When you travel away from the coast and hotel developments you will travel through rice paddies and see farmers working in the paddy fields. As you get closer to Ubud you start to see the Rice Paddies on terraced sides of the hillsides.
Many people will come to Ubud on a day trip from their hotel on the coastline and you can certainly do that too, though staying in Ubud will enable you to spend more time here and explore further.
Ubud has all the shops, restaurants and craft shops that you also see on the coast, but it is here that you also see Balinese wood carvers and stone carvers working and teaching their crafts and skills to younger carvers. There is great skill involved and Ubud has built its reputation on its art and creativity – which extends from wood carving, to stone, sculpture work, textiles, batik design and printing, ceramics to painting, drawing, photography and other artistic skills, including Balinese cooking, where there are classes too.
Ubud has lots of Art Galleries and also Museums where you can see an array of artist work. One of the best places to see both traditional and contemporary works is at the Museum Puri Lukisan (see www.museumpurilukisan.com ) on Jalan Raya Ubud. Here you can also take classes in painting, making masks, playing Balinese flutes or playing the gamelan, learn techniques involved in Balinese dance, learn to carve wood, make shadow puppets and even learn the techniques involved in making the small offering baskets that you see at Temples. There are also many other places also teaching foreigners some of their skills in painting and other works.
Other museums that you might like to see are the Neka Art Museum (www.museumneka.com) ; Agung Rai Museum of Art (www.armamuseum.com ); Blanco Renaissance Museum (www.blancomuseum.com ) and Museum Rudana (www.museumrudana.com)
Ubud and Balinese Art has been recognized by European artists and collectors since the 1930's and some of these artists came to and settled in Ubud adding to the skills of local artists, but also learning from them too. There are so many galleries and work on display, it is doubtful that you will see all that is here in Ubud, but spending a day or more just walking into galleries and seeing the work can be inspirational. There are also temples here too, which add to the experience of being in Ubud.
Ubud is certainly famous for its art, but equally it is renowned for its spas, massages, yoga teachings, healing treatments and therapies. There are many places to stay in Ubud, and many people coming to Bali also come directly to the mountains and don't bother with the coastal areas. Again, the best thing to do, be it that you stay in Ubud for a night or much longer is to look at the various accommodation options in the Hotels section of this website, and book a room that suits you, even a guesthouse or homestay which will connect you to a local family – then go out and explore Ubud and the villages that are located nearby.
ANCIENT CITIES –
When you're staying in Bali and seeing all the modern hotels and resorts, you tend to forget just how old Bali civilisation is. Hidden away in the outskirts of Ubud are Bedulu and Pejang, the ancient capitals of Bali dating back to the 1300's. Bedulu and Pejang date back to the time of the Pejang Dynasty that lasted between 1292 and 1343, when the Dynasty was conquered by the Majapahit Empire. Just north of Ubud is Tampaksiring, the Valley of the Kings and in the Pakerisan Valley there are the ancient ruins of Gunung Kawi where you will see ancient monuments and 10 'Candi' Shrines that date back to AD 1080. The best way to not only see these ancient structures and hear about their significance and the stories surrounding them is to take a tour from Ubud and listen to a local guide.
In 2015 Mount Rinjari in Lombok blew lots of smoke and ash into the sky and stopped many flights from landing and taking off from Bali for fear of the ash causing aircraft engines to fail. This volcano is on the island of Lombok.
In Bali there are also volcanoes, the best known ones Mount Kintamani and Gunung Batur (Mount Batur) about 2 hour's drive from Kuta and just over 1700 metres (5500 feet) above sea level, so it can get cold and the mist hide the views. The easiest way to get here is on a tourist bus tour. What you see is a large crater and small cones and Lake Batur inside the big crater. There are also trekking companies that will enable you to hike in this area too – some of the hikes starting pre-dawn in order to watch the sun rise. To hike to the top of Gunung Batur takes around three hours.
At Kintamani there are three bigger villages – Batur, Kintamani and Penelokan where you can stay but also smaller settlements too, with the best views being at Penelokan. There are also hot springs at Toyabungkah.
SEEING THE COUNTRY –
Many people coming to Bali will just stay around their hotel resort pool and have a great holiday, and there is nothing wrong with that either. Working all year and commuting to and from work in a city and then taking a week or more to just relax around a pool, drink, eat, party, get a massage, visit some boutiques and sleep is by no means a bad option.
Other people like to get out and about to enjoy sports and activities, to shop, see the countryside, visit museums and ancient Temples and in Bali you can do all of these.
When you ask people what they like about Bali, most people will say the Balinese people and the food and drinks. Friendly smiles, the play-act bartering in a shop, the Satay man and street food, the Balinese gardens, beaches, meeting other people on holiday, the bars and surf and the list goes on. On the negative side, it will be the traffic, motorbikes, Bali belly, mozzie bites and the rubbish in the streets, and also the 'loudmouth tourist', but you can get away from this which is why choosing the right place to stay is so important. Your hotel can be your little haven of tranquillity from the world outside.
We hope you have a great time in Bali.