Renowned for its traditional arts, craft, and dance, the choice of things to do in Ubud is endless. This town has an air of creativity, set against a backdrop of stunning vistas, interwoven with history and religion. Rainforests mingle with terraced rice paddies. Hindu temples and ancient holy sites sit proudly on the horizon.
Life is busy, too busy sometimes, a never-ending cycle of work and chores, clock-watching and responsibility. With a hankering for tranquillity and tradition, and a measure of spirituality thrown in for good measure, I make my way from Kuta Bali to the town of Ubud, in the uplands of this Indonesian island.
I immediately feel at peace here, Ubud has an otherworldly feel that allows you to leave behind the stresses and strains of everyday life. I acquaint myself with fellow tourists, tired souls who are looking to replenish and refresh themselves by frequenting the many studios and events dedicated to yoga and meditation. I speak with a couple of expats who have been here for a few months, immersing themselves in the spiritual ambiance and soaking up the tranquillity that is synonymous with this area of Bali.
Resting My Weary Head at the Bisma Eight Hotel
There are many wonderful hotels in Ubud. I choose to rest my head in the Bisma Eight Hotel, a luxury hotel, with a contemporary design, that’s situated right in the center of the town. The hotel has its own shrine, a nod to the fact that Ubud has long since been a site devoted to faith and pilgrimage. You can’t help but feel welcome here like you are at home (but much more stylish than your own pad)!
There are thirty-eight spacious suites to choose from, all embrace the essence of Balinese art and culture, and all are equally spectacular. Expect to find a king-size bed, separate lounge area, shower, and Goemon (Japanese-inspired) soaking tub, plus your own private garden or balcony. You also get those practical elements that can make all the difference to your vacation, such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge and in-room safe.
The ground floor Garden Suites are nestled around the Bamboo Courtyard – where you are enticed to take a moment to sit and enjoy the lush green landscape in your own private garden. Alternatively, go for one of the Canopy Suites, which are located in the main building. Here you can enjoy your own private balcony, overlooking the Canopy Courtyard below. I opt to stay in one of eighteen Forest Suites, and I am not disappointed.
Located near the pavilion and pool, my suite comes with breath-taking views of the Ubud jungle, and each evening I am fortunate enough to witness the stunning Balinese sunset from the comfort of my own balcony.
The Bisma Eight offers plenty in the way of food and drink, and I make the most of all that’s on offer. I venture into the Copper Kitchen, Bar and Rooftop to sample the “seasonal earth-to-table dining experience,” where I thoroughly enjoy tasting the fresh, locally sourced produce on offer. I amble to the Library café, flopping into a comfy chair and finding solace in two of my passions – great literature and great coffee, and I also find time to soak up the Balinese sun as I sip a refreshing cocktail at the Pool Pavilion.
I could spend my entire trip lounging, but decide it’s time to hit the hotel gym in an effort to work off the calories I’ve been avidly consuming. This is swiftly followed by a dip in the absolutely stunning infinity pool. Invigorated, I decide to try my hand at traditional Balinese dancing, the hotel offers an hour-long class every Monday, and I am encouraged to use my hands, fingers, head, and eyes to convey ancient stories.
The Copper Rooftop Bar also plays host to Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga classes each morning from 8-9am. I’ll admit, it’s hard work dragging myself from my comfy king-size bed, but it’s worth it! I start the day with a sense of peace and focus that I have never experienced before, and begin to understand the meaning behind the mantra “a healthy mind gives a healthy body gives a healthy life.”
If time allows you can also participate in a Canang Sari Balinese offering ceremony, take a lesson in the art of traditional Balinese cooking or discover the secret of making the perfect mocktail at a crafty mocktail masterclass. For the more adventurous there’s a cycling tour every Saturday and Sunday, allowing you to explore the town of Ubud.
Going Vegan at the Sayuri Healing Food Café
I am almost loath to leave the sanctuary of my hotel but force myself to venture beyond the stylish walls to see what else Ubud has to offer. I allow my stomach to lead the way and find myself at the vegan Sayuri Healing Food Café – which soon becomes my go-to place for breakfast and lunch. This is fresh, tasty and wholesome food at it’s best, and although I am not a vegan, I spend the week eating like one!
This place attracts chilled out tourists, and seems to be a haven for laptop wielding workers too – oh well, if you have to work, I guess you may as well choose a place that offers great grub! There are flavorsome herbs and sweets to purchase, and the café also offers raw vegan cooking classes.
Dining Out in Style at Blanco Par Mandif
I’ve heard great things about Blanco Par Mandif, it’s billed as the finest modern Indonesian gastronomic restaurant, so I simply have to find out for myself if it lives up to the hype – and I’m pleased to confirm that it does.
I adore the elegant décor, and am treated like royalty by the staff – customer service is obviously a top priority at this eatery. Undisputed expert of Indonesian flavors – Chef Mandif, works tirelessly alongside Chef Tan Ali (an up and coming talent in the culinary world) to deliver modern fusion food to eager diners. You can choose from 7 or 9 courses, I go for the 9 (I am on holiday after all)! I savor the yellowfin tuna, and thoroughly relish the cakalang hand-pulled noodles, washing it all down with a perfectly crafted cocktail, which is, quite frankly, to die for!
Related read: All The Things That Indonesia Taught Me
Take a Moment for Yourself in Ubud.
I defy you not to fall in love with Ubud – from the lush jungle to the sacred holy sites, the town has an air of serenity that’s hard to emulate.