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Ubud reveals Bali's true magic

Bali will heal things you didn’t even know were broken.

Bali will heal things you didn’t even know were broken.

Widely considered one of the world’s last untouched elite travel destinations, Ubud mixes old world tradition and new world comfort.

Our recent Metro Travel survey showed Bali to be our readers' favourite destination in the world. So we thought it was time to take a closer look at one of Bali’s most sublime towns.

Ubud is not a beach resort, as it lies pretty much in the middle of the island. But for more than a century, it has been the island’s centre for fine arts, dance and music. Traditionally a haven for backpackers, would-be gurus, and bohemians -- and they are still very much here -- Ubud is now also a major hot spot for the discerning traveller.

Yes, five-star hotels now overlook the most prized views in Bali, but Ubud’s super-cool alternative feel, and indeed its magic, is still very much intact.

Ubud is arguably the best place to use as a base if you're visiting Bali.


Try the Banyan Tree Bike Tour.
Walking Ubud on foot is a must to get under its skin, but to squeeze as much Bali into one day as possible you need to take to two wheels. After being picked up, you will breakfast while looking over sprawling paddy fields, then ride the real Bali before finishing with a home-cooked meal in a Balinese house and, if possible, a temple ceremony.

Ubud is positively dripping with new age healing holistic hippiness, and frankly it’s best not to fight it. So embrace the healing and treat yourself to a yoga session and massage. Our favourites are The Yoga Barn (theyogabarn.com) for its beautiful location and Nur Salon for its uncompromising massages. Be warned, though, you’ll be completely naked and in no small amount of pain. They suggest you ask them to be more gentle —it’s good advice that you should take.

Shopping in Ubud is a fantastic, mind-boggling experience.

The main shopping areas are Jalan Raya, Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Dewi Sita -- three interconnecting streets.

You’ll find everything from ancient antiques to modern art, and cheap souvenirs to precious artifacts. Bargaining is the norm, but be polite. There’s also the multi-storey Ubud market, a bustling maze of stalls and shops that sell quite simply everything.

Ubud nightlife is a refreshing change from the identikit clubs of the coast resorts. It is far more relaxed and you will find much traditional dancing and music here. For drinks try the Laughing Buddha Bar with its street-side tables and view of Monkey Forest Road, or the supercool Jazz Café which offers fabulous cocktails, Asian cuisine, and jazz or world music in an atmosphere so laid back it’s horizontal.

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