Ubud- the land of breathtaking panoramic views, mouth watering delicious vegan food and a place where women’s boobs are no longer imprisoned by the treacherous bra. (Seriously, I spent most of my time trying not to look women in the nipple). This place is so dreamy, I find myself thinking more often than not, is this actually real? A place this utterly divine surely cannot exist…but it does. But unfortunately, even the most beautiful place in the world must have its downfall, and I came crashing back down to Earth when I discovered how expensive Bali is. Sure, I wanted to take a yoga class and eat at all of the amazing looking restaurants but my tight wallet just wouldn’t allow it.
Bali is like a siren on the rocks, luring us sailor-tourists in with its profound beauty, forcing our budgets to crash onto the cliffs into smithereens.Well, I’m not going to let that happen, follow my 10 tips for the perfect Bali stay- without burning a hole in wallet!
1. Hike Campuhan Ridge
Campuhan Ridge is a perfect introduction to Bali’s beauty; as soon as you’re 2 minutes away from Ubud’s bustling high street you’ll be immersed in 360 views of the most stunning, untouched rice paddies you’ll probably ever see. The walk rarely veers off-road and is pretty much flat all the way so is suitable for all ages and abilities. Try aim for early morning or late afternoon so to avoid the burning midday Sun- trust me it’s a killer. There are also a few cute cafe’s along the way but none of them can compare with Sari Organik (more on that later). We took a picnic of some fresh watermelon and juicy dragonfruit and it was perfect.
- Search Campuhan Ridge on Google Maps for the starting point, or head towards Ibah hotel on the far side of town.
2. Be Greedy at a vegan buffet
Ubud really is the land of the free, the brave and the vegan- honestly you would have to try hard to find meat it’s that crazy. This is amazing yes, but it also makes it really difficult to weed out the crappy places- and not to mention that most of them are RIDICULOUSLY expensive. I found after trawling up the high street a couple of times, the best way to get good value for money are eating at the buffets- not only are they healthy and delicious, they’re all you can eat and at 50,000 Rupiah a place (roughly £3) a plate, they’re an absolute steal in Bali.
- My personal favourites are Veggie Table and Sapodilla Sawobali
3. See some temples
There are absolutely tonnes of temples in Ubud and it’s really hard to figure out which ones are worth a visit and which ones, well are a little underwhelming. Many of the temples here carry an admission fee too (usually around 15,000 Rupiah-£1)-so although it may seem like a good idea to spend an entire afternoon temple hopping, the fees quickly begin to add up.
- My advice would be to only visit 2 or 3 of the touristy ones at the most- my personal favourite is Rocky Temple. There are some really cool ones in Ubud town centre which are free of charge- they’re usually quiter and sometimes nicer too.
- DON’T ever rent a sarong from a market seller before entering- they’re scam artists. You can always borrow a sarong for free once you’ve entered the temple.
4. Swim in a waterfall
The Tegenungon waterfall is the most waterfall like waterfall I’ve ever seen. You could say it’s the King of waterfalls. waterfall. This place could be the location for a herbal essences advert, so why go visit and pretend you’re starring in your own (you’ll have to close your eyes and imagine you’re alone though). Tegenungon is the most crowded place I visited whilst in Ubud, but it’s really easy to see why; this place is simply incredible. You can swim, sunbathe, wash in holy water, explore creeks and climb the fall itself. The admission is 15,000 in but is totally worth every penny.
- Make sure you bring plenty of sun cream as there is literally no shade
5. Eat with a view
I’m sure you’re going to walk up and down Ubud high street salivating over all of the amazing vegan food that’s on offer. There’s really only one problem, they’re crazy expensive. On our first night we ate at Earth Cafe and yes the food was to die for, but the meal also set us back over £30- which is just unheard of in Indonesia never mind Asia.
I found a place that is 10 times better than anywhere you’ll see on the high street. Sari Organik not only serves delicious vegan food (as well as meat but you can’t win them all) but it’s located slap bang in the middle of a stunning rice paddy. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in my life. You can drive here on a scooter or take the short 10-15 minute walk from the high street. And if that’s not good enough, this place is actually really reasonable- a main dish will set you back around 50,000, about £3. Result!
6. Visit Lake Batur
On a scooter, Lake and Volcano Batur is abour an hour-an hour and a half drive away, but it’s really worth the visit. A tank and a half of petrol to last the journey cost us 27,000 IDR (approx £1.60), we then paid a further 30,000 to get into the national park. The views are actually incredible you’ll pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. You can take a tour to climb the mountain and watch the sunrise- but it’s crazy expensive and isn’t as impressive looking as Bromo for example on Java island. You can drive close to the top on your scooter and if you’re wanting a splurge there are hot spring you can visit nearby which cost 150,000 (we saw them and didn’t think they were worth the cost).
7. Shop til you drop
Clothes are surprisingly quite cheap in Bali, so if there’s anything you need; now’s the time to stock up. Somehow I only have one pair of shorts that fit me now as the rest are 5 sizes too big so decided I’d bring out my bargaining skills which I picked up in Vietnam. I ended up buying a pair of Khaki drawstring shorts and a white cotton button down crop top for 65000 IDR- that’s just over £3.50! There are so many craft shops and boutiques here too it would be a real shame not to get something to remind you of this gem of a place.
- Make sure you barter with market sellers, they will charge you up to 5 times the amount they’re willing to accept. The best trick is to give them your final offer, if they refuse then walk away. More often than not they’ll call you back, if not then move on to the next stall.
8. Get some work done
Now I’m not saying you should work out, I’m saying you should get some work done. Catch up on those dreaded emails, do that thing you’ve been putting off for so long- now is the time to do it. Have I gone mad? Am I really suggesting that you should spend part of your holiday in Bali of all places indoors on your laptop? Actually, I am. Clear Cafe serves delicious food (vegan and non-vegan) but is also a great concept restaurant. Fitted with a circular door, running river with carp, gardens in the bathroom and a fireman’s pole- you don’t want to miss the chance to spend time here. There is also a great little area with bean bags, coffee tables, plug sockets and super fast wi-fi; Joe and I spent 6 hours here working on my blog (all will be revealed in due course) and I actually loved it. Crazy huh.
- Main dishes here are around 60,000 IDR which is really reasonable considering the setting. Everything is organic great quality and really delicious.
- Try the iced coconut latte with nut milk- it’s so dreamy I could die.
9. Get lost
As always, my favourite thing to do is to simply explore my surroundings. Whether it be on foot, bicycle or on a scooter I love heading off in a direction and seeing what we find, I think it’s the only way I can really get my bearings. More often than not, I always find something amusing on my way; like a paddling of pink ducks outside a temple for example.
10. Eat like a local
Whilst on our way back from visiting Lake Batur, we stumbled across a market, and if there’s one thing I love it’s a bargain. Even better than I initially expected, this was a local market which is truly a rare thing to find, we were the only white people in sight which could only mean one thing- we were going to pay local prices rather than tourist ones.
Every stall was selling the same dish which I later found out to be called ‘Gadu Gadu’- I’d never heard of it before, nor saw it anywhere other than in this market. Gadu Gadu is basically a dish consisting of Tofu, green beans, bean sprouts, glutinous rice cakes, peanuts, chilli and a dark soy sauce. It’s so delicious, you simply have to try it. The best thing about all of this? It only costs 5000 IDR- that’s 30p! I don’t even know what the market is called to tell you guys, all I know is that it’s on Jl. Raya Dr. Ir. Sukarno Road and is near a temple called Pura Penataran Sasih (type it in on google maps and you’ll be fine).
- This dish is always 5,000 some vendors will try and charge more because you’re a foreigner. Just tell them you’ve been before and was only charged 5, it’ll work a treat.