As the artistic and cultural center of Bali, Ubud is a great base from which to source antiques and artifacts, jewelry and silver, textiles, baskets and bamboo, art, and stone and wood carvings. While most things in Ubud are within walking distance, it is worth hiring a car if you are going to hit the outer villages described above. Larger shops take credit cards but the smaller ones often are cash only. Credit card transactions normally incur a 3% commission. Most shops open daily by 9am and close by 9pm, though you'll find places that stay open as late as 10pm.
Jalan Raya Ubud, beginning at about Antonia Blanco's Museum and ending at around the Bamboo Gallery, has several great antiques and artifacts stores, art galleries, as well as the highly recommended Neka Art Museum. Monkey Forest Road is lined with outlets selling beads, silver jewelry, cotton and casual apparel, paintings, fabrics, handicrafts, faux designer goods, and some tribal arts and antiques.
The Ubud Market, southeast corner of Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya Ubud, is open daylight hours. Booths sell handicrafts, fans, batik bags, fabrics, baskets, and jewelry. Everything is affordable but be sure and bargain. The big market is held every 3 days or so when women come in from nearby and mountain villages to sell and buy livestock, hardware, fruits, vegetables, and many other goods.
Getting the Real Deal -- When in Batubulan, make sure you are buying a carved stone piece not a cheaper mass produced artwork that is molded rather than carved from lava-stone "concrete." Unless you have a trained eye, you may not be able to tell. Always ask and look for lines that are the tell-tale signs of mold work.
Some unscrupulous carvers in Mas sell cheaper woods as sandalwood (cenana), which is an extremely expensive material mainly from East Timor. The tricks include rubbing oil on the carvings or packing them in sandalwood chips. It is hard to tell the real deal so either go to a trusted source or assume the worst and alter your price accordingly.
Furniture & Housewares
Murni's Warung is filled to the brim with Indonesian artifacts, antiques, sculptures, masks, memorabilia, and the odd remnant of the Dutch colonial area.
Take a Jewelry Tour
Visit the John Hardy workshop in Mumbul near Ubud (Banjar Baturning, Mambul, Abiansemal, Badung; tel. 0361/469888; www.johnhardy.com; by appointment only) and watch the production of the John Hardy jewelry brand. An organic lunch is followed by a trip to their showroom where jewelry is 50% off retail prices back home. The quality of craftsmanship here is mesmerizing.
The Threads of Life
The handmade, unique textiles at Threads of Life, Jl. Kajeng 24 (tel. 0361/972187; www.threadsoflife.com) are dyed and woven by local women thanks to the support of a nonprofit organization intent on revitalizing and sustaining this traditional Balinese art form. All proceeds support the organization's research, work, and communities.