Ubud & Centre
Ubud is Bali's thriving cultural heart. It is here that you will
find art galleries, museums, Balinese dancing, puppet shows and
theatrical Legong performances, as well as authentic gamelan
(sounds like plink plonk) music. But this is only part of the
There are deep forested gorges with gushing rivers below. You can find yourself following lines of herding ducks through rice paddies, watching kingfishers darting through the mist or see a thousand sacred herons arriving home to roost in Petulu. You’ll easily find yoga teachers, mystics and savants; Ubud takes its name from Ubad meaning medicine and you are never far from rural ceremonies and temple offerings.
If shopping’s your thing, you can bargain in the market to your heart’s content or drop in to some of the designer shops midway down Monkey Forest Road. There's even a Prada store here now. Ubud's not short of restaurants but try taking a table in one of the bustling warungs (local restaurant). As you’d expect, it’s cooler in this area, so you may need to wrap up on cloudy days and in the evenings.
Heading towards the centre of the island, on the southwest slopes of daunting Gunung Agung, is the 8th-century Mother Temple: Pura Besakih. When you reach the Pura, you’ll be rewarded with incomparable vistas of sky-reflecting crater lakes, distant water temples and smoking caldera. If you’re super-fit, there’s a gruelling climb to the summit, but, to get there for sunrise, you’ll need to start climbing at midnight. And you’ll most definitely need a guide.
If you’re staying at Sanda, take the opportunity to trek to Blemantung Waterfall through farmland and coffee and vanilla plantations, or drive out to Medewi on the west coast. On the way, you’ll drive straight through the middle of the ‘Drive Thru Tree’.