One of the most enjoyable ways of seeing Ubud is on foot, making your way through the gangs that zig zag through town and crossing over into the fields of rice paddies that will take you through quant villages to see farming life first hand.
Plenty of places in Ubud rent bikes and it is a lovely way to see the town and it's surrounding villages. You should expect to pay about Rp55,000 for the day. Many operators offer leisurely guided biking excursions in Ubud and down through the villages below Kintamani. Bali Adventure Tours (tel. 0361/721480; www.baliadventuretours.com) ends their trip at the Elephant Safari Park where you can have a peak at the gentle giants without having to pay extra for entry. Banyan Tree Cycling Tour (tel. 08/1238798516; www.banyantree.wikispaces.com; US$45 adults, US$35 children under 10, US$35 nonrider accompanying a rider; costs include meals, drink, and transport) begins about an hour's drive from central Ubud where you have breakfast at a restaurant with panoramic views of the mountains and rice fields. The trip is about 25km (16 miles) almost all downhill. At the end, you get a lovely home-cooked meal at the tour leader's home.
Bali Trail Blazers (tel. 0361/842-7181; www.bali-trailblazers.com; day rides US$110 per person or US$80 per person with two-person minimum, 2 days US$260, 1 week US$750, bike hire 1 week US$100, bike hire 2 weeks US$150; tours include gear, water bottle, transportation, lunch, snacks and soft drinks; longer trips include hotel, breakfast, and lunch) offers single-track off-road biking. The group has mountain trails that cross a network of farmer's tracks and motorbike paths.
White-water rafting on the Sayan Ridge, a Level III rapid, is one of the most fun and invigorating experiences in Bali and it simply doesn't matter that it is a very touristy thing to do. It can all be a bit surreal looking up at the dense jungle above from the sacred river below. As you meander down the river at a slower pace you can take in the traditional villages and temples and see ancient stone carvings on the cliffs. Don't get too distracted because within minutes you can be dropping down a white water rapid and holding on for dear life. Contact Sobek, Jl. Raya Tebongkang 33 (tel. 0361/287059; www.balisobek.com; US$79 adults, US$52 children 14 and younger; includes transportation, insurance, and lunch).
Meet in front of the Puri Lukisan Museum at 8:30am for the Bali Nature Herbal Walk (tel. 08/123816024; www.baliherbalwalk.com; US$18, including herbal tea, refreshing herbal drinks, Balinese cake or tropical fruits). The walk lasts until noon and exposes you to a wide range of native plants and herbs. You'll learn to identify herbs by sight, smell, and taste. On the walk you will be introduced to the plants that are used for first aid, emergencies, and more serious illnesses.
The Bali Nature Walk, Jl. Dewi Sita (tel. 08/170735914; Rp250,000), picks you up from your hotel at about 8am. The walk starts about 30 minutes from Ubud at one of Bali's oldest temples and takes you through lush jungle and into agricultural farmland. On clear days you can see the charming temple Pura Sibi Alit.
It would be sinful to miss out on Victor Mason's famous bird walk (Tjampuhan; tel. 0361/975009; www.balibirdwalk.com; US$33; Tues, Fri-Sun). British-bred Victor Mason leads the pack when it comes to cavorting with the birds and bees of Ubud. His famous walks start at Beggar's Bush (just over the Tjamphuhan bridge, opposite the Antonio Blanco museum) at 9am and end at Murni's restaurant and include lunch. Count on seeing lots of birdlife including egrets, white-breasted water hens, and the resident Java kingfisher.
Learning to Love the Earth
The Ubud Green School, Jl. Raya Sibang Kaja (15 min. south of Ubud; tel. 0361/780-5446; www.greenschool.org; call to make a tour appointment; entrance by donation), is a spectacle better seen to be believed and could easily be the wave of the future. Visionary John Hardy and his wife, Cynthia, founded this school with the proceeds from their John Hardy jewelry brand. The school has classes from kindergarten to eighth grade with plans to expand through high school and eventually worldwide. Made almost exclusively out of bamboo, the buildings are an architectural marvel. The world's largest bamboo bridge joins the east and west sides of the campus, emblematic of the founders' goals: to connect learning with creativity; environmental responsibility with scientific knowledge; respect for self with respect for the many cultures represented in and around the school. Take a tour and be inspired.
The school also runs a day and overnight camp called Green Camp. Activities such as coconut tree climbing, kite making, bug hunting, and chocolate making are designed to challenge children while educating them about nature. Off-site adventures include volcano climbing, white-water rafting, mountain biking, and scuba diving. Ages range from 5 to 16 years and are residential or day programs. Check out www.greencamp.com for more information.
When in Rome . . .
Even if you aren't a yogi, while you are in Ubud surrounded by them why not give yoga a try? The Yoga Barn, Jl. Pengosekan (tel. 0361/970992; www.theyogabarn.com; reservations recommended; single class Rp100,000, three classes Rp85,000 a class, five classes Rp80,000 a class; daily 7am-7:30pm), in the midst of the verdant sawah (paddy fields) off a little gang in Ubud's Padan Tegal, offers classes and workshops every day for every level. Internationally renowned yoga teachers, gurus, dancers, musicians, and specialists with all kinds of esoteric body knowledge and healing abilities flock to this center. You are bound to find something of interest that you possibly never even knew existed like Ecstatic Dance and Vedic Astrology. The website www.balispirit.com has all the information on the center's upcoming activities.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.