I’m sitting at the Cafe Pomegranate in Ubud. It’s my favorite local cafe with an unbeatable view of the surrounding rice paddies famous to Bali. A warm Ginger tea sits inches from my laptop while two kittens play beside my table. After a few minutes the kittens fall asleep in a tangle of fur and whiskers by my feet. I’m alone here in Indonesia. After two weeks of traveling around the country–from Borneo to Komodo–I decide to end my trip with solo travel in Ubud.
Eat Pray Love cliches be damned, my reason for solo traveling in Bali is about soul searching. About getting back to basics with my writing and remembering what it’s like to write for myself and not an audience. About reconnecting with my creativity and learning to be patient, kind and loving with myself in the process. Something I admittedly can forget to do when in the throes of New York City living.
Some days in Ubud find me as the image of relaxation and happiness. Others find me frustrated and lonely. Some days I am able to write easily. Other days I am tempted to toss my laptop into the rice paddies like a frisbee. A few days in, I start to relax as I stumble upon a balance of self-discovery, writing and sight seeing. I find my go-to spots in Ubud and embrace solo travel and all the beauty that comes with it. For those considering solo travel in Ubud, here’s your quick guide to making the most of your trip!
Where to Stay in Ubud
If looking for a place with the view…
Bambu Indah is an eco-friendly resort with a stellar view of the surrounding rice paddies. The resort features bungalow-style rooms, farm-to-table cuisine and an all-natural feel.
If looking for a luxury stay by the city center…
Bisma Eight is a luxury boutique hotel just walking distance from the Ubud Palace and City Center. Bisma Eight is a truly indulgent experience–from their excellent in-house cuisine, forest views and lavish, modern suites.
Where to Eat in Ubud
A cafe with a view…
For a quick bite & a killer Acai bowl….
Watercress is in the Ubud City Center. I love their Acai bowls that are packed with fresh fruit and Gogi berries.
For a farm-to-table menu…
Locavore is one of the top 20 restaurants in Ubud. Locavore is a pricier than other places in Ubud because of their celebrated farm-to-table menu.
For raw vegans and health nuts….
Alchemy is Bali’s first 100% raw vegan restaurant. For any health nuts and vegans, Alchemy is the restaurant you’re going to want to visit while in Ubud.
For when you need a break from Indonesian food….
Taco Casa is a Mexican restaurant in Ubud that is one of the most popular spots to eat. The tacos are phenomenal as are the drink specials. If dining here at night, consider making a reservation in advance.
To satisfy your sweet tooth…
Gaya Gelato is just one of many gelato shops found around Ubud. Gaya Gelato uses 100% natural ingredients and–of all the ice cream options available–I enjoyed Gaya Gelato the best.
For when you need a quick breakfast…
Monsieur Spoon is a French bakery in the Ubud City center with fresh croissants and good coffee. It’s another great option for when you need a break from Indonesian cuisine.
Where to Pamper Yourself in Ubud
Karsa Spa is an incredible spa in Ubud. I don’t have enough words to describe the transcendent experience I had with my one hour Balinese massage and hot flower bath (pictured above). My Karsa experience cost me about $20 USD. That’s right, TWENTY DOLLARS. In New York, I would have paid upwards of $300 for the same treatments. If you want to enjoy Karsa Spa then book your appointment in advance! Many women showed up at the spa hoping for a spur-of-the-moment walk-in, only to be turned away because the spa was booked!
Meiso Reflexology is the perfect place to give some love to your sore feet. The brand originated in Singapore and–due to success–has now opened a location in Ubud’s city center.
Angelo Store is an all-natural beauty and health store in Ubud. The shop sells everything from 100% natural face oils to soap. I picked up a face oil from the shop and after 3 days of using it, I rushed back to Angelo to stock up! In other words, this stuff works!
Where to Zen Out in Ubud
For meditation and yoga overlooking the rice paddies….
Ubud Yoga House was founded by Sheila who is an expat from Seattle. I like Ubud Yoga House as an alternative to the popular Yoga Barn because of its low-key vibe and stellar location. Every Wednesday, Ubud Yoga House offers evening meditation classes. I tried one out and although it will take A LOT more than one class to quiet this New Yorker’s mind, the classes are worth it.
For Tibetan bowl meditation nights….
Yoga Barn offers Tibetan bowl meditation nights, which I think sounds super cool. I’d recommend checking it out.
What to Do in & around Ubud
Ubud Craft Market
The Ubud Craft market takes place daily in the city center. The market sells everything from elephant print pants (very popular here in Ubud) to homemade figurines. When going to the Ubud Craft Market remember to negotiate the prices!
Cooking Class & Local Food Market
I took two cooking classes while in Bali–one outside of Kuta and one in Ubud. I loved both cooking classes as it was the best way to discover Balinese cuisine and tour the local market. For my cooking class, I arranged to meet with the executive chef of Kayumanis Ubud.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are about an hour drive outside of Ubud and worth every minute getting there. Make a day trip of it and visit both the rice terraces and the nearby Tirtha Empul Water Temple, which is only about 20 minutes from the rice terraces. The best way to get there is by arranging a taxi and hiring the driver for the day. You can find many taxi/tour stands around the Ubud City Center. When at the rice terraces, expect to pay donations as you walk through the fields. The donations are about 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah and go towards the upkeep of the terraces.
Pure Ulun Danu Bratan Lake Temple
The Brahtan Lake Temple is about 1.5 to 2 hours away from the Ubud City Center. It will cost you about 400,000 Indonesian Rupiah (if solo) to hire a driver for the day. I almost didn’t take the day trip because of the price but–after some internal deliberation–decided I couldn’t leave Bali without seeing this iconic temple. I chose well. This temple is BEAUTIFUL. As a travel tip, leave early to beat the tourists that clog up the area.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
The Sacred Monkey Forest is in the Ubud City Center. When visiting, purchase a bunch of bananas (they sell them for about 20,000 Indonesian Rupiah at the entrance) to feed the monkeys. Be fair warned, these monkeys are sneaky! Be wary of your belongings and don’t wear any loose jewelry, sun glasses or anything the monkeys can tug at.
Campuan Ridge Walk
The Campuan Ridge Walk is near the Ubud City Center and offers a nice view of the surrounding streams, landscape and foliage. If you end up booking an appointment at the Karsa Spa, you can reach it by walking along the Campuan Ridge.
Travel Tips for Solo Travel in Ubud
There is no public transportation in Ubud. Fo getting around, you’ll either rely on taxis, walking or motorbikes. I chose to walk around the Ubud City Center and hire a driver for day trips. You can also hop on the back of a motorbike taxi for a quick ride across the city.
When visiting Balinese temples, you’ll be asked to cover up with a sarong (or rent one at the door for a small price). Ladies should wear long dresses to temples. The Balinese ask that women who are on their periods do not enter a temple (as it’s seen as impure). They don’t reinforce this rule or check if you are menstruating (thank God) but it’s good to remember if you want to respect the local religion and culture.
Safety & Health
Don’t drink the water in Indonesia! Beyond that, you should be fine visiting Bali. There’s no threat of Malaria on Bali (unlike neighboring Komodo). Just be wary of the water and consider taking probiotics to strengthen your stomach against the dreaded “Bali Belly.” Check out THIS POST for more healthy travel tips!
Traffic in Bali is notoriously bad. If going to the airport from Ubud, give yourself 2 hours to get to Denpasar. You can hire a driver to take you for 300,000 Indonesian Rupiah (anything more than that and you’re getting screwed on the price).
Have you solo traveled before? Share your favorite solo travel destinations and stories below!