a 1.5 mile walk that situated between two rivers. This walk felt like a bit of a workout, but I assume that was due to the heat rather than the difficulty. At the end of the ridge walk, you will find a temple where the two rivers meet. The Was river and the Cerik river are thought to have healing powers. Many Balinese doctors come here to fetch water and give to their sick patients.
Health Check: I approached every walk as a way to get active. That being said, plan to wear comfortable gym shoes during this trek! Even though it was only 1.5 miles, we worked up a sweat and burned some calories!
"WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET"
Zest is one of the most well known vegan cafes in Bali. When we arrived, we were starving. We had hiked Mount Batur on an empty stomach and we were ready for some real food. Luckily, Zest... although vegan... had everything we needed. We ordered so many goodies! I ordered the seaweed waffles to split with Mike. I also ordered a turmeric latte for inflammation and a main course of a vegetable brunch stack. It had sweet potato, avocado, carrots, zucchini... you name it! We tried the hummus and vegetable platter as well. Mike got the avocado toast which looked incredible. We give Zest five stars!
Health Check: It is easy to order heavy carb-based meals at vegan restaurants. I like to think of it like this: without animal protein, what's left? Carbs + fat... so, be weary of ordering so many carb-based dishes and look at the ingredients instead of deeming every vegan item as healthy. (This is not suggesting carbs are un-healthy; this is pointing out that even Oreos are considered vegan :)).
ZEST: MATCHA MIKE, BREAKFAST SALAD, SEAWEED WAFFLES, TURMERIC LATTE
Five Elements Hotel
I am only listing this hotel because of the plant-based menu. If you are a meat eater, it is not worth going to this hotel for breakfast. But if you are vegan, I highly recommend their breakfast toast made with fresh vegetables and cashew cream cheese. We also tried the dragon fruit bowl which was light and refreshing.
Eat the rainbow! If you notice your plate contains all neutral colored foods, look for radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fruits to bring more variety and micronutrients to your meals.
FIVE ELEMENTS: VEGAN TOAST AND DRAGONFRUIT BOWL
Clear cafe was not a vegan cafe; however everything on the menu screamed health. We stopped here after a killer HIIT workout and we both loved our omelets! The coffee menu was super impressive as well. Clear cafe is a spa too, so if you're dining here I am sure its worth getting a massage too.
Health Check: Whole eggs vs. egg whites? To be honest, it depends on your goals! Whole eggs are extremely nutrient dense; it is considered the best source of choline. If you're worried about cholesterol, worry less! You'd have to eat a lot of eggs for your cholesterol to increase due to egg consumption. Egg whites are also a great option if you're dieting. An egg white is about 17 calories and 0 grams of fat while a full egg is 70 calories and 5 grams of fat.
CLEAR CAFE: EGG WHITE OMELET
My favorite health cafe in Ubud was the Elephant. I can't say it was because of the crazy vegan menu nor the taste of the coffee. I fell in love with the Elephant because of the view, the vibes, the simple items on my plate, and the gratitude I felt. We sat at the bar which overlooked the entire jungle and it made you realize just how small you are compared to the entire world. I ate my favorite breakfast foods... eggs, potatoes, spinach and tomato. I was in heaven!
Health Check: Look at your day ahead before ordering your meal. I ate a large breakfast here because the next time I was going to eat was dinner. I made sure that I had carbs, fat and protein in this meal. If you order a small breakfast then approach dinner ravenous, you'll over consume and most likely go over your caloric limit.
Embers is a Mediterranean restaurant located at the top of a hotel. The restaurant is open to the outside which was covered with plants, herbs, garden boxes, and vines. They made the space feel extremely earthy! The food was great; I got the chicken dish with a side salad.
Health Check: Mediterranean food has so many healthy options! I always order a hummus appetizer and ask for extra vegetables instead of pita. As a main course, there is almost always a chicken dish. Olive oil is a staple fat source in the Mediterranean diet and perfect for drizzling on fattoush salads!
EMBERS: GRILLED CHICKEN DISH
This restaurant was rated one of the best in Ubud. Locavore is a restaurant catered to making healthy tastings with no gluten or dairy. They take animal proteins and vegetables and create delicious small plates for the entire table to try. The experience is one set price; until you add in alcohol. I thought the food was amazing. I tried unique dishes such as goat and the watermelon tartare (that tasted like tuna!). The ambiance was fine; not overly decorated but was comfortable.
Health Check: We ate at a few "tasting menu" restaurants during our trip. I enjoy these because the pacing of the small meals allows me to really be present while eating the food. I also tend to fill up quicker because I am slowing down eating time. This allows your body to digest a bit and fill up. Remember to stop eating when you feel full.
Copper Kitchen was my favorite dinner in Ubud. This restaurant was also attached to a hotel. Once you make your way to the roof, you feel as though you stepped into Italy! There were tons of flowers, vines, archways and more than gave a unique European vibe. The mixed cocktails were fabulous and I really enjoyed my steak.
Health Check: Red meat is a great protein option while dining out! I typically suggest not eating red meat at every meal. However, every 2-3 nights you should feel comfortable and confident in consuming steak. Steak is a great source of essential amino acids, iron, magnesium, and even creatine!
COPPER KITCHEN: ROOFTOP, GARDEN SALAD, STEAK AND POTATOES
Room4Dessert was a very different experience. This 23-dessert-tasting restaurant was very underwhelming and honestly unsatisfying. I love being unique in the kitchen, don't get me wrong! But after the first few "desserts" (which were appetizers made with fruits), I was done. I wanted a protein and a vegetable; I could feel my blood sugar rising just by looking at the unique concoctions. They split the tasting up into three parts so we moved throughout the restaurant like a progressive dinner. We got to our final tasting which took place outside and we were so ready to leave. We took the desserts to go and headed to the hotel where I ordered a chicken salad ASAP. Another note: I did not eat many of the tastings offered. They could have been extremely delicious. But 3 hours of dessert tasting is not part of my lifestyle therefore I tapped out early!
Health Check: It is okay to say no. I was in this position at Room4Dessert with both my husband and the servers. I am confident enough to decide that these foods would not make me feel good or help my goals so politely declining is always an option.