The tropical scenes of Ubud, along with its laid back vibes and friendly people, made me really reluctant to leave Bali!
Ubud was our last stop on this stunning island and by far my favourite place! You’re spoiled for choice with tiny boutiques, independent cafès, clothes stalls and of course, endless day trip activities!
White water rafting
One of the biggest bargains and best experiences of the trip so far, for sure! For less than £12 we got a transfer both to and from the river, a three hour white water rafting trip and a buffet lunch with showers and towels available. For three hours of absolute hysterics this is such a bargain; I’d easily have paid double.
The rafting takes place through 18km of choppy rapids through one of Bali’s rivers. This whole area can only he described as paradise. The river is cut deep into a valley of tropical trees, with hundreds of tiny waterfalls trickling down from the canopies, into the gushing water below. Butterflies and birds of paradise brushed past as we tumbled over rocks, clinging onto our small inflatable raft.
Our driver was hilarious and never short of a joke. He had a selection of ‘command words’, (in reality he’d just scream “BOOM” to warn us of an approaching rock and to hang onto the ropes). Every large rock we hit would have us wedged vertically between the river bed and boulder; hanging from ropes, or tumbling backwards through the boat. There were a few moments where we nearly bounced off the raft completely.
At each turn in the river channel we would crash directly into the valley-side (usually drenched by an overhead waterfall), sending us all flying backwards through the raft, yet again. We definitely seemed to be having the most crashes as other rafts flew past (laughing at us of course).
The first time the raft came to a dam we were ushered out of the boat and walked along side, as it plunged down the sheer drop into the subsequent pool of water. The second dam however, was a different story! We were told to sit in the bottom of the raft with our legs up on the front and literally hold on for dear life! This was terrifying, but hilarious in the end.
As the valley flattened out, rice terraces could be seen on either side of the channel with elderly farmers in traditional hats tending to their fields, or dosing in the heat under the shade of straw roofed shelters. After a few more near-capsized experiences, and many more laughs, we arrived at the finish; a small cove where the water slowed momentarily, although I could have stayed on that raft all day. This was too much fun, I’d definitely do it again!
One noticeable thing about Bali – nearly every house is surrounded by an intricate stone wall and carved entrance way. Some were so beautiful and detailed that they seemed like entrances to temples!
Ubud’s Monkey Forest
Ubud’s famous monkey forest was just a short walk from our hostel so we decided to head there after rafting and catch it just before it closed. We originally planned not to go as there were other things we’d wanted to do and the thought of monkeys climbing all over you isn’t the nicest. However it was so close and we had a spare couple of hours so got our rafting driver to drop us there.
It’s 50,000 IDR to enter which is fairly steep compared to other attractions we’d visited (but still only £3 or so).
Once inside the first thing that hits you is the size of the trees. It’s almost like something out of Avatar; giant ancient trees with hundreds of hanging stems which the monkeys climb and swing through.
This forest is home to 6 different types of monkey, I believe (although the signs were quite hard to read in poorly translated English). We were lucky enough to see a few of the new born black moneys, clinging to the underbellies of their mothers. Its crazy how comfortable they are around people, allowing us to get so close, even to the babies. Although, the fact that they’re constantly fed bananas by tourists plays an obvious role in this. It’s funny watching people trying to hide fruits in their pockets, shortly followed by a monkey rummaging through and helping themselves.
Their little faces are so gorgeous! The feeding of the monkeys makes for some pretty hilarious photo opportunities too ..(exhibit A: Tat’s face below)!
We stated in Wanderlust hostel, not too far from the monkey forest and main shopping street (selling souvenirs and cheap clothing). I’d definitely go back; the dorm compartments were surprisingly spacious compared to most hostel bunks. A laundry service was located just down the road with cheap prices too! There was even a good size pool, and a rooftop area overlooking the neighboring rice paddies and rooftops of Ubud. Perfect for watching the sun set on this beautiful place.
The hostel reception was open 24/7 and staff were always happy to provide information or book activities / transportation for us (at a reduced rate for a larger group). I also noticed free bananas available for customers.. better than your usual cold pancake! This was all for roughly £6 a night too! The laid back vibes of Ubud made this hostel stay even more relaxing.
There were so many incredible restaurants in Ubud, each in a stunning setting, surrounded by jungle greenery, but this one, in particular, stood out. This modern restaurant was just opposite our hostel, backing onto fields of rice paddies – the perfect breakfast view.
This was another Balinese spot where beautiful smoothie bowls can be bought throughout the day. The attention to detail in this place, with hanging plants and white wooden furniture, made it a great little spot in Ubud and the food had us going back for more!
I was so sad to leave Ubud but excited for the next adventure! Definitely somewhere I’ll be returning to. It’s always nice to leave a place, wanting to see more… that way, there’s always an excuse to return!
Stay tuned for more Bali adventures!