So after the coastal beachy bliss of the first part of our trip in Canggu, we waved goodbye to the ocean and travelled 90 minutes by car inland to Ubud. My friends A and M had both totally fallen in love with Ubud last year when they visited Bali for the first time. So I’d heard lots of great things about this tropical, spiritual oasis they kept talking about and was eager to see it for myself!
It was amazing to see the landscape change as we drove further towards Ubud. The rice fields became more plentiful for a while and then gradually the brilliant bright green plantlife we were used to seeing morphed into deeper, darker green hues as we entered the jungle! The clear blue skies of the coast and the eternal sunshine started to slowly get blotted out by all the enormous trees and the forest canopy – but the heat and humidity remained intact albeit a degree or two cooler.
Our lovely taxi driver dropped us off in the middle of Ubud, in front of the famous Penestanan Steps. Our villa, it turns out, was all the way at the very top!
As we took a very deep breath and prepared for the climb with luggage in hand, we were beyond grateful to see staff from our villa bound down the stairs. Without a care, they heaved our cases onto their shoulders and trotted all the way back up to the top, leaving us trailing behind despite having nothing to carry!
Definitely a little bit out of puff at the top, we followed the staff as they led us down tiny narrow passageways high up in the forest. The views were breathtaking, but I was almost scared to look, in case I fell off one of the walkways and into a stream or down a cliff!
When we reached our villa and opened the door, we were greeted by the most amazingly beautiful garden I think I’ve ever seen, complete with its own little moat around the outside with stepping stones onto the veranda!
I’m not sure we knew where to look first! Our previous villa had been gorgeous but the garden here in Ubud was out of this world – on a completely different level!
It turns out the villa is owned by a couple, one of whom is an artist. So there were pieces of her work literally everywhere…..
Every time we looked around, we saw another awesome piece of the garden we hadn’t noticed before. The attention to detail and effort that must have gone into creating this little oasis must have been huge. I loved all the water features in the garden. And of course the pool!
Just look at the size of the trees! They were gigantic! This bad boy was enormous and was right next to the pool. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It was awesome to be paddling around, staring up at this…….
We didn’t even notice this gorgeous buddha sitting in the garden until our second day, but he turned out to be one of my favourites!
Just outside our villa door we found vast stretches of fields with amazing houses dotted around on one side and then the impressive jungle canopy on the other. The scenery was simply stunning.
Ever the amazing host, A had reserved us a table at Bridges Bali for our first lunch in Ubud. Top tip here, there are so many gorgeous spots, make sure you book lunch or an early dinner so you actually get to see your surroundings! I’m sure Bridges is still excellent during the evening but missing out on the sight of this natural beauty would have been sad!
Bridges is set on seven levels and overlooks the gently flowing Wos River. It describes itself as casual fine dining and also has a wine / cocktail bar attached. I would describe the interior decor as colonial and the service was excellent.
It’s a fusion restuarant, Indonesian dishes and influences combined with western flavours – done well. The pasta in particular is really well made. I had the Lamb and Ricotta Raviolo to start which was delicious!
And the Pan Seared Barramundi for main which was served with spinach, mushroom, whipped mint-potato purée, Parmesan aïoli and chilli oil, topped with a Parmesan wafer…..mmmmmm!
Feeling full by that point, we headed upstairs and retired to the lounge area to enjoy the last of our wine and of course, the view.
Walking around Ubud was mesmerising. Temples, monuments and little havens on peacefulness were everywhere.
And we found this piece of art when we popped in to take a further look at a temple which looked particularly pretty from the outside.
One thing everyone MUST do when visiting Bali, at least once if not more, is to book yourself a massage! Whilst in Ubud, I paid a visit to the stunningly gorgeous Taksu Spa.
After arriving and filling out some paperwork, I was whisked away through the different levels of the spa, gawking at all the beautiful pools, water features and the most enormous buddha statue I have ever seen! I eventually arrived at a little hut, like this one…. and was welcomed by my therapist.
I loved that everyone had their own, personal hut to experience their treatments in. It felt very luxurious yet at the same time, you also felt very close to nature listening to what was going on outside.
I decided to have a delicious coffee and cinnamon salt scrub which was very invigorating and left me feeling silky soft. After a hot shower in my little hut, the therapist came back in and I had an uber relaxing 90 minute warm stone massage. The therapist firstly massaged me with her hands, then used the heated stones to warm her hands to massage me and then finally used the warm stones themselves to massage me. Utter bliss and I was so sad when it was all over!
I emerged after a good two and half hours of pure ‘me time’ and self indulgence to find the sun was setting. I was offered a free drink token to use at the outside spa restaurant – which was a nice touch – so headed there to sit and savour the spa at dusk. All in all, a very relaxing afternoon!
I would totally recommend Taksu Spa if you find yourself in Ubud. You can of course find places that will offer you a great massage at a lower cost, but this was still far cheaper than you would pay in London or New York, and the setting and quality (of the therapist I had anyway) was excellent. You won’t regret it!
After a first day of lunching and indulging at the spa, we got our second day off to a cracking start by having breakfast at the Yellow Flower Cafe which was handily, right next to our villa. It’s the cutest, cosiest cafe with semi outdoor seating and a teeny, tiny kitchen that dishes up authentic Indonesian cuisine that’s absolutely delicious. And did I mention you get to enjoy this view whilst you eat….!
After breakfast we strolled through Ubud town to the Monkey Forest! Seeing lots of gorgeous sights along the way like these….
Honestly, you can get so (happily!) distracted in Ubud because there are so many amazing things to see and hear all over the place! Also en route, we got to hear some beautiful Balinese music from outside one of the temple walls, as practice was taking place for a festival later on that evening.
We loved the Monkey Forest! A and M had been before and couldn’t wait to take me! I have about 100 monkey photos on my phone, but these are a couple of my favourites!
It’s a huge area, with stunning scenery all around so you could spend hours here if its your thing!
Whilst we were there, the heavens opened and the rain started to pour hard (and continued to do so for the next few hours)! I love a monsoon! Abandoning the forest, we ran to a nearby spot A and M had enjoyed on their previous visit, Bali Bohemia Cafe – which is actually a very cute artists hotel too.
A tiny little bolthole, we ended up spending hours in this place as the rain fell around us. The food was so yummy and as this would be our last afternoon together, we decided to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. The vibe was so chilled out and the staff seemed happy enough to allow us to while away the afternoon with them.
Sadly I only had a couple of days in Ubud before I had to catch my flight back to NY. But its safe to say I loved it there!
Bali was an absolute dream holiday, I got to see so many things I hadn’t seen before and it was definitely an experience I’ll treasure forever. Not just because of the amazing country but also because I got to experience it with A and M – so special. Thank you both for inviting me along and for the most unforgettable holiday!
Have you guys ever visited Bali? What did you think of it?