UBUD Bali, Northern Utopia

Ubud, the cultural soul of Bali, a lavishly green place situated near volcanic mountains. It’s a quaint charming little town I couldn’t get enough of, its beauty so enigmatic that I had to go back this month with my mum and brother in tow.

Tourists flock to Ubud to get acquainted with the authentic balinese culture it has to offer which includes art museums, galleries, great restaurants, yoga, spas and generally it’s a truly relaxing experience.

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Background story

The first time I ever heard about Bali was after watching the movie, Eat pray Love. Some people say that the outstanding mainstream tourism in Bali was as a result of the release of this movie. Well their claims can’t be entirely wrong, because I did want to visit it, particularly Ubud, just because the movie portrayed it as a serene, magical place. But then again, it was the summer holiday and I absolutely had to escape the scorching Beijing heat. There’s just so much to tell because, the first time I visited Bali, I spent almost a month exploring the little Island and its surroundings. I have divided both trips into a mini blog series expounding on all the places I went to and stayed at.

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How to plan your trip

How the first Bali trip came to be, was quite spontaneous. I’d previously hoped to visit South Korea, but I realized that I might be escaping one furnace (Beijing summer heat) only to end up in another. I therefore did some research into South East Asia holiday destinations and found out that peak season for Bali was July-August.

The best Time to visit Bali (which I discovered during my second trip), is actually June or September (just before or after the peak season). The weather is a bit cooler, it’s less touristy and the prices are reasonable.

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I used a few sites to check for flight tickets; Wego.cn Qunar.com and Ctrip .These are the main apps I normally use to book flights from Beijing to any South East Asian country.

 Booking.com was my go to site for Hotel bookings. We booked most of the accommodation early enough because during peak season, they either sell out pretty quickly, or the prices are inflated. Airbnb is also a great option one can use to find a holiday home. It’s super affordable if in a group of three or more, and most of the homes happen to be incredible villas with swimming pools.

Tip* before planning to venture off into distant lands, it’s very important to watch YouTube vlogs and read blogs in order to get all the necessary information one needs.* My favorite travel youtube bloggers are Lost Leblanc and Sam Kolder. (Their travel budgets may be a bit higher than yours, but thats why you’re here right?)

ALL ABOUT UBUD

It’s located about an hour and a half from the Ngurah Rai airport, near the mountains, hills, valleys and dense jungle, so best believe Ubud is the colder part of Bali. With that information in hand, it was a no brainer to choose it as my first destination.  I felt it was better to go up north and experience the cool, humid and meditative laid back vibe before heading south to the beaches for sun tans and cocktails.

How to get there

Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasaar is Bali’s prime airport. Various international flights have direct flight routes to Bali Island.

We arrived in Bali at around 7pm. After passing through custom checks we changed some money into Indonesian Rupiah and instantly became millionaires! Getting a taxi from the airport can be quite the hustle especially when landing at night, so it’s advisable to book a hotel shuttle pickup ahead of time. We failed to adhere to this, hence ended up haggling with a random taxi driver to take us to Ubud. He charged us IDR 350,000 ( $15) for the one and a half hour drive. On the way he even tried to rip us off by claiming that our hotel was located much further than Ubud. The airport ticket counter charges about IDR 450,000 ($19.7). (This is a safer option).

Where to stay

Budget travelers, hostels in Ubud are cheap and fun and located right in the middle of Ubud center. The one I stayed at during my first trip is nothing to rage on about, but it did have magnificent scenery and it was located very near the city center. The hostel cost approximately IDR 95,586 ($6.54)  a night.

Other Travelers who are on a mid-range budget, especially couples can check out Ubud inn cottages . Their standard double rooms cost about IDR500,000 ($34.21) a night.

Luxury travelers- Natya resort comes highly recommended.

My family chose to stay at Bakung Ubud Resort and Villa  for two nights ($34) a night. It’s situated about 2km away from Ubud city center. Upon arrival the hotel staff was kind enough to upgrade us to two poolside one-bedroom villas. Their breakfast menu is simple but very delicious. I tried out their spaghetti carbonarra for dinner and it was fantastic.

What to eat & Nightlife

Lazy cats Cafe

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This gorgeous Italian cafe  and lounge has an uber romantic setting for couples in the evening, which is why I felt so awkward sitting in a dark corner alone, slowly sipping away my mug of hot chocolate. I was desperately trying to stream the last episode of Game of thrones before my battery gave in. It’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to enjoy their food but from where I was sitting, it looked really delicious.

Warung Boga Sari

Quite small and really oozes authentic balinese style of dining, most important is that the food here is super affordable and really tasty. I went back recently and it remains unchanged, if you’re on a budget, this spot is for you.

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There are other hosts of places offering balinese local dishes and western dishes. Ubud is also a haven for vegetarians and vegans. So basically anyone can get a good meal at affordable prices in any corner of this little town.

Ubud market

Situated right across from Ubud palace, its a place you can get stuff for reasonable prices, bargaining of course, goes a long way.

Incase you’re not up for the kind of haggling that comes with the market, I’m happy to reveal to you that there are plenty of little boutique stores and art stores within Ubud center to shop from.

After traveling Southward, I realized that almost everything in Ubud, including accomodation, food and transport is much cheaper than the rest of Bali island. Currency exchange rates are also much higher.

Places to explore

There are very many places to go sightseeing in Ubud, I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to explore them all, saving them for my third trip. My next post will be about the Ubud adventure, things to do, places to go and how to arrange transport to all those gorgeous places.

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