Last Updated on 7 November 2022
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Situated inland and surrounded by rice fields, the town of Ubud oozes tranquillity and has bucket loads of culture. There are some amazing things to do in Ubud itself, but given its central location it also makes for a great base for day trips around Bali. Whether it’s for a morning or afternoon out of town, or a whole day off exploring, there are an abundance of temples, waterfalls, stunning landscapes and other bucket list experiences that you can take advantage of when you stay in Ubud. So to help you pick your must-do trips, here are 9 of the best one day trips from Ubud (although I’d recommend you do them all)!
Tip: You can easily combine two or three of these places into one day trips from Ubud. Therefore, it is viable to include all 9 of these things to do near Ubud in your itinerary for Bali!
1. Tegalalang Rice Terraces – one of the best Ubud day trips
If you take one excursion out of Ubud when you visit, then it must be Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Located a ~20 minute drive from the town, the steep and curvy iconic terraces are picture-perfect and make for one of the best day trips from Ubud. Take some time to wander through, up, down and around the rice terraces, and perhaps stop for a cold Bintang at one of the little vendors deep within the terraces whilst you soak up the views. Depending on how long you want to marvel at your surroundings, you’ll probably only need around 2-3 hours here.
Tip: Mopeds are a common mode of transport in Bali and can be easily rented to get around the island. However, unless you are proficient at moped riding in Southeast Asia, I would recommend hiring a private driver for your day trips due to the chaos of the roads. Private drivers are affordable in Bali – I always use Awan at Bali Safest Driver.
2. Tirta Empul Temple
Dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of Water, Tirta Empul is a tranquil temple with Holy Waters pouring out of the fountains and into the long rectangular Koi-filled pool which are used for purification by the Hindu population who bathe there. It is a serene setting where you can spend some time admiring the architecture and observing the religious practices that take place. Tirta Empul Temple is located ~35 minutes drive north of Ubud, and is one of the top day trips from Ubud for a real taste of culture.
Tip: You’ll need to cover up your legs when you visit temples in Bali. At some temples, you may be able to borrow sarongs, but one of the best travel tips for Bali is to pack one of your own and carry it with you when you are out sightseeing – you never know when you might stumble upon a temple you’d like to visit!
3. Gitgit Waterfall
Swimming beneath a waterfall is a definite on any bucket list for Southeast Asia, and Bali is the perfect place to tick this off. And if the idea of swimming in a plunge pool below a cascading waterfall is dreamy to you, then Gitgit Waterfall is one of the must-do places to visit around Ubud. Located a ~1 hour 30 minute drive north of Ubud (admittedly a tad further than the rest of the day trips on this list), Gitgit Waterfall is a lesser-visited hidden gem and picturesque waterfall in a secluded jungle oasis which you will not regret visiting!
Tip: Be careful in the waters and avoid swimming directly beneath the cascading water due to its force. There aren’t any lifeguards here and (if you’re lucky) the waterfall can be quiet so there won’t be many people to get help if you need it.
4. Tegenungan Waterfall
Unlike Gitgit Waterfall, Tegenungan Waterfall is one of the better known waterfalls near Ubud. At only a ~20 minute drive south of Ubud, it is frequented by many day trippers due to its close proximity and beauty. Tegenungan is a roaring waterfall located down many steps in the valley below (so wear your walking shoes)! You can cross the river on a questionable plank of wood (at least it was a bit dodgy when I visited) to reach the steps that climb up the side of the waterfall, where you can find perfect places to capture those everlasting memories on camera!
Tip: If it’s been raining and the water is fast flowing, you may not be able to swim in Tegenungan Waterfall due to the danger (there should be lifeguards on site). And if you’re climbing up the side of the waterfall, be mindful that it can be slippery – don’t do anything silly for the sake of capturing the perfect snap!
5. Pura Ulun Danu Batur
Before I travelled to Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Batur was the picture-perfect temple I associated Bali with as it’s the one you see on travel brochures and guides! Pura Ulun Danu Batur is a Hindu temple located on the tranquil Lake Bratan. It is situated a little further from Ubud (~60 minute drive, depending on the traffic) but its sheer beauty makes it worth the extra journey. It gushes serenity and is a stunning setting to spend the morning wandering, whilst admiring the architecture and calmness of the complex! (note: due to it’s location, if you are doing a customised tour this is a good place to combine with Gitgit Waterfall).
6. Go Whitewater Rafting
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then Whitewater Rafting will make for one of the perfect day trips from Ubud, Bali. Granted, I came back minus a brand new water shoe after being thrown out of the raft, but Whitewater Rafting was one of my most memorable experiences on my 3 week trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Bali! I pre-booked my Rafting trip with Ubud Rafting Adventure before I left the UK because I wanted to go with a company that had good reviews. The tour with Ubud Rafting Adventure will take you along the Agung River beside rainforests and rice paddies, and should include pick up/drop off from/to Ubud, equipment, lunch, and the actual rafting! (note: raft at your own risk!)
7. Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah, also known as the Elephant Cave, has a beautifully carved exterior and is just a ~10 minute drive southeast of Ubud. Located in a peaceful complex scattered with ancient trees and small sacred bathing pools, Goa Gajah is a Hindu temple which dates back to approximately the 11th Century. As you enter through the demonic-looking mouth, inside the small cave you will find religious statues and worship areas. Goa Gajah is one of the most popular places to visit near Ubud, so to avoid the crowds try and arrive early!
8. Coffee plantations
Bali has an abundance of coffee plantations where you can sample a range of teas and coffees, and buy locally produced produce. If you head to the Satria Coffee Plantation you can enjoy some beautiful scenery and will find one of the Bali Swings if you fancy an adrenaline rush (I haven’t been on the swing, but visited Satria Coffee Plantation after Tegalalang Rice Terraces and saw people doing so).
If you do a day tour from Ubud to a Coffee Plantation, be mindful that you are likely to find Kopi Luwak here and possibly the creatures which produce it. Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans ingested by the Asian Palm Civet, which are collected and processed from the excrement of the mammal to produce one of the world’s most luxurious and expensive coffees. But there are concerns around the Palm Civet being held in captivity to produce this, so perhaps educate yourself about why this is an unethical practice before you drink or buy the coffee.
9. Pura Gunung Kawi
Pura Gunung Kawi is a Hindu temple complex with some fascinating shrines carved into the rock faces and various ponds and sacred bathing pools scattered throughout. Located ~30 minute drive north of Ubud a stone’s throw from Tirta Empul Temple, Pura Gunung Kawi sits at the bottom of 272 steps amongst the rice paddies and jungle. The sound of running water from the nearby river makes the setting quite a mystical place, and one of the best day tours from Ubud, Bali, to take.
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