Guests can bathe in holy springs at Tirta Empul. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): The Tirta Empul water temple is dedicated to spiritual purification. // © 2016 iStock
Ubud is one of Bali’s popular destinations, and its low-key vibe and exotic nature — in comparison to some of its more hopping beach neighbors — is what keeps visitors returning. It’s also Ubud’s spiritual core of Hinduism that makes the town stand out, and impressive signs of the belief are seen everywhere. Fantastic temples, the roads leading to the Monkey Forest, ceremonial offerings and homage to deity all make Ubud an inspiration to travelers. Here are a few of the ways visitors can explore Ubud’s Hindi charm.
Celebrating its ninth anniversary, Warung Mendez may have cornered the market on delicious when it comes to traditional Balinese menu items such as "nasi goreng" (fried rice), but this restaurant has become most known for its roasted goat leg, which has been described as “scrumptious” by many a patron. Visitors can expect an airy, open-kitchen ambiance, greetings from bamboo wind chimes and even a gender-based welcome drink (yes, really).
Clients should know that “warung” refers to a small restaurant or cafe — a tip-off that traditional Balinese fare is in sight. Other excellent choices include Warung Sopa on Jalan Sugriwa and Murni’s Warung on Jalan Raya Campuhan.
For travelers who are looking for tranquility from Ubud’s center but still want the convenience of great food and a relaxed vibe, the 30-room Sri Ratih Cottages covers all the bases. The boutique hotel has six room categories and is stationed 15 minutes by foot from Ubud’s main hub. It’s also near some of the best dining options in Bali and Penestanan, a village just outside Ubud. The property offers a spa, a pool, a restaurant and a temple — the perfect place for marriage-minded guests or those interested in authentic blessing ceremonies performed in Sanskrit by a traditional Balinese priest.
Attractions close to the hotel include the Campuhan Hill ridge walk, Tegalalang Rice Terraces and Don Antonio Blanco Museum.
Travelers looking for a taste of Balinese Hinduism can put their toes in the water by enjoying the offerings, statues and symbols of the religion found everywhere on the island. Or, they can dive in, quite literally. Located in Tampaksiring, about 30 minutes from downtown Ubud, Tirta Empul is a 1,000-year-old water temple dedicated to spiritual purification and the god Vishnu. Whether participants simply look on or get in the holy spring to partake in the free-flowing spouts of its legendary, healing waters, they will make memories they’ll never forget. Departing visitors will experience a maze of open-air shops that run the gamut of all things Balinese.
For souvenirs and local crafts, a visit to Bintang Supermarket is in order. Downstairs, Bintang is perhaps the largest supermarket in Ubud, but its upstairs has one of the most complete collections of souvenirs that visitors will find in the area. Clients will want to take home wood carvings, masks or tiny statues of the Hindu god Ganesh as a tiny sampling of the thousands of keepsakes available from a Balinese vacation.