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The history and present of Ubud
Located in the central part of the island, the city of Ubud is radically different from another popular resort, Kuta, and is rightfully considered a cultural center Bali. It is a recognized center of decorative and applied arts, a significant part of the city consists of workshops and galleries of artists. It has a number of interesting architectural and other attractions, thanks to its individuality, beautiful surroundings and pleasant climate, it feels an atmosphere of well-being.
Although Ubud has the status of a city with a population of 30,000 people, it essentially consists of fourteen villages, each of which has its own administration. The city is growing rapidly, and some of its central parts are experiencing great stress due to the influx of a large number of visitors. Despite the continued rapid growth of tourism, there are still many rice terraces along the rivers, and far from the city center, quiet village life flows peacefully as usual. With the exception of the central part, Ubud is a relatively quiet and peaceful place that many visitors to Bali enjoy.
Ubud is surrounded by what attracts many people to Bali - picturesque rice fields, small villages, arts and crafts, ancient temples, palaces, rivers, affordable accommodation and good hotels. The location of the city in the center of the island makes it a convenient place for hiking in the mountains, visiting beaches, and traveling to other places. You can see a lot of interesting things on the main streets, but the real magic of the city is hidden in quiet streets, courtyards, cafes, in the hearts, minds, and dreams of its inhabitants.
Ubud has been the cultural, artistic and spiritual heart of Bali for centuries. The history of the city dates back to the eighth century and is associated with the name of Rsi Markendya, a wandering priest from the island of Java, who (according to legend) found an ideal place for meditation in the place where the eastern and western branches of the Vos River merge. Currently, the sacred Guning Lebah temple is located on the territory of this sacred place. The position of Ubud as a cultural center was strengthened during the reign of King Rai Batur (1850 - 1880), a representative of the noble family of Sukavati, who strongly supported art and culture.
The modern recognition of Ubud as the cultural center of Bali is closely connected with the name of the German artist Walter Spies, who came to Denpasar in 1926. Walter Spies arrived here at the invitation of Prince Sukavati, and, together with his friend, the artist Rudolf Bonnet, began to encourage and finance talented artists in the development of new styles that differed from the generally accepted ones.
Ubud in the 1920s-1930s was one of the most bohemian places in the world, its aura attracted a number of famous people in the world: the famous American actress Dortie Lamour; the outstanding American and English film actor, recognized master of cinema Charlie Chaplin; English playwright, actor, composer Noel Coward. The famous American anthropologist Margaret Mead and her equally famous lover Gregory Bateson got married on a ship en route to Bali, and the American "The socialite" Barbara Hutton fell head over heels in love with Walter Spies, who, however, was known for his unconventional sexual orientation, for which he later ended up in a Bali prison.
Like Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, Bali became the second birthplace of the German artist Walter Spies and the Australian artist and writer Donald Friend. Under their influence, local artists began to use Western techniques, but with a Balinese accent.
By the early 1960s, Ubud had gained notoriety as a community of fine artists. The famous European artist Ari Smith founded the School of Young Artists, whose fame immortalized his name in the history of Balinese art. In subsequent years, painting, wood carving, and the manufacture of silverware flourished here.
Described by many as one of the most magical places in the world, Ubud, despite growing like mushrooms after the rain, resorts, villas, luxury hotels and yoga centers, remains relatively unchanged. The city has retained its face and cultural aura, and this is despite the development of tourism and a large influx of outsiders. According to the adopted decree, the construction of McDonalds, Starbucks, or KFC (fast food restaurant chain) is not allowed within its borders. The city managed to attract visitors without losing its bohemian aura, the imprint of which is present in galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels.
Balinese culture is not focused on beaches, where most tourists rest. Hindus believe that the mountains are holy, so they gravitate to the inner areas of residence. Ubud is located just in the center of the island. Its villages are famous for their unique bamboo products, stone and wood carvings, silver and gold products, and many other crafts. You just walk down the street and on every corner you see numerous artists' workshops.
Ubud is known for its dance and music shows, which are part of the traditional culture of its inhabitants. In the evening, tourists witness fascinating Balinese dances, and in the afternoon no less interesting Indo-Balinese ceremonies that take place almost every day, especially during the coolest and driest season in Bali. The special atmosphere of the city, perhaps, is its main attraction, allowing tourists to fully immerse themselves in the aura of Balinese culture.
Hinduism has permeated the life of Ubud for many centuries. Ceremonies, rituals and sacrifices can be seen every day. All this is done from the bottom of my heart. This applies to both the younger generation and their parents, grandparents. Guests of the city can visit the temple on a church holiday and see it all with their own eyes.
Ubud is located 35 km from Denpasar, at an altitude of several hundred meters above sea level surrounded by rice fields, which makes it noticeably cooler than other tourist resorts in Bali. It is popular today because it is the best place on the island to change the usual nature of the holiday and visit a quieter and more peaceful place, besides very interesting. There is a good selection of hotels and inns for foreign tourists to choose from. The cost of living is much cheaper than in other beach towns in Bali. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people visit the city for a day or two, and end up staying here much longer, absorbed in the rich culture and diverse activities. Many tourists simply choose this city as a base stopover and travel from here to other places on the island.
Visiting Ubud, you definitely will not be bored. The first and most obvious thing to do is just walk around and look at the surrounding beauty of the wild nature. Ubud has a number of picturesque places that it would be stupid not to see. You can ride a bike along certain routes, or wander in the forest. There are many rivers around the city where you can go rafting with friends or family, or go kayaking. To do this, you can book the appropriate tours, or, if desired, do it all yourself. There are dozens and dozens of bird species in the forests, a real paradise for ornithologists. You can go river fishing. Not so far from Ubud is Elephant Safari Park (Elephant Safari Park), where you can ride elephants. The park has more than two dozen Sumatran elephants, which can be fed or simply petted. You can also hike to the top of the mountain, which offers a fantastically beautiful view of the volcano and the lake. The last time this volcano erupted in 1997, and the ground around it is still blackened from the eruption. Entrance to the territory is paid, but it's worth it.
Unfortunately for many visitors, Ubud is not a place for night entertainment, for this you need to visit Kuta or Seminyak. A lot of what makes the city so attractive is visited during the day. There are no nightclubs or discos here, it's hard to find even bars. If you are staying in a large hotel, there should be a bar or restaurant where you can drink, sit, chat. But that's all.
In 2009, the American travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler conducted a study of tourist destinations in Asia, the results of which were published in the January 2010 issue. The readers of the authoritative American magazine Ubud was recognized as the most attractive city in Asia, ahead of 8 other places such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Kyoto, Singapore, Shanghai, Jaipur and Tokyo.
Ubud has become a filming location for the Hollywood movie "Eat, pray, love" starring Julia Roberts. The film was based on the book of the same name and was first released in August 2010. In it, the main character Julia Roberts travels the world and spends 4 months in Italy, eating famous Italian cuisine (eat), the next 4 months she spends in India in search of spirituality (pray), and the last 4 months she spent on the island of Bali, where she found her love (love).
Ubud: what to pay attention to
- Take the time to visit the main museums (Neka, ARMA, Seniwati) and get acquainted with traditional Balinese art.
- Attend an evening performance of Balinese dancers at the Ubud Palace.
- In the early morning, visit the rice fields on the outskirts of the city.
- Be sure to try the local cuisine.
- For lovers of outdoor activities, we recommend rafting along the river.
- Purchase works of art by local craftsmen to decorate your home.
Ubud hotels. Where to stay
In Ubud, you can find accommodation for any budget. Many tourists prefer to stay in the vicinity of the town, rather than in the city center, lining up rooms overlooking the famous rice terraces.
A feature of living in Ubud is the presence of many small family hotels, staying in which you will get closer to the real life and culture of the Balinese people, like nowhere else. In addition, accommodation in such hotels is very cheap (from $ 5 with breakfast) and may be even cheaper if you choose a place away from the center (away from the monkey forest area) and even come not to season. By the way, bargaining in family hotels is welcome.
You can read descriptions and reviews of Bali hotels, pick up and book a hotel using the search form below. When staying in inexpensive and family hotels, you will have to pick them up on the spot, because they simply do not exist in the hotel catalog.
You can find and book a hotel in Bali using the search form below. The search is carried out in the search engine popular in Southeast Asia Agoda.com, Russian and Russian-language support are available:
Ubud hotels on the map
You can download ⤓ points of interest, important transport points (bus stations, airports, etc.), districts and beaches from our map in KMZ/KML format. These files can be downloaded to the navigator or smartphone for use with offline or online Google Maps applications, Organic Maps and others that support this format, and use them to navigate and explore resorts.