5 Activities for a Rainy Day in Ubud, Bali

Bali is well known for its glorious warm weather that attracts lots of visitors from all over the world throughout the year. But, just like similar destinations such as Thailand and the Philippines, it is also prone to tropical thunder storms and heavy downpour, which can come and go quickly, but often they like to stick around for a little while.

On our previous trip to Ubud, Bali, we found ourselves in this very situation. While we had initial excitement experiencing the thunderstorm from our balcony at Ubud View Bungalow, we hadn’t really thought of any activities that didn’t involve being out in the lovely sunshine such as exploring temples, wandering the markets, or simply lazing by the pool.

As the thunderstorm continued overnight and into the morning, we found ourselves pondering on what to do with our days not knowing how many we would have to fill with ‘rainy day’ activities.

After some serious thought and a little research, we managed to compile a list of several fun things we could do while the thunderstorm continued outside.

We quickly figured out that if a thunderstorm calls for anything, its a bit of self-care such as a spa day or yoga class and a bit of indulgence such as enjoying delicious food and drinks.

As the rain continues to pour down here in the UK, this seems like a fitting time to reflect and share our fun rainy day activities with you guys. While the list below is focused on our recommendations in Ubud, you can easily enjoy these or similar rainy day activities in other locations.

1. Take a Yoga Class

Ubud is well known as the ideal retreat for rejuvenation so it comes as no surprise that Yoga is thriving here. There are abundant Yoga retreats and classes available so you won’t be short of a place to practice.

In Ubud, you will be surrounded by lush greenery including jungles and rice paddies, which provides the perfect backdrop and tranquility to relax and unwind.

The Yoga Barn is one of the largest retreat centres in South East Asia and a popular location that provides classes and workshops year-round from early morning to late evening. The Yoga Barn is an artistically crafted studio and retreat centre that captures the true essence of Ubud and the island of Bali.

2. Lunch at The Alchemy

Take advantage of the rainy day weather by filling your tummy with delicious food, which you won’t go short of in Bali!

Our favourite spot here is The Alchemy for sure, which is the first 100% raw vegan cafe in Bali. It provides freshly prepared dishes that are free from refined sugar, flour, dairy, wheat and chemical additives. They offer a wholesome raw and vegan salad bar that serves the best buddha bowls in the area. You will find everything from zucchini pasta and coconut noodles, to raw burgers and curried vegetables.

The real treat here is the juice menu that is full of organic, energising juices, as well as the dessert bar serving mouthwatering raw chocolates, truffles, brownies and more. Situated in-store is the Alchemy’s own health store stocking superfoods, organic produce, and cosmetics for you to take home.

3. Take a Cooking Class with the Locals

Taking a cooking class will allow you to discover exotic Balinese fruits, herbs and spices and their medicinal properties too. Many are hosted by local families who provide private traditional Balinese cooking experiences where you can learn to cook local dishes such as Pepes Ikan and Bregedel.

You can sit back and enjoy the delicious dishes you helped to prepare from the family’s home while learning about life in Bali from people who have grew up there.

Many of these private experiences include extras such as a guided tour around Ubud and even pick-up and drop-off to and from your hotel.

The best part? You’ll be helping to support the local people and economy. TripAdvisor is a great place to find traditional Balinese cooking experiences and its always good to hear stories from others who have experienced it previously.

4. Cook Traditional Balinese Food with Local Produce

Depending on where you are staying you could even take advantage of cooking your own food using local ingredients.

Seek out fresh produce that you might not get back home such as Mongosteen and Durian (fyi, Durian tends to be touch and go due to the strong smell and taste and is often banned from hotels so perhaps only useful if you are in private accommodation).

You could always try your hand at recreating traditional dishes such as Nasi Goreng (rice with vegetables and egg). Brit and The Blonde have compiled a pretty good list of 10 Indonesian Dishes for Vegetarians that we highly recommend checking out.

5. Enjoy a Traditional Balinese Spa Treatment

In Ubud (and throughout Bali for that matter), you won’t go short of a spot to enjoy a spa treatment or two. They are on every corner (literally) and won’t break the bank either. Of course, the price is dependent on where you go for a treatment and which treatment you select, but there really will be something to suit all budgets.

For example, you will likely stumble upon more affordable masseurs as you are walking down the street and will pay a bit more in hotels and high-end spas but still affordable nonetheless.

We always opt for a full body massage and I tie in a facial too (its all about that self-care, right?). But, if the rain continues, why not get nails, hair, and a body scrub too!

After all, you have probably been travelling for some time, you deserve it…

If there is one thing we can guarantee, its that you won’t regret this expenditure as you will be fully relaxed and refreshed.

See, there really is no need to be disappointed when the rain hits in destinations such as Ubud. There are still plenty of activities to do while hiding out from the rain.  Plus, nothing beats the excitement of a tropical thunderstorm.

Our favourite thing is to sit back on the balcony at night (under shelter) with lots of snacks and watch the storm pound down. What are you favourite rainy day activities while travelling?

Top 5 Cultural Experiences in Ubud, Bali

Ubud is the heart of Balinese culture.

Located in the foothills of the Gianyar regency among rice paddies, waterfalls, temples, ceremonies and traditional costumes and events, this area attracts visitors from all over the world for its rich arts and crafts. There is so much to do and see here and below we have listed our top five cultural experiences in Ubud where you can really immerse yourself in the Balinese culture.

1. Wander the traditional art markets

The Ubud Art Market is located in central Ubud opposite the Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace. Here, locally crafted goods are plentiful including handmade woven bags, purses and baskets, hand crafted and wood-carved buddhas, bowls, and other ornaments, bright clothing, blankets and pillows, all of which you can bargain your way to a good price. The products tend to be made in the neighbouring villages of Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. Taking a drive to the temples will allow you to see the locals hard at work creating their unique handicrafts and souvenirs with skills that have been passed down for centuries.

2. Enjoy Watching a Traditional Balinese Dance 

Balinese dance is an important part of Balinese culture.  Dances can be classed as sacred (Wali), semi-sacred (Bebali), while others are for entertainment or social events (Balih-Balihan). Dancing is both a religious practice and a performing art and before performing a sacred dance, Balinese dancers take part in religious rituals and receive blessings from temple priests. The ‘Legong Dance’ used to only be performed in front of the royal family within closed palace walls, however, nowadays you can watch the dance performed in various open stages and shows throughout Bali, such as the Puri Saren Royal Palance in Ubud.

3. Explore the temples 

There are abundant historic temples in Bali to explore and in Ubud you won’t go short. You can read more on our top 3 Must-see Temples in Bali here, including a couple of our favourites, Gunung Kawi and Goa-Gajah (Elephant Cave) Temple. Additional temples include Gunung Leah Temple, Pura Samuan Tiga (Temple of the Meeting of the Three), and Pura Taman Saraswati, more commonly known as Water Palace. The latter was designed by one of Ubud’s best loved architects, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad. Located in the heart of Ubud, the temple is easily accessible. The carvings largely honour the goddess of knowledge and art, Saraswati.

4. Visit the Monkey Forest

Located in central Ubud and open until 6pm daily, the Monkey Forest offers a great way to spend an afternoon after visiting the traditional markets. The locals view the forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation centre for the village of Ubud. The entrance fee costs a minor 30,000IDR for adults and 15,000IDR for children. The monkeys are real characters (all 700 of them!) and are super fun, just make sure you remove anything shiny such as jewellery (especially earrings) because they love glistening objects and won’t hesitate to steal from you.

5. Swim in the waterfalls

Exploring and swimming in natures waterfalls is a must for any traveller and in and around Ubud there are many for you to choose from. A couple of our favourites are Tegenungan waterfall and Nungnung waterfall (35km drive out of Ubud). If you book on a full or half day excursion, you can simply choose a trip that includes a waterfall visit or you can hire a driver to take you straight there and bring you back when you are ready. Although it is located 66km north of Ubud, we recommend Sekumpul waterfall, which is a collection of seven waterfalls (“Sekumpul” meaning “group” in Indonesian) with the tallest waterfall at a staggering 50-metres high.

7 Stunning Photos of the Locals Worship at Balinese Temples

Photographic insights into the locals worship at Balinese Temples Goa Gajah, also known as Elephant Cave Temple, and Pura Tirta Empul Temple, also known as Holy Spring Water Temple.

Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Locals after Worship at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Exploring the Grounds of Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Goa-Gajah (Elephant Cave) Temple Grounds
Goa-Gajah (Elephant Cave) Temple Grounds
Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Local Praying at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Local Ceremony at Pura Tirta Empul Temple
Local Ceremony at Pura Tirta Empul Temple

Why the Gili Islands Should be at the Top of Your Bucket List

Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno make up the island trio located to the northwest coast of Lombok and just a short 90 minute fast boat ride from Bali’s Padang Bai. The islands are rapidly increasing in popularity as an idyllic escape in their own right due to the lack of motorised transport and green way of living.

Gili Trawangan

The liveliest of the three islands is Gili Trawangan, where a multitude of cool, hip bars and restaurants are stretched across the  shores, teamed with friendly locals serving up local and international dishes from day to night. Dive schools, mini marts and stylish boutiques flood the main strip, while authentic food stalls, cool reggae joints and bohemian retreats can be found further inland.

The crystal clear ocean is the ideal playground, and the variety of Watersports will have your adrenaline pumping for days. PADI scuba diving, freediving, surfing, stand up paddle boards and banana boat rides are among the fun to keep your days action packed. As the sun begins to fade, nightly reggae sessions can be found at Sama Sama Reggae Bar. Party nights are held on rotation so only one party is held per night.

Gili Air

Perfect for the budget, tropical island explorer, Gili Air can be reached in 30 minutes from Gili Trawangan harbour, with boats leaving daily at 9.30am and 4pm costing IDR25,000, after first stopping off at Gili Meno along the way. The island is endearing to those lusting after a secluded island escape from reality, while the circumference can be completed on foot in a mere two and a half hour walk. The east coast is filled with beach bars and restaurants of a laid back, hippy vibe, and the snorkelling gives great opportunity to catch sight of turtles. For unspoilt lands and sublime shores, head over to the west.

Gili Meno

Offering total escapism, Gili Meno is a great location for combining relaxation and mindfulness through the local Yoga and meditation classes with a spot of adventure diving or snorkelling in the crystal clear waters. Spend days lazing around in a beachfront hammock while indulging in fresh foods from the local cafés. Meno is the smallest of the islands and can be reached on the same daily departures as Air, taking just 15 minutes to reach from Trawangan and costing IDR23,000.

Gili Island trio is a great destination that should be at the top of every castaways bucket list.

Header photo credit Andres Abogabir on Unsplash

 

3 Must-see Temples in Bali

 

With so many temples to visit in Ubud, it is best to book onto a tour with one of the many tour operators. Many are local Balinese people with their own small business, and offer excursions of up to six people, costing around IDR400,000 (£23) per trip, for a full day. Tourists are taken out in the locals car to various temples, while being guided through the lands local history. This is an easy and affordable way to explore, however if you are feeling more adventurous, motorbikes can be rented from as little as £4 per day, just ensure you have a route planned before heading out. Here are three wonderful, sacred temples that are not to be missed.

‘Goa Gajah’ Elephant Cave Temple

The elephant cave temple is a popular addition to many of the tours as it is just 6km southeast of central Ubud. The entrance cost is a minor IDR15,000 (80p) and you can take as much time to wander as you like. The tour guide usually gives 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the temple, which is plenty of time to explore at leisure. A sarong is essential but this is one temple that hands them out upon entering. Simply wrap the sarong around your own clothes and return it when you leave.

The entrance to the cave has remarkable carvings of menacing creatures with an eye-catching elephant above the door, hence the name ’Elephant Cave’. The historic name is ‘Goa Gajah’, ‘Goa’ meaning cave and ‘Gajah’ meaning elephant. As you enter into the darkness, the small cave abruptly ends with a Ganesh statue to the left and a small worship area to the right containing stone Lingam and Yoni in honour of Shiva. Surrounding the cave are glorious, tranquil gardens, ponds and water features to roam around freely with admiration under the warm sun.

Among the grounds is a bathing spot with three wonderful stone carved water fountain features. A soak in the water here is said to ward off evil spirits, however it is not accessible for tourists unlike the Tirta Empul Temple. The traditional, exquisitely decorated temples with the nipa hut roof are dotted around the grounds and are a beautiful, unique site to see, adding vibrancy to the setting.

The temple itself takes minutes to explore yet the real attraction here is the beautiful surroundings of lush green rice paddies, grape vines and gardens, and a long flight of steps leading to a small waterfall. The sign leading ‘to the temple’ will guide you to the remains of a crumbled Buddhist temple. Elephant Cave is definitely worth a visit on any sightseeing tour.

Tirta Empul Temple

Better known as the Holy Spring Water Temple located in Tampak Siring Village, around 39km east of Denpasar town, the beautiful temple has unsurprisingly fast become a popular destination in Bali attracting many locals and tourists daily for both worship and admiration of the glorious grounds.

The temple consists of fine architectural detail and colouring throughout with many shrines dotted around the grounds under the traditional nipa hut roof, some shut off from tourists for private ceremonies. The striking holy water fountains are at the entrance where locals can be seen spreading the traditional holy bamboo trays, also known as ‘kumarang’, while preparing for ceremony. Take advantage of cleansing in the cooling water but ensure you bring a change of clothes as you must soak dressed but cannot enter the temple wet. The belief from the locals is that the holy water is purifying to the mind, body and soul. A shower in the fresh water sourced from the springs of the temple is said to eliminate all diseases and sins while giving new holy spirits ahead of their daily ritual prayers within the temples. Towards the west, the Presidential Palace – Istana Tampkasiring, can be seen stretched across the hill. The magnificent house was built during the years of Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia.

During our visit, we were lucky enough to catch a large ceremony from beginning to end. Such strong belief and commitment to worship of the locals here is both admirable and awe inspiring. From the beautiful dress, the scent of fresh flowers and burning incense infusing the air, to the soft music and chants from the Balinese people. The experience was truly heart-warming and simply wonderful.

Gunung Kawi Temple

A wonderful, historic temple, with a glorious setting of mountains and greenery, Gunung Kawi Temple can be found in Pakerisan River, near Tampaksiring village in Gianyar Regency, Bali. The temple is a great addition to a cultural day tour within Ubud where you can wander freely amongst the grounds that can be covered within the hour. Entrance cost is IDR15000 and as with most temples in Bali, it is essential for visitors, both male and female, to wear a long sarong upon entering.

The grounds are surrounded by lush greenery and rice paddies with many breath taking view points along the way. Take a moment here to admire the peaceful serenity then continue to be charmed by the local people making a living selling beautifully hand crafted items as you make your way down the 300 count stairway.

One of Bali’s oldest and largest ancient monuments will be quick to welcome you as you reach the bottom. Dating back to 11th century the 10 ‘candi’ shrines among the grounds are impressively hand carved from the cliff face and measure at a staggering 8m in height. The ‘candi’ shrines are believed to have been built for King Udayana, his Javanese Queen Gunapriya and their sons, Airlangga, Wungsu and Marakata, whom where previous rulers of East Java (Airlangga) and Bali (Wungsu). The four monuments on the western side are said to be dedicated to Wungu’s chief concubines. A small rocky river, hand carved fountains, and nipa hut roofed shrines grace the grounds, beautifully crafted and coloured, and the hard work and attention to detail outstanding. A blissful wander through the monuments, temples and rice fields will likely leave you feeling a sense of tranquillity and inner peace.