Ubud is regarded as the cultural centre of Bali. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists' workshops and galleries. This is the place to go to if you are looking for a souvenir to take back home.
Of all the activities to enjoy in Ubud, we think a Balinese dance performance should be at the top of your list. Every guidebook and every web site (including ours) mentions Balinese dance in Ubud at some point. It really is something you should experience when in Bali. Go to the Tourist Information in the town center to find out what performances are happening when you are there.
Ubud is also known for its wide range of restaurants. You can find everything from cheap warungs to Mozaic, the only restaurant in Bali ever to achieve Les Grandes Table du Monde award. You will need to book well in advance if you want to experience the food here and you should expect western prices…
Ubud has a known history back to the eighth century, when the Javanese Hindu priest Rsi Marhandya came to Bali from Java, and meditated at the confluence of the two Wos rivers at Campuan, just west of the modern day town centre. A shrine was established and later expanded by Nirartha, the Javanese priest who is regarded as the founder of Bali's religious practices and rituals as we know them today. At this time the area was a centre of natural medicine and healing, and that is how the name Ubud originated: Ubad is ancient Balinese for medicine. (In modern Indonesian it is obat)
Further temples and monasteries were established over the next 400 hundred years or so. The temple complex at Gunung Kawi, and the cave temples at Goa Gajah (just east and northeast of Ubud), are architectural remains from this period. Many of the dances, drama and rituals still practised in Ubud today, originated at this time.
You will need 1 – 1,5 hours to get to Ubud by car from Villa Sidemen, depending on the traffic of course. The traffic is actually the main problem in Ubud, it can be pretty congested at times…
You can read more about what Ubud offers here: