Check out the temples
Ubud is home to Tirta Empul (Jln Tirta, Tampaksiring), one of the most important temples on the island. Built in 960 AD, the temple directly translates into “holy water spring”. Not surprisingly, it is known for its holy water, which is distributed to various purification pools around the complex. Its historical charm and lush green setting make it an enjoyable place to while away an hour or two.
Then there is also Goa Gajah (Jln Raya Goa Gajah), which is also known as “Elephant Cave”. At this 9th-century temple complex you’ll find intricate wall carvings, shrines, relics and bathing pools that bear influences from both Hinduism and Buddhism. It’s one of my favorite places in Ubud.
Visit the museums
Ubud is also known for its museums, such as Museum Puri Lukisan (Jln Raya Ubud; +62 361 971 159), which was founded in 1956 by the prince of Ubud and his friend. Feast your eyes on ink drawings by Gusti Nyoman Lempad, one of Bali’s most renowned artists, along with other traditional Balinese paintings and wood carvings. Then round off your visit with a drink and a snack at the museum’s in-house café.
Hit the shops
Besides Ubud’s famous arts market, you should also check out the row of boutiques and day spas along Jalan Monkey Forest, a charming one-way street that passes the eponymous macaque sanctuary. Here, you’ll find shops selling everything from antiques to cutting-edge fashion.
Dine in style
Look no further than Ubud for gastronomy. It has some of the best food on the island, what with culinary bigwigs like chefs Chris Salans and Will Meyrick setting up shop here. The latest player on the scene is William Wongso, the man behind pan-Indonesian restaurant Manisan (Jln Hanoman; +62 361 846 8933; manisanbali.com) at Alaya Resort Ubud. Manisan showcases the diverse flavors of the Indonesian archipelago, with a mix of traditional food from areas such as Minangkabau in Sumatra and Bandung in Java to specialties native to cities like Pontianak in Kalimantan. Some of the unique dishes on offer include udang tangkap (deep-fried, marinated prawns served with aromatic leaves) and iga babi bakar (grilled, spiced and braised pork ribs).
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy Will Goldfarb’s sweets-only restaurant, Room4Dessert (Jln Sanggingan; +62 812 3666 2806; room4dessert.asia), where you’ll find inventive offerings like Plat du Jour (French brioche, house vermouth, yogurt and ginger palm) and the quirkily named Chocobubbles 4 evah (cookies, kluwak mousse, warm spuma and nibs nougatine).
Also read: 5 best new restaurants in Ubud, Bali
Alaya Resort Ubud, Jln Hanoman, Bali, Indonesia; +62 361 97 2200; alayahotels.com/alayaubud