Post-COVID-19 restrictions, Bali has been voted the most desired destination to travel to. This island in Indonesia has pockets of wonders that tourists from all around the world are dying to see. Ubud is one of these pockets, tucked away in the uplands of Bali, the centre for traditional crafts and Balinese design. Ubud is nestled within rainforest and rice paddies, forming one of the world’s most distinct landscapes.
Ubud is home to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the art market, and the Saraswati Temple, thus making it one of the most spiritual and tranquil places in all of Bali. Join us as we discover Ubud, Bali’s hippest neighbourhood, and explore what the local craftsmen and the natural landscape have to offer.
The Tegalalang rice paddy fields are a series of rice paddies that use subak, a traditional Balinese irrigation system. Developed in the ninth century, this agricultural method simultaneously provides water for the plant’s roots and also constructs an artificial ecosystem. The descending formation of rice terraces is crucial to cultivating rice fields in the steep valleys of Ubud. The significance of this sustainable irrigation system is that it is guided by ancient religious and cultural values that have produced high-quality grains for years, thus highlighting the importance of rice in Indonesian food culture.
Nowadays, these rice paddies are a full-blown tourist hotspot. Some of the locals have constructed swings within the rice paddies for tourists to sit on and enjoy the view—off the ground, of course, and after they pay a small fee! However, to really take a step further and be fully immersed in the experience of rice paddies, book a stay at one of Ubud’s luxurious resorts.
A world-renowned brand, Capella Ubud offers tent-style jungle villas nestled in the valleys of Ubud. The villas are designed to blend into nature for those who want to feel a part of the natural surroundings. Capella offers the luxury of choosing a villa overlooking four different types of landscapes. Each villa is equipped with private pools, a wooden deck, and day beds, the perfect accommodation for those looking for complete privacy and exclusivity. These are comparable to villas in the Maldives perched over the ocean but here, they overlook rice terraces.
To the east of the main town of Ubud is Maya, a five-star resort offering the experience for guests to reside within the spirit of a traditional Balinese village. Maya offers a combination of rooms and private villas scattered across 10 hectares of land surrounded by a river valley and it supplies guests with wellness experiences due to its immaculate spread of spa treatments that take place in open-aired suites. They also offer a daily complimentary yoga programme, open for all guests to join, accompanied by the spectacular view of the gardens and nearby rice terraces.
Hanging Gardens of Bali is an iconic hotel in all of Indonesia, and it truly does live up to its name. Their collection of villas accommodate all types of guests such as couples and families. One of the experiences that this hotel offers is the “Floating Boat Sensation,” where a feast for two is served on a traditional Balinese boat that floats around your pool while you indulge like Javanese royalty.
However, what’s truly unique about this hotel is its “Hidden Palace,” a 2,000-square-metre luxury villa tucked away within the jungle forest. It was originally created as the private residence for the owners of the Hanging Gardens of Bali. Fortunately, the Hidden Palace is now commercially available. It is set in an unknown location, that is only revealed when booked.
If you’re in Ubud’s main town and feeling hungry, head to Hujan Locale, a contemporary Indonesian restaurant. It may be on the pricier end but their food is definitely worth every penny. The restaurant focuses on incorporating Indonesian spices and ingredients but giving a modern spin on the dishes. They also source local ingredients and are a “slow food” restaurant, striving to preserve traditional cuisines and cooking methods. They also have some amazing cocktails if you’re into having a boozy brunch.
Along the main road leading up to the paddy fields is where the crafts lie. Every interior decorator’s dreamland is located right here in Ubud, home to wooden furniture and home good inspired by Balinese design. One of the more unique designs that can be found in the area is teakwood and glass pieces. Teakwood is a type of timber native to Southeast Asia, valued for its durability and beauty. Dewata Sari is one of the more notable manufacturers that specialise in using teakwood to produce their furniture, such as tables, vases, and lighting. Their designs are unique, using a blend of teakwood and glass. If you’re seeking to add some distinct pieces to your furniture collection, then Dewata Sari is the place to look.
John Hardy is an iconic brand that designs and creates handcrafted jewellery inspired by traditional Balinese techniques. The designs are composed of recycled silver and repurposed gold, rendering each piece sustainable. Started by Canadian designer and artist, John Hardy, the company employs numerous craftspeople mainly from Bali and is one of the largest employers on the island. Its products are definitely not cheap, but the store is definitely worth a pilgrimage. There are very few places where one can purchase an art piece right in the hub of its element where it was imagined and then created from scratch.