Ubud is located just over an hour from the airport in Denpasar (DPS) but it feels like a world away from the beaches of Kuta. Whilst it’s firmly on the tourist trail in Bali in many ways it doesn’t feel that way due to the laid back attitude of the people here. Yes there are lots of businesses catering to foreigners but at the same time it doesn’t have the “too many tourists” feel that you get in a lot of places. One thing that is inescapable are the plethora of Balinese cultural shows available every evening. It’s only when you attend these that you realize how touristy Ubud really is due to the makeup of the audience, however the cultural shows are actually really good.
Ubud itself is generally a very quiet town with a nearly non-existent party scene. We tried to seek out a party our last night there but there really wasn’t one to be found. The main attractions here are the many Balinese cultural options and nearby natural attractions. We hired motorbikes and drove out to the nearby volcanoes and rice paddies located about 1 hour north of Ubud. The roads here are poorly signposted and it’s very easy to get lost. Also, there are several police checkpoints so it’s important to have an international driver’s license. We got stopped at one point but somehow talked our way out of paying a “fine” or bribe. If you don’t have an international driver’s license but it’s advisable to hire a driver since most people ending up paying fines. I would highly recommend exploring the area around Ubud, the scenery is incredible.
The vibe around Ubud is really relaxed and honestly I could’ve easily stayed there for a week. There are also loads of shopping and dining options in addition to an overwhelming number of art galleries. We generally ate at the cheaper restaurants off the main streets, which were significantly less than the main street ones. In my opinion, a trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without going to Ubud for at least a couple of days.