When I was in Bali for 2 weeks during March of 2014, I was volunteering and staying in a small village called Penestanan. Penestanan is just outside of Ubud, a town made famous by the movie “Eat Pray Love”, and it is even more beautiful in person. Because we were volunteering, (read more about that here) we didn’t have a ton of free time to explore our surroundings, but we made the best of the time that we did have. Below is a list of my top 6 most memorable experiences from my time in Penestanan and Ubud.
1. The Yoga Barn
The Yoga Barn is the most popular yoga studio in all of Ubud, and for a good reason. The property is huge, and the main studio has large windows overlooking a stunning Koi pond and big, beautiful trees. Classes are around $12.00 USD per person, which we found to be fairly standard in Ubud, but if you’re planning to go to a few classes, you can buy a multi-class pass at a reduced rate. The studio supplies mats, blocks, and anything else that you may need, so all you have to do is show up with an open mind. Be advised that these classes can get packed quite full because of the studio’s popularity, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. You can check out rates & classes here. The restaurant on site, The Garden Kafe, is a wonderful spot for a healthy meal or fresh squeezed juice after class.
2. Kopi Desa Cafe
Located in Penestanan, Kopi Desa became like a second home to us while we were in Bali. They have the best iced coffees and milkshakes we had in all of our time in Bali, and delicious, moderately priced food as well. The atmosphere is what really made the place feel like home, though. It is a family business, and the staff are warm and friendly. They have been known to bust out an acoustic guitar and jam together on occasion, but otherwise they’re usually playing super cool indie music that makes you feel right at home. It’s definitely worth the trip up from Ubud to get a little taste of local life. Kopi Desa also has a home stay available, and while I didn’t stay there myself, I was living directly across the street, and I would recommend these kind people to anyone. Click here for more info.
3. Midas Spa
On one of our days off from volunteering, Sean and I spent a few hours at Midas Spa in Ubud, and we felt like absolute royalty. Sean had a 90 minute massage (in an actual massage bed, with actual massage oil…a rarity in SE Asia) and I had a 60 minute massage and a hair shampoo & blow-dry. Our services included a flower foot bath on arrival, two cups of herbal tea, and a luxurious shower after our massages. The entire experience cost us less than $30 USD altogether and was the most relaxing spa experience we have had in a long time. You can check out the spa menu here.
4. The Mansion Country Club Pool
Also located in Penestanan, The Mansion Resort & Spa looks like just the swanky location where you’d spot celebrities enjoying a 5-star vacation. I have never in my life seen such a peaceful, immaculately beautiful place to kill a day in the sun. The pool can be accessed for about $3.00 USD per person, per day, including a pool towel. I’d recommend eating before you go, or bringing your own snacks, however – the restaurants on site were quite pricey. Link to website here.
5. Ubud Centre
Right in the heart of the action of Ubud lies a place commonly referred to as “Ubud Centre”, which is essentially a network of streets and alleyways converted into an open-air market where you can find anything from clothing and souvenirs to fruit and meat. It’s a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Afterwards, hit up Ibu Rai for amazing food!
6. Mount Batur
About an hour outside of Ubud lies Bali’s third highest peak – Mount Batur, which is also an active volcano. Most trekkers head out in the wee hours of the morning and climb through the dark to witness a beautiful sunrise from Batur’s summit. Expect to pay between $25 – $35 for a package including taxi transportation to and from, guides for the climb (a requirement) and a small breakfast. Check out my article on Conquering Mount Batur for more information.
Whether you have two days or two months to spend in Ubud, I can’t imagine that you’d ever run out of things to do. While the town itself has become much more touristy since it’s rise to popularity in “Eat Pray Love”, there is still a ton of authentic Balinese charm left to be discovered.
Do you have any favourite experiences from your time spent in Ubud? Anything else you’re dying to check out? I’m always interested in hearing about your experiences!