In Bali's Paradise, Find Adventure in Ubud
Follow our two-day itinerary to discover the beauty of Ubud, the less visited inland of Bali—where rice fields grow uninhibited across the landscape, temples hide in the undergrowth and the Balinese move to a much slower tune.
If you think you’ll be parking it at some five-star chain or trendy lifestyle resort, pack away your Prada heels, because this trip is all about getting back to nature. Not ready to part with your Wi-Fi and hot baths yet? Check into Sandat Glamping Tents (glamping = glamorous + camping)—the first of its kind in Bali, featuring luxurious safari-style tents, thatched roofs and canopied bedrooms, all elegantly crafted with bamboo and mahogany.
Situated in utter seclusion in the corner of a quiet rice paddy, you’ll feel as if you’ve pitched your tent on the open fields of Ubud, with the stars visible by day as well as by night, and the only signs of life coming from a stray farmer weaving his way through the neighboring rice paddies. Seek refuge in the infinity-edged plunge pool or bunker down with a book on the hand-carved wooden furniture in your private eco-nest. And when you’re ready for that welcome drink? Reach for the wind chimes on the bedside table (there are no phones here) to ring a member of staff for a refreshing tropical cocktail—the perfect start to your weekend in Ubud.
$2,087 from secret-retreats.com/sandat; includes breakfast. Jalan Subak Sala Banjar Sala, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, (+62) 82-440-81998.
Seemingly a calm paradise from the outside, deep in Ubud you’ll find a curious bunch of furry long-tailed primates in the 27-acre Sacred Monkey Forest, perhaps one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with the species. Here you’ll encounter more than 350 monkeys in their natural habitat, undeterred by the tourists that crowd their home each day. The Indiana Jones-like setting is worth seeing in itself, with temple ruins that have been reclaimed by the forest. And the monkeys—well, they’re everywhere: jumping through the branches, screeching loudly at their neighbors, rolling in the fallen leaves and clamoring to grab any shiny object from unsuspecting tourists. These little critters are sneaky and agile, so make sure you hold on tight to your phone.
Padangtegal, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, (+62) 361-971304, www.monkeyforestubud.com
Dinner and a Show
When you exit the forest, turn left and make your way down Monkey Forest Road to the main city center of Ubud. Along this path, you'll find a range of home décor and clothing boutiques for souvenir shopping. Once you reach the city center, head to the 16th century Puri Saren palace to catch a traditional Legong dance ($46, tiny.cc/hk bali dance), a spectacle of brilliant gold costumes, masked dancers and a gamelan orchestra playing frenzied music to spur on the hypnotic movements on stage. For dinner, Hujan Locale (by Will Meyrick of Mama San fame) is a must-try, with its farm to table style cooking using locally found and foraged ingredients. Don't miss the Bubur Manado—Balinese rice and lobster with raw tomato sambal—and the crispy squid with potent chili jam, ginger flower and lemongrass.
Hujan Locale, Jalan Sri Wedari 5, Ubud, Bali, (+62) 813-3972-0306.
Many tourists who stay in Seminyak block out a morning to travel inland for white water rafting on the Ayung River—but luckily, you’re already here. Book ahead with Bali Adventure Tours for the White Water Rafting Elephant Safari excursion. The morning rafting adventure (9:30-11:30am) will take you on a 9.6km scenic tour of the Ayung River, navigating 33 class II and class III rapids with high-speed rapid drops and dives. In-between, sit back and soak in the majestic scenery of unspoiled rainforest, steep gorges and waterfalls. After lunch, it’s off to the Elephant Safari Park & Lodge, where you can meet the beloved elephants that have been rescued from Sumatra. Take a ride around the park, watch the elephant talent show, and take the classic couple’s shot with an elephant trunk draped around your shoulders. These gentle creatures are sweet-tempered and affectionate, just like most other residents of this island.
$1,117 per person for Rafting + Elephant excursion. www.baliadventuretours.com
After washing up back at the hotel, book Sandat’s private shuttle bus to take you to Locavore, an exceptional restaurant on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants leading the eco-conscious food movement in Bali. Like its name suggests, Locavore sources 95 percent of its ingredients locally and prepares everything à la minute so diners can savor the fresh produce as if it was just plucked from the fields. With a five-course “Locavore” ($380) or seven-course “Herbivore” ($438) set tasting menu, the meal here may last several hours, but it’ll be a transformative journey for anyone passionate about cooking (or eating) good food, with course after course that compounds natural fresh produce and confident, clean flavors. What makes Locavore original in Bali is their use of everyday local ingredients to create modern, European-style dishes, from the local beef striploin dotted with mustard leaves and Piccalilli Indian pickles, to the green asparagus served with a 64-degree kampong egg and leaves from Locavore’s vegetable garden. The precision and clarity of concept is commendable, and an experience that will be a highlight of your trip to Bali.
Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, (+62) 361-977733, secret-collections.com/locavore