Gay Ubud: travel guide to the cultural heart of Bali

Stefan Arestis

Ubud – the art and cultural heart of Bali. A place synonymous with yoga retreats, rainforests, lush green countryside, and lots of vegan restaurants (seriously it's a thing – they even have a Vegan Festival here every October!). Our Seby, who is super passionate about pure and wholesome living, was in his element, living his Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love fantasy, cycling through those famous rice paddies…

Ubud is a must for gay travellers visiting Bali. Yes, the gay scene of Bali is a lot of fun, but we highly recommend making time for a visit to this cultural gem. It's tranquil in Ubud, giving you the much-needed mental cleanse that you seek.

The only thing we'd say is that Ubud is just that – nature, beauty, tranquillity and culture. Don't come here expecting mad parties and crazy all-nighters. Save all that for Seminyak.

We've put together our complete gay guide to Ubud featuring the best gay friendly hotels, places to eat, go out, events and some of the not-to-miss highlights.

Arriving in Ubud soon?

It takes about an hour to get to Ubud from the Bali international airport, and Bali's taxis are a bit notorious! We definitely recommend organising a private airport transfer to take you straight to your accommodation from the airport so you don't have to worry about scams or haggling and can just relax.

Is Ubud safe for LGBTQ travellers?

As with the rest of Bali, we found Ubud to be very welcoming to us as a gay couple. Unlike the rest of Indonesia (which is going backwards in relation to LGBTQ rights), Bali has held fast to its open-minded values. This is because of the island's strong Hindu heritage, a far more tolerant religion than Islam, particularly towards the LGBTQ community. In addition, thanks to the large international community of digital nomads and expats basing themselves in and around Ubud, there is a more modern and liberal attitude prevalent here.

As we said above, don't come to Ubud expecting big parties. Head to Seminyak for that, which has the best gay scene on the island. Ubud is more about nature, cultural experiences and enjoying the tropical lush Balinese jungle. Put it this way, if Seminyak was comparable to Bangkok in Thailand, then Ubud is like Chiang Mai, and perfect for a meditative and romantic getaway.

Grindr is blocked in Indonesia!

Whilst Ubud and Bali are gay friendly, the rest of the country is not. The Indonesian government heavily regulates the internet and frequently bans access to LGBTQ apps and websites, Grindr included. To access them, you will need to invest in a good VPN. We always use this VPN on our travels, which we recommend to access blocked content when travelling in Indonesia. In addition, using a VPN blocks your location, allowing you to browse anonymously and securely.

Gay friendly hotels in Ubud

Whilst the two of us are total nature boys and love nothing more than getting our Tarzan fantasy on and disappearing off into the wild, clad in just a loincloth, there are no exclusively gay hotels or male-only resorts in Ubud. If that's what you're after, then we recommend staying at one of the many in Seminyak and visit Ubud as a day trip (or two).

There are however many gorgeous gay-friendly villas and guesthouses in and around Ubud of varying budgets worth checking. We've listed the best ones here which we loved, and which welcomed us as a gay couple:

01

The Kayon Resort by Pramana

The incredible Kayon Resort in Bali is gay friendly and adults-only, plus it looks like a giant treehouse!

Why we love it


  • Price range: $$$
  • Quiet and remote adults-only luxury resort
  • Feels like a treehouse with private infinity pools
  • Amazing restaurant and spa

Overlooking the Petanu River, the Kayon Resort is surrounded by tropical rainforests and rolling hills. It needn’t be said that this gay friendly hotel deserves each of its five stars!

The staff love their guests and prove this by providing a complimentary 60-minute couples massage if you book your stay for at least three nights. We particularly loved the private balconies that overlook the jungle making you feel like Tarzan in a treehouse!

The resort only has 24 rooms, so you know it's going to be truly peaceful and quiet. This is the main philosophy behind the Kayon, which we love – you'll see what we mean if you do one of their yoga classes and workshops.

Depending on how much you're willing to splurge, you can choose between the Valley Deluxe Room, Kayon River Suite and River Edge Pool Villa. All the rooms are decorated with stone and bamboo to create a naturalistic impression. The beds are uber comfortable, using soft cotton linens and sheltered with mosquito nets.

The spa is a fabulous experience that genuinely helps you recharge. With treatments such as manicures, pedicures and even a decadent 90-minute ‘Serayu’ experience that helps de-age your appearance with a mix of body massages, facials and nail polishing. We particularly loved the Balinese Boreh Body Wrap, where the body is covered in special local herbs that helps stimulate blood flow and eliminate impurities within the body. And make sure you visit their Canyon Jetty Kepitu Restaurant. Overlooking the Ubud wilderness, it's a gorgeous place to relax, have some tea and a bite to eat, while you meditate with the sounds of the jungle and nearby river.

02

Yayasan Bali Purnati Center for the Arts

At the Bali Purnati Center for the Arts you can stay in Lumbungs - modern wooden structures that are inspired by classic Balinese rice barns

Why we love it


  • Price range: $$
  • Ideal for artistic guests
  • Intimate and romantic
  • Surrounded by lush, tropical forests

Consisting of four two-storey lumbungs, the Yayasan Bali Purnati Center for the Arts is like entering paradise! You can easily cut yourself off from the outside world and bask in the stillness that it offers. It's incredible!

What are lumbungs you ask? They are modern wooden structures that are inspired by classic Balinese rice barns. They blend elements of old and new, built with traditional materials, whilst still equipped with modern furnishings (including air-con).

The maximum capacity at gay friendly Yayasan is 16 people, so particularly ideal for solo gay travellers looking for peace and quiet, or couples seeking an intimate retreat. The rooms are utterly gorgeous. They reminded us of the yurts we stay in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, with bamboo piping used to structure the interior frames, hanging curtains draped over the beds and deep, brown woods used in all the furniture. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, you stumble on the large super gorgeous outdoor swimming pool!

Yayasan is surrounded by lush greenery and tropical forests, which makes the perfect backdrop for their yoga workshops, which we highly recommend. There are also dramatic productions which take place, made from local and international theatremakers. Performances often range from the avant-garde to traditional Greek tragedies.

If you're an aspiring artist or already working on something special, it's worth applying for their artist-in-residence programme. To apply for the programme, you need to send in an application form of your work or of a proposal. The Purnati Center is happy to help your project in any way possible, or it can be entirely self-initiated. Past residents have consisted of writers, painters and dramatists, all of whom have gone on to create something magical.

03

Villa Awang Awang

We found Villa Awang Awang to be a literal paradise in Bali, with private infinity pools overlooking the jungle and a delicious breakfast each morning!

Why we love it


  • Price range: $$
  • Balinese-style spa brought right to your room
  • Private villas with infinity pools
  • Cute monkey neighbours!

The term ‘Awang Awang’ translates to “floating in the space between heaven and earth” – and we couldn’t think of a more perfect description for this idyllic gay friendly getaway.

When Belinda Carlisle sang Heaven is a place on Earth, we hark back to our memories of Awang Awang! Perched at the edge of a deep ravine, it's nothing but spellbinding views of the Petanu river and surrounding forests – the perfect backdrop for a few next Instagram thirst traps.

Situated just outside the main town, Awang Awang is a high-end gay friendly villa retreat in the countryside. Each villa has its own private infinity pool overlooking the surrounding tropical jungle. We loved it because we were right in the middle of the tropical Balinese countryside, with cheeky monkeys popping their heads in each morning to say hello! The hotel can accommodate around 23 people, which is perfect as the place never feels too crowded or too bare.

The spa offers fabulous treatments that can be tailored to your needs. Fancy a massage in the privacy of your room? Or perhaps outside on the terrace where you can enjoy the sounds of nature? You can choose between hot stone massages, body scrubs, and even mani/pedis! Though we highly recommend the Traditional Balinese massage – a technique that has been passed down through generations involving a mix of acupressure, muscle, deep tissue and body massage using traditional essential oils.

04

Saudara Home

For a real b'n'b feeling you can't go past the beautiful Saudara Home, situated in the middle of the famous rice fields

Why we love it


  • Price range: $
  • Close to Ubud but surrounded by rice fields
  • Delicious communal meals
  • Gorgeous pool and gardens

We found Saudara based on the excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. Surrounded by the rice fields of Tegallalang this gay friendly retreat is green, serene, extremely gorgeous, and perfect for a serene getaway.

Exotic birds and butterflies float through the air, their fluttering sounds mixing with the whooshing of the winds through the trees – it truly doesn’t get more relaxing than that. Add in the gorgeous outdoor pool and you'll feel like you're in paradise!

The rooms are decorated with soothing colours and wooden panelling, optimising the hotel’s therapeutic vibes. All the floors are marble and the private bathrooms come with huge bathtubs to relax in. As this is a guesthouse rather than a hotel, you can enjoy your breakfast and other meals at a big communal table on the terrace with the other guests. This is a lovely way to get to know other travellers, as well as the charming French hosts.

Saudara is located in a small village around 20 minutes drive north from Ubud’s city centre. We highly recommend exploring the temples and markets around Saudara Home in the village. The locals here are some of the friendliest people we’ve ever come across. They are very used to outsiders wandering around their town and are more than happy to point out spots worth checking out. The gay friendly guesthouse provides an option to rent a bike or car so you can get out and explore further afield, as well as a free daily shuttle service to Ubud centre itself.

Gay Bars in Ubud

There are no official gay bars or clubs in Ubud. However, there are a handful of gay-friendly places which often draw a large crowd of LGBTQ locals, expats and travellers, which we've set out below:

No Más Bar

Stepping into No Más bar, you’ll notice how it oozes the vibrancy of the 70s and 80s. Leave outside your notions of Madonna and Belinda Carlisle though. Think more Bowie and Depeche Mode. Live music consists of rock groups, hip-hop acts, and, at times, grunge bands. Sure, it can be unpredictable, but it's all part of the fun! Despite having a more hard-edged crowd, the drinks menu is surprisingly eclectic. Cocktails come in various colours, varied enough to make a rainbow. There are also fine wines and drinks with bubbles, so any kind of thirst will be easily quenched. The interior gives the illusion of being inside a hut, with the walls decorated with timber and bamboo logs. The rustic feel is totally different than the neon, flashing lights we're generally used to hanging out in. But all in all, it’s a fantastic way of experiencing a new culture. The No Más bar is located on the Jalan Monkey Forest and is open from 5pm to 1am every day.

The Melting Pot Saloon

A sports bar wouldn’t usually be our first choice, but The Melting Pot Saloon embraces all kinds of people. We found there to be a mix of both straight guys and LGBTQ digital nomadic folk – all happily socialising together. It's a fabulous place to go if you're suffering from homesickness as the staff brag about how they serve up “the best” Western pub food in Ubud (think huge cheeseburgers, juicy chicken strips with curly fries). “Forget tofu”, they proudly declare. There is also a ping pong table, dartboard and foosball, gawd, could they get any more heterosexual? Wait, they also have 4 giant screens that stream sports, so we guess they can… But as we said, everyone here is friendly and we felt totally comfortable being open as our marvellous gay selves. The bar also holds pool tournaments every Tuesday and Friday nights. Feeling a bit lucky? Then you absolutely should sign up. The winner gets a cut from the entry fees! The Melting Pot Saloon is located at Jalan Pengosekan 22 and is open every day from 10.30am until 1am.

The Sayan House

The Sayan House sets out to combine two extremes – Asian refinery with fiery Latin cuisine. And it works so well, with the ability to suit whatever you're planning…Crazy birthday bash? Check. Quiet date night? Done. Something in between? You got it! For us, the highlight is the fantastic views, which are super romantic at sunset. You look out over the rice paddies, surrounded by trickling fountains, which create a soothing sound effect. It's super romantic, or as Stefan put it after his third cocktail…“it's so magical!”. The Sayan House is located at Jalan Raya Sayan 70 and is open from midday until 11pm every day.

Folk Pool & Gardens

Through the backdoor of No Más bar, you'll stumble on this wondrous place – and you know how much we love a backdoor…! Here, you’ll come across a fabulous beer garden with sun loungers, daybeds, teepees (conical tents) and a swimming pool (which need to be booked in advance). In true diva form (well what else would you expect from us?), we went straight for the teepee option. Lined up alongside the pool, this is a fabulous place to seek shelter from the sun, whilst still soaking in the Indonesian heat. Each teepee has a maximum occupancy of 4 adults. They also host movie nights here with classics like ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Cafe Society' on a big screen by the pool. Located on the Jalan Monkey Forest the Folk Pool & Gardens is open daily from 9am until 10pm.

There may not be any exclusively gay bars in Ubud, but there are plenty of fun gay friendly ones!
No, we're not praying, but if we were we'd pray for more fun nights out in Ubud!

Gay clubs in Ubud

Remember this is Ubud, which is not famous for its nightlife. Most people are in bed by 10pm so they can wake up early for their yoga workshop the next morning. The only place we found that's open late is the CP Lounge (see below). If you want gay parties, you’re better heading to the gay bars and clubs of Seminyak, which is around a 1-hour taxi ride away from Ubud.

CP Lounge

As we said, this is the only place open till “late” in Ubud, “late” defined as 3am. And oh boy do the crowds here make the most of it! By day the bar is a nice place to just lounge around and munch on some delicious tapas. Once the sun sets, the entire mood shifts, and it transforms into a lively club with live bands. We love that the acts that perform live are usually locals, performing a mix of rock, soul and hip/hop. Whoever's performing, they never fail to have everybody up on their feet. The CP Lounge also has a popular outdoor area, which is where people come to chill and smoke shisha into the early hours. CP Lounge is located at 15 Jalan Monkey Forest and is open from 11am – 3am every day.

Ubud is not really a clubbing destination, but the CP Lounge is a fun spot for some late night music and cocktails
We asked these ladies if we could borrow their outfits for clubbing but sadly, they said no!

Best restaurants in Ubud

Ubud is famous for its vegan scene, with tons of excellent restaurants to try. We've listed some of our personal favourites places gay travellers should check out whilst in Ubud:

Fresh

Stefan with vegan food at Fresh restaurant in Ubud, central Bali

Fresh is a super cool raw vegan restaurant. As vegan virgins we were pleasantly surprised: it was not only filling, but everything we tried was bursting with flavour. Our favourite dish was the vegan answer to lasagne, called “Living Lasagne”, which consists of zucchini, sun-dried tomato, marinara, almond pesto and is served with a zesty citrus salad. After just a few bites, we can definitely see why so many people are opting for an all-vegan diet. All the dishes we saw on the menu and in front of fellow patrons looked absolutely scrumptious. There's also a garden cafe downstairs which serves some dishes with meat if you really can't do without.


Room 4 Dessert

Chocobubbles Too dessert at gay friendly Room 4 Dessert restaurant in Ubud

This one is cheeky! At Room 4 Dessert you enter a dark room of pleasure (!) where Chef Will Goldfarb hosts his “50 Shades of Grace” desserts. Look out for desserts like the Coco Beware or the Chocobubbles Too with its mouth-watering raisin and kluwak crumble. As our fellow travel blogger, Mar Pages of Once in A Lifetime Journey nicely put it, “when in Ubud, make Room 4 Dessert!” What's the catch? Oh, darling… why assume there is a catch? Well, some may call the long hike you need to do to get to the restaurant a catch but we personally wouldn’t as the views are stunning!


Mozaic

Mozaic is one of the most incredible and romantic restaurants in Ubud, serving delicious Indonesian food

The gay owners proudly proclaim that their philosophy is ‘cuisine du marché’, which means the marriage of flavours. In Mozaic, this specifically relates to the blending of Indonesian seasoning with French presentation. Their honeymoon package is where the real magic resides. Like something straight out of a movie, you can enjoy a romantic meal with a loved one in a private gazebo. Sheltered with a “curtain arrangement”, you’ll feel like the only two people in the world as you sip world-class champagne and dine on the chef's newest incredible specialities, like the fresh-water yabbies with grilled pineapple and spicy peanut sauce.


IBU SUSU Bar & Kitchen

The food at IBU SUSU in Ubud is delicious, but we really love their incredible cocktail menu!

The owner of IBU SUSU, Ketut, is much beloved on the Ubud scene. Born and bred in Bali, though gaining much of his culinary experience from his travels in Australia, the menu he created combines a unique blend of local ingredients. Cocktails galore, we nearly had to be restrained from trying all the drinks on the menu. Not that it takes anything too fancy to win our hearts, but the cocktails here were really something special. We tried a drink called ‘Hey Jealousy’, made from tequila infused with jalapenos! We know, we know, those flavours should never go together, but it somehow works.


Sawah Terrace at Mandapa

For true romance you can't go past the gorgeous Sawah Terrace in Ubud

Considered one of the best restaurants in Ubud, there is no good excuse for passing off the chance to visit Sawah Terrace for some fabulous Indonesian food. Perched on the edge of the Reserve valley, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Ayung River, lush forests and rice fields that stretch on for miles. The mantra of Sawah Terrace is giving its patrons an authentic experience, thus the flavours of each dish evoke a ‘back to the roots’ experience. Guests can also pop over into the organic garden, which is located just outside of the restaurant. Here they grow their own fresh herbs and vegetables, which they use for cooking.


Gay Events in Ubud

While there is no Pride or other exclusive LGBTQ event in Ubud, the city is rich with other fascinating festivals that happen throughout the year. These are some of the ones that appealed to us the most, which we think fellow LGBTQ travellers will also be interested in:

Ubud Food Festival (April)

Taking place over the last weekend in April, the Ubud Food Festival attracts up to 15,000 foodies from around the world. Whilst the festival features different activities each year, some of the past events have included “Husband Cook-Offs”, where male spouses compete against each other to create a special dish. Who would win between Seby and me? Well, that debate is best left avoided. The festival has also held talks on how to reduce food waste and how to eat clean. There are cooking demonstrations and masterclasses given by world-class chefs, which are a must! Anyone with the slightest interest in cooking should definitely check out this festival.

Ubud Village Jazz Festival (August)

Smooth saxophone tones. Sweet bluesy melodies. Sultry voices. Jazz is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for us. Yes, we love tearing up the dancefloor to a bit of Britney and Bae, but give us some Etta James and we're in bliss mode. The Ubud Village Jazz Festival is truly magical. Whilst Ms James doesn’t make an appearance (unsurprisingly), the lineup each year is filled with incredible acts from all around the world. Playing in bars and clubs around the town, the festival is not just a great way of discovering new music, but also for exploring Ubud. You'll get to find new spaces you wouldn’t have otherwise found and meet like-minded people who have the same soft spot for the sexiest genre of music!

Bali Vegan Festival (October)

Vegans tend to get a hard time so we’re glad to see a festival dedicated just for them! The Bali Vegan Festival aims to not just celebrate those who are vegan but to convert others over to a more plant-based lifestyle. Not in a cult-like way though! Going along to some of the talks, which are held throughout the city, is super informative. It opened our eyes as to how much of an impact just cutting down on our meat and dairy intake would make. Plus, attending the cooking demonstrations is a great way to pick up ideas for new recipes and try new foods. It taught us how surprisingly cheap and accessible vegan food can be. We honestly found ourselves running out of excuses not to fully convert over by the end of the festival.

Indonesia has a rich culture and we loved getting to see some traditional dances during our time in Ubud
Make sure you see some traditional dance performances while you're in Ubud

Best things to do in Ubud

Ubud has plenty to keep you busy, whether you want to explore the countryside, do a cooking class or see a unique style of dancing. We've set out our favourite things to do in Ubud based on our first-hand experience:

Experience the Balinese Kecak Monkey Dance

Balinese dance monkey chant ritual Ubud

The Balinese Kecak monkey dance is one of the most popular attractions in Ubud. The dancers use their own body as percussion along with pieces of bamboo as stamping tubes. The dance, which can feature up to 70 (topless!) men, tells the story of princess Sita, her vengeful prince Rama, and the demon king Rahwana, who becomes obsessed with her. Engulfed in a fiery inferno, the spectacle is truly something to behold, with the story taking many twists and turns. You can combine seeing the Kecak Monkey Dance with a sunset trip to the Uluwatu Temple for a really special experience!


Explore the countryside on a quad

Quad biking in Ubud countryside in central Bali

Is it a bus? Is it a truck? No, it’s just a couple of queens racing around the Bali jungle on a quad! We set out to explore the scenic paddy fields and numerous little kampongs (villages) around Ubud on a quad and buggy tour, which also included guided tubing down the Siap Stream in the Payangan area. This experience is intense and not for the faint-hearted. Whizzing around the track had us bumping and grinding in ways we’ve never experienced before (and that’s saying something!), but it’s definitely all worth it for how much fun it is. The river tubing afterwards is also a great way to cool down after getting a bit flustered…


Join a Balinese cooking class

Cooking class Ubud Seb with perkedel jagung sweetcorn fritters

One of the best things we did in Ubud was join a Balinese cooking class. We were hosted by a lovely family at their organic farm. Indonesian couple, Kadek and Made, taught us to make a variety of local specialities like sayur urap (blanched vegetable salad with shredded coconut dressing), satay lilit (chicken satay served in a lemongrass stick) and perkedel jagung (sweetcorn fritters). It was going so well until greedy Sebastien tried to steal all the freshly made perkedel jagungs! All in all, we definitely learned a lot. It's fine to read recipes online and watch cooking tutorials, but actually trying it out first with a local is where you're really going to get the most out of the experience.


Museum Puri Lukisan

If you like art and want to learn about Balinese culture then you will love the Puri Lukisan art museum - which is also the oldest museum in Bali!
Museum Puri Lukisan” by Antonia is licensed under CC BY-SA | cropped from original

Since Puri Lukisan is the oldest art museum in all of Bali, you can count on seeing a wide and diverse range of artwork here. It features wooden sculptures, canvas paintings and photography. Pieces span from as early as 1930, pre-Independence, and include works right up until the modern-day. We love visiting local art museums as it allows us a peek into a country’s history from their citizens perspective. All art is subjective, so it can be really interesting to see events which defined a place be told through an artistic lens.


Pura Taman Saraswati

One of the most well-known temples in Bali, the Pura Taman Saraswati is adored for its lotus pond and water garden. You can enter the temple free of charge and take photos. Whilst it may not look it from the outside, it's quite small once you enter. As it's a very popular attraction, there are lots of crowds, so expect space to be quite tight! The temple was built to honour Saraswati, the Hindu deity of learning, literature and art. In the evening, they have a short dance performance which is quite spectacular and worth checking out. Seeing the costumes and movements of the performers is peak theatricality in our humble opinion.


Puri Saren Palace

A residence of the Indonesian royal family, the Puri Saren Palace is super popular among tourists. Particularly since the front section is open to the public to walk in and have a peek! Events are often launched in here, like the opening ceremonies of the annual Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. There is a staging area, which has a beautiful ornate backdrop with a traditional style gate and statues flanked on each side. Every evening, there is a fantastic performance that uses gamelan percussive orchestras. You can get tickets to these performances in the afternoon.


Gianyar Night Market

If you want to try some Indonesian street food, make sure you head to the Gianyar Night Market in Bali
Food of the Market” by Isabel Sommerfeld is licensed under CC BY 2.0 | cropped from original

From the spicy aromas which fill the air to the loud chattering of the stall owners, the Gianyar Night Market is always abuzz with activity. Half the fun is just walking around and observing all the action. Chefs proudly show off their culinary skills, throwing their produce in the air and catching it in their frying pans, laughing over the loud sizzles from the food that is being cooked. Children beg their parents for sweets, whilst mothers peer over the vegetables to test if they're cooked to their preference. You could just have an entire full-on meal here from visiting each stall and trying a bit of everything!


Goa Gajah Elephant Cave

The Goa Gajah Elephant Cave is a must-see if you're staying in Ubud

Devilish faces glare menacingly at you as you approach the Goa Gajah Elephant Cave, but fear not, they’re just there to scare off any evil spirits who are lurking around! It's believed that the cave was built as a place for meditation, with the structure dating all the way back to the 11th-century. Though some folks believed that it was created by the fingernail of the giant Kebo Iwa! Inside has a mythical vibe, with white smoke (from all the incense) filling the interior. You can visit the Elephant Cave as part of a tour that also explores some of the other temples and beautiful waterfalls nearby.


Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

We loved the cheeky monkeys at the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud - just be careful they don't jump on you!

Home to about 700 monkeys, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary spreads across 12.5 hectares of land within Ubud. Whilst this is a fun spot to go and see the monkeys, it's also a place of spiritual significance for the local community. Three Hindu temples can be found in the forest, serving as a place for villagers to pray and seek spiritual cleansing. You’ll notice that there are various sculptures of monkeys dotted around the forest as well, which are there to support the powers of the Temples. Forest staff do ask that you don’t bring any outside food. While the monkeys are cute, they're also unpredictable and very likely to jump on you to steal it!


Campuhan Ridge Walk

The Campuhan Ridge Walk is an interesting experience and a lovely way to enjoy the Balinese landscape near Ubud

A gorgeous nature walk that will take you through Ubud’s lush scenery, the Campuhan Ridge route moves through parts of the jungle and forest. The walk can take up to 2 hours. Once you hit the Karsa Kafe, you’ll know you’ve made it. It’s recommended to do it early in the morning. Not only do you see the stunning sights as dawn breaks, but it saves you from doing it in the sweltering heat during the day. Along the way, you’ll spot ancient temples, rolling hills and wide, plain fields. Doing the walk with a group will help turn the experience into an adventure, although doing it solo is also just as fun.


Do a yoga retreat

If you really want to disconnect and recharge, you can join a 3-day yoga and meditation retreat in Bali

So if like our Seby you've dreamed of your own “Eat, Pray, Love” experience, then you can take part in an amazing wellness retreat inspired by this infamous book/movie. On this 3-day yoga and meditation retreat, you'll get to really disconnect from the craziness of today's modern world while you learn an ancient style of yoga that originated in the Himalayas. You'll also get to try a Balinese style of Tai Chi (called Tali Rasa) for meditation and exercise. During this three day retreat you'll be staying in traditional lodgings in a quiet village, and also have the chance to interact with the locals as you explore the beautiful surroundings.


Hit up the Instagram hotspots!

You can join a Bali Instagram tour to see the most photo-worthy spots across the island

Even if you're not as obsessed with Instagram as we are, joining this amazing Instagram tour of Bali means you'll be able to get some pretty incredible photos at the most famous and picturesque spots around Ubud. You'll get to visit the gorgeous Gates of Heaven at Lempuyang Temple, where Mount Agung is perfectly located between the gates so it looks like you're stepping off into the sky. One of our favourite spots was the beautiful former royal water palace of Tirta Gangga (pictured). With tiered fountains, gardens, and stone sculptures of mythical creatures spouting water into bathing pools, it's simply stunning!


Before you go

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help LGBTQ travellers plan their trip to Ubud. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: Most visitors to Ubud will arrive by flying into the Bali International Airport, although you can also get to Bali via a very long bus and ferry ride from Jakarta. From the airport to Ubud it takes about an hour, and to be honest, taxis in Bali can be a bit hit-and-miss, so we prefer to pre-book a private airport transfer. This way your driver will be waiting to take you straight to your hotel with no fuss, stress or haggling.


Visa requirements: Travellers to Bali from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, and most of Europe can get a visa upon arrival at the airport, which is free for 30 days. We do recommend that you check your personal visa requirements before travelling though, especially if you are coming to Ubud from a country other than those mentioned.


Getting around: It's pretty easy to explore Ubud by foot but if you want to visit places further afield things get trickier. Bali taxis are notorious for scams, roads are poor quality and even if you hire a scooter or motorbike you might get harassed by police for a bribe. It often works out to be cheaper and less hassle to hire a driver to take you around for the day. Here is some more detailed info about transport within Bali as well.


Power Plugs: In Ubud, and throughout Bali, type C and F power plugs are used. These are the same as the standard European plugs but if you're travelling from somewhere else (like the UK, Australia or the US) then you'll need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: It doesn't matter where in the world you are travelling to, things can go wrong, even in a sleepy town like Ubud! We never travel without the security of travel insurance and encourage others to do the same so you're covered in case of accidents, cancellations or other mishaps. We personally use and recommend WorldNomads Travel Insurance because their cover is so comprehensive plus it's easy to make a claim online when you need to.


Safety and Security: Even though Ubud, and Bali in general, is a very safe destination, you can still encounter danger on your travels. We always use CloseCircle's “Virtual Bodyguard” app when we're travelling, as it provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. With a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users at all times, they will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or even terrorist attacks. Read more about CloseCircle in our article about how gay travellers can stay safe while travelling.


Vaccinations: All travellers to Ubud and the rest of Bali need to be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. It's also recommended that you have a polio booster if you're planning to stay in Indonesia longer than four weeks. Some travellers may also need to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, typhoid, Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, rabies or yellow fever so make sure you check the most recent information on the CDC website.


Currency: The official currency in Bali is the Indonesian rupiah which is abbreviated to Rp although the official currency code is IDR. $1 US converts to around Rp 14057, €1 is worth about Rp 15516 and £1 will get you about Rp 18142. Those big numbers can be confusing but they mostly only use notes which helps. Here's a helpful guide on getting used to the currency in Bali.


Tipping culture: Tipping isn't expected in Ubud in general but as wages are generally pretty low you might like to tip a few extra dollars for good service at hotels, restaurants, for your driver or tour guide in Ubud.


Internet access: Free, fast WiFi can be found in most cafes, restaurants, hotels and malls in Bali, which is partly why it's such a popular destination for digital nomads. If you know you're going to need a lot of bandwidth while you're in Ubud then you might like to bring a portable WiFi device with you or purchase a local SIM card package that you can pick up when you arrive at the airport.


Online privacy: Whilst Ubud (and the rest of Bali) is gay friendly, the rest of Indonesia is not. The government heavily regulates the internet, frequently blocking LGBTQ websites and apps, which include Grindr. If you want to ensure you're able to use online gay dating apps without any issues, we recommend using a virtual private network like ExpressVPN. We always use this when we travel. It's affordable, reliable and easy to set up. It also allows you to browse anonymously by hiding your location.


Accommodation: There are plenty of other gorgeous places to stay in Ubud besides the ones we've mentioned here. We always use Booking.com to find our accommodation when travelling since they offer excellent prices, 24/7 online support and free cancellation for many listings.


Sightseeing and adventure: For more fun things to do and see while you're staying in Ubud, check out the GetYourGuide website. We love using their site to find all the best activities, plus they have an easy-to-use booking system and excellent 24/7 online support.


When to visit: Bali experiences two distinct seasons: rainy and dry. While the temperatures are consistently warm throughout the year, during the rainy season, it gets much rainier (duh!) and humid, with many annoying mosquitos. We think the best time to visit Ubud is between the months of April-October when the weather is much more pleasant.


Gay map of Ubud

Here's our gay map of Ubud to show you where all the gay hangouts we've mentioned in this article is located. Use it to find out where all the best gay friendly hotels, bars and activities are for your own visit to Ubud!

Use our gay map of Ubud to plan a fabulous trip to all the gay friendly places this city has to offer

For more inspiration:

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Read our full gay guide to the town of Ubud in Bali, complete with where to stay, eat, drink and party!
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

2 thoughts on “Gay Ubud: travel guide to the cultural heart of Bali”

  1. It was perfect the first time. This is very really unique helpful information. I learn so much from you as well! Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information. Keep it up.

    Reply

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