ubud city guide

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Updated April 2019

If you are interested in yoga it is highly likely you will end up in Ubud.  You may try to resist it (though why would you) but inevitably, you will find yourself there. For a retreat. For a practice holiday. Because it’s only 6 hours away by plane (if you live in Sydney) and like nowhere is only six hours away by plane for us. 

First impressions (trip advisor, instagram) would suggest there is an endless supply of vegan food in Ubud. And in short, there is. You won’t go hungry.  A lot of it is raw food. Some of it is underwhelming. Some of it is green powder mixed with water and called ‘cold pressed green juice.’ Some of it is really, really good.

Most of the restaurants and cafes listed are not vegan. To be honest, I’m not sure if anywhere in Ubud is 100% vegan mainly due to the presence of honey in almost every drink and dessert ever. If you’re avoiding honey make sure you ask about it whenever you order something sweet. Especially drinks.

 Obvious things for those who have not been before

Getting through immigration and driving from the airport to Ubud takes a really. long. time.  Way longer than you think. So be prepared. Have snacks. And water.  And unwavering patience. Or book a hotel closer to the airport for your first night and make the drive out in the morning.

The easiest and cheapest (and most fun!) way around is to hire a scooter. This is very easy for me to say because all I had to do is sit on the back and not actually be in charge of the whole living and dying situation. But if you can drive or convince your travel buddy to hitch a ride on theirs, it is so very worth it.

I’ve been to Ubud three times, for a week or so at a time. Ubud is good for practicing yoga (humidity induced flexibility is my favourite thing about humidity) getting massaged and eating. These are the places I like best. Everywhere listed here has free wifi except Sari Organik and Bagus Jati but it does usually seem to be quite slow, or not working at all, probably due to hordes of tourists (like me) posting a million instagram stories (definitely me.)

Pamper

Bali Botanica

To be honest Bali Bontanica is a daily practice for me when I’m in Ubud. It’s a gorgeous, clean day spa offering massage, baths, body scrubs, facials and so on. A great starting point is the balinese 1hr massage for around $20 AUD, though I highly recommend you up the ante and go for the chakradhara treatment. In short, it’s a 2.5 hour Bali massage with shirodhara; but it’s way more than that. I have never felt my nervous system so relaxed and so open. To be honest I was initially concerned about a 2.5 hour massage but it was incredible. It’s the first thing I’ll do when I go back. Craziest part? It costs about $55.

Bagus Jati Spa

It’s way out of town, it’s a little more pricey, but it’s my favourite Bali massage by far. Describing the environment surrounding Bagus Jati may just be the only time I dare to use the word ‘lush.’ It’s a resort / retreat centre literally surrounded by forest. It has one of the worlds most instagrammable pools and jacuzzis. The treatment rooms are open air on one wall, covered by sheer curtains overlooking the pool and the forest. The colour scheme is coral, gold, stone and a deep rose petal pink. Basically it’s aesthetically the place of my dreams but also the massages are amazing. I hope to one day stay Bagus Jati and try the entire treatment menu. Around $45 AUD for a Bali Massage. 

Eat

The Elephant

Covered outdoors seating but very cool (temperature wise) and surrounded by lots of greenery. If you followed my Instagram stories while I was in Bali, this is the tofu larb place. If you like fragrant and fresh and a little bit spicy you’ll love it. Order it. Not a lot of vegan options but good iced coffee (just forget about hot coffee in Ubud) really good garlic bread (served with baba ganoush (?) but oh my goodness it works) smashed baked potatoes and iced ginger soda done right with hunks of fresh ginger and crushed up limes. Nice place to hang out. Vegetarian.

Cafe Alchemy

Everyone knows Alchemy. I didn’t add it last time because, I don’t know, it is like the yoga equivalent of walking into a nightclub. It’s a little bit scene-y. I guarantee there will be people in five minute long hugs talking loudly about their latest transformation. There are worse conversations, sure but it can get a bit much, so bring headphones? Anyway I’m including it because space is beautiful, the smoothie bowls in the morning are really good (and I don’t even like smoothie bowls - think subway but DIY organic bowl) and it’s a great place to get a cold pressed juice and some organic incense from the gift shop. Vegan

Moksa

Moksa is mostly raw or ‘raw warmed up’ (better than it sounds.) The chefs bowl is one of the best things I ate in Ubud. I was fighting off a cold that day and ordered a juice with garlic and it actually tasted good so they obviously know their stuff (or they forgot to put the garlic in.) Moksa was a little bit out of the way from where we were staying, otherwise I would definitely have gone back again and again. Vegetarian.

Clear café

Very instagrammable café that will potentially be filled with people having loud conversations about  ~spiritual~ things or on a first date after meeting at yoga barn BUT the vegan smoothie is really good. So is the brownie. And the juices. Go here for the sugar rush (and maybe bring headphones.) Omni.

Roots

A Korean cafe that is basically in a tree house. Yep. Heaps of vegan and vegetarian options of standard Korean food, using local and organic produce. This place exactly what I wanted to eat when I was in Korea but could never really find. Fresh, spicy, pungent - all the good stuff. It’s delicious. Omni

Sayuri

Definitely another place on the Bali scene list - but the food here is really, really good. Combination of raw and not raw and all vegan (except for honey, maybe). There’s a distinct Japanese flavour but in mostly unexpected ways - think gomashio on salad bowls and wasabi mayo on a tempeh burger. Long list of medicinal mushroom infused tonics and beverages that are the best I’ve had in town. Best to go here outside of peak times if possible - can get a little crowded and squishy. Sayuri run a lot of workshops and live music so check out what’s happening before you go. Vegan

Wurang Sopa

Cheap, Japanese inspired vegetarian café. Otherwise known as ‘the veggie nugget place.’ They’re really good (but we overdid them.) The samosas are nice (but served cold) and it’s usually quiet, which is a plus. Vegetarian.

Dragonfly Village

For the terrifying scooter ride up to the rice paddies. For the soy iced latte and choc orange gelato. For getting out of town. For escaping the heat. For the herbal steam room and salt water pool (when it's not totally crowded, which seems to be always.) Vegetarian.

Sari Organik

A few minutes up the road from Dragonfly Village, you’ll find Sari Organik. The food is okay but the view is really special and worth the trip alone. Go for pink rice paddy sunset. I’ve eaten here a few times and haven’t been overly impressed by anything except the longtong, a nice mild curry with banana leaf rice. Also buy at least 3 of the almond chocolate bars sold at the counter because it’s really good and you’ll eat it all quickly and regret not buying more. Omni.

 Just like my Tokyo Accomodation post, there are at least six thousand other places to eat and be pampered and if you have a favourite please comment below. 


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