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Throwback: 25 Reasons To Love Ubud

About a thousand years ago before millennials were like ‘Top Three This!’ and ‘Top Five That!’ we published the definitive TOP 25 REASONS TO LOVE UBUD. What’s changed?


1. Amandari: the first Aman resort in Bali and only the second on earth, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Ineffable tranquillity, superb service, impenetrable privacy, and wonderful views over the Sayan River gorge. Guest activities offered include “meditation sessions, blessings, prayers, viewings of historical films, dance performances and lectures”. www.amanresorts.comamandarihome.aspx. Email queries: info@amanresorts.com. Tel: +62 (0)361 975 333.

2. Ary’s Warung: the first Ubud restaurant to opt for a modern look and ‘contemporary Asian Balinese cuisine’. With its prime location on Ubud’s main street in the centre of town, this is the place from which to watch a ceremonial procession with a glass of champagne. www.dekco.com/aryswarung Tel: +62 (0)361 975 959.

3. Bali Buddha: Ubud’s health food shop and café with organic produce, bakery goods, health products. Take-away and delivery. Across the road from the Post Office. According to the website (www.balibuddha.com) “Bali Buddha Ubud is a wi-fi free zone.” Note: that’s not “free wi-fi zone”. Delivery: +62 (0)361 976 324.

4. Bloomz: a wonderful flower shop run by the artist Janice Lee Ripley. Sculpturally astute arrangements with unusual plants, fruits or just beautiful flowers, in a variety of carefully and creatively chosen vases. You get the feeling that no order is too big or too small. At Jalan Hanoman 44A, near Kafe. www.bloomzflowers.com E-mail: info@bloomzflowers.com Tel: +62 (0)361 780 2401.

5. Botanic Garden Ubud: almost a horticultural museum, with many themed gardens, among them an Islamic Garden, Indonesian Orchard, Chocolate Grove, Fragrant Flowers, Bamboo Grove, Bromeliad Garden, three Orchid Houses, and much more including a Meditation Court with Ancient Banyan Tree. In Kutuh Kaja, just 1.2 km from the centre of Ubud. www.botanicgardenbali.com. Tel: +62 (0)361) 970 951.

6. Cinta Grill & Inn: popular restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with 2 for 1 Mojitos in 5 flavours from 4 to 7 pm. Brought to you by the people who created Batan Waru, Terazo, and the new Siam Sally, all of which we also love. Specialising in smart grills, with salads and pasta. On Jalan Monkey Forest. Tel: +62 (0)361 975 395.

7. Ganesha Bookshop: a small a excellent proper bookshop with a good selection of popular and academic books on Bali and Indonesia; art books; big second-hand book selection; newspapers and magazines. Their website (www.ganeshabooksbali.com) is a good browse in itself. Across the street from the Post Office. Tel: +62 (0)361 970 320. Branch at Biku in Seminyak.

8. Green School: an adventurous alternative school in Sibang Gede founded by Ubud residents John and Cynthia Hardy and informally known among the Balinese as ‘Tarzan school’. Kids love it. Amazing bamboo architecture in a campus that spans the Ayung River. Visitors welcome Mondays and Wednesdays at 3pm with a suggested donation of Rp100,000 for a scholarship fund for Balinese students. www.greenschool.org. Tel: +62 (0)361 469 875.

9. Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling: famous for spit-roasted ‘suckling’ pig at a simple warung at the beginning of Jalan Suweta (across the street from Puri Ubud). People come from as far as Denpasar and wait in line for the place to open at 11am. It’s all over by three in the afternoon. This place doesn’t have a phone, much less a website.

10. Jalan Kajeng: Ubud’s cutest street, through a friendly residential Balinese neighbourhood with lots of little shops. The northern end leads to rice fields, which makes this the start of a popular walk despite its two-way traffic. Easy to find: it’s across the street from the posh Ary’s Warung on Ubud’s main street, with a Balinese gate-like entrance. Paving stones designed and donated by Ubud residents, especially Claudia.

11. Jean-Francois Fichot: madly sumptuous art jewellery by this French designer and Ubud resident in a boutique on Jalan Suweta, across the street from Terazo. Check out the gorgeous website: www.jf-f.com. Tel: +62 (0)361 972 078.

12. Kirana Spa: a truly luxurious spa by the Japanese skin care firm Shiseido, at the entrance of the Royal Pita Maha resort in Kedewatan. Grand grounds, beautiful quiet architecture, expert treatments. Website: www.kiranaspa.com Tel: +62 (0)361 976 333.

13. Kué Bakery: “Featuring 22 different types of hand crafted chocolates, pralines, truffles and chocolate dipped dried fruits using a blend of imported Belgian chocolate and local nuts, beans, spices and fruits,” as they say on www.balispirit.comfoodbali_health_restaurant.html (a good resource in itself). Breads and pastries as well and a café upstairs. On Ubud Main Street, toward the Post Office. Tel: +62 (0)817 976 7040.

14. Lamak: fine dining in an urban courtyard building designed by the famous Australian art person Made Wijaya, with steel features by Pintor Sirait. Cuisine is eclectic, the service first class. Good bar, big wine list, funny pictures in the restrooms, extensive website www.lamakbali.com. On the Monkey Forest Road. Tel: +62 (0)361 974 668.

15. Minami: new high-end Japanese restaurant with smart décor and rather Mediterranean architecture. The food is ultra-refined; the patroness is ultra-hospitable. The bar is becoming an expat hangout. Expensive. Tel: +62 (0)361 970 013.

16. Mozaic: Ubud’s snootiest haute cuisine experience, ranked 5th Best in Asia by the Miele guide. Under the direction of internationally acclaimed chef Chris Salans. Open-air dining, smart lounge, culinary workshop. See more at www.mozaic-bali.com. Hard to get in without a reservation. In Sanggingang. Tel/fax: +62 (0)361 975 768.

17. Naughty Nuri’s: roadside dive famous for its grilled spareribs and whopping dry martinis. Nuri’s husband Brian makes you feel at home with his sparkling New Jersey charm. Often mobbed by its two main clientele, Asian families and roaring expats. In Sanggingan. Tel: +62 (0)361 977 547.

18. Puri Ubud: a.k.a. Ubud palace, this is actually someone’s house, the seat of Ubud’s ruling nobility. This small architectural jewel is at the heart of Ubud village. The family welcomes visitors and maintains several bungalows inside as tourist accommodations. Ticketed dance performances take place there on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Sunday mornings, visitors can wander in to watch children’s dance classes.

19. Sari Organik: a project farm of organic rice fields and gardens with a simple café serving fresh, healthy food. Out in the rice fields north of Ubud, a mostly pleasant 15-minute trek from Ubud Main Street near the aqueduct. Call +62 (0)361 972 087 to reserve a table at the very popular café or to place an order for delivery of their produce.

20. TonyRaka: in a town that has more galleries per capita than anywhere else on earth, TonyRaka stands above them all for its consistent professionalism and the high quality of its collections and exhibitions of contemporary art. The gallery is in Mas on the large and gracious grounds of the home of the owner A.A. Bagus Tony Hartawan. Good website at www.tonyrakaartgallery.com. Tel:+62 (0)361 781 6785.

21. Threads of Life: this is at once a beautiful little shop on Jalan Kajeng; a not-for-profit enterprise aimed at conserving Indonesia’s textile traditions by supporting women’s weaving co-operatives; and a related foundation dedicated to researching and disseminating information about traditional dyes. See www.threadsoflife.com to find out more about this impressive endeavour. Tel: +62 (0)361 972 187.

22. Treasures: a sister venue to Ary’s Warung, with jewellery collections by top Bali-based designers. Ubud Main Street. www.dekco.com/treasure/ Tel: +62 (0)361 976 697.

23. Ubud Writers & Readers Festival: annual international literary festival since 2004. Panel sessions, workshops, literary-culinary events, children’s program, poetry slams, a few scheduled bashes. Considerably raises the level of conversation in Ubud for a week every September or October. See www.ubudwritersfestival.com. Not to be missed.

24. Bali Bird Walks: Everyone raves about this. Victor Mason and the lovely Su (Wayan Sumadi) know all about birds and where to see them in the countryside around Ubud. Walks take place on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (other days by prior arrangement) and include lunch. Stalk www.balibirdwalk.com. Tel: +62 (0)361 975 009.

25. Yoga world: Ubud is a world capital of alternative healing therapies. The heart of this is the Yoga Barn in Padang Tegal; the seed is Kafé on Jalan Hanuman. See www.balispirit.com to get a view of how flexible the possibilities are.


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