One day in exotic Bali is not enough, but as a recent cruise port, that was all we had. Therefore, we had to choose between two basic choices for a one-day Bali itinerary. We could head inland to Ubud and see the rice terraces, monkey forest, and markets. Or we could simplify our Bali itinerary to a day at the beach.
Our day was overcast and rainy, so deciding which things to do in Bali was easy. However, even in the rain, the island of Bali is intriguing and beautiful.
We docked in Benoa at the Bali cruise port. From there, we hired a private Bali driver to show us the sites. We were lucky that our driver spoke English and loved talking about his island nation. Typically, we hire a private guide in advance when we have one day in a port.
Below are our highlights of the best things to do in Ubud Bali.
First, be inspired …
Bali itinerary – must-see Ubud: rice terraces
The famous Tegalalang rice terrace is one of the top two destinations on my things to do in Ubud list. Located just north of Ubud in the Tegalalang village, they are a scene out of the movie Eat, Pray, Love (actually filmed here). Even in the rain, the dramatic views are timeless, stretching endlessly.
If Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love changed your life, you’ll want to check out this top-rated ⇒ Reserve your Bali Eat Pray Love tour here.
Bali itinerary – visit Ubud monkey forest
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud is a highlight of our day. The cost of entry was nominal and worth it. Wild monkeys are seemingly everywhere. Many visitors let them climb on their shoulders for photos. We are a bit more cautious around wild animals, especially knowing these monkeys sometimes bite visitors.
Even unprovoked monkey bites happen. In fact, we had one monkey jump up and try to bite something attached to our backpack. It could have just as easily been an arm or leg.
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TIP: Don’t bring food, water bottles, or have anything hanging from your backpack when you go into the monkey forest, as monkeys stealing food from visitors is one of the top ways in which people get bit.
Bali itinerary: shop at the market
Crafts, food, clothes, and great coffee are the key things we found in the Ubud Central market. We also bought some fresh papaya and delicious ice cream.
When a scooter whizzed past us in the crowded market, we had a deja vu moment back to our time in Marrakesh.
Must-see Ubud: traditional Balinese house
We also visited a traditional Balinese house complex. They have at least four pavilions: for cooking, ceremony, sleeping and a family temple. This one had more, and there were several people currently living there.
It is government-sponsored, and from what I understood, part of their agreement is to allow visitors. Per our guide’s recommendation, we made a small donation when we left.
Bali itinerary: Ubud palace
Once the official residence of the royal family, today, the historic Puri Saren Agung is a place to enjoy in the daytime or listen to music in the evening. It’s free to enter and located near the market.
Notice the artwork and sculpture
Of course, this giant sculpture in the middle of a major street would be difficult to miss. It tells the Hindu story. While most of Indonesia is Muslim, the island of Bali is predominantly Hindu.
Visit a Balinese Hindu temple
As we left Ubud, heading back towards the Bali cruise port, we stopped at Bali Batuan Temple. At nearly 1,000 years old, it is a stunning example of Balinese ornamental design. The temple is looked after by the artists and craftsmen of the village of Batuan.
Before entering Batuan Temple, we each had to don a sarong, supplied with our entry fee.
Enjoy an Ubud Bali tour
This tour will have you exploring the major points of interest in Bali. You will get to see a traditional Balinese house, stop at the Tegallalang rice fields, see artists and craftsmen working in their traditional villages, visit the Ubud Royal Palace and the Sacred Monkey Forest, and finish the day at the Tanah Lot Temple to see the sunset. Reserve your Ubud monkey forest, rice terrace & temple private tour.
Step outside your itinerary and notice everyday life in Bali
Step off the main roads, or just look out the windows as you drive. Everyday life is different from what we see at the tourist destinations.
Alternate Bali itinerary: head to the beach and try snorkelling
If what’s underwater is why you came to Bali, discover this paradise off the south coast of Bali and snorkel at 3 different spots around the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida in the Indian Ocean. Lunch is also included in this all-day trip, as well as a tour of the mangroves by kayak. Reserve your snorkelling day trip to Nusa Lembongan here.
Getting around Bali
We sailed from Sydney to Perth around the top side of Australia on the Radiance of the Seas, a mid-sized ship in Royal Caribbean family. Bali was our fourth port, the only one outside of Australia, and one of the most picturesque places we have cruised to, even with the rain. Once here, we had plenty of options for how to get around.
- Go on an excursion from your ship. This way, someone else does all the planning and takes responsibility for returning you on time. We rarely choose this option, as we like flexibility in our schedule and small or private groups.
- Take an independent tour from a responsible company like Viator. It’s one of our go-to options when we want a tour, and many of their cruise excursions guarantee getting you back to the ship on time. Be sure to read the fine print. Check out Viator’s Bali options here.
- Take a private tour. We love private tours as we can customize what we want to see and do, have a driver, and have someone to help us along. The downside is the cost. Reserve a top-rated customized Bali private tour here
- Do it yourself, but use a reliable company like Bookaway to find the best transport options. Reserve your transport to and around Ubud here.
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