The Complete Guide to Penestanan Village, Ubud
With Ubud’s increasing tourist crowds and traffic, Penestanan Village is gaining in popularity as an alternative to the cultural center capital of Bali. The first time we visited Ubud was in 2008, and back then Ubud was a peaceful small town with a mellow atmosphere. Fast forward to 2017 and it’s now become something of an over crowded tourist magnet. It’s no wonder tourists and expats are looking for a place to stay outside of Ubud’s hustle and bustle and Penestanan Village is a great option.
Why Choose Penestanan Village?
Penestanan Village reminds us of how Ubud town felt back in 2008. It has the same vibe and calm streets that Ubud once had before Starbucks and Pandora came to town. There are no late night bars, over crowded markets or Bali dance shows. All that is still contained within Ubud town which is only 4km away. However, Penestanan does have a great selection of restaurants and coffee shops, some of which over look some spectacular rice field views.
Although tourist and expat numbers are growing in Penestanan, it’s still a local village with local people going about their business. The Hindu religion can be seen everywhere from offerings being placed at any opportunity to temples throughout the village.
The locals are extremely welcoming and don’t seem to mind the rotation of a few Westerners moving in for their vacation. After spending 2 months living in Penestanan, we got to know a few of the friendly local business owners and workers so would be greeted with a lovely Bali smile wherever we went.
When to Go?
If you really want to experience local life in Penestanan with very few tourists around, then the rainy season from December to March is your best bet. However, during this time you’ll see a lot of cloud cover and it can rain heavily for several hours each day. If you’re lucky, some days it may downpour for just an hour or two.
When the rains begin to reside in April, Penestanan starts to get busier but in a low key way. We arrived in April and we noticed a big difference in the number of people walking around by the time we left in June. In April, we felt it was mostly locals and expats, but villas and guest houses started to fill up a few weeks later with international tourists. The busiest time of year is during the high season between June and October, but it never feels busy in Penestanan, for now, it’s still a serene place.
A Village of Two Halves
We found Penestanan to be in two halves.
JL Raya Penestanan
The closest half to Ubud town is located on and around JL Raya Penestanan. It’s close proximity to town means it’s the most developed part of the village. In fact, it almost feels like the centre of Ubud but with fewer people and less traffic. There are many restaurants, coffee shops and accommodation options in this area so if you like a good choice of places to eat and sleep on your doorstep, then this is the area for you.
Banjar Penestanan Kaja
Heading East, as JL Raya Penestanan snakes to the left, it begins to feel more remote. Only a handful of businesses exists on this stretch of the road. Things start to build up again as you approach Banjar Penestanan Kaja but in a more low key way.
This road and the surrounding area feels more local with only a scattering of businesses geared towards tourists. It also feels like the village centre and where Penestanan all started. The high street at the northern end of Banjar Penestanan Kaja is buzzing with local life from men catching up over a beer outside shop fronts to children flying kites in the middle of the street. After 9pm, this area is almost closed apart from one convenience store where locals gather to watch local TV shows.
Penestanan Restaurants, Warungs and Coffee Shops
There’s enough choice of excellent restaurants, warungs and coffee shops in Penestanan Village to not even feel the need to go into Ubud Town. The best food we eat in Bali was during our Balinese cooking class, but here’s our list of favourite places to eat and drink in the village.
Budget – £1/$1.50 to £3/$4
Warung Ting Ting – A nicely decorated two level restaurant with an open air 1st floor overlooking the village high street, temple and a huge Banyan Tree. Simple but tasty mains are a mix of local and Western dishes which are served by very friendly local women.
TJs Warung – A simple canteen type restaurant with some of Penestanan’s cheapest food. Popular with young volunteers, this eatery serves uncomplicated local and western dishes which you can enjoy while watching village life go by on the high street. Their juices are the cheapest in town!
Mid Range – £2/$3 to £4/$6
Paddy Point – This is one of the new kids on the block. Set amongst rice fields, this alfresco warung makes the best curry we eat in Bali. The owner, Nek, is a lovely guy and a trained chef from one of Ubud’s top hotels. We recommend dining at night while watching fire flies float past your table.
Oasis Cafe N Yoga – Just around the corner from both Paddy Point and Warung Ting Ting, this serene cafe is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of great coffee or eat one of their lovingly created dishes. With a yoga terrace and views of a mini rice field, this place is one of Penestanan’s most popular.
Kopi Desa – There are no rice field views here, but Kopi Desa serves the best coffee in the village (in our opinion) and the tastiest Nasi Campur known to man. With a cool Youtube playlist, this place felt the most like a bar so was popular in the evenings to sink a beer or two. They also play movies on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Made’s Warung – A Penesatanan institution, Made’s Warung serves huge portions of local and Western dishes. The menu is endless with options ranging from pasta dishes to meat kebabs. The place is showing its age but that doesn’t stop tourists and locals arriving in large numbers.
Pricey – £3/$4.50 to £6/$8
Yellow Flower Cafe – A very popular restaurant and cafe, Yellow Flower is a spot to eat all three meals of the day. Excellent coffee and breakfast smoothie bowls have the place packed in the mornings and lunch and dinner is equally busy. The higher prices are worth paying for the top quality local and Western food served here and with views across the valley, you may find yourself staying a while.
Ubud Heaven – One of the main luxury resorts in Penestanan, Ubud Heaven’s restaurant serves first class local and Western cuisine in an idyllic setting close to rice fields. Romantic Candle-light dinners can also be served beside the pool upon request.
Things to do in Penestanan
Being just 4KM from Ubud centre, you’re not far away from the major tourist hotspots such as Ubud Palace, Monkey Forest and Ubud market. You can also start all the awesome Ubud day trips from here. But there are enough things to do in Pensastanan so you don’t always have to make the journey into town.
Rice Field Walks
The amazing thing about staying in Penestanan is the easy access to hundreds of rice fields and terraces. Rice farming is still big business in Bali and that’s clear to see here. Just ask around for directions to the nearest rice field walk and someone will show you the way. Or check out this post for our 3 favourite rice field walks in the Ubud area including Penestanan.
Penestanan Organic Market
A cute and colourful little Saturday morning market set amongst the lush gardens of Moksa Plant Based Restaurant. Here, local residents sell the freshest of fruit and vegetables, coconut oils, cooking sauces, juices, Indonesian sweets and the best beetroot chocolate brownies we have ever tasted.
Yoga and Meditation
One thing you’ll notice in Ubud and Penestanan is the number of people walking around carrying yoga mats. Yoga is extremely popular here and you’ll find plenty of places to stretch in the village. The most popular is the Yoga Barn but it can get busy, so if you like your classes a little more intimate then check out the white board outside Oasis Cafe N Yoga where regular yoga and meditation classes take place for around £5 per person. You’ll also notice plenty of notice boards around the village with classes being advertised.
Penestanan is such a peaceful place and time should be taken to simply chill. Grab a coffee in a cafe overlooking rice fields, find a swimming pool which you can pay to use such as Rumah Semanggi or treat yourself to a Balinese massage at one of the local spas.
Check out these popular tours to take from Penestanan!
- Best of Bali: Private Customized Full-Day Tour
- Mount Batur Sunrise Hike and Natural Hot Spring
- Breakfast and Bathing with Elephants
- Ubud: Monkey Forest, Rice Terrace & Tanah Lot Tour
- Ubud: Electric Bike Tour to Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Where to Stay in Penestanan
You’ll be pleased to hear that Penestanan has accommodation options for all budgets and tastes. From simple budget guest houses to luxury private villas. Or if you’re looking to stay a while then check out our post on how to find and rent villas longterm in the area.
Pugig Homestay – Located near the very centre of the village but down a quiet lane, this spacious and friendly homestay is within walking distance to all amenities. Some of the rooms include large balconies with jungle views where the excellent free breakfast can be enjoyed.
Cucu House – Enjoy the welcome silence and connection with nature in a gorgeous part of the village.Spotless and spacious double rooms are set in a beautiful part of a Balinese family compound, giving you a slice of local life beyond the touristy centre. Breakfasts are well reviewed!
Sri Ratih Cottages – Charming Balinese-style rooms with private balconies and carved wood furnishings, are set amidst tropical greenery. It’s one of the closest options if you want to be near to Ubud town but still in Penestanan. Also includes free Wi-Fi, a landscaped outside swimming pool and a restaurant serving tasty Indonesian meals.
Lily Lane Villas – At the southern end of the village, Lily Lane Villas provides a peaceful retreat in a natural environment on the tropical Wos Timur River. Villas overlook bright green rice fields and the Pura Dalem Agung Temple. Included in the room price is parking, scheduled shuttle to central Ubud, and WiFi.
Ubud Heaven Sayan – Located in our favourite area of Penesatanan, Ubud Heaven Sayan is one of two Ubud Heaven resorts in the village. Private luxury villas each have their own pool and some even include their own mini rice field! A free scheduled drop-off service to Ubud centre is also provided.
Four Seasons Resort – This stunning resort is not located centrally in Penestanan but is very close by. Set amidst lush tropical jungle valleys by the Ayung River, the views from its rooms and restaurants are out of this world! With a choice of luxury hotel rooms and villas, the Four Seasons Resort is worth the splurge.
How to get to Penestanan Village
Public transport in Ubud and the rest of Bali does not really exist. Local mini buses and vans are available but destinations and routes are very limited and they’re not particularly comfortable in the sweltering heat of Indonesia.
To get to Penestanan and anywhere else on the island, we recommend taking a taxi. Bluebird Taxis are the best option as they are reliable, safe and metered. However, if you fancy getting your haggle on, you can negotiate with one of the hundreds of private taxi drivers. Both options can be found at the airport and in major towns.
The journey from the airport to Penestanan should take around 1 hour and cost in the region of 300,000 IDR.
Getting Around and Into Ubud Centre
You can walk pretty much everywhere in Penestanan. From the most Northern part of the village to the most Southern part would take around 30 minutes to walk. Scooters (around 50,000 IDR per day) and bicycles are available to rent from most accommodations and there are a group of private taxi drivers that hang out near to Cafe Vespa.
Getting into Ubud centre can be done by all the previously mentioned options:
Walking – 45 minutes
Scooter – 10 minutes
Taxi – 10 minutes – 50,000 to 100,000 IDR
Penestanan is a wonderful place to stay if you want to explore the sights in and around Ubud. It’s also a fantastic destination for expats because of the many western comforts it offers. Check out our costs of living in Ubud post for a detailed breakdown of our expenses while living in Penestanan for a couple of months. We have such great memories of our time there and hope to go back sometime in the near future.