Our Favourite Day Trips From Ubud in Bali
We love Ubud and everything it offers tourists and expats, but having spent three months in Bali’s cultural capital, there were plenty of occasions when we wanted a change of scenery. There are so many things to do in Ubud itself which is why it’s such a popular destination, but there are also a number of awesome day trips from Ubud which can be done DIY or with a tour.
Ubud’s location allows for easy access to the surrounding Balinese countryside where you can walk amongst rice fields, shower under waterfalls, climb mountains to watch the sunset and immerse yourself into local village life.
Here are our favourite day trips from Ubud.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Rice terraces in Bali do not come any more impressive than Tegalalang rice terrace. One of the more popular day trips from Ubud to take, Tegalalang rice terrace is easy to get to by heading north from Ubud’s main road and driving for around 30 minutes. On the way, you’ll pass stunning Balinese countryside and rice farmers attending to their crop. Once you get there, you’ll notice the hundreds of other tourists, but don’t let this put you off, it’s well worth it.
The stepped terraces line the side of one of Ubud’s famous green valleys, providing a picturesque patchwork that has to be seen to be believed. We found Tegalalang rice terrace to be in two sections. The section to the south was so much busier and had tourists walking all over it, but the section to the north was untouched which made for better photos and a more peaceful experience. You can simply head to one of the many warungs to enjoy the views for a price of a coconut or pay a small fee to walk amongst the terraces.
Gunung Kawi is one of Bali’s oldest and largest religious monuments. Sitting at the bottom of a lush green valley alongside a flowing river, Gunung Kawi consists of 10 shrines cut out of the rock face. The details carved to make these statues is so impressive and was easily our favourite religious site out of all the temples and monuments we visited in Bali.
The grounds of Gunung Kawi are really beautiful and you can explore the many other carvings and places of worship by wandering the paths and steps which curve up and around the valley. We felt like we were exploring an undiscovered world with the over growth of the surrounding jungle and rain water from the valley flowing over the top of the rocks. There are also some fantastic rice terrace views to be had, making Gunung Kawi one of the top day trips from Ubud.
You don’t have to go far from Ubud center to experience Balinese village life. At just 4km away, Penestanan village is an easy place to get to and there are plenty of things to do to warrant a day trip from Ubud. Penestanan is fast becoming a popular alternative to staying in Ubud town but it still retains its laid-back village vibe that Ubud itself once had many years ago.
On the streets of Penestanan, you’ll find kids flying kites, ladies selling coconuts on the streets, families in traditional dress on their way to a village temple and men drinking local beer together outside of small shops. It’s a friendly place and the locals don’t seem to mind the growing number of tourists adding the village to their list of day trips from Ubud. There are also some wonderful warungs where you can enjoy a great cup or coffee or Nasi Goreng while taking in views of green rice paddies. Check out our guide to Penestanan village for more information on what to see and do.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
There are of course a number of waterfalls to see in Bali, but there aren’t many which can be seen in day trips from Ubud. Our favourite waterfall is Kanto Lampo and can be reached in less than an hour from Ubud center by car or motorbike.
The name Kanto Lampo is taken from the local name of the trees in the area that grows a round orange fruit. The waterfall consists of a seasonal wide cascade of water flowing down a stepped rock wall into a shallow pool which can be used for swimming.
We recommend visiting Kanto Lampo waterfall early in the morning before the tourist day trips from Ubud and other areas arrive. We had the place all to ourselves at 8am and it was a great experience sitting in the silent jungle with only the sound of beautiful Kanto Lampo cascading above our heads.
Petulu Heron Colony
Not so much one of the day trips from Ubud, but more of an evening trip, the Petulu heron colony is a trip worth making. Every evening thousands of herons descend to roost in the palm trees that line the stretch of road through Petulu village.
On arrival to Petulu, you’ll notice signs to a covered viewing platform where you can buy snacks and drinks while you wait for the flock of herons. A local guide will help you understand why these herons have made Petulu their home and will show you the best vantage points.
The birds are believed to be the souls of the departed! But don’t let that scare you, watching the never ending number of herons glide into Petulu from the distance is a fascinating experience. The birds start to arrive from around 5pm but the majority swooped in together closer to 6pm as the skies were almost dark.
Mount Batur for Sunrise
For the active travellers reading this post, a trek up Mount Batur to watch the sunrise is an absolute must. At 1,717 metres above sea level, Mount Batur is Bali’s highest peak. Unlike all the other day trips from Ubud, you’ll need to rise and shine early for this one.
It’s not possible to DIY a trek up Mount Batur so you’ll need to book yourself on a guided tour. This will ensure you get there at the right time, you don’t get lost on the way up and your guide can show you other highlights in the area such as the crater lake and nearby hot springs.
The trek shouldn’t take any longer than a couple of hours and once you reach the top, you’ll feel as though you’re on top of the world. Views stretch to the neighbouring peak of Mount Abang above the clouds, and on a clear day the distant cone of Mount Agung can be seen on the horizon. Breathtaking.
Local Rice Field Walks
Day trips from Ubud do not have to last all day. It’s sometimes nice to head out for just a few hours of exploration so you can spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool. We don’t blame you, you’re on vacation after all. Within walking distance of Ubud center are a number of scenic rice field paths that snake through farmlands where local farmers attend to their crops and warungs perch on the edge with terrace views to die for.
There’s enough walking to do to warrant a full day trip from Ubud and each rice field walk offers the chance to wander through local villages where children play and adults work. For more information on the best rice field walks around Ubud, check out this post.
Balinese Cooking Class
Indonesian food is some of the tastiest we have ever eaten. From Nasi Campur to Satay Chicken, we love it all. The best food we eat during our three months in Ubud was while at our cooking class, so if trying local food is high on your list of things to do on vacation, then book yourself on the many day trips from Ubud that involves a cooking class.
Most of the cooking classes start in Ubud with a hotel pick up and a wander through Ubud’s market, but afterwards, you’ll be driven to a village or farm outside of Ubud where you’ll be greeted by a local family and for the next few hours are shown how to cook some of Indonesia’s culinary highlights. The whole experience was such fun and we got to eat everything at the end of the class and take home all the recipes for the 10+ dishes we created.
So as you can see, there is no shortage of day trips from Ubud. With a bit of additional research, some of these can be reached by yourself on a rented moped. This was our preferred method, but to cut out the hassle and potential stress of doing it yourself, book on a guided tour so you can explore with ease.