Have you got no money & only 1 day to spend in Ubud?
We recommend at least 2-4!
- 1-2 days in the city center exploring the Royal Palace, Saraswati Temple, Campuhan Ridge Walk (not recommended), surrounding rice terraces, Monkey Forest & Central Market
- 1-2 days exploring the attractions outside Ubud including Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Pura Kehen, Tirta Empul & Tegalalang Rice Terraces – read our post Temples & Terraces: An Ubud Daytrip on Motorbike
- Add extra days if you’re interested in taking classes or courses
This itinerary covers a full day in the city center of Ubud – tried & tested by DIY Travel HQ, including The Essential Budget Travel Guide to Ubud.
All the places to visit on this itinerary are within walking distance of each other & except for the Monkey Forest, all attractions are FREE! Read on!
Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung)
Constructed in the 19th century, Ubud’s Royal Palace is the official residence of Ubud’s royal family. Members of the nobility are said to be still living here although these days, the palace grounds is also host to various international festivals & events.
Most of the complex is off-limits to the public so the temple is essentially just a series of small courtyards & monuments. While these do showcase the ornate wooden/stone carvings and elegant portal structures characteristic of Balinese Hindu architecture, the palace is mostly indistinguishable from the many other temples in the area.
However, it’s situated in the middle of Ubud, across the road from the markets, so for a Royal Palace, it’s worth a quick 5 minute stop.
The Saraswati Palace is dedicated to the Hindu deity of wisdom & learning, Goddess Saraswati. An unassuming entrance between Café Lotus & Starbucks leads to a full-frontal assault of the senses, with this incredible panorama.
It’s a stunning, symmetrical view – a middle path flanked by lotus ponds on each side, leading up to an intricately-decorated, 19th century temple.
On the way to the central gate, admire the water lilies & lily pads in the water. The plants to the left are plump & sleek, thriving in the sunlight:
On the right, they are withering & patchy, devoid of light in the shade of towering trees:
But it is on the right side that the lotus blossom emerges in greater numbers (see 1st photo) – such is the balance of nature.
The entrance to the temple is via the door on the left side. There’s no entrance fee but you’re required to wear a sarong & cover your shoulders – you could take a chance & enter regardless, as we did. The temple itself is small anyway, shrines & altars around a central courtyard, surrounded by plant & bonsai trees.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ridge Walk is a very average 2km ridge path, which appears to be designed by cafés & galleries to lead visitors to their shops.
Despite the photos, the views are mostly ordinary & the trail isn’t at all challenging, despite the reviews.
Perhaps it was the time of year. In October most of the rice fields were already harvested & dried brown instead of lush green:
Still, the walk is lined with souvenir shops year round, not a welcome sight on a nature trail.
The ploy works though, we ourselves succumbed to a coconut from one of the hotel restaurants, but more as a consolation from the Campuhan’s disappointment.
We cannot recommend the walk but for the sake of thoroughness, the trail begins a little outside the city center, behind the impressive but discriminatory Pura Gunung Lebah temple. Even though our legs & shoulders were covered, we were still kicked out of the complex. Perhaps, my sidekick’s towel was not fully appreciated:
Rice Paddy Fields
Coming from the town center on Jalan Raya Ubud, a much more scenic walk amongst rice paddies can be found one street before the Campuhan Ridge Walk turn-off. Turn right at this spot & continue to follow the signs:
From the start of the trail, the views already surpass the best that Campuhan could offer.
It’s a small path, shared by the local villagers & tourists on foot, bicycle & motorbike.
Signs of development from Ubud are evident as modern concrete houses slowly encroach upon the rice fields. In fact, many of these are rented out as holiday homes, especially those constructed in the traditional style. The setting is utterly idyllic:
A few shops alongside the route offer refreshments for sale but unlike the souvenir-stable of Campuhan, it’s much more of a working village. Sifting & sieving, farmers in conical straw hats, long-sleeve t-shirts & pants tend to the vast crops of rice, still using traditional methods & processes.
Towards the end of the trail is an unlikely art gallery, watched by an enthusiastic minder, keener on selling coconuts. He’ll direct you to a path on the left that, via a steep descent, leads you to a small waterfall. The few tourists that come this far take a refreshing dip; locals bathe & wash their clothes.
As we climb out of the waterfall, the painting/coconut vendor is back. He seems to have been waiting the whole time, & coconut negotiations begin again. It’s all good fun & set-your-own-price. With rope-tied feet, he climbs up the nearest coconut tree, shuffling up at great speed – it was all very exciting!
Before long, he was back on the ground, hacking away at our fallen coconut. It was delicious & at 1,000 rupiah, half the price, but double the experience, of Campuhan – symbolic of the wider comparison between the rice fields.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Monkey Forest is the popular attraction in Ubud & fabulous fun for all ages, with monkeys of all ages! For more information & photos, see our separate post on Monkeying Around at Ubud Monkey Forest.
Ubud Central Market
On the corner of Jalan Monkey Forest & Jalan Raya, the Central Market is sprawling area of shops & stalls, teeming with clothes, souvenirs, wood carvings & all kinds of tourist-orientated goods. In the early morning, locals shop here for offerings & food. Be prepared to bargain hard & expect vendors to start asking for prices at 10 times the going rate.
And that is how you can spend one FREE day in Ubud!
*** The Final Word: The best things in life are free – now go! ***
Do you know anything else you can do for free in Ubud?
Super easy DIY travel around city centres
Visited in October 2015