Jungles, rivers, monkeys, fire and rice terraces. Ubud is surrounded by nature and it’s just waiting for you to dive in and explore.
The central town of Ubud has definitely become popular with backpackers and very developed in the last few years. But search just a little further and tropical adventure is calling.
1. Jungle Adventure – Explore by Quad Bike
If you’ve followed us for a while you may know that going on a long hike through a muddy jungle is not something we consider “fun”. And here at Foodfuntravelwe are all about fun!
Life’s too short to look at mud. Why walk 5 hours to see a view, when you can power it out on a quad bike in 20 minutes, and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.
So that’s what we did.
About a 40 minute drive north of Ubud is Bali Quad Discovery Tours. This is the jumping off point for exploring the tropical jungle and rice terraces, the fun way. Drive a quad bike or buggy as well as take a wet and wild adventure down a jungle river canyon by going tubing.
This is the way scenery should be experienced.
After our aircon transfer, direct from our hotel, it was time for a test drive and to get used to the 4 wheeled off road fun machines. Is quad biking dangerous? It has an element of danger, that’s why it’s exciting! So if you want the safest possible ride, you can choose the buggy instead, complete with seat belts and roll cage. We tried both, and the buggy is no less fun to whizz around those muddy jungle tracks.
After a few laps of the practice track, we were ready for our jungle adventure.
A large part of the enjoyment is riding the buggys and bikes. But, passing through villages, waving to the locals, and stopping off to take photos of stunning scenery is also a key part of the experience.
In fact one of the main villages we passed through is home to almost all of the staff who work for the quad bike company. So we felt very welcomed and not intruding at all as they got on with daily life of collecting and planting rice, or hanging out the laundry.
The tracks are definitely ideal for novice and intermediate drivers – this was our first time riding quads. We came away from this first part of the day feeling exhilarated and ready to go quad biking again.
To book your own quad biking adventure CLICK HERE
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2. Canyon Tubing
After a quick and tasty lunch of mostly Indonesian food – and fries, their skinny fries were crispy and yumtastic – it was time to hit the water. Which funnily enough is something we quite literally did.
Yes, although the aim of river tubing is to float in the tube, you are almost certainly going to fall out at some point while you get used to controlling the tube over the rapids. Getting wet is guaranteed.
You get a mix of calm floating, along with lots of drops to splash down. The guides are always there to help you out if you get stuck or fall in the river. The tube spins around as you are caught by the current – it’s just time to go with the flow and let the river take you.
Aside from the big splashes, a couple of other major wins for this trip were that they were incredibly organised. The staff were actively paying attention, and the sections of the river too dangerous to float over had been set up with wooden walkways so you could skip the massive waterfalls. This meant that the route you take could actually be a really long trip – which was great as we really didn’t want to leave even after over an hour on the river.
The trip is also broken up with a zip-lining (flying fox) break. Yes, take a break from rapids by whizzing through the air instead.
During the last segment of the trip, dense jungle opens up to reveal a spectacular open canyon. A great way to finish this experience.
You can experience Canyon Tubing and Quad Biking as a single day trip. Or choose one or the other.
To book your own canyon tubing adventure CLICK HERE
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–> Click Here for Bali on a Budget Travel Tips
3. Monkey Forest
You may at first wonder if the monkey’s are on the payroll of the park. You are going to get a lot of posing. And even crazy monkey break dancing (not kidding, watch the video below).
There is no doubt that money forest is a tourist attraction. You will not be finding peace and serenity. But, you will be finding fun and entertainment, and plenty of photo ops where you are only expected to pay in bananas.
There are over 600 monkeys in this small forest area. So you will see a lot.
Watch the monkeys play around the temples and statues as well as rocket up trees. Just make sure you don’t keep any food in your pockets or bag as you may end up with money’s climbing all over you. They are certainly cheeky, but less aggressive than we’ve seen in other Asian countries. But they can still bite if you provoke them or tease them with food.
Monkey forest is a short walk from central Ubud. Plan at least 2 hours to enjoy the forest properly – it’s actually bigger than you think.
Need somewhere to stay? Check out Our Top Ubud Picks HERE
4. Traditional Fire Dance
You’ll find traditional dance shows of many different styles happening each night all over Ubud.
We opted to see the Kecak fire and trance dance. What can we say, It had “fire” in the title which sounded more fun than any of the other options.
The first part of the show tells a story. A Hindu epic, in fact. Like any classic story, there is a villain, a hero and a damsel in distress. What sets this show apart is the incredible all vocal, live soundtrack. With around 100 performers, the actors play through the storyline while the singers create a vocal soundscape unlike any I have heard before. A medley of intertwining rhythmic sounds create a chaka-de-chaka-de-chaka almost like a fast moving steam train, but way more complex.
As this sound scape rises and falls the story teller half sings and half speaks the narration with dramatic phrasing.
Monkey gods, people being turned into dragons. You’ll need the storyline written in English to really keep up with what is going on. Still, it’s fantastic entertainment.
The second half of the show is the trance dance. If you were hoping to see fire walking in Bali, this is the time. Coals from the massive bonfire are spread all over the stone floor. Then a fella dressed as a horse sinks himself into a crazy trance and precedes to kick and stomp his way through burning hot embers. Sparks fly into the air. It’s intense.
At the end he sits quietly, almost shaking as if coming off some mad drug high. It’s strange but incredibly compelling to watch.
To book your tickets for the traditional fire dance CLICK HERE
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5. Epic Rice Terraces
Although we saw some incredibly scenic terraces during our quad biking trip, the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is probably one of the most photogenic spots for a classic rice terrace photo.
It get’s a little busy, but is certainly still worth the short trip north of Ubud. The rice terraces stretch along way along the road in many tiers. Being above them, rather than below gives a much better vantage point for awesome photos.
We rented a scooter for the day. The roads around Ubud are certainly not as crazy as other parts of Bali, but if you are not confident then you’d be better off hiring a driver for a few hours.
Also, it’s worth noting, the main area where motorbikes park is constantly patrolled by parking wardens. Although locals park there, they will attempt to generate revenue by walking around all day collecting fines. There seems to be no way to buy a parking ticket in advance. So you either get lucky and drive off before the warden arrives, or you pay the fine.
We got away in time. But consider parking away from the main road and shops.
More in Ubud: Food
One of the main draw cards for Ubud is the cuisine. It’s become a real hub for foodies in the last few years.
Read more about our food experiences in Bali:
Accommodation in Ubud
Alaya Resort. We stayed at Alaya. One of the few central hotels still surrounded by rice terraces.
Read more about our experience at Alaya Resort
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