A Weekend in Ubud

By Cecilia Yee

Bali is a perennial favourite holiday destination for everybody. It's got nice beaches, stunning sceneries, amazing food scene, and some of the friendliest people on Earth. What's not to like? 

Ubud is surprisingly big! Temples and markets abound in the city centre. Beyond the busy streets, you'll find paths leading to beautiful rice fields and lush forests. Make sure to visit Tegelalang Rice Terraces. It's stunning and picture perfect around every corner.

Ubud is considered to be Bali's cultural hub, and locals (and expats alike) live a healthy lifestyle. People walk around with their yoga mat in one hand and a green juice in the other. For yoga, I highly recommend Yoga Barn. They have classes from morning until the evening, perfect for those with a busy itinerary. All you have to do is walk in 10 minutes before the class. The yoga instructors are friendly, knowledgeable, and unpretentious. Yoga Barn also offers other holistic healing modalities such as ayurveda consultation, naturopathy, massage, chakra balancing, pranic healing, etc. It's definitely the perfect spot to hit the reset the button.

For a more active adventure, consider climbing Mt. Agung. Start at midnight, and reach the peak just in time for sunrise. Or maybe go white water rafting at the Ayung River. If you prefer a more laid back adventure, join a bike tour and explore the lush local countryside visiting rice fields, waterfalls, local markets and even visit local family.

Ubud has a wide array of restaurants catering to people with various food preferences. Meat lovers will enjoy the suckling pig in Ibu Oka or the smoked duck at Bebek Bengil. Vegetarians and healthy eaters will be spoiled with options. I like Sari Organik - tucked away in the middle of the rice fields. It's an experimental organic farm offering meals made with fresh ingredients. Other good restaurants in the city for those looking for healthy options include Juice Ja and Soma.

My favorite restaurant in Ubud has to be Mozaic. While it's quite pricey for Bali standard, the degustation meal I had was definitely worth the splurge. You have the option to pick a more standard western menu, but I went for the "6- Course Discovery Menu" to give me a taste of the local cuisine. I was first presented a platter of various ingredients. Each ingredient represented the "main ingredient" used in each meal. From the amuse bouche, starter, main dish to dessert, the taste was flavorful and unforgettable. I'll definitely come back to Mozaic on my next Bali visit.

There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Ubud. I decided to stay in Alila Ubud, which is about 10-minute drive from the center. Upon arrival, the staff greeted me with big welcoming smiles - much needed after a long journey. One of the reasons why I decided to stay in Alila Ubud was their award-winning infinity pool. After settling in my spacious room, I quickly changed and headed to the pool. The stillness of the water blending with the stunning backdrop of the lush Ayung River valley affirmed that I will have a few days of nothing but peace and quiet. I sat in one of the sunloungers, and one of the friendly staff members came to me and gave me a wet towel and an Alila Spa face spray. In the afternoon, I was invited me to the lounge for the complimentary afternoon tea and snacks. I definitely felt pampered! The following day, I booked one of the Alila Experiences tour: the "Balinese Lifestyle", which is a half-day tour around the countryside - perfect to experience a slice of Balinese life. Alila offers plenty of activities such as climbing Mt. Batur, private yoga session, cooking class, and even bike tours. The spa didn't disappoint either. Their treatments are based on Asian healing techniques with age-old beauty recipes featuring curative benefits of natural ingredients. I definitely felt a hundred times more relaxed after an hour of body massage, and I ended up buying some of the Alila Spa products for my own use. Alila has a focus on sustainable tourism offering customers a memorable experience, immersing them into the local culture - from the flavors of the local cuisine served in their restaurant, the products used in the spa, to the activities offered.

With lots of direct flight options from Hong Kong to Denpasar, I have a feeling Ubud will become my go-to weekend retreat if life gets too stressful in the city.