Slow Traveling in Ubud
Six years ago, we visited Bali and found it to be an ideal place to enjoy ourselves in wonderful surroundings. Especially Slow Traveling in Ubud was one of our favorite things that we’ve ever done. But since the last time we were here in 2013, a lot of things have changed. Tourism has become very heavy. The streets are packed.
And so, we wondered, is Slow Travel in Ubud still possible?
Even if the traffic is much more intense and the restaurants are lined up like ants marching in a line. But our opinion is that traveling in a leisurely way is not only still possible here in Ubud, but also lots of fun.
Explore the quiet side streets of Ubud
One of our “things” is to putter around and to try to get in contact with the locals. We admit that it is not so easy in Ubud anymore, but hey, nothing is impossible.
When we arrived in Ubud, we stayed near Jalan Raya Ubud (Jalan means street). Our charming guesthouse was down a little side street, away from the hustle and bustle. However, walking down to the main street to go to restaurants or trying to find a coffee shop was quite the challenge. Not because there are not enough possibilities! But just making it somewhere safely, through the masses of tourists while trying not to get run over by a scooter or car was the challenge.
We are not big party people, although we love city life and everything that comes with it. But we were not prepared and ready for this.
After the initial shock of the changes, we made the best out of it. And we started doing what we usually do.
We left the main road, peaked into all the little side streets, which were surprisingly empty, and started just walking around. Our definition of Slow Travel.
Many of the houses in Ubud have beautifully decorated entrance doors. They look like temples and I remember our first time here that I was surprised to see how many temples Ubud has! I didn’t know then that those were all private houses.
There’s probably also no need to mention that we also tried out the local food on our way through the streets of Ubud!
Our days were relaxed. And the start of our days became more similar: we slept in and enjoyed a long and hearty breakfast. Especially the breakfast in our first accommodation which was a dream! This is why we sat for a long time at the table and enjoyed every bite before we went back up to our balcony to work on our website.
After five nights we changed hotels. Not because we didn’t like our place, but because unfortunately there wasn’t a room available for our entire stay.
And soon our days started the same way at our second guesthouse: sleeping in and having a nice relaxing breakfast. The only difference was that here we worked at a nearby Warung or café and went to our Yoga classes afterward.
Pretty relaxing, isn’t it?!
Healthy life in Ubud
Enjoying a healthy life in Ubud is very easy. Back in 2013, it seemed that the main food was pork. But since then the streets are filled with vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Everything is organic and laid out for a better, healthier living. Before we arrived, I had googled some restaurants that we wanted to try out.
Ubud is also known as a spiritual center and offers a big variety of yoga studios with all kinds of yoga technics.
I practiced yoga a long long time ago, and really wanted to join a class again. James had never tried yoga and was interested to check it out for the first time.
Our friend and ex-neighbor Lukas recommended us to the Yoga Barn, where he learned to be a yoga instructor.
A little recommendation from us for anyone who is planning to travel to New Zealand: Lukas has a great studio in Auckland.
Maybe you want to visit him.
But now, let’s talk about food.
The Alchemy is 100% raw, organic, and vegan. Which are all good reasons to try it out.
I have to say at this point that we are not (yet) vegetarians. But I prefer vegetarian/vegan food more and more often, and I have also been able to convince James that it can be very tasty. My American husband can’t quite do without his burgers though, but he does eat significantly less meat than he did six months ago!
James had the Mexican Burger while I had the Spinach Mushroom Pizza. There was also a Spice Up juice and an electrolyte. It tasted delicious and is a clear recommendation from us!
Here is a look at their menu.
In 2013 we stayed at the Tegal Sari, which was fantastically beautiful, both from an accommodation standpoint as well as from the location! Connected to the hotel is the Warung Semesta, where we took a cooking class back then. Here we work during the day and often eat lunch. Our tip here, even if it’s not quite as healthy, is to try the Dadar Gulung. This is a Balinese green pancake filled with coconut shaves. A small but delicious sin!
The Semesta also has vegetarian healthy options!
Another memory that we visited: The Biah Biah Restaurant is located in Jalan Gootama. This place was still in our minds because it is less expensive compared to the other restaurants. What we like here, besides the prices, is that you can order smaller portions. Sort of like tapas. And in this way, you can immerse yourself nicely in Balinese cuisine.
By the way, there is also the Biah Biah + in the Jalan Hanoman. We didn’t like it here because they still serve plastic straws.
What we really liked in terms of ambiance is the Lazy Cats. It is a vegetarian restaurant, café, and gallery all in one. A wonderful place to unwind, and the style completely fits our taste.
James had the Tempeh BBQ Burger and I had BBQ Tofu Bowl. Delicious!
You can check out all the goodies on their Instagram account here: Lazy Cats.
We absolutely loved it here! It was so tasty that we went there two evenings in a row!
Check it out if you need something Mexican for your taste buds.
Warung Pondok Madu
Finally, a recommendation for all the non-vegetarians among you:
The Warung Pondok Madu is known for its BBQ Ribs. James tested them and found them to be good.
There are also vegetarian options, so this is quite good for those who don’t mind seeing meat on their neighbors’ plates.
Click here to have a look into their menu.
Do some yoga
Along with all the healthy food that we tried, we wanted to do some good to our bodies and registered for classes at the Yoga Barn. If you don’t have long holidays and only have a short time in Ubud, you can purchase a 10-class pass for a discounted price. You can even share it with your partner.
The only rule is that the owner of the pass has to join the classes. It is not possible that you to go to one class and your partner to another. But it was perfect for us to try it out to see if we liked it. James never practiced Yoga before and was very excited to give it a try.
Of course, you can also just pay for one class.
And now after we have tried it out, I am so happy to tell you that he really liked it and we had lots of fun. Hopefully, we can practice a little bit of yoga on our ongoing travels, even if we don’t take a class.
We don’t travel with a yoga mat. It would be too heavy to have to carry that along with our golf bags. Even if a yoga mat would be lighter than golf clubs!
Plan a photo safari tour
If you are already roaming around in Ubud or want to explore the rice fields which are within walking distance, why not do so with your camera. There are so many wonderful things to see and photograph here.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk, for example, or the rice fields that are parallel to the Ridge Walk offer a great opportunity for a relaxing stroll. The Tegallalang rice terraces can also be reached by scooter or bicycle in a short time (approx. 2 hours by bicycle with some stops for taking photos).
In Ubud, everywhere that you can go on foot we went on foot because we didn’t want to rent scooters and have to deal with all the traffic.
Since we saw many of the sights when we were here six years ago, we decided to take it slow this time. That also allows us to save some money for our next destination.
Tip: Cycling to the Tegallalang rice fields is an experience in itself. Do this to enjoy nature. A bicycle costs an average of IDR 50,000, and a scooter an average of IDR 60,000.
We also deliberately avoided the “famous” spots you see on Instagram. After all, these pictures have already been seen a thousand times, and we find it more creative and beautiful to capture something that means something to us, and/or what we think is really cool or exciting.
Say yes to Slow Travel in Ubud
You see that there is still the potential to enjoy your time slowly in Ubud. Even though we didn’t do much, it has been some great days for us. After our first disappointment, we pulled ourselves together and quickly enjoyed what we were here for. To sit in coffee places and work, explore the side streets, try out yoga, eat in different restaurants, and take pictures.