Each time I visit Ubud I fall more in love. Yes, there are tons of tourist traps and high priced places to stay, but there’s more to Bali, and Ubud in particular. I believe that you can absolutely have a relaxing and “non-touristy” visit, but you have to know where to go and be prepared before you visit.
The reason I love Bali so much is because of the people, the atmosphere, the aroma that saturates every nook and side street. The food is absolutely divine. Whether you’re in a restaurant or shopping at a local market, piles of delicious fruits and veggies are endless. Plus, I stay at one of THE most relaxing bed and breakfasts.
I enjoy being in the heart of a city without the noise, chaos, and expense of staying in the center. I’ve been able to achieve this in four cities so far; Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Bali. Today I’m going to share with you my absolute favorites for visiting Ubud, Bali.
In my list below I’ve broken down where I visit and stay and what you can expect in order to have a great vacation, sprinkled with authentic experiences and relaxing adventures.
Jawi House & Painter– This hidden gem is located right off of Monkey Forest Road. If you’ve been researching Ubud even a little bit then you’ve probably heard of the famous Monkey Forest Temple. Well, this little bed and breakfast is about a 10 minute walk from the temple but located on a tiny quiet side street. The host, Putu, is a petite Balinese woman with a genuine smile and makes the most bangin’ banana pancakes. Each morning you’ll be served breakfast in your room. You can choose the time you’d like your meal to be delivered. Typically in the evening she’ll drop by your room and ask what you’d like off of their menu. She provides a list of about 5 different breakfast options; all of which come with fresh Bali coffee or tea and a plate of ornately cut fruit. My husband and I were in shock the first morning she brought in this large plate propped up on her shoulder, with our breakfast spread. We truly felt like royalty and everything was delicious. Putu even accommodated us and provided a meal for our toddler.
Each time I’ve visited I’ve stayed in the Garden Room. It has a large queen bed with crisp white sheets, a sheer canopy, Balinese bed frame, and a traditional Ikat throw draped across the foot of the bed. The room comes with a mini fridge and unlimited free water from a filtered water cooler. Each day Putu and her husband come in and make the bed, clean the sink and vanity, the floors, and the bathroom (which has a shower and bathtub). The room also has a table and chairs to dine at. The Garden Room also has a balcony which over looks the grounds and has beautiful orchids and ferns surrounding it. When you’re sitting out there you feel like you’re in paradise. Putu burns incense each morning, as well as leaves out colorful offerings full or fruit, flowers, candy, and rice. You’ll be tempted to get out your camera at every turn to capture the magic and beauty. You can even hear birds singing all around.
One of my favorite parts of each day in Bali is the morning time. Being greeted with a plate of home cooked food while also taking in the smells and sounds just immediately sets the tone for the entire day.
Jawi House & Painter is a 3-room B&B so you’ll never have to worry about too many people crowding the property and Putu gives great service to each guest. You can arrange airport pick up with her for just $25 and car service for every day of your trip if you’d like. She also treats guests with a special Balinese dish before they leave. The first time I visited, Putu also taught me how to make a Balinese dinner outside on her gas cooktop and I was able to serve it to my family before we left the next day.
Jawi House & Painter is almost always booked and Putu is a super host, so I recommend booking as soon as possible.
Bonus: Ask Putu about attending the Fire Trance Dance that her and her husband are apart of. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before and very exciting to watch! (See photos from my visit under “Learn”)
Watercress Restaurant– This spot is located just outside the side street that Jawi House & Painter is located on. Watercress is an indoor-outdoor eatery that is set back a bit, which allows you to people watch while also enjoying a quiet meal. The restaurant initially captured my husband and I with their magnificently creamy coconut milk flat whites. They have their own coffee that they roast and brew called, Revolver and it has strong cocoa flavors unlike any coffee we’ve ever had. The first time my family and I visited Ubud, we would end each night with one of their coffees and rich chocolate vegan desserts. I don’t eat dairy, so when I find a place that offers delicious dairy-free desserts, I’m sold! They also have gluten-free options. The menu is full of the freshest ingredients as well. For a midday snack I recommend their Layered Chia Seed Pudding with coconut cream. The dish comes in a mason far full of sweet compote berries and sliced seasonal fruit. The coconut milk is from Bali as well.
Watercress is also open for lunch and dinner.
For meat eaters I recommend their Australian Angus Beef Burger with Fennel, Cranberry & Walnut Slaw, Caramelized Onion Jam, Melted Cheddar, Fresh Tomato & Pickles, and a large bowl of crispy smashed baby potatoes and English mustard.
(Oh yeah! Did I mention that the exchange rate between the USD and Indonesian Rupiah is out of this world?! Like $1 = 13,348 Rupiah…So, for this amazing burger meal I just mentioned. It will cost you just $7.13!!!!! I know right?! This is what also had me coming back to Bali. Pretty much after purchasing my plane ticket, I saved money while staying in Bali. If you’re someone who hates going on vacation and then coming back broke because you spent way more than you were meaning to. Plus, you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the trip without spending beaucoup amounts of money, then you’ll love Bali just like I do. You don’t have to break the bank AT ALL to have an absolutely mind-blowing vacation in Bali….Ok, now back to what to eat at Watercress.
I recommend you order a large glass of their effervescent kombucha. They have a few different flavors to choose from. We got the girls the kid’s Chicken Parma to share and the dish was massive. There was more than enough for the two of them to share and my husband to snack on afterwards.
Watercress is hands-down my husband’s favorite restaurant in Ubud.
Traditional Dance and Performance– The perfect ending to a long day. You can catch a traditional performance at the Ubud palace, just a 15 minute walk from Watercress. The tickets are sold on the street beginning in the afternoon. I’m pretty sure there is a show every night. There will be many people standing outside the palace selling tickets, but I went into one of the smaller buildings and purchased our tickets from two men in traditional dress sitting at a table. I was hesitant to buy from anyone else.
The show begins just after sunset and the room fills up quickly. I recommend being one of the first ones in or sending someone in to hold your seats. You’ll get the best photos that way and it will allow the kiddos to see what’s going on. People began arriving for the 1.5 hour long show about 30 minutes before it began. There aren’t any bathrooms nearby, so I recommend having kids use the restroom before you sit down.
Street food- Pork Satay. I’m all in when it comes to street food. Especially if there is a long line of locals waiting, I know it’s got to be good. That’s how I found this tiny street food tent in Ubud. While walking the streets I saw this little tent…but really it’s just this black plastic sheet draped over a long string tied to two poles. Underneath it is a large man cooking over a tiny charcoal grill. There are 2 plastic white chairs for some customers to sit, but that’s about it. There’s a man taking the money and a long line of hungry people. When I first walked up to the spot, I wasn’t sure what he was selling but I was sure I wanted some. After getting a closer look and seeing multiple people walk by with a handful of tiny sticks wrapped in brown paper I realized it was Bali’s famed satay. You cannot leave Bali without tasting street side pork or chicken satay. And always say yes to the spicy chili sauce.
One of the other street food items I had in Ubud was spring rolls chopped into bite sized pieces, topped with fresh sliced chilis and brown sauce. I’m not sure how else to describe it or the name, but it was amazing. I was visiting a tiny market outside of Ubud and my driver told me to go check out the food cart. It was full of spring rolls and fried tofu. I thought to myself, “Why not?”. I order some and the cook prepared it all, and then stabbed a toothpick in to the mound of rolls. The brown sauce was slightly sweet with a bit of saltiness like soy sauce. The chilis added a perfect kick and the spring rolls were crispy and filled with shredded veggies.
I definitely recommend that you try street food while in Ubud. There are many delicious wholesome restaurants that are a must, but what’s the fun of visiting a new city if you don’t try the food the way that the locals eat it?
At The Yoga Barn– I was SUPER hesitant about attending a class at The Yoga Barn because I thought it would be pretentious and expensive. But I was pleasantly surprised and would totally go back again. The teacher was funny and down to earth. I arrived late for the class (a big no-no…but I was on vacation and taking my time. lol). The class was packed tight! There were at least 40 people in the class, located on a large wooden terrace with large openings for a breeze, but no actual windows. You are covered from the elements but still out in nature. The class I attended was located on the second floor, so you could see right out into trees and the Yoga Barn grounds.
Class includes a mat, so don’t worry about traveling with your yoga mat unless you plan on practicing in your room. I rented a towel and after class took a shower downstairs. There were many people doing this and it was so convenient. I simply wore my sports bra and yoga pants under a dress and put the dress and new underclothes on after class. I was then able to walk around Ubud and not have to go back to my bed and breakfast to shower and change.
The Yoga Barn has a small juice hut with fresh squeezed juices and water infused with fruits and herbs. I grabbed a large bottle of cucumber infused water and was able to reuse the bottle for the rest of my trip. You can also hang out and eat there. They offer so many classes for yoga enthusiasts of different levels. They also host movie nights featuring documentaries about social issues and wellness, as well as large dinners. If you’re traveling alone, attending one of their dinners might be a great way to meet new people.
Well that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll come to you with my Ultimate List of Places to Visit in Ubud, Bali, Part 2.
Have you visited Bali before? Are you hoping to visit sometime soon? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below. I always respond.