Once known as a thoroughfare for backpackers, Ubud has emerged as the arts and cultural hub of Bali and with the devleopment of stunning five-star properties nestled amongst the lush palm trees and rice fields,Ubud is far removed from the busy streets of Kuta and will transport you to a feeling of complete transquility. Walking down the main street of Ubud you are overwhelmed with the number of galleries where you can talk to the artists, and learn about the rich heritage that lies behind the brush strokes and scultpures of Balinese art.
How to get there
Once known as a dive for Australian tourists, Bali has opened itself up to global tourism with the recent visa exemption announcement for over 169 countries, including citizens of the UAE, Australia, UK, US, South Africa. Emirates operate a daily flight to Denpasar making the tiny "island of gods" just a nine and a half hour journey away! Qatar Airways also operate a daily flight to Denpasar, often a cheaper flight option although the detour via Doha will add an additional two hours to your journey from the UAE.
Where to stay
Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Santi Mandala Villa & Spa is a stunning 4 star property is nestled amongst 3.5 hectares of lush gardens. The green foliage is abolutely gorgeous and seemingly endless as you dive into the gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the Tanaraga Giri lake and lush rice paddies. Staying in a garden villa, you'll be surrounded by nature; a beautiful lotus garden surrounds the accommodation set upon a cliff with a river view, you will feel transported to a natural paradise.
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image via @flightcentreuae
Where to eat
Naughty Nuri's Warung and Grill
Naughty Nuri's homemade barbeque sauce recipe is famous the world over, but don't just take our word for it, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is said to have dined at (and raved about) Nuri's delicious barbeque ribs, lamb chops and wings! The roadside diner with a sheet iron roof inspires a cheap and cheerful experience, however, the taste is so delicious you won't be worrying about the rustic setting!
Puteri Minang has become a Balinese institution, serving halal Padang food, the street food is both a local jaunt as well as popular with tourists. Serving sumptuous coconut milk curries with steamed rice, as well as other Padang specialties, on a banana leaf without silverware, this is definitely an authentic Balinese foodie experience. Order the Rendang for guaranteed satisfaction!
Mozaic is an intoxicating mix of traditional French techniques teamed with the vibrancy of Balinese spices and ingredients that delivers an unparalelled fine dining experience. The six-course tasting menu begins with a welcome cocktail in the majestic candlelit secret garden, before being transported to a journey of epicurian delights.
Monkey see, monkey do at the Monkey Forest, Ubud
What to do
The eponymous Monkey Forest is exactly that; no matter where you look you will see monkeys scaling the forest walls, ascending to the tree tops for an aerial view of their audience, or sneaking up behind an unsuspecting backpack in search of forgotten afternoon snacks.
Dating back to the 9th century, unlike the Monkey Forest, there is not an elephant in sight at the Elephant Cave. Set amongst typical Balinese temples and gardens, the charm of the sacred spiritual site has been dampened by the troves of hecklers and souvenir shops as you enter the gardens. Be sure to soldier through to the base of the gardens where you'll find a gorgeous view overlooking running streams and rice paddies.
Mount Batur Volcano Trek
Watching the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur is well worth the 1:30AM wake up call, and the feeling of accomplishment as you are sipping on hot chai makes all the aches and pains the next day totally worth it. Recommended for travellers with medium physical fitness levels, the hike is a must-do if you are looking for an off the beaten path adventure.
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Neka Art Museum
The community feel of Neka Art museum is infectious, and as you walk through the gardens, observing the beauty in every detail, you will feel part of the museums narrative. Hosting artwork from locals and expats alike, feast your eyes on traditional Balinese art peppered with foreign contemporary pieces. The museum aims to inspire generations to come through the history and beauty of Balinese art.
Spending an afternoon strolling the beautiful grounds of Arma is a treat for art connoisseurs or dabblers like myself, the stunning courtyard area forms the basis of several structures that house the artworks made up of both modern and traditional pieces. Soak in the serenity of the museum as you sip on your Balinese coffee which is included in the entry fee!
Don Antonio Blanco Museum
The extravagant life of Don Antonio is reflected in his eclectic studio-come-mansion which houses pieces from his Dali-inspired career. As you enter the grounds of the museum you are greeted with exotic and endangered birds that add to the altogether bizarre experience.
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