Where to Stay in Ubud Bali
I am approaching this post from a geographic perspective.
No list of Air BnB’s or hotels or hostels here.
Kelli and I do rent places in Ubud – or I should say, around Ubud – from time to time but we are on a house sitting tear these days.
If you do plan to spend some time in Ubud I wanted to suggest the optimal spot for enjoying the area without getting overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the town center.
Hustle and Bustle?
Yes; even though Ubud only received electricity in the late 70’s, the town center is a thriving, busy, bustling center. A mini city in some regards.
I was stunned to see how busy Ubud had become. Even from when we visited for the first time in 2011 to our last visit in 2015, the place has mushroomed.
The upside; crazy restaurants to choose from. Ample spas. The always fun Monkey Forrest within walking distance from anywhere in town. Grocery stores. Hostels. Hotels. All good.
The downside; a steady stream of motorbike and car traffic. Sometimes the stream of traffic becomes overwhelming.
I recall waiting for 10 minutes at an intersection on the outskirts of Ubud town center waiting at a stop sign on the motorbike. Yes. 10 minutes. On the outskirts of town.
The Hobbiton-like, narrow, small scale roads cannot handle the throngs of locals, tourists and expats cruising through on motorbikes, tour buses, tour vans and cars.
I spotted some restaurants explicitly advertising that no tour bus tourists were allowed to eat in their establishments.
I don’t want to crap on Ubud; the center of town rocks. Just understand that it is by no means a quiet, sleepy little village in the heart of Bali.
The Optimal Place to Stay
Rent a motorbike in town.
Kelli and I always rent through the homeowner or apartment owner (in spots well outside of town) to get fabulous discounts. We tend to pay $60 to $70 a month. Renting in the center of town may run you more Ruppiah. Tourist deal.
Anyway, rent a motorbike and drive 10 to 20 minutes into the rice fields – or jungle – outside of town.
The rice fields well outside of Ubud are the optimal place to stay in the region. These spots offer you an authentic Balinese experience void of the heavy tourist activities which are common in town.
We have enjoyed our time in villages like:
- Kelabang Moding (sp?)
as we have rented villas, homes or apartments in each spot for at least a month.
Wandering into the rice fields and surrounding jungles treats you to a different Bali. Slow, laid back and chill, you may see stuff you’d never see in Ubud. Like women bathing nude (I looked by accident). I am not talking about elderly women either. Young women. Surprised me a bit, but then again I realized that hey, it’s a body. No big deal.
But chilling in the rice fields offers you more than a Red Shoe Diary type experience. Balinese folks working the fields, raising at sun up and toiling until sun down, introduces you to the phrase; working for a living. These people bust their ass. Appreciating each grain of rice becomes easier when you watch these individuals work through rain and shine to ensure the season’s crop reaches a maximum yield.
I remember living in a Balinese compound bordering the rice fields and a pig sty during one Bali trip to the Ubud region. Downwind only a few hours daily – thank the gods – I would stare at the play of stalks in the fields, swaying left and right.
A quick trip to the warung yielded a 20 cent ice cream purchase. I also bought my famed rice paddy hat at the warung.
On a separate trip we lived at a villa in Lodtunduh, in the middle of the rice fields. Picture a 5 minute motorbike ride through the fields just to reach the walled in villa property. Fruit bats, snakes, frogs and murderous little kitties came out to play as the sun set each night, an open air bathroom testing the limits of my sanity – and bladder – when we spent the month in this charming, impressive home.
Although all Balinese people are incredibly friendly, the rice field crew has not been jaded by tourism. Smiling, inviting and generous, I remember Kelli receiving the most brilliant birthday present from someone we had rented from.
Our friend Wayan gave took us through the rice fields – where the tourists ain’t going – on a private tour where her dad climbed 40 feet up a tree to pick us 2 coconuts, which we enjoyed with a straw, sipping on fresh coconut juice as ducks hustled by.
Ya ain’t getting that experience in the center of Ubud, or via a tour operator based in town.
Head to the rice fields, guys. Or motorbike to the surrounding jungle areas.
10 to 20 minutes on the motorbike will bring you to a different, laid back, preserved Bali, unspoiled by mass tourism.
Where to Stay in Ubud
Where you do stay when visiting Ubud Bali?
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