While Bali is known as something of a beach “paradise” to some people, the rest of us may prefer to explore the cultural heart of the island in Ubud. Here you will find sleepy villages, lush greenery, incredible wildlife, tantalising food, and a whole array of attractions to keep you occupied. Why stay on the coast when Bali’s inland jungles have even more to offer?
In my first ever visit to the island, I was staying in a cheap hotel (Ibis Bali Kuta) for only around £13 per night. The hotel is obviously in Kuta (which is not the best place in Bali – although close to the airport) but it is good value for money. Hostels may be cheaper, but you don’t get much privacy. Anyway, from this hotel I took my first ever trip inland to the cultural heart of Bali: Ubud. I had the hotel organise a mini van for me (I think it was 280,000 Rupiah), the price for which included waiting time in Ubud (it was a day trip) and the return journey to the hotel based on Jalan Raya Kuta.
The journey from Kuta (same can be said from other beach locations like at Nusa Dua or Legian) to Ubud is around 35km, through some nice scenery, and takes around one hour. Be prepared for the journey to take a little longer in inclement weather, as when it rains in Indonesia, it REALLY RAINS, and roads can become flooded in the countryside. Traffic in Bali is a real problem, though (as those of us who have travelled by land from Gilimanuk harbour in the north west down to the beaches can testify), so certain parts of the journey, will be slower than you would ideally like.
One great option for getting to Ubud is by taking the bus. This is a cheap and easy way of travelling, and unlike some arduous journeys in Indonesia (such as Makassar to Tana Toraja, or even Medan to Padang) it is short enough in duration to make it bearable and not too much of a problem for anyone. Buses from Kuta to Ubud typically cost around 80,000 Rupiah each way (£4) and they depart at least six times per day. Kura-Kura Bus has a network all over Bali, and they seem reliable (and cheap!). From basically anywhere in the south of Bali, you can hop on a bus and head to Ubud safely, even if it means you may have to change onto a different bus at the central Bus Terminal, which is known as DFS Bus Bay, for some reason.
Taxis are much more expensive, and the recommended Blue Bird Taxi Company (they have blue cars, obviously!) will charge you around 200,000 Rupiah for the journey. Many private cars operate in Bali, but always get the blue taxis, as they are sure to use the meter. Nowadays, with Uber so popular, it is wise to check out how much it would cost to use this private car service on your journey from Kuta to Ubud. I haven’t used Uber in Bali myself, but you can read about a recent experience from a blogger known as Man on the Lam.
When you’ve finally made it to Ubud, you’ll notice that there is so much to see and do. Check out the famous Hindu temples such as Taman Ayun (and slightly farther afield the fountains of Tirrta Gangga), hike through the famous rice paddies (watch out for snakes!), as well as trying some timeless Balinese cuisine to top up on those calories!