Bali Travel Guide - For the Wandering Yogi
The history of Bali is deeply intertwined with the faith of Hinduism, and the concept of finding a nourishing synergy between light and darkness. This constant search for balance, and self-awareness has served as the framework for Balinese healing traditions and practices. As the world took note of Bali’s holistic glow tourism began to rise, and has continued to do so through the fame of books like Eat Pray Love and the constant stream of “Instagrammable” moments that Bali provides. Ubud has become a mecca for mindful tourists looking for wellness based vacation often with a limited budget, and a passionate heart.
My husband, and I finally made the trek to Ubud after years of dreaming about it’s life changing tranquility and convincing ourselves that spending thirty hours on a plane would be a nice chance to catch up on rest. Despite Ubud’s relatively small size there are a plethora of options for daily yoga classes, enchanting spas, and vegetarian restaurants. The amount of places, spaces, and studios that you can visit may even seem overwhelming. We have written a guide based on our recent experience in Ubud so that you can immerse yourself in Balinese beauty as soon as you step off of the plane.
Yoga Studios in Ubud
It’s impossible to walk even five minutes without seeing a sign for a yoga studio which is a great way to meet people and experience a variety of practices.
The Yoga Barn
The Yoga Barn is the most well known studio in Ubud. I hesitate to say “studio” because it’s more like a compound. In addition to the studios the Yoga Barn has a 10 room Guest House, a Massage and Treatment Center, a Healing Center, a Juice Bar, and their restaurant called Kafe. While we loved the Yoga Barn it’s quite large, and can be a bit overwhelming to get started because the class sizes are so big.
Class Costs - $$$
Taksu Yoga is the complete image of spellbinding dreams of Bali. This yoga studio is located in the center of Ubud, and has a magical stillness to it. Taksu became one of our favorite places in Bali. The only downfall of this studio is the limited amount of morning classes which makes it challenging if you are impacted by the heat, and there was a bit of construction happening towards the main building.
Class Costs - $$
Yoga Saraswati is in central Ubud complete with the traffic noises, and crowing rooster outside. It’s eclectic design, early morning Gentle Flow classes, and low cost made this an immediate match for us. We also loved this studio because it grounded us in our Balinese experience - the persistent honking, and random drumming kept us in the moment throughout our practice.
Class Costs - $
Notes on Yoga in Ubud
While mats, and props are always provided I would strongly recommend bringing your own mat. It was not uncommon to see the mats not be cleaned after a class. We would also recommend bringing hot yoga apparel. During the afternoon classes it can easily get up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in a studio.
Spa Options in Ubud
When people asked what our plans were once we arrived in Bali the answer was quite simple - we wanted to get massages. You could name any treatment, and it’s likely you could find it in Ubud. From crystal healing sessions to colon hydrotherapy to chakra balancing to juice cleanses it’s all there, and it’s all relatively inexpensive. We received some kind of treatment nearly everyday for the entire duration of our trip, and it was glorious.
We will talk about Clear Cafe again, but what we found surprising was their spa. It’s located in the back of the building, and features a variety of massage and treatment options with relatively low prices. It’s not the most private spa we’ve ever encountered but the price and cleanliness makes it worth noting.
Treatment Costs - $$
Yeh Pulu Spa
Yeh Pulu Spa is a bit of an unexpected gem. It’s not the most glamorous facility but it’s clean and the staff is kind with an experienced knowledge of massage. It’s primary benefit is the pricing which makes it a great place to get a solid massage without spending much.
Treatment Costs - $
As I mentioned previously Taksu is the most enchanting space in central Ubud that we found. It’s spa is unmatched, and provides a beyond peaceful experience. The treatments take place in private bungalow like structures deep in the quiet jungle. While the prices are higher than typical spa experiences in Ubud it’s immediately understandable why
Treatment Costs - $$$
Notes on Spas in Ubud
Tipping is a bit flexible in Bali, and we noticed a lot of people didn’t tip for their spa treatments. We however thought it was important, and it was always over appreciated when we did so. Even 20,000 to 70,000 IDR is considered a generous tip and we found it allowed us to get faster bookings and better treatment if we returned.
Food Options in Ubud
We were most surprised by the amount of food options in Ubud, and the access we had to nearly every type of cuisine. It’s easy to find everything from traditional Indonesian meals to wood fire pizza to smoothie bowls. We are vegetarians, and found Ubud to be flooded with fabulous veggie options.
Sage is the epitome of what a vegetarian restaurant should look, and feel like. The cuisine is unparalleled, and quite frankly a lot of fun. It’s hard to even imagine the menu is completely vegan with options like tempeh tacos and cauliflower hot wings. The dessert options are also something we will be dreaming about for years to come.
Food Costs - $$$
Clear Cafe is fairly well known for it’s vegan friendly options, and dozens of smoothies. This fame has led it to become a mecca for perfect Instagram photos, and busy tourists looking to seek refuge from the Ubud heat. It can be quite busy, but the quality of the cuisine makes this a definite must.
Food Costs - $$
Milk & Madu
Milk & Madu is located in Ubud, and Canggu. They have live music at night, lava stone pizza specials on Tuesdays, and provide a very relaxed environment with great meal options. They have smoothies, wraps, veggie burgers, beautiful desserts, and delicious cocktails.
Food Costs - $
Notes on Food Options
A tip given to us by a local was to be mindful of fish in Ubud as it’s likely not fresh, and proper food storage options may be limited. It’s also not uncommon to be waiting 30 minutes to an hour for a check to arrive, and in more cases than not you have to ask for it. You can go directly to the cash register, or flag someone down if no one comes to the table.
One of a Kind Experiences
Our only complaint about Bali is that we didn’t go sooner, and take in everything it has to offer. Bali is a place that you could spend a month, and barely scratch the surface of. It’s romantic, carefree, and allows for such unique adventures all while making it possible to settle into a peaceful routine.
Visit a Healer
We spent an afternoon visiting Cokorda Rai just outside of Ubud, and the experience was something we’ll never forget. He advised us on how to heal our ailments, and did a cleanse of my energy. While his “treatments” are unpredictable, and how much time he spends per person is hard to know I would still make the trip to see him. It’s a fun experience, and a great chance to see outside of Ubud.
Most taxi drivers know where the healer is located, and you can just ask them to take you. Cokorda Rai is paid with a donation, and the money should never be placed in his hands. His English is broken but it’s still possible to understand him and he doesn’t mind if you take pictures or film the session. It’s also respected if women wear long skirts or pants, and no tank tops.
We went rafting through Bali Bintang Rafting for about $20 USD a person which included transport, and a delicious lunch. The rafting itself is about 2 hours in length, and there are multiple stops to swim. The experience was a lot of fun, and a phenomenal way to see the jungle landscape. While rafting may not come to mind when you think Bali, it’s a chance to do something completely different and meet people.
One of our most monumental experiences in Bali was volunteering in a rural after school program just outside of Ubud through Volunteer Bali. Volunteer Bali asks for a minimum of a 1 week commitment (afternoons only) and sets you up with a classroom of students eager to learn English. We felt even in our brief time at the school we made an impact, and that resulted in us feeling that much more connect to Bali as a whole.
Written by Molly Williams