The Perfect 3 Days in Ubud Itinerary For First Timers

3 days in Ubud

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Based right in the middle of Bali, Indonesia, the town of Ubud is the ideal base. Not only are there plenty of things to do during an Ubud itinerary, but you can reach most places on the island for a day trip. In this guide, I’ll share my tips for 3 days in Ubud including where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.

I spent a month living in Ubud last year so it’s somewhere I feel at home. Ubud may have been a Bali hidden gem 15 years ago but nowadays, it’s on every Southeast Asia bucket list. Luckily, if you know where to escape the crowds, you can experience the best of both worlds.

Indulge in a few smoothie bowls, maybe a flower bath if you wish, then nip into the rice fields for peace, quiet and cheap, authentic cuisine.

UBUD ESSENTIALS

Bali SIM card (30 days, 6GB)

Copy of Lonely Planet Bali

Pre-book your airport to hotel transfer

Accommodation: Hotels on Booking.com // hostels on Hostelworld

Tours: GetYourGuide / Viator

Travel insurance: World Nomads

Read next: the ultimate Bali itinerary

The following Ubud 3 day itinerary includes a couple of worthwhile day trip options as well as some more relaxed days exploring the rice fields and cafes of Ubud. I’ll share some of my top foodie recommendations as we go because after all, food is life!

How to get to Ubud

ubud map
Click for the interactive version

Ubud can be found in central Bali, just an hour’s drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport. It’s also not too far from Canggu and Uluwatu if you wish to head there after. There are no beaches in Ubud; that might be its only shortcoming!

Book your airport to Ubud taxi pick up.

Where to stay in Ubud

There are places to stay in Ubud for all budgets whether you’re a backpacker, couple or family. If you have cash to splash, you’ll get amazing value when it comes to villas and private pool villas in Ubud. You can also stay in Airbnbs and homestays with the locals for a more authentic experience.

Hostels in Ubud:

  • Greenview Inn is a peaceful and friendly hostel. Each bunk has a privacy curtain, charger and locker. Ideal for solo travellers and those looking to meet people. Check availability from $6 per night.
  • The Onion Collective – perfect for flashpacking, this gorgeous hostel is built in Balinese style with elegant details, a pool and work-friendly areas. Don’t miss the smoothie bowls! Check availability from $10 per night.

Hotels in Ubud:

  • Budget hotel – Balimas Guest House: for comfy double and twin rooms, a swimming pool, tasty Asian breakfasts and a team of friendly staff, check availability from $24pn.
  • Midrange hotel – Ulun Ubud Resort: set back from the busy streets of Ubud near the Ridge Walk, stay in a private suite with rice terrace views. Check availability from $50pn.
  • Luxury accommodation – Chapung Sebali: the treat of a lifetime, a villa surrounded by lush forest and rice fields. The enormous rooms are enhanced by Balinese decor, plus there are infinity pools, gorgeous restaurants views and the promise of a floating breakfast. Check availability here from $200pn.

Browse all Ubud hotels on Booking.com and hostels on Hostelworld.

How to get around Ubud

Scooter hire: This is the cheapest way to get around since there’s no public transport in Ubud. Grab and Uber apps are technically not allowed although they’ll sometimes pick you up on the sly. To get around cheaply and explore the surroundings independently, book your scooter here.

Taxi tours: These are a relaxed way to get around with all power to you. If you can get a group together, they’re quite good value. Book a half-day tour or full-day tour.

Day tours: If you’re travelling solo, these are often cheaper than taxi hire. I have taken GetYourGuide tours around the world to visit attractions and try new experiences like cooking classes. You can also compare tours with Viator and Airbnb Experiences.

3 DAYS IN UBUD ITINERARY – DAY 1

Presuming you’ve landed in Bali the night before, you can begin your day by exploring the best things to do in Ubud and getting feel for the town. For the morning, you can get around by foot, then either hire a scooter or a driver to take you to the rice fields in the afternoon. If you’re not feeling energetic, skip this first activity.

Quick overview:

  • Day 1 – Ubud morning market, go for brunch, Ubud Palace, Saraswati Temple, Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Finish with dinner at a warung & nightlife
  • Day 2 – climb Mount Batur for sunrise OR day trip to Lempuyang Temple and Tirta Gangga
  • Day 3 – Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple, Campuhan Ridge Walk, Goa Gajah (The Elephant Temple)

Early morning market

Market stalls 3 days in Ubud itinerary
Temple offerings at Ubud Market

If you’re keen for a glimpse of authentic Ubudian life minus the tourists, there’s no better place to start your Ubud 3 day itinerary than at the Morning Market. Later in the day, prices are inflated and lots of tourist souvenirs are on sale. But at 7am, it’s all about local food, fruit and temple offerings.

Here you can catch a glimpse of what Ubud must have looked like 20 years ago. If you’re keen to try local cuisine, there are plenty of Balinese breakfast dishes to try.

Ubud brunch

Smoothie bowl and matcha latte Wamm Cafe
Matcha latte and smoothie bowl at WAMM cafe

Rather wait for a delicious brunch than eat at the morning market? I don’t blame you; there are plenty of cafes in Ubud with gorgeous interiors and even more gorgeous smoothie bowls and brunch dishes. Read my guide to the best brunch and breakfast in Ubud.

While the traditional Balinese food in Ubud is excellent, the Ubud cafes serve a fusion cuisine of veggie-friendly, healthy and beautifully presented food. Even if you’re not a vegan, you’ll be tempted by the dragon fruit smoothie bowls and smashed avo dishes.

Prices are a little inflated but still much cheaper than at home. My favourite cafes in Ubud are Clear Cafe with its gorgeous hippie interior (and a random fireman’s pole to get downstairs), WAMM where I ate the smoothie bowl pictured above and Zest, a vegan cafe set on top of the hill with views out over Ubud and some amazing indoor murals.

Ubud Palace / Saraswati Temple

Ubud Palace
Architecture at Ubud Palace

To get a feel for Balinese architecture, unlike anything you’ll have seen elsewhere, wander a few of the temples in Ubud town centre. Ubud Palace, still lived in by the Balinese royal family, and Saraswati Temple, also known as the Water Palace, are just a few minutes from each other.

Entrance is 100,000 IDR and 80,000 IDR respectively so less than $12 USD for both. Highlights include the expressive gargoyles at Ubud Palace and serene floating lily pads at Saraswati.

Afternoon – Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

You can’t come to Ubud and miss the iconic rice fields, even if they are known for being busy with tourists these days. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are just a 20-minute drive from Ubud by scooter or taxi. If you are keen to get an empty photo, you could skip out Ubud morning market and head there in time for sunrise.

Entrance is just 10,000 IDR which makes them a cheap and cheerful addition to your Ubud itinerary, although you’ll have to walk through a donation station where you’ll need to give another 10,000 toward the upkeep.

You can easily spend a couple of hours strolling the rice terraces, taking photos, and sitting at a cafe drinking iced coffee and admiring the views. There are also a couple of swings where you can pay 100,000 IDR to swoop over the iconic terraces; worth it if you love a photo opp.

Related tour: best of Ubud in air-con car

Evening in Ubud

Whatever you fancy eating, you’ll be spoiled for choice your during 3 days in Ubud. Read my guide to the authentic Ubud warungs which is what locals call small, family-run restaurants. You’ll pay just a few dollars for tasty Balinese dishes like nasi campur, gado gado, mie goreng and more.

Read next: the best Balinese food to try

For Ubud evening entertainment, you have plenty of options. For a cultural show, head to the Kecak Dance Show at Pura Batukaru Ubud temple. This starts at 7.30pm and costs 85,000 IDR per person. If you’d prefer just to head for drinks rather than go to a show, there are plenty of vibey bars in Ubud like Laughing Buddha Bar and jazz club, Cafe Luna.

UBUD ITINERARY DAY 2 – MOUNT BATUR

mount batur from ubud itinerary

There’s one very special day trip you can take from Ubud. It requires an early start and quite a lot of energy but I can promise it’s worth it. Mount Batur is 40km from Ubud and takes around an hour to drive when the roads are quiet before rush hour.

This active volcano with a caldera lake at the top is one of the most naturally beautiful places in Bali. Hiking to the summit in time for sunrise will be one of the highlights of your 3 days in Ubud, I promise.

Don’t fancy hiking? Keep reading for my alternative day 2, a trip to Lempuyang and Tirta Gangga temples.

Mount Batur hike
Mount Batur

Read next: Hiking Mount Batur for sunrise

A day trip to Mount Batur will begin with an early wake up before 3am, a drive to Mount Batur then a couple of hours hiking upwards towards the summit. It won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done but it won’t be the hardest either.

There were times when the trek was challenging but it wasn’t too steep. The journey down was actually harder because it was slippy with lose rocks. You don’t need proper hiking boots but I’d suggest wearing footwear with decent grip if possible.

After reaching the summit of Mount Batur for sunrise, there will be time to explore the crater lake at the top and watch thermal steam escape the vents. You can warm your hands and even boil an egg with the steam. Watch out for cheeky wild monkeys at the top!

After returning to Ubud by midday, you will probably want to relax for the rest of the day. Hang out in a gorgeous cafe like Clear Cafe or relax beside a hotel pool.

ALTERNATIVE DAY 2 – LEMPUYANG AND TIRTA GANGGA

LEMPUYANG temple

If you want to see more of Bali during your 3 day Ubud itinerary but don’t fancy hiking, my favourite trip aside from Mount Batur was to Lempuyang Temple and Tirta Gangga. While Lempuyang is the more famous of the two, I enjoyed the chance to visit both as they’re very different. T

he two temples are just a 20-minute drive apart so it makes sense to see them both during the same day if coming all the way from Ubud.

How to get there: Your options are either hiring a scooter (by far your cheapest option), taking a day tour or hiring a taxi for the day. For the latter, check out GetYourGuide. Personally, I drove to Lempuyang from Ubud by scooter. It was hot, sweaty and we had a crash but we made it. For confident drivers only!

Check out GetYourGuide for Bali tours:

Lempuyang Temple

You may have seen the Gates of Heaven on Instagram. With a backdrop of Mount Agung when the sky is free from clouds, it’s an undeniably gorgeous view. However, the queues to get the shot are lengthy, plus the photo team take heavily edited photos using a mirror to give the impression of a water pool in front of the temple.

While those things mentioned don’t make it the most authentic spot, there’s plenty more to Lempuyang than lining up for photos. If you wish, you can skip the Gates of Heaven altogether and hike up to different temples in the misty mountainous site.

There are seven religious shrines and if you’re feeling energetic, you can take a 4-hour loop between them all. Alternatively, you can visit the first two and retrace your steps to the parking lot.

Lempuyang Temple Ubud 3 days
Lempuyang Temple

Remember to bring a sarong to cover up with. If you forget, you can hire one at the front entrance. There’s no official entrance fee to Lempuyang Temple but you are encouraged to give a donation of 10,000-30,000 IDR.

Read next: Visiting Lempuyang and Tirta Gangga

Tirta Gangga

Tirta Gangga

The royal water gardens of Bali translate as ‘water from the Ganges’. While this river is hundreds of miles away in India, the Hindu religion of Bali explains the sacred name. Built as a residence for the Balinese royals in 1946, this serene site has giant stone lilypads, pools of koi carp, gargoyle statues and ornate bridges crossing the many holy pools.

If you remember to pack some swimwear, a highlight during 3 days in Ubud will be swimming in the public pools towards the back of the complex. Entrance is 30,000 IDR per person and parking is free.

UBUD ITINERARY DAY 3 – MORE UBUD

Following your busy trip the previous day, you’re probably keen for a relaxing day. Finish your Ubud 3 day itinerary by checking out a few Ubud highlights closer to home.

Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple

Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple Ubud

This essential attraction for 3 days in Ubud is a little past the Tegallalang Rice Terrace in a village called Manukaya. The drive from Ubud takes 30 minutes but if you hire a scooter or take a taxi, it’s an easy trip.

For over 1,000 years, the Balinese have been visiting the site of Pura Tirta Empul to wash in the natural holy springs which they believe to possess sacred powers.

Related activity: tour to Tirta Empul & sacred Gunung Kawi temple

Offerings at Tirta Empul

According to a Balinese legend, the ancient king Mayadenawa and God, Indra, entered into battle after the king used his powers for black magic. Mayadenawa created a poisoned spring that affected many of Indra’s men but luckily, Indra transformed the water into a healing spring to save them.

The waters of Tirta Empul are believed to retain these healing qualities to this day!

The best thing you can do is arrive by 7am to watch the dedicated locals at worship before the site gets busy. I had a peaceful and memorable hour here before other tourists started to arrive. You need to cover your legs to bathe in the holy waters but you can hire one at the entrance if necessary.

Entrance is just 15,000 IDR.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk 3 days Ubud

To explore the natural surroundings of Ubud, take a trip to Campuhan Ridge Walk which can be found in the North of Ubud nearby Yellow Flower Cafe and Zest Cafe (pin them for a tasty brunch before or after your walk).

The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a relaxed and non-strenuous walk with views over the forest and countryside. It will only take you an hour or so and doesn’t require any hiking gear; you could do it in flip-flops as long as they’re comfy. Follow signs to Warwick IBAH villa & spa to begin the hike.

Do it early in the morning or shortly before sunset to beat the heat of the day.

Visit Goa Gajah (The Elephant Temple)

Elephant Temple

If you have time during the final day of your Ubud itinerary, there’s another temple I particularly enjoyed visiting. Goa Gajah, also known as the Elephant Temple, is a 10-minute drive east of Ubud. There are no elephants at Goa Gajah: the name refers to the location near the Elephant River.

For a cool photo opportunity, you can walk through the iconic face carved into the rock face. Afterwards, you can spend an hour or so wandering through the shrines hidden in the peaceful forest, finding viewpoints and lilypad ponds along the way.

More options for 3 days in Ubud

If you find yourself with free time during your Ubud itinerary or fancy swapping in one of these activities below, I can personally vouch for the following:

Balinese cooking class: I seek out cooking classes wherever I go. Not only will you learn about the cuisine and culture, but you’ll get to stuff your face – the important bit, obviously!

Many local restaurants offer cooking classes in Ubud but I would especially recommend the classes at Siboghana Warung and Puspa Warung. Both these places make fresh, vegan-friendly versions of the best Balinese dishes like nasi campur and gado gado. Balinese food is such an underrated world cuisine so make sure you don’t miss any of the dishes.

For more Ubud cooking classes, browse GetYourGuide

Balinese food
Nasi campur at Siboghana Warung

Crafts classes: To get crafty and experience the local culture, why not take a local arts class? Tour a silversmith village and make your own silver jewellery or learn about Indonesian patterned fabric during a batik class and take home your masterpiece.

Explore the rice fields: I really enjoyed escaping the busy Tegallalang Rice Terraces and Campuhan Ridge Walk to seek out some of the quieter rice fields towards the north of Ubud. Enter Cafe Pomegranate into Google Maps to see where I mean.

Both these Ubud rice field cafes offer tasty food with gorgeous rice field backdrops. You could easily spend a whole afternoon reading a good book and relaxing after your busy Ubud itinerary.

Yoga: If you’ve watched a certain awful film called Eat, Pray, Love, you may associate Ubud with finding yourself through yoga. If you want to try it, there are plenty of yoga schools in Ubud like The Yoga Barn and Bali Yoga School. You can take individual courses or purchase whole packages, or even take your yoga teacher training.

Thanks for reading my Ubud 3 day itinerary!

Check out my other Bali & Asia posts:

Ubud blogs:

Canggu blogs:

Nusa Islands:

See you next time,

Rose

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Ubud itinerary

Bali useful links

Flights – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.

Stay connected with E-sim data plans that don’t require delivery or collection; just scan the QR code.

In my opinion, Lonely Planet offer the best guidebooks. Get the latest Copy of Lonely Planet Bali.

I use Booking.com for accommodation. They have the best range of hotels and self-catering apartments, plus you can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.

To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.

For activities, I use GetYourGuide and Viator as they both have a huge range of affordable tours.

Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.

Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!

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