Your villa manager has a wealth of information about nearby places of interest and will be pleased to help with any tour or restaurant bookings. Do also ask the staff about the local area. Many of them live nearby and will be able to give an interesting insight into some of the fascinating aspects of Bali life.
In the meantime, here is a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of the villa.
- Ubud’s shops are filled with unique and beautiful crafts, art work, carvings, jewellery, and gifts to take back home. The sprawling, indoor Ubud Market caters mostly to tourists in search of cheap souvenirs. Be sure to haggle prices – negotiation is expected – or you may end up paying triple what something is worth.
- Ask your chef to escort you to the local produce market to buy fresh ingredients for an Indonesian cookery class back at the villa.
- Lush green rice fields still blanket much of the area around Ubud and can easily be reached on foot or bicycle. Do visit the UNESCO world heritage site at Tegallalang (13km) – the rice terraces will simply take your breath away.
- With scores of holistic medicine practitioners now living around Ubud, it is no surprise that so many spas and meditation centers have opened up. In town you will find all types of Eastern and Western therapies.
- A strange, natural phenomenon occurs each evening just north of Ubud in the village of Petulu (6.5km). Thousands of white herons arrive here around 6pm and prepare to roost for the night before flying off again in the morning. The birds first began coming here after a communist massacre in 1965 but no one is sure why they continue to return. Local lore holds that these are the souls of those that were killed. Such a predictable gathering of these large and beautiful birds is a spectacle not to be missed.
- No visit to Ubud is complete without seeing at least one traditional dance performance. Although the performances are very tourist-oriented, this is a great opportunity to see classic Hindu legends being told through dancers in colorful, traditional costumes. Ubud Palace is a popular place providing shows nightly. Or get the staff to arrange your own private dinner and dance at the villa.
- Just 1.5 kilometres from the villa lies one of the most sacred sites in Bali: Goa Gajah. Also known as the Elephant Cave, this Hindu site dates back to the 11th Century and is believed to have been home to Hindu priests. The site is still used for worship by locals so proper dress is required to enter.
- Two other very sacred places – Tirta Empul, the water temple at Tampak Siring and Gunung Kawi, an ancient archaeological temple complex of carved rock, are well worth a visit. Those wishing to bathe in the holy waters at Tirta Empul must dress appropriately (a sarong and sash can be hired on site).
- Kintamani in North Bali is home to Mount Batur and some of Bali’s most dramatic scenery. Mount Batur is an active volcano that regularly smolders and surprises visitors with minor eruptions.
- While Ubud is not the obvious location for a beach holiday, we do recommend a day trip to White Sand Beach just north of Candidasa: a back-in-time place with beautiful sand, rolling waves, and an assortment of beach huts serving traditional beach food cooked over coconut coals. Why not stop off at the Bali Marine Safari Park on the way – a great treat for the kids.
- Finally while you will be hard pressed to beat the cooking of your own private chef, Ubud has some of the best restaurants on the island. Try Mozaic for fine dining, Bebek Bengil for crispy duck, Bridges for a romantic meal overlooking the Campuan River and the Melting Wok for Laotian fare.