3D 2N Ubud, Bali travel guide: temples, volcanos, jungle pool bars
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Our guide to the best travel itinerary for your trip to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:
We’ve been to Bali many times, each time in search of golden sunsets and world famous beaches. This time we wanted a new experience, full of ancient culture, volcanic expeditions, and the lush green surroundings of jungle and rice fields. This trip was also special as it wouldn’t be just us visiting, we had twenty of our friends and family arriving from across the globe, many for their very first time, here to explore before our wedding. The pressure was on to create the perfect itinerary to wow our guests, showing off the little island we’ve come to love. We think we got it right and hope you enjoy these travel plans.
The quick view:
Day one: Sunrise hike of Mt Batur, Coffee Luwak plantation, Folk Pool Bar & Restaurant
Day two: Campuhan Ridge walk, Pura Tama Saraswati Temple, Goa Gaja & Wanna Jungle Bar
Day three: Tegalalang, Gunung Kawi Temple, Pura Tirta Empul & the Green Kubu Cafe
The full story:
We took the 2.5hr flight from Singapore into Bali Denpasar airport. Given the nature of the trip, we treated ourselves to business class via KLM, booked almost a year in advance (pre wedding excitement). Price wise, it didn’t feel like much more than a last minute economy ticket during school holidays. As the flight was connecting from Amsterdam, we got the full wide body aircraft experience, including ample space and flat beds to lay down on. A few pre celebratory cocktails were on order and made strong by the friendly staff. From the airport it’s a 1.5hr drive to Ubud. I always find getting a taxi at Bali airport a bit stressful and prefer to pre arrange something with my hotel, as most will offer a pick up service.
Where we stayed:
We booked well in advance and got an amazing deal with Alila Hotel in Ubud via Expedia. This five star luxury hotel, despite only being a ten minute drive from town, felt like a quite escape, situated between rice paddies and dense jungle. A family of monkey appeared to live on site; which we spotted each day, including one early morning waking up to the loud sound of jumping across our roof, cute yet admittedly terrifying.
I always love the convenience of a hotel stay, having a nice bar and restaurant on site, infinity pool and concierge to help with bookings. Our stay included a healthy and delicious morning breakfast and optional yoga and thai chi classes by the pool.
There is also an abundance of vacation rental options in Bali, where it’s easy to villas with private pools, and multiple rooms to suit any budget and party size.
The full Ubud, Bali itinerary
Day One Ubud: Sunrise Mt Batur Volcano Hike, Coffee Luwak, and Poolside relaxation a Folk
The more adventurous of our wedding guests lovingly sacrificed their sleep in for us, waking up at 2.30am for a sunrise hike of Mt Batur. We booked via Bali Sunrise Trekking tours. Our private trip included two guides, hotel pick up and drop off plus breakfast at the summit. Arriving in the pitch darkness of the early morning we witnessed the vast beauty of the Milky Way on a clear and starry night. We were provided torches to trek though the darkness as we progressed along the two our journey to the summit. You don’t need any experience or hiking equipment for the trek, just a reasonable fitness level. Best to wear running shoes and bring a light jacket, as it does get cold on top. While not technically difficult, be prepared to feel your legs burn and heart rate spike. If this discomfort becomes too much, scooter taxis can get you 80% of the way to the top (only in Bali!).
The view from the top was worth the pain, we were rewarded with a magical sunrise to start the trip. We spent at least 2 hours on the summit, enjoying a hot breakfast in the breezy cool air, trekking around the crater rim and experiencing the warmth of the volcanic smoke spouting from the top. Mt Batur is still classed as active, it last erupted in 2000. From its peak, the historical lava flow discolouration from the past eruptions is still visible across the grounds below.
After our decent, we stopped to visit a Coffee Luwak plantation, aptly named ‘Cat Poo Chino’. Here we got to meet the cute little civets who are integral to processing the famously expensive Kopi Luwak. Admittedly this was a touristy stop, but enjoyable none the less.
Exhausted from the morning, we opted to spend the afternoon enjoying the pool at our hotel. In the evening we headed into town for an early dinner at Folk Pool Bar and Restaurant. We had booked for 20 people, and they catered fabulously for everyone, with a diverse menu, a large space for groups and allowing for split bills. I wish we had a day to spend here as the venue is a destination in itself, with day beds by the pool, a hipster jungle feel and an evening outdoor cinema.
Day two Ubud: Campuhan Ridge Walk, Pura Tama Sara Swati Temple, Goa Gajan & Wanna Jungle Bar
For our next two days getting around with a large group we hired a mini bus via Bali Safest Driver. This was an easy and cost effective option which I’d recommend for fully customisable day trips.
Our first stop was Campuhan Ridge Walk. This walk showcases the natural beauty of Ubud, winding through hills, surrounded by jungle and forest. It would be no more than 3km, fully paved and suitable for all fitness levels. We found a little stop along the way for a refreshing coconut drink. Toward the end of the trail, the track transitions in to rice terraces, which we continued along for a short while enjoying the change of scenery before turning back.
As we were already in Ubud town, our next brief stop was the nearby temple of Pura Taman Sara Swati and Ubud Palace. The highlight here was the beautiful blooming lotus flowers surrounding the traditional Balinese architecture of the temple.
From there we travelled a further few kilometers out of town to visit Goa Gajah, known as the elephant cave temple. Here we were required to pay an entry fee. Included in the price is sarong which we borrowed to cover our knees. A the center of the temple complex is a bathing pool, surrounded by detailed temple carvings and the famous elephant cave.
After our final temple visit, our hot and tired group of travellers were ready to hit the pool at Wanna Jungle Bar, part of the luxury Kayon Jungle resort. An entrance fee is required here with an inclusive package of food and alcoholic beverages. We’d recommend eating lunch here to get the full value of the package. The complex is filled with several levels of infinity pools all overlooking the rice terrace surrounds. It is an instagram paradise, flocked with influencers trying to get their perfect bikini shots. This gave it an A for entertainment factor from us.
Day Three Ubud: Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Gunung Kawi Temple, Pura Tirta Empul & the Green Kubu Cafe
In the early morning we made our way to Tegalalang Rice Terraces, notably one of the top spots we’d heard was a must visit in Ubud. In a large valley filled with rice paddies there is so much to wander through and take in the scenery. It was however very commercialised, with fees charged along the way to walk through certain areas and packed with crowds of tourists. I was lured by my inner childhood temptations, and opted to try the giant swing. A feeling of freedom and carelessness rushed through me as I swung back and forward taking in the views. The cost however set us back $150K IDR. We later discovered there are many other places to try this in Ubud for a fraction of the cost. Our personal favourite spot for the swing and rice terrace views ended up being Green Kubu Cafe (at a cost of only 25K IDR).
We next visited Gunung Kawi. This was arguably one of the best temples we’ve seen in Asia, and definitely the highlight of Ubud. This unique temple is hidden within the valley of Pakerisan River. A steep stair decent into the valley was required, with stunning rice terrace views along the way. We couldn’t believe we hadn’t read about this in our own research as it really was a must see. Upon reaching the valley floor 350 steps later we witnessed the ancient archeological carvings of what once was rumored to be memorials to the Balinese royal family and king. We spent over an hour wandering through this site in absolute awe.
Nearby we also stopped to visit Pura Tirta Empul, a National cultural heritage spot home to holy mountain spring water and a beautiful temple complex. Here we witnessed the bathing in the holy water, we however just opted for a splash of the face. We spent at least another hour here meandering our way though the complex, taking time to witness the natural spring water rise from the ground into the temple pools.
Our final stop for the afternoon was the Green Kubu Cafe. With deck chairs and umbrellas overlooking the rice terraces this is the perfect spot to relax, take in the view and enjoy some amazingly cheap and delicious local food. The cafe has a large garden complex complete with a swing to enjoy the rice terrace and jungle views with wind in hair. This cafe is certainly a hidden gem not yet known to many tourists. It was our favourite part of our trip to Ubud.
We hope you enjoyed our travel guide to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. For more exciting travel guides and itineraries for long weekends in Asia check out the destination section of our blog.
Follow us on Instagram: @littlesherpatravels