Ubud has been something of a destination-within-a-destination since Bali became widely popular on the international tourism scene: a place where resort relaxers would mount an expedition for cultural visits, local food and souvenir shopping. Since it featured heavily in the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, it has experienced an influx of curious travelers. The town has responded with a variety of options for tourists.
The center of activity in Ubud is the corner of Jalan Raya Ubud and Monkey Forest Road. Tour buses from the island's many resorts drop travelers off there on an almost hourly basis. The markets bustle, the streets clog, and it's colorful chaos as far as the eye can see. This central district is where you can buy batiks and enjoy a local lunch, then follow whatever catches your eye. Regardless of your interests, you'll find a stall, shop or hawker that appeals to you.
Walk a few blocks out of the central district, and things calm considerably. Be sure to enjoy the museums and galleries just outside of Ubud.
With its growing popularity, Ubud has also attracted bigger and arguably better restaurants, and offers a wide variety of Balinese, Indonesian and Western cuisine as well as fusions of two or all three. These aren't the tiny food stalls of Jakarta, but can be an experience in and of themselves.
Ubud tends to roll up its sidewalks around 9 pm and revert to its origins as a sleepy peasant village. Late carousing is better left to the boisterous Kuta district, though you can still close your evening with a visit to a jazz or pop jam concert at one of Ubud's cafes. Your hotel will likely have a schedule of local performances, as does Ubud's tourist office near the main intersection.
Be sure to leave time to walk through the Monkey Forests (a treat in itself, but watch your possessions—the monkeys are prone to theft) to the adjacent village of Nyuhkuning, which is lined with the shops of wood-carvers. Also make sure to rent bikes and cycle past rice fields and out-of-the-way villages. The area between Ubud and Denpasar is thick with even more craft villages, each with its own specialty. Excursions can be made to the elephant cave temple at Goa Gajah (touristy but interesting), the Royal Temple of Taman Ayun at Mengwi and Penelokan (spectacular view of Batur Volcano and Lake Batur).
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