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Ubud: Bali’s Art and Cultural Capital and Home to a Varied Island Experience

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Ubud is a town in Central Bali.  It is considered to be the island’s cultural capital, famous for its arts and crafts as well as its numerous workshops.  The town is also home to some beautiful and is surrounded by pristine natural sites.

The area around Ubud comprises of beautiful rice paddies, which create an impression of greenness to the visitor.  It is a marvelous site.  Ubud is actually made up of 14 smaller villages, each run by its own committee.

Art galleries are spread out all over Ubud, with places displaying mass produced works or original pieces from established artists.  Some of these galleries were homes of famous artists such as I Gusti Nyoman Lempad and Antonio Blanco.  Some must-see galleries include The Blanco Renaissance Museum (which is dedicated to Antonio Blanco), ARMA Museum (one of the best permanent collections of Balinese and Indonesian paintings) and Tiliem Gallery (known for its fine wood carving collection).  Ubud is also a great place to witness some traditional cultural performances such as Barong dances, Pura Dalem (with a fire dance towards the end of the performance) and shadow puppet performances.

In addition to its art, Ubud is also known for its nearby natural sites.  Monkey Forest is home to over 300 Crab-eating Macaques in an area covering approximately 0.1 square kilometers.  The area is also home to 115 different species of trees.  Visitors should avoid bringing food to the reserve, as the monkeys can become aggressive to anyone carrying something edible.  The forest also contains Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, sometimes known as the Temple of Death as well as the Holy Bathing Temple.

Ubud is also home to Bali Bird Park, a beautiful sanctuary where over 250 species of birds in well designed and attractive enclosures are at.  The Botanic Garden is a great place to spend some time exploring the area’s numerous trees and the lush valley the garden is located at.

One of the town’s most interesting sites is Goa Gajar in Bedulu Village, a site added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list in 1995.  Also known as Elephant Cave, the main attraction here is its entrance which is a carved demon’s mouth.  Inside the caves are fragmented lingam and yoni statues as wells as a Ganesha image.  Huge carved guards stand at the pools near the entrance, with a small path leading to a rice fields, waterfalls and fragmented Buddha stupas.

About 18 kilometers northeast from Ubud is Gunung Kawi, an 11th century temple complex located on the banks Pakrisan River.  The temple was built as a burial for King Anak Wungsu and his numerous wives.  The complex is reached by descending down 371 steps into the bottom of a steep valley and beautiful green rice fields.

About two kilometers from Gunung Kawi is Tirta Empul, a 10th century temple near hot springs.  It is one of Bali’s holiest temples, where locals come to bathe and purify themselves in the water.

Located in the island’s central mountains and with its numerous art shops, temples and natural sites, Ubud is a must-visit town.  It exudes a laid back atmosphere and provides a different scenery from the beach resorts and social scenery seen in the south.  Discover this marvelous town with our full day Exploring Bali’s Art Capital – Bali tour.  Learn about Balinese and Indonesian classical art as well as the emerging modern art scene with visits to museums and art galleries.  Ubud is also home to diverse landscapes and is ideal for an adventurous tour.  Over the course of four days with Exotissimo’s Ubud Soft Adventure tour, visitors will raft, trek, bike and drive through the island’s interior discovering stunning landscapes and scenes of rural lifestyles.  The excursions have been carefully selected to provide variety for all to enjoy.  See our Indonesia tours and Indonesia day trip pages for other memorable trips into this beautiful island.

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