7X AMAZING SPOTS IN UBUD TO CHECK OUT (not the usual!)
Tucked up in the mountains of Bali, nestled by wondrous green rice terraces, scattered with ancient temples and sprinkled with a handful of magic, lies Ubud. Deriving from the Balinese word ‘Ubad’, which means medicine, this quaint and peaceful town is certainly a place of healing. You can find a smorgasbord of holistic treatments, luxury spas, decadent resorts, and yoga retreats. However, we went on the hunt for some of the best establishments in the region that make Ubud so special and unique. This is what we found…
If you are in the market for a fine-dining experience with hyper-local produce and culinary masterpieces created by chef-owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah, look no further. Locavore is a celebration and liberation of creativity and its concept is quite simple: to cook with local ingredients and maintain a level of social responsibility and sustainable practices through food.
We were treated to its current menu: The Unknown: An Edible Mystery Explored. The food came out in groups of four explorations, each dish magnificently put together and the presentation, glorious. Each dish took our taste buds on a journey and we were surprised with each first bite. A sweet tang here, an unexpected but welcome crunch there, the flavours exploded in our mouths and we were truly left blown away after each exploration. A few favourites, which we still can’t stop thinking about, were the lobster with citrus cashew butter sauce. Moreover, we loved the charred cabbage with wood ear mushrooms, black rice, roasted vegetables pandan broth. Absolutely 10 out of 10.
Locavore changes its menu every four months and each menu is set. You can add a drink pairing if you wish which will enhance your experience as similar ingredients from the menu are used for the beverages. However, make sure to reserve a table well ahead of time as the restaurant is often booked out months in advance. Yes, it really is that special.
Located on one of Ubud’s most well-known streets, Monkey Forest Road, sits Ibu Susu. This bright, warm and welcoming restaurant pays homage to the Balinese kitchen through its modern menu with a twist. The vibe is relaxed, the bartender is ready to mix you a delicious cocktail and there is a buzz in the air. Balinese co-owner, Ketut, infuses his love for local ingredients.
As an entrée, we were treated to the freshest betel leaf we have ever tasted. Topped with raw salmon and tuna, avocado, chives, tamari, ginger, black tobiko (fish roe) and a squeeze of lime juice, this dish hits the spot. The steamed beef rendang buns were also a delight – moist, soft and oh-so-delicious. The fish was cooked to perfection and the sauce went hand-in-hand with the smokiness of the barramundi. For greens, we were served a softshell crab and green mango salad. Delicious.
Behind the bar, a young barman mixed us a few cheerful cocktails from the Happy Hour menu – a refreshing Hibiscus Mule, a creamy Pandan Colada (a twist on the classic Pina) and the fruity Lychee Daisy. Ibu Susu is open for both lunch and dinner. While they accept walk-ins, it is advisable to make a reservation.
You can’t visit Ubud without enjoying a meal at the iconic Indus Restaurant. The owner, founder and director of the Ubud Food Festival and Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, Janet de Neefe, established Indus in 1998 and has become a part of Ubud’s furniture. Entering the restaurant, you are immediately struck by the breathtaking view over the historical Tjampuhan Ridge. The view, in all its glory, is the perfect backdrop for a sunset drink, followed by dinner. The dishes at Indus are designed to share and the menu has a strong Balinese and Asian-inspired theme.
I have eaten many omelettes but I must say, this prawn omelette was hands-down one of the fluffiest I have ever had.
We ate fresh oysters, salmon sashimi, karaage chicken and gyoza for starters. The karaage chicken with sweet and sour pickled pear were little golden morsels of delicious, bursting with a crunch. Accompanied by fish bone dashi, soy and roe, the salmon sashimi was light and flavourful and the pork and cabbage gyoza with crispy chilli and soy were piping hot and tasty. Next up were some larger dishes: the prawn omelette with teriyaki, mayo and bonito and the lobster udon with dashi butter, nori and bonito. Indus Restaurant is a beautiful addition to Ubud. The vibe is elegant and it makes for the perfect date night or large group dinner.
Experience the real Ubud and sleep under the stars (almost!). Located in the middle of the rice fields, Sandat Glamping Tents offer luxury camping at its finest. Boasting five safari tents, two of which are suites and three lumbungs, Sandat Glamping caters to a range of budgets.
Our tent, Tent Ogoh Ogoh, was spacious with a four-poster bed. A pearl chandelier hung from the middle of the tent’s ceiling and the bohemian furniture gave the space a cozy feel. The tent came complete with a private bathroom, air conditioning (for those extra humid nights), a minibar and even WiFi. Outside the tent was a gorgeous private infinity pool overlooking the jungle and a comfortable lounging area – heaven! You can choose to simply sleep with screens or you can let down the heavy tent flaps, creating total darkness. We slept with the tent flaps down on each side of the tent, but we could still hear the rain and the sounds of nature during the night, which was incredibly peaceful. Needless to say, we slept like babies!
Sandat Glamping has a lounge, bar, and restaurant on-site with a varied menu and plenty of options. The lounge is elegant with an array of books and games and is perfect for relaxing with a cocktail or glass of vino. Our dinner was fantastic and we enjoyed a boutique buffet breakfast the following morning. If you wish to leave the premises, Sandat has a free shuttle bus that takes you into the middle of town and picks you up. The staff are friendly and helpful and greet you each time with a famous Balinese smile.
Located in the village of Bangkiang Sidem – a beautiful 30-minute walk from the centre of Ubud – is Karsa Spa. This open-air spa encompasses pure tranquility. There are several treatments to choose from including full-body massages, facials, and even reiki healing. If you walk down a small path, surrounded by lush rice fields, it leads you to the reception area where you are met with a cold drink. The treatment room is idyllic. Made predominantly from stone, it is similar to a little shala with a covering, in case it rains. The tiles on the floor are a beautiful mosaic pattern and I spied a delicious looking bath calling my name.
Bliss is the word I would use to describe my experience. The therapist’s pressure was perfect as I simply melted into the bed. My only regret: I wish I had booked a 90-minute massage. Karsa Spa uses bio-septic tank systems to protect the surrounding rice fields. They are a role model in terms of recycling and being eco-friendly and in encouraging others in the village to follow suit. Before or after your treatment, indulge in a bite to eat at Karsa Kafe, a cute little café made out of bamboo. They have a selection of dishes and fresh juices and you can enjoy a view of the rice terraces and mountains in the background from your table – charming!
Be sure to check out these amazing spots in Ubud, that you may not have heard of. They are rather special!
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*Rahima currently lives in Bali and loves sharing her island experiences.