If you’re going to Bali, Ubud shouldn’t be missed. Many people think of beaches when they think of Bali, but Ubud, arguably the cultural heart of Bali, is more in the middle of the island so its terrain is more akin to a rainforest than a beach.
While Ubud offers visitors a glimpse into the traditional side of Bali, it also is constantly being developed so you will find hip restaurants, shops, and accommodations here as well. I recommend staying a minimum of 3 nights and at most 4 nights. Accommodation can be spread out throughout Ubud, and traffic is a problem in Ubud, therefore you should pick where you want to stay accordingly. I’ve stayed in the heart of Ubud’s city center, slightly outside of it, and 30 minutes away. All offered great, but different, experiences. However, I would recommend taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings Ubud offers and stay away from the city center.
While COMO has three properties in Bali, COMO Shambhala is their crown jewel. It is situated about 45 minutes away from Ubud Monkey Forest, but you’ll have little reason to leave the property once you arrive. I stayed at Shambhala for four days and each day I discovered something new about the grounds. It felt like I was perpetually saying, “Wow!”
MUST-EATS IN UBUD
Locavore - I really hope I get to eat here again one day. It was without a doubt the best meal I had in Ubud. They offer a tasting menu made up locally sourced ingredients. You can pick from a vegetarian or non-vegetarian menu. Make reservations in advance!!
Mozaic - French-Asian cuisine. Considered one of the best restaurants in Bali for fine dining.
Hujan Locale - a foodie way to try Indonesian cuisine.
Room4dessert - coursed desserts brought to you by an elBulli-trained pastry chef. Watch the chef’s episode in the Netflix series, Chef’s Table.
Akasha at Newearth Haven Bali - This is a great spot to grab lunch if you’re exploring Ubud and near Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Things to do in Ubud
Visit Tegallalang Rice Terraces — it’s iconic and popular for a reason. It does get busy here with buses of tourists though so if you are there around lunch time, I would recommend skipping a meal around here and taking the 15-20 minute drive to Akasha at Newearth Haven Bali for lunch overlooking a lovely rice field. The design here is very cool and the food was great.
Hiring a private tour guide/driver for the day. It’s not expensive and you can arrange it through your hotel. We have done this two times and it’s the best way to see Ubud. Both of our drivers were so nice and knowledgable and you get a lot of control over your day this way. This way, you can spend as much time as you want wherever you want. If you want to go all out, you can do a vintage VW jeep tour of Ubud through Mandapa at The Ritz Carlton.
Campuhan Ridge Walk — is a great walk. We love doing this our first day in Ubud — it’s a great intro :).
Visit a water temple. We went to the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple but there are sooo many different ones.
Keliki art tour - check out Wayan Gama Painting school. The kids here are unbelievably talented. We bought a drawing of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and nature. It is one of my favorite things in the house.
Dewa Malen Wood Carving (address here). There are many places to see wood carving but this is the place we went to.
Mount Batur sunrise hike. DON'T go with a big tour group. Go with a private guide. Dress in layers. We did this and had to get up at 3am and hike up a mountain in the dark with no jackets and with about 200 other people. Turns out you could've done it differently :) but it made a good story. Despite the challenges, it is a pretty incredible view.
Best Hotel in Canggu?
You probably could’ve guessed by now…but COMO Uma Canggu, of course! Everyone’s travel appetite is different, but, for us, when we are traveling so far and only have a week or two, we like the reliability and amenities that comes with a hotel. If we had more than 10 days in Bali, we would consider an airBnB 1000%, but with a week or two, I like not having to worry about accommodation so I can focus on exploring and enjoying. We have been impressed with every COMO property, so it is our pleasure to be unapologetically loyal to the brand — at least in Bali.
In my opinion, the website does not do the property justice. It is in a GREAT location. It has an amazing beach club that can’t be beat and the food is fantastic. The General Manager has just moved their with his family from Miami and he went out of his way to make our stay comfortable even though we were only there for less than 48 hours. We were bummed that we hadn’t booked at least one more day there but I think that is the magic of Bali. It always seems to give you a reason to come back.
We were only in Canggu for 2 nights and the only great meals we had were at COMO for breakfast and lunch. The dinner spots we chose were a total bust and I wouldn’t recommend either of them. Sighhhh.
Check out Baker Street Social. It’s easy to miss but it’s a great spot for a cocktail. It’s technically in Seminyak but it was not a bad taxi ride from Canggu. The drinks are very experimental and take inspiration from the top cocktail bars around the world. For instance, they had a P.D.T. cocktail book behind the bar. Don’t be shocked if the bartenders invite you behind the bar to help make your own drink.
Pools, Ocean Views, and Floating Breakfast
Ayana has several properties and all of them give you access to the amazing pools, ocean views, and dining experiences but if you feel like splurging then stay at The Villas at Ayana. My husband and I spent the first few days of our honeymoon here and it was memorable. We woke up to a floating Champagne breakfast in our own private pool with views of the Indian Ocean. We also were given a phone so we could call our own personal butler at any time. Although, we never had to because the hospitality here is so amazing that the staff across the resort seem to know your every move or want before you do. Whenever we would be ready to leave our room, a pool, or a restaurant, our butler seemed to be there happily insisting to take us back to our room in his golf cart.
One perk of the Villa experience was getting priority reservations at the famous Rock Bar. Villa guests get priority when it comes to reserving a spot out on the famous VIP round deck. There, you can feel the Indian Ocean waves crashing down below while you watch the sunset. I don’t think there is a better drink with a view than this.