We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Gina, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Gina is from the United States and submitted the following report about Ubud. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Indonesian, English
Reasons to go: The small village of Ubud in Bali may currently be best known from the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and the subsequent movie starring Julia Roberts. Yet, even with its newfound popularity, there is still something magical that draws you in the moment you walk among the rice terraces and beautiful temples. It's a place that will heal your soul – even the name Ubud means “medicine” in Balinese (the native language of the island).
I spent my nights sleeping in an open air traditional Jogolo villa with 100- year-old carved wood ceilings. I fell asleep to the sound of frogs chirping and friendly geckos scampering under a perfect starry night. I felt completely safe and at peace in this tiny piece of heaven.
The center of Ubud is full of scrumptious traditional Balinese food. Make sure to try Nasi Kuning (yellow rice served topped with a fried egg) or Satay (skewered chicken or pork grilled in peanut sauce). Also, the fresh papaya was the best I'd ever tasted.
While in the center of town, take some time to relax at one of the many yoga studios and spas. You can have an entire day of pampering at a beautiful spa for less then $40 USD: massage, facial, mani/pedi, and a beautiful flower bath soak.
Once you've been properly pampered, it's time to explore the heart of the Balinese Culture. There are two fantastic temples right outside of Ubud: Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple) and Pura Tirta Empul (the Water Temple). Goa Gajak was built in the 11th century and was used by both ancient Buddhists and Hindus. It's been wonderfully preserved and an entire afternoon can be spent walking the grounds. Pura Tirta Empul was built in 926 AD and is a series of deep fountains that you may walk underneath and leave offerings of flowers and incense. My Balinese friend stated that when a person has a nightmare, they come to this temple to have the evil spirits washed away, and when they emerge from the water, the dreams stop. Just make sure that you bring a Sari (or purchase one outside the temple), because it's required to wear over your clothing before entering the holy water. You can also carry a small glass or plastic bottle to bring some of the healing water back home with you.
To learn more of the day-to-day rituals and culture, attend a Balinese dancing show or Shadow Puppet Theater (Wayang). The puppet shows date back to around 930 BC and include a local orchestra. For those not faint of heart, take a walk through the Monkey Forest, where hundreds of monkeys will greet and walk right up to you (make sure you have nothing loose on your body or food, they will pull it from you). And if you are very, very brave, you can try the most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak, made from the droppings of the Civet cat.
The most amazing thing about Bali is the people. It's been said that everyone on the island is born from either royalty or an artist or a poet, and that shines through in every person that you meet. While English is their second language, they will try their hardest to share their culture, their lives, and even their homes with you. The traditional Balinese home is built as a compound housing both immediate and distant family, with an ornate temple in the center. It’s amazing to see a mini-temple in front of every home.
The town of Ubud is even more magical than any book, movie, or even this article could describe. You'll leave the island with a renewed spirit not only for life, but for humanity.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)