When visiting Bali, we booked to stay in Sanur and so getting into Ubud (a well-known tourist hotspot) wasn’t just a hop, skip and a jump away.
We booked a driver through our hotel concierge as they recommended this was safer than the hoards of Taxi’s outside who greeted us each morning with cried of ‘transport? Transport?!’; plus a hotel-booked ride will provide you with a set fee upfront for a half day. Initially, I was concerned that a half day wouldn’t be enough time, but I can confirm that 6 house in the Indonesian heat is plenty long enough.
Nothing was too much trouble for our driver Made (pronounced Maddy). He recommended all sorts of places for us to stop off in, whilst happily telling us about his life and his family. Local guides truly are the best as they will always provide insight into hidden gems – case and point proven below!
We first hopped out at Tegenungan Waterfall, as per Made’s advice.
From afar it is pretty impressive, but after a long and steep climb down we discovered how breathtaking it really is. It would be a great place to spend a whole day cooling off, but we had plenty more stops to make.
Warning – the climb back up is even longer and steeper!
The Monkey Forest
A very bizarre maze of trees and temples where monkeys have total freedom.
It was here I discovered my phobia of monkeys, which was possibly the worst place I could have chosen to figure this out. These strange human-like creatures run around jumping on each other, eating, playing and doing whatever else monkeys do. Mike (my partner in crime) completely loved it and even paid for bananas so that the monkeys would climb all over him, plucking the bananas from his hands! Each to their own.
I think it’s safe to say that the monkey forest is an interesting place and definitely a unique experience, but it certainly isn’t somewhere I’ll rush back to!
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Glad to be back in the safety of Made’s car, we were whisked off for lunch to a place of his choosing. Best lunch spot ever! Not only was it the most delicious meal we had eaten so far, but the views overlooking the rice terraces are incredible.
The beauty of the luscious landscape surrounding us was almost overwhelming; a definite must-see. You could also wander through the rice terraces if you have more time, but we still had a lot to cram into our 6 hours.
Goa Gajah Elephant Cave
Probably our least favourite destination of the day, though in all fairness, we didn’t give it much of a chance because the heat was starting to hit home.
When you first arrive there are numerous stalls offering to sell you sarongs, as your knees must be covered to go inside this sacred place. Word of advice? Do not buy from these stalls! Once you get closer to the actual entrance there are plenty of sarongs that you can borrow for free and return on your way out.
The elephant carvings on the entrance to the cave are detailed and impressive, but there isn’t much else to look at. There is a pretty little pond and you could walk up further than we did, but we were so hot and tired by this point that we decided to move on. Personally, I feel that if you skipped this spot, you wouldn’t be missing much.
Our final stop of the day was the Batuan Temple. We weren’t sure if we had the stamina to wander around here until we arrived and saw how beautiful it is. Definitely worth a visit and all it will cost you is a voluntary donation on your way out.
We took plenty of photos here and enjoyed the intricate and colourful architecture. The perfect way to end a very busy, tiring, wonderful day.
There are plenty of other amazing places in Ubud, but you’ll likely need to extend your timeframe if you want to fit all of these in! What are your favourite spots? Let me know in the comments!