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Ubud, Indonesia: Capital of Balinese Culture

Updated on March 1, 2015

Balinese Cultural amid Indonesia's Tropical Forest

Tirta Empul Temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Tirta Empul Temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Ubud is considered the artistic and cultural capital of Bali, one of the seventeen thousand islands of Indonesia. In spite of being in the small group of islands of the Indonesian archipelago (you can drive its entire coast line in one day), Bali is one of the most famous islands because it puts forward a good balance between its incredible natural and environmental beauty and its interesting and exuberant culture.

Being the artistic capital of Bali, Ubud focuses on the remarkable Balinese culture, expressed in myriad forms of art and traditions. From architecture and landscape design, to the most exquisite and delicate art of Balinese dance and music; from its flavorful gastronomy to the religious rituals devoted to their Gods, Ubud has the rich cultural baggage that showcases the artistic creativity in all aspects of life and allures every traveler.

Ubud is also where the modern Balinese art movement started; where local artists first used modern materials, were influenced by foreign styles, and began to depict scenes of everyday life. This explains why, in Ubud, there are multiple art galleries and private collectors, as well as Museums.

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Balinese Culture: Ancient Architecture

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ancient site of Gunung Kawi (carved temples); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.One of the Temples located at the Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia."Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave, an ancient Buddhist hermitage. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia."Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave's beautiful and luscious surrounding gardens; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Pura Penataran Sasih, State Temple of the Pejeng Kingdom; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Amazing vegetation and fantastic handicrafts sold at the ancient site of Gunung Kawi, the carved temples of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Devoted Balinese heading to the sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Pura Ulundanubatur, temple near the town of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Ancient site of Gunung Kawi (carved temples); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Ancient site of Gunung Kawi (carved temples); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
One of the Temples located at the Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
One of the Temples located at the Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Monkey Forrest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana); Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
"Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave, an ancient Buddhist hermitage. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
"Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave, an ancient Buddhist hermitage. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
"Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave's beautiful and luscious surrounding gardens; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
"Goa Gajah" or Elephant Cave's beautiful and luscious surrounding gardens; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Pura Penataran Sasih, State Temple of the Pejeng Kingdom; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Pura Penataran Sasih, State Temple of the Pejeng Kingdom; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Amazing vegetation and fantastic handicrafts sold at the ancient site of Gunung Kawi, the carved temples of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Amazing vegetation and fantastic handicrafts sold at the ancient site of Gunung Kawi, the carved temples of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Devoted Balinese heading to the sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Devoted Balinese heading to the sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul. Ancient Sites around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Pura Ulundanubatur, temple near the town of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Pura Ulundanubatur, temple near the town of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Ubud, Balinese Architecture

Contemporary architecture, ancient sites and Hindu temples offer a rich visual interest to the town, for those who like modern design with a twist and warm touch, as well as historic and religious architecture.

Ubud has many artful, serene restaurants and places to stay in, all creatively designed with an ingenious blend of modern and Balinese architectural styles with open spaces, which encompass the tropical flora and pleasant environmental conditions it has been blessed with, always including a charming, evergreen garden.

Alternatively, Ubud has multiple ancient architectural sites and Hindu temples within and around town, which make interesting targets for the visitor who likes to indulge in Balinese history and native traditions. These temples also offer the opportunity to witness some of the current religious rituals and beliefs that are part of Balinese religious practices.

Temples in and around Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

  • Ancient site of Gunung Kawi (carved temples) in Tampaksiring, 18km northeast of Ubud.
  • The Monkey Forrest Sanctuary officially called "Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana", has various temples within its premises, where a band of grey-haired, long-tail macaques live and sometimes terrorize the area (one of them snatched the water bottle from the side pocket of my backpack).
  • Ancient site of Goa Gajan or elephant cave (Buddhist hermitage).
  • Ancient site of Pura Penataran Sasih, State Temple of the Pejeng Kingdom.
  • Sacred spring and temple of Tirta Empul, a few kilometers north of Tampaksiring.
  • Hindu Temple of Pura Ulundanubatur.

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Balinese Culture: Gamelan Music

Ubud, Balinese Dance Mecca

Ubud is also the Balinese Dance Mecca of Bali. It has many dance performances and music shows all throughout the weak, presenting multiple traditional dance styles developed in Bali throughout the history, which include Kecak, Legong and Barong dances.

Few travel experiences can be as fantastically magical as a Balinese Dance performances, especially in Ubud (which translates: If you are visiting Bali and are interested in experiencing Balinese Dance, you should experience it in Ubud). Theaters also present gamelan orchestras (Balinese percussion instruments) and wayang kulit puppets.

Balinese Culture: Wayang Puppet Theatre

Balinese Culture in Ubud, Art in its Myriad Forms

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Devoted women of Ubud dressed in traditional attire. Streets of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.Ubud focuses on the cultural aspects of Bali and is rich in its different forms of art. Entrance to one of Ubud's Art Galleries which showcases local artists. Bali, Indonesia.Art is everywhere. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.The tropical equivalent of a coffee break, a fresh watermelon juice and some smile provoking orchids; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.One of Ubud's chilled-out restaurants with its pleasant tropical garden. Bali, Indonesia.
Devoted women of Ubud dressed in traditional attire. Streets of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Devoted women of Ubud dressed in traditional attire. Streets of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Ubud focuses on the cultural aspects of Bali and is rich in its different forms of art. Entrance to one of Ubud's Art Galleries which showcases local artists. Bali, Indonesia.
Ubud focuses on the cultural aspects of Bali and is rich in its different forms of art. Entrance to one of Ubud's Art Galleries which showcases local artists. Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Art is everywhere. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Art is everywhere. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
The tropical equivalent of a coffee break, a fresh watermelon juice and some smile provoking orchids; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
The tropical equivalent of a coffee break, a fresh watermelon juice and some smile provoking orchids; Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
One of Ubud's chilled-out restaurants with its pleasant tropical garden. Bali, Indonesia.
One of Ubud's chilled-out restaurants with its pleasant tropical garden. Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Where to go in Ubud, Bali Checklist

  • Visit the ancient sites and Hindu temples in and around Ubud.
  • Visit the Monkey Forrest Sanctuary.
  • Visit Tirta Empul sacred spring.
  • Drive around Ubud and take in the awe striking natural exuberance of its vegetation, including its beautifully green rice paddies.
  • Assist to one or two Balinese Dance Performances.
  • Enjoy the romantic and serene Indonesian dining offer.
  • Go window shopping for charming and delicate art and handicrafts.
  • Visit the multiple Art Galleries.
  • Visit the Arts Market "Pasar Seni" and the "Bali Cares" Art store, which sells handicrafts and paintings produced by local people to benefit several local charities.
  • Visit the Puri Lukisan Museum, which displays items of all schools of Balinese art in a lovely garden setting; the Neka Art Museum; the Agung Rai Museum of Art; and/or the Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women.
  • Visit the Gunung Batur & Danau Batur viewer and take in the landscape and natural scenery of Mount &Lake Batur.
  • Treat yourself at a Balinese spa.

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Ubud, Bali Exuberant Countryside

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ubud's tropical and exuberant countryside, Bali, Indonesia.Entrance hallway to Balinese Café where they cultivate, harvest and sell coffee and have a free tasting of their varieties. Countryside Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.My friend, travel guide and motorcycle driver Tambun and I at a tropical coffee tasting. Tropical fruits of Bali, Indonesia. Have you ever seen a pineapple plant before?Ubud's beautiful countryside: rice paddies and tropical trees all in vibrant green; Bali, Indonesia.
Ubud's tropical and exuberant countryside, Bali, Indonesia.
Ubud's tropical and exuberant countryside, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Entrance hallway to Balinese Café where they cultivate, harvest and sell coffee and have a free tasting of their varieties. Countryside Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Entrance hallway to Balinese Café where they cultivate, harvest and sell coffee and have a free tasting of their varieties. Countryside Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. | Source
My friend, travel guide and motorcycle driver Tambun and I at a tropical coffee tasting.
My friend, travel guide and motorcycle driver Tambun and I at a tropical coffee tasting. | Source
Tropical fruits of Bali, Indonesia. Have you ever seen a pineapple plant before?
Tropical fruits of Bali, Indonesia. Have you ever seen a pineapple plant before? | Source
Ubud's beautiful countryside: rice paddies and tropical trees all in vibrant green; Bali, Indonesia.
Ubud's beautiful countryside: rice paddies and tropical trees all in vibrant green; Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Ubud, Lush Rice Paddies amid Tropical Paradise

One of the strongest attractions of Ubud, besides its art and cultural richness, is its beautiful beyond words countryside, composed of impossible green rice terraces, banana and coconut trees, a great variety of different palms, ferns, and just lush vegetation thriving with life.

When visiting the different ancient sites and Hindu temples around Ubud, one travels through this tropical paradise and feels the luxurious abundance of fertility, and awe-inspiring diversity of nature. This experience in itself is one of the highlights of Ubud and its surrounding area.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"Gunung Batur" or Mount Batur (1717m); Bali, Indonesia."Danau Batur" or Lake Batur; Bali, Indonesia.Ubud's countryside up in the mountains. Bali, Indonesia.
"Gunung Batur" or Mount Batur (1717m); Bali, Indonesia.
"Gunung Batur" or Mount Batur (1717m); Bali, Indonesia. | Source
"Danau Batur" or Lake Batur; Bali, Indonesia.
"Danau Batur" or Lake Batur; Bali, Indonesia. | Source
Ubud's countryside up in the mountains. Bali, Indonesia.
Ubud's countryside up in the mountains. Bali, Indonesia. | Source

Gunung Agung

Gunung Agung is Bali’s highest and most revered mountain. Usually hidden under a thick layer of fog, it is a rare feature of Bali’s skyline, but when uncovered, it is quite an impressive view. Gunung Agung shrank by 126 meters after a powerful eruption in 1963; even so, it now stands at 3,142 meters above sea level. At the mountains summit, there is a 700 meter wide crater.

There are several possible approaches for hiking up to the summit, the most usual being a hike from the village of Besakih. It is a challenging hike that takes approximately 6 hour going up and 4 hours coming down (best endeavored during the dry season, which goes from April to September, to avoid slippery routes).

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Bali Map

show route and directions
A markerUbud, Bali, Indonesia -
get directions

B markerKuta, Bali, Indonesia -
get directions

C markerDenpasar, Bali, Indonesia -
(airport)
get directions

Places to Stay with Websites

  • Artini Cottages guest house bungalows located slightly east of the center.
  • Nick's Homestay budget hotel located slightly east of the center.
  • Oka Wati Hotel located in central ubud, this little hotel has 19 rooms with large verandahs where you can have breakfast delivered.

Indonesian Food

Indonesian food, authentic "Lumpia" with spicy peanut sauce accompanied by a Indonesian "Bintang" blond beer. Ubud chilled-out restaurant. Bali, Inonesia.
Indonesian food, authentic "Lumpia" with spicy peanut sauce accompanied by a Indonesian "Bintang" blond beer. Ubud chilled-out restaurant. Bali, Inonesia. | Source

Ubud, Accommodation and Food

Bali in general is a very visitor friendly place that offers a vast array of accommodation range, which goes from surfers hostels where the fun never stops, to hidden retreats in the lush mountains. Ubud is no exception and has nice boutique hotels as well as more private and traditional bungalow style rooms, with threaded bamboo tapestry and terraces (family lodges).

If you arrive without accommodation settled, you won’t have trouble finding one that suits you.

Ubud is also home to a surprising number of chilled-out restaurants with delicious, high quality food, including traditional Indonesian dishes and Indonesian fusion cuisine.

Comments on "Ubud, Indonesia: Capital of Balinese Culture"

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    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      2 years ago from Mexico

      thanks thumbi7, I hope you do get the chance, Ubud is really beautiful and worth it.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      3 years ago from India

      I have never been to Ubud. Your hub made me wanting to go there.

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      5 years ago from Mexico

      Hey agusfanani! So you are one of the lucky ones that have visited this beautiful place in Indonesia?! That is fantastic because Ubud is definitely one of Bali´s gems and a very nice place to visit. I love the fact that it is so green and it has so much cultural offer. Thanks for dropping by :)

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 

      5 years ago from Indonesia

      I had been to Ubud but I didn't have the opportunity to go to some of those places. Thank you for writing about Ubud so that I finally know better about the place.

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      5 years ago from Mexico

      Thanks maheading, I appreciate your feedback.

    • maheading profile image

      maheading 

      5 years ago from Central Queensland, Australia

      Great Hub. Very informative.

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      6 years ago from Mexico

      Hi cr00059n, thanks for your interest and enthusiasm for this article and Ubud, Indonesia in particular. Your feedback is much appreciated and it is nice to know you enjoyed learning about this travel destination. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      cr00059n 

      6 years ago

      Architecture that's like no other. With so many rich and exquisite places to enjoy and be fascinated by, there's no doubt why Ubud, Indonesia is called the artistic capital of Indonesia. This article is unique, as I've learned new landmarks, shops and fine cuisine ideas from reading your article. Thanks for sharing such a fabulous travel destination. Love it! Useful and Interesting.

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      6 years ago from Mexico

      agusfanani - Thanks for dropping by and commenting even though you have already been there and tried it! :) Ubud does have a relaxed artistic ambiance and a nice weather, more good things about the place!!!

    • profile image

      agusfanani 

      6 years ago

      I've been to Ubud and have proven its beauty by myself. One would feel enjoyable ambience of Ubud including people's artistic life and cold-fresh-aired climate.

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      6 years ago from Mexico

      prasonline - Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am very glad you enjoyed this Hub. Ubud is a beautiful place in itself and a great inspiration for a photographer like myself. I give all the credit to the beauty of Bali.

    • prasonline profile image

      Prasanna Marlin 

      6 years ago from Sri lanka

      Just beautiful,I like photographs and videos.I am really enjoying

    • Claudia Tello profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Tello 

      6 years ago from Mexico

      dinkan53, thanks very much for your comments, input and votes! You are very kind. It is my pleasure to share a little bit of the beauty and interesting things I saw in Indonesia, and especially in Ubud, Bali. It is a place definitely worth visiting, if only through this Hub.

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 

      6 years ago from India

      An entertaining Hub with beautiful photographs and videos. Enjoyed the article in all sense. thanks for sharing.

      rated up and awesome!!

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