First day in Ubud :
Checked into our hotels : Hotel Sapodilla and Casa Ganesha Hotel. Two hotels are listed here as we couldn’t all stay in the same place so we opted for two that were across the street from each other. Both were at a great location, just a 10 minute walk from the main area of Ubud and so close to cafes and restaurants.
My thoughts on Hotel Sapodilla :
- Wonderful 4 star boutique hotel with beautiful comfortable modern rooms and very friendly, helpful staff
- Their pool and landscaping was beautiful and we often relaxed on their loungers poolside
- They offered delicious food too! We enjoyed their breakfast as well as afternoon tea with snacks and late night snacks.
- We loved it here!
My thoughts on Casa Ganesha Hotel :
- This is a 3 star hotel that had a beautiful Ganesha deity in the main garden!
- The hotel itself was basic – it had enough for travelling on a budget
- What I thought was interesting was their outdoor shower! I remember walking into the bathroom and wondering where it was – but it was cool to shower and look up and see palm trees and some kites in the sky.
On our first day – we visited two main attractions.
First we walked to the Elephant Cave – Goa Gajah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was about a 30 minute walk but I do not recommend walking – we did not anticipate the poor condition or lack of sidewalks so we often had to walk along the busy road which we didn’t feel too safe with. Entering the area itself, you first pay the admission fee and they tie a sarong around your waist. You go down a lot of stairs and enter the main area. We walked around various beautiful gardens, around a small waterfall and into the small cave where there are deities and prayer offerings with incense.
After we took a taxi to the Monkey Forest – nature reserve and temple complex. This was a busy spot – not only for tourists, but the monkeys too! It was within a stunning reserve with lots of greenery and walkways. There were all sizes of monkeys everywhere – from newborns hanging on to their mothers to elderly monkeys – in fact there is 700 monkeys including 186 species of trees. It was actually funny because there were signs with rules saying things like “don’t look them in the eye, don’t touch or grab the monkeys, don’t hide your food” but yet there were so many disobeying :(. We even saw a kid who was hiding food in his pants pocket so a monkey was latched onto his thigh trying to get the food, but since it was difficult, he got bitten! So dangerous. I was honestly petrified being in there with so many monkeys jumping everywhere and seeing people taking risky things and taunting the animals – it just wasn’t somewhere for me! I did enjoy the reserve and temple but the other tourists and monkeys just wasn’t my scene.
Second day in Ubud :
We had an early early start to our second day. We were up and ready to go at 2:30AM to trek up Mount Batur, an active volcano 1717m above sea level and the second highest point in Bali. I booked private tour tickets through this company. The private tour was WELL worth it and if you plan on going, I highly recommend using the link posted above. We were picked up in front of our hotel and an hour later we were at the starting point of Toya Bungkah, where we were served tea or coffee. Since we opted for a private tour, we had a group of 5 (so 4 of us and one other member) with one guide, no crowds at all. We started at around 4:30AM and walked up the narrow paths with only the light of our flashlights. It took about 1.5 hours to get to the top and it was a challenge for me as I learned that my cardio strength is terrible! But our guide was so helpful and allowed many stops along the way. On the top, we encountered hundreds of others who took the public route – yikes, so glad we didn’t go up that way! Our guide gave us each boxes with fruits and bread to snack on as we watched the sun rise from over the Indian Ocean and the greenery below. It was a stunning sight and the highlight of our trip.
Part of our private tour included entrance fee to the Natural Hot Springs. It was a well deserved treat after our hike and honestly motivation to keep my legs moving up the volcano. The water here comes from hot mineral spring water (50 degree Celsius) flows from an underground aquifer 637 metres below the surface. The water runs untouched direct from the source to the pools, which range between 37 degree Celsius and 40 degree Celsius. So cool! It was awesome and a great rest for our sore muscles.
At the rice terraces, we picked up some ice cream and watched other tourists slip and slide through the muddy fields. It was at a good spot, steps away from the main road!
The waterfall was more of a walk from the road including quite a few stairs up and down – which my glutes did not like at all! There was a lot of tourists here too – some of them climbing up risky spots – all for the instagram haha. The spray from the falls was refreshing though especially post hike and on a hot day.
Third day in Ubud :
On our last day in Ubud, we visited two attractions that were in close proximity to each other.
Mount Kawi or Gunung Kawi was our first stop. This is an 11th century temple and funerary complex. There was also many many stairs to reach this attraction but it was quite stunning when you actually reached the shrines. There are 10 rock-cut candi (shrines) that are magnificent as they are 7 meters high carved right into the cliff. We visited on a rainy day but it was nice to walk over the bridge and see the gushing river below. There were also rice fields here too and we walked through their gardens in total tranquility.
After, we visited Tirtha Empul – famous for it’s holy springs. When you enter and pay the fee, you are adorned with a sarong. We did not bath here but the waters looked crystal clear and poured out of ancient fountains. There was also a lot of temple structures which we walked through. There was a koi pond with tons of huge fish! As you exit, you walk through a market which is like the Balinese version of exiting through the gift shop – there are many vendors who target you to buy, but if you do like something, make sure you bargain!