As you explore Ubud and make friends with the locals and expats, you will hear different stories about the legends and histories of local temples from guides, scholars, and professors alike. There really isn't one correct answer here.
Don't pass up the free galleries around town, especially on Jalan Raya Sanggingan going north toward the more high-end resorts.
A Rare Treat -- The Bali Purnati Center for the Arts, Jl. Gunung Abang, Banjar Penataran, Negara Batuan (tel. 0361/294590; fax 0361/294591; www.balipurnati.com), has interesting cultural exchanges and events that include performing and visual arts, music, and film. The only way to find out what is on is to call up and see if you get lucky. Opportunities to view live performances don't happen often but if they do you might catch a Wadaiko drum troupe from Japan, a stage performance of I La Galigo by renowned theater direct Robert Wilson, or the Kronos Quartet. Accommodations (eight units; year-round US$80; AE, MC, V) here are normally reserved for exchange programs and theater groups, but if you are interested in staying here just call ahead and see if there's space available.
Classes typically include a morning at the local market and an afternoon in the kitchen. Casa Luna Cooking School, Jl. Raya Ubud (tel. 0361/971257; www.casalunabali.com; Rp300,000-Rp400,000), is run by expat Australian Janet de Neefe and her Balinese husband Ketut Suardana. Classes are held at Janet's Casa Luna Honeymoon Guesthouse. Ubud Hanging Gardens, Desa Buahan (tel. 0361/982700; www.ubudhanginggardens.com; US$45 minimum two persons, includes lunch), also offers classes with a market and village visit.
Chris Salans, the renowned chef who has made Mozaic one of the finest restaurants in Southeast Asia, shares his prowess with the lucky few who book ahead for his remarkable cooking classes (tel. 0361/975768; www.mozaic-bali.com; half-day class US$90, full day US$130, professional class full day US$130; minimum four participants). Each student gets their own recipe book and apron. Even if you don't quite get it right at home you can at least look the part.
All of the high-end resorts have good spa services and there are some mom-and-pop-type operations that will really surprise your purse strings as well as your body. Today it isn't just flower baths and foot scrubs, you will also find alternative and independent wellness centers and detox spas. Spas are open daily.
The Mother Earth of spas, COMO Shambhala's wellness retreat (single treatment US$80-US$150; AE, DC, MC, V; 10am-7pm) has tailor-made programs prescribed after consultation with a team of professionals, including ayurvedic doctors, nutritionists, and psychologists. Colonic hydrotherapy and herbal cleansers are popular here. Your specialists will prescribe daily yoga or martial arts, which help balance your doshas -- Sanskrit for "fault" or "imbalance." Not that you would have any of those, but just in case, this is your place. Take advantage of the chlorine-free pool, with massage jets. The raw food menu is thankfully as tasty as it is nutritious.
The spa at Kayumanis, Sayan (tel. 0361/9727777; single treatment US$35-US$300; package US$230-US$435; AE, DC, MC, V; 8am-6pm) is all about some serious pampering. A signature is "Sensory Surrender": a 6-hour treatment that begins with a brief yoga session and refreshing walk followed by a warm tea tree oil body scrub then a tea tree oil -- infused bath before being wrapped in a concoction of frangipani and coconut. This is followed by a warm volcanic stone massage and then a simultaneous foot massage and facial.
The Kirana Spa, in the Royal Pita Maha (Kedewatan; tel. 0361/976333; www.kiranaspa.com; 1-hr. treatments US$100, 2 hr. US$180, 3 hr. US$320, half-day US$400, 1-day US$490; AE, DC, MC, V; 9am-9pm) is a joint production between Japan's leading cosmetics company Shishedo (the first such spa outside Japan) and Ubud's royal family. The menu has just five polished and perfect treatments. You can have a spa treatment only or combine the spa time with relaxing in the gardens and swimming pool.
The Mango Tree Spa at Kupu Kupu Barong (single treatment US$60-US$90, specials US$70-US$125; AE, DC, MC, V; 9am-9pm), sits in a mango tree and uses L'Occitane products. You literally have to climb a tree to reach the spa villas but fortunately stairs are provided for the tender footed.
The award-winning spa in the Maya Ubud Resort (single treatment US$60-US$75, package US$121-US$175; AE, DC, MC, V; 8am-8pm) is suspended down a gravity-defying cliff. Blending effortlessly with the colors of nature, the spa pavilions all are made with local materials and include outdoor bathtubs that sit with the waters of the Petanu River.
Spa Alila, in Alila Ubud (single treatment US$45-US$65, package US$78-US$170; AE, DC, MC, V; 9am-9pm), has excellent therapists who warm up with a daily yoga session for themselves to get in the right frame of mind for working on you. The local treatments made from green tea, bamboo, and virgin coconut oil proved so popular that they have started to sell them to guests. The Alila Recovery signature massage includes techniques from Thai, Swedish, and Balinese massage.
At Spa Hati, Jl. Raya Andong 14 (tel. 0361/977578; www.spahati.com; single treatment Rp70,000-Rp185,000, package Rp530,000; MC, V; 9am-9pm), you can feel good as well as do good since all of the proceeds go to support the expansion and upkeep of the Bali Hati School for children in Mas. Of the nine treatments on offer, guests can choose from a 60-minute Blissful Journey massage or Rapture, a 90-minute treatment that includes a rejuvenating body scrub and two well-trained masseuses who will massage away any remnants of jet lag.
The spa at Four Seasons Sayan (massage US$55-US$190, body treatment US$55-US$270, package US$145-US$450; AE, DC, MC, V; 9am-9pm), universally accepted as one of the best spas in Bali, has a permanent expatriate spa director, which shows how serious they are about pampering. The Suci Dara Ayurvedic experience is delivered with Indian aromatic herbal oils that will have you seeing out of your third eye. Take advantage of the new watsu pool and have a "rebirthing experience," which gets to your inner child with skillfully guided water stretches and movements.
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.