Ubud Guide – Read Before You Go
Before coming to Ubud in Bali, I had dreamt of lush green valleys with hidden resorts overlooking the river in the serene hilltops of Bali.
Thankfully Ubud still has all of the above, however it also has many things that I didn’t quite expect. Here’s a quick recap of things I wish I had known before coming to Ubud.
Where to Stay?
Ubud can be divided into two regions: the center of town and the outskirts.
CITY CENTER – The center of town is lively! Walking down the roads you’ll find an equal amount of foot and car traffic. This was much more busy than I had envision. Don’t expect to find too much serenity and peace, especially on the main roads. On the flip side, there are plenty of cheap housing options in the city center. For example, we stayed at a great homestay for $10 a night – including breakfast! You’ll also find a ton of places to grab a delicious bite to eat, drink coffee, and buy an entirely new closet of clothes should you wish. Be careful not to break the bank!
OUTSIDE THE CITY CENTER – Head north a 1-2 kilometers and you’ll find yourself surrounded by nature – rice patties, lush hills, river paths. This is the place to go to if you want to get away from it all. Many of the higher end resorts will be located here with private shuttle service into the city. We stayed at Kupa Kupa Barong and loved our private pool villa with river views. For me, this is how I envisioned Ubud to be.
What it’s really like to do yoga in Ubud!
Just like my vision of resorts set on top of lush green hills, I had a vision for yoga classes in Ubud. It’s important to note that I only attended classes at two locations in the City Center: 1) The Yoga Barn and 2) Radiantly Alive. At the Yoga Barn, I was in a class with 60 other people. I almost felt like I was in a studio in Manhattan! I later found out that classes here are typically large in size ranging from 60-70 per class. The instructor was good and the studio was beautiful with huge 2-story windows looking out into a garden, however this isn’t the intimate setting I had envisioned. I had better luck at Radiantly Alive’s Yoga Fundamentals class with only 7 students in my session. I’m not sure if this was typical or if I simply lucked out. Please let me know in the comments if you end up attending a class there!
You’ll have to negotiate everything.
Perhaps this isn’t just specific to Ubud but can be applied to all of Indonesia in general. This is something that I wasn’t expected, especially coming from the Philippines where everything seemed more straightforward. Expect Taxi drivers to quote you 2x – 3x the standard price as soon as you arrive in the airport. We paid 250,000 IDR to get to Ubud late at night from Denpasar after being quoted 400,000 by the official blue bird taxis who don’t run meters at night. If you show up at a hotel without a booking, look to negotiate the price down from the first announced price. A fair price for a basic scooter per day should be 50,000 IDR but you’ll be quoted around 75,000 IDR. If you’re looking to grab some good to bring back home for the market, don’t hesitate to ask for 1/5 of your original quoted price. Of course, you’ll final price will depend on your negotiation skills!
If you’re staying in the city center, you could potentially get around by walking albeit you could be doing a bit of walking to get from one end of town to the other. The best and most affordable way to get around is to rent a scooter. Some of the best rice patties can be found just a little outside of the city center. Having your own wheels also allows you to venture outside to some pristine waterfalls. If you aren’t able to rent a scooter and have to go further than your feet can take you, you’ll find plenty of taxis ready to get you to your final destination for a set price. The going rate is 50,000 IDR for short rides and 100,000 for longer rides – apparently 15 min is considered a long ride. It’s important to note that many of the applications such as UBER and GRAB are not welcomed in certain communities. We’ve heard stories of taxi drivers chasing after an Uber from a fellow traveler. You’ve been warned.