Famed as the heartland of Balinese culture, Ubud is a mammoth Indonesian tourist draw, home to a lively, traditional art and entertainment scene as well as some great historical tinges that really bring the city to life. To outsiders, Ubud appears to be one large town, but its in fact an amalgamation of fourteen tiny villages, each contributing their own quirks and local cultures to the area of the larger city they now share.
Attractions are diverse, and many visitors content themselves with simply walking the streets and exploring the extraordinary array of arts and crafts being produced in front of their eyes. Exploring the history of the villages (and Bali itself) is an exciting undertaking, too, with a phenomenal selection of museums to look around, as well as ample cultural performances, which – if a tad touristified offer a great insight into the old-world lifestyle of the island.
Head out of town, though, and you’ll find plenty of those essential Bali experiences. Gunung Kawi (Poet Mountain) is surrounded by paddy fields and home to a massive 11th century tomb, located at the peak of several hundred steps. Another great 11th century draw is the ‘Elephant Cave’ that is now a UNESCO World Heritage sight, with the entry to the cave carved into a delicate demons mouth.
It wouldn’t be Bali, of course, without monkeys, and you’ll find them swinging by the dozen in the sacred Monkey Forest, a place where it’s best to keep your food well out of sight. The Tirta Empul – an ancient and revered temple hosts a spluttering hot spring where local come to cleanse their sins, while the less traditional but equally striking Pura Kehen temple is a stunning eleven-tiered example that’s little-visited by tourists, yet touted as one of the most impressive in Bali.
There’s little in the way of Balinese draws that Ubud can’t offer, in fact, with attractions ranging from the religious to the artistic via the stunning and natural. It’s a place any visitor to Bali just has to see.
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