Living in Ubud, Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals

This is part 2 of a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Living in Ubud, Food: Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Ubud: Living in Nature

Perhaps we can start with the environment? 🙂 Ubud is beautiful with tons of forests and greenery. Coming from Singapore, it is every bit the dream getaway I had in mind.

  • Tons of space? Check.
  • Lots of greenery? Check.
  • Calming peace, void of noises like endless construction and whizzing traffic? Check.
  • Nature sounds? Check.

Ubud is filled with lush greenery, rice fields, and villa-like homes


Ubud rice field

One of the many rice fields in Ubud

I find the nature sounds especially welcoming. Every evening, you hear unanimous cricket chirps. Every morning, you hear rooster calls from a distance, followed by birds chirping throughout the morning. I found these incredibly therapeutic and calming. These are things that you don’t hear in Singapore; instead, the usual sounds in SG are loud roaring engines of buses and whizzing sounds of automobiles, clanking of machinery and drilling as yet another construction is underway, and people talking loudly into the night (this is what happens when you live in a densely populated area and there is no concept of regular sleeping hours in a stressed-up city).

After a few days here, my sleeping hours got regulated as I automatically turn in at 10:30–11pm at night and wake up in the morning to nature sounds. On the other hand, I find it very hard to sleep at regular hours back in Singapore, especially because my home is next to a road that’s busy 24/7 and there are a lot of noises even late at night, such as loud sounds of automobile as people return home late and people talking/hollering.

Bali Climate — Months to Visit, Months to Avoid

Ubud/Bali, being located near the equator, has a tropical climate. Average year-round temperature is around 30°C with a humidity level of about 85%.[1] The sun is scorching between 11 and 3pm each day. If you’ve been in South East Asia / Singapore before, the climate is about the same here.

Sun rises at about 6:30am each day and sets at 6pm. It gets dark quickly after 6pm and there are no street lamps, so you don’t want to be walking around by yourself, at least not in the villages.

Ubud: Sunset

View of the sunset where I’m staying

There are 2 seasons in Bali: the dry season and the monsoon season. The dry season is between May and September while the monsoon season is between October and March. Unless you enjoy being stuck in the rain, I definitely recommend that you visit between May and September. Bali receives the most visitors between July and August, so you can come in May or September to avoid the busy months.


I just spent the month of May here and the weather is pretty good. Usually sunny every day and cloudy every few days. It rains every 3–4 days for about an hour or two, usually in the late evening or at night.

Bali Climate

The monthly temperature and precipitation in Bali. The months with heaviest rainfall are November–March. (Image: Wiki Travel)

Ubud Center

Ubud has one main shopping district called the Ubud Center or Ubud Town Center. It’s where you find cafes, restaurants, shops selling anything from clothes to jewelry to baked goods, convenience stores, backpacker hostels, massage services, supermarkets, etc. It’s also very near the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary which is a major attraction in Ubud. I came here during my last Bali trip with Ken so I didn’t revisit the place.

Ubud Center

This is Ubud Center. It has one main street which breaks into smaller streets (like what you see here) with restaurants, shops, cafes, etc.

Ubud Center: Signboards of shops

Signboards telling you the shops that you can find in that street. As you can see, it’s teaming with shops!

The Ubud Center doesn’t interest me to be honest, other than the restaurants and the supermarkets where I restock my supplies. It’s very commercial and filled with tourists. It’s also heavy in traffic, and the narrow roads make it worse. I came to Ubud not to shop or look at exotic overpriced trinkets, but to get some space and air from busy and overcommercialized Singapore, so Ubud Center is totally not my thing. It feels a little bit like I’m back in busy Singapore when I’m here, what with the whizzing traffic and overpriced goods (relative to their cost of living) and all. I only come here 1–2 times a week. By the way, I even saw a Nike outlet here and a stall selling durians along the street. Hopefully brands like McDonald’s won’t start springing up here.

There are also beggars at Ubud Center. I was quite surprised to see them — moms with their babies and children out on the street, eating their food and stretching their hand out for money when you walk past them. I guess it makes sense to do so here, of all places, since this is where you can find ‘rich’ tourists presumably with cash to spare.

Based on my observations and conversations with a few locals, I think most of the locals don’t actually visit Ubud Center. My driver, after looking at the menu prices of a restaurant (the items are about 25,000–35,000 rupiah, which is about $1.80–2.60 USD a meal), told me it’s too expensive. He says he doesn’t come to Ubud Center except to drive guests like myself. When I was walking along the streets in Ubud Center, I notice that everyone is a tourist — Caucasians, Japanese, even saw some Singaporeans. Even when I was at the supermarkets, I noticed that most — if not all — the people inside are foreigners. The only locals are the staff themselves.


I think locals generally stay in their own villages and buy stuff from warungs, which are small shops/cafes located at random spots around Ubud. Locals are also self-sufficient with their rice paddy fields where they harvest their own rice.


Around Ubud Center are many villages. This is where the locals live and this is where you find many rice fields, lots of nature, and the calming tranquility that you read about Ubud. From Wiki Travel,

While Ubud seems to outsiders like one small town, it is in fact fourteen villages, each run by its own banjar (village committee). […] Growth continues apace, but there are still terraced rice fields along the rivers, and away from the town centre, regular, quiet village life carries on relatively undisturbed.

The villa I’m staying at is in a village called Tegallalang. It’s a 15-minute ride away from town center. The village is also where I spent the bulk of my stay in Ubud:

Ubud village: View of the sky

View when I get out of the place every day — clear view of the sky for a change

Ubud village: Road

Quiet road with occasional motorists. There is usually a cafe or restaurant along one of the roads.

Ubud village: One of the houses

One of the homes in the village. Homes here are very big and spacious, a big contrast to urban cities. Apparently the people here own their land and pass it down across generations (vs. leasing it from the government).

Ubud village: Entrance to a home

Entrance to one of the homes. I thought the home designs here look more like temples!


I noticed ad-hoc construction going on whenever I was traveling out of the village to the town center. My guess is that it’s either the residents upgrading their lodging or building villas to house tourists as an added source of income, given that the Ubud tourism industry is bustling. Probably the latter. The villa I’m in is actually newly constructed last year.

Beautiful Rice Fields

Rice fields are everywhere here, with the most famous one being the Tegalalang Rice Terrace.

Ubud: Rice field terrace in Tegalalang

Beautiful rice field terrace in Tegalalang

Besides the Tegalalang rice fields, which is quite commercialized (you’ll be asked for a “donation” to walk through the fields even), you can see rice fields of all shapes and sizes around Ubud. These are owned by the locals themselves.

Farmer harvesting rice in a rice paddy field

A farmer harvesting rice in his rice paddy field — a common sight in the villages

Ubud: Rice being dried in the sun

Rice being dried in the sun before it is sent for milling to remove the husk. You see this everywhere, on many roads.

“Canang Sari” — A Daily Blessing

Living in Ubud/Bali, you will see beautiful small pallets made of leaves when walking around. These pallets can be found everywhere — on the ground, in front of homes, at the entrance of restaurants, on top of shrines, on car/motorcycles, and even at cashiers. They are a Balinese offering called Canang sari. Balinese women make them every day as a daily offering to Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, the god of Indonesian Hinduism. It’s to ward off demons, attract prosperity, and to honor ancestors.[2]


Ubud: A Balinese offering called "Canang sari"

Canang saris are sometimes arranged in a row

Ubud: A Balinese offering called "Canang sari"

Sometimes they appear in a pair or in threes

Ubud: A Balinese offering called "Canang sari"

But most of the times they appear singularly

Ubud: A Balinese offering called "Canang sari"

The canang sari is made by hand — a palm leaf is used to create the tray, which is in turn filled with petals and incense. Occasionally you see other offerings inside, in this case rice, a small biscuit, and a candy.

Apparently there is significance behind the color of the flowers and the direction they point to. Each direction symbolizes a Hindu God.[3]

Every morning, you will see freshly made canang sari greeting you as you walk out of your home and onto the roads. Because it’s hand made, every canang sari is different. I’ve come to really like them — the intricately made pallets and delicately placed offerings give me a feeling of calmness — and I’ll definitely miss them when I leave Ubud.


Warungs, which are small shops, can be found in every other street in villages. They sell daily necessities like shampoo sachets and food like snacks, bananas, and bread. There is a different kind of warung that sells cooked food like nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles).

Ubud: Warung

This is a warung right outside where I live. I usually come here to buy bananas from the lovely auntie in the picture. She doesn’t know English so sometimes she needs to show me the exact money notes to indicate the price of my purchases.


Something I found intriguing about Ubud is how animals roam freely on the streets. You will see chickens and dogs walking around unattended. Geese are around too, but usually in the rice fields.

Ubud: Chicken and dogs on the road

Chickens and dogs just walking around, doing their thing

Ubud: Mama hen and her chicks

Mama hen with her chicks

Ubud: Rooster

A rooster. You usually find roosters kept inside weaved baskets along the roads.

A local told me that they breed cockerels for cockfighting before religious ceremonies, as an offering to the gods. Cockfighting is quite a big national sport as crowds of local men will gather and place bets or simply watch as entertainment. It’s a fight to the death so one cock will die — sometimes both get mortally injured. I thought it’s a cruel sport but I didn’t say anything; I didn’t feel it was in my place to comment as a foreigner. Apparently cockfighting has its origins in Balinese Hinduism — it’s believed that the spilling of blood will appease evil spirits and keep them from causing disturbances.[4Read about cockfighting and it’s role in the Balinese culture here.

Dogs — Be Careful of Dogs Biting

Next, dogs. There are many dogs in Ubud. These aren’t just small puppy dogs but large dogs as big as a German Shepherd — and running around without a leash. I was told that dogs are regarded as “protectors” in the Balinese culture, similar to other cultures I suppose. I’ve even seen dogs ride on scooters with their owners, which I thought is quite cute.

Ubud: Dog

Beautiful white dog. That’s how large the average dog here is.

The dogs bark quite ferociously at people, especially unfamiliar folks. That means people like you and me who are foreigners to the territory. It’s not something to take lightly by the way — the local hospital, as a matter of fact, deals with dog bite injuries daily. Here is an account of someone who got bitten by an Ubud dog despite not provoking it and here is an account of someone who got bitten when trying to feed one.

My closest “crazy” encounter with a dog here happened during my second day here, when I was trying to walk to a nearby restaurant to get dinner. It was 7pm so the streets were completely dark. Like I said above, it gets dark fast here and there are no street lamps, so you don’t want to be walking alone in a village at night.

As I walked on the road to the restaurant, I realized that there was a big dog some distance away — and it got up and started barking. The closer I walked, the louder it barked. Realizing that it was barking at me and not just barking randomly (there was no one else on the road), I slowly turned 180 degrees and started slow walking back the path I came from. The dog barked louder and louder while following me from behind, seemingly trying to close the gap between us.

What happened next? Because I was really close to my accommodation, I was able to get behind the gates quickly and asked my host to drive me to the restaurant instead on his scooter. Thank god too, because I think it’s quite possible that the dog might have given chase if I wasn’t able to seek refuge. My lessons learned?

  1. Do not walk along the village streets after 6pm, at least not alone. I’ve noticed that the dogs here tend to get more agitated after dark than in the day.
  2. Avoid the dogs at all costs.
  3. If you are walking and you see a dog from a distance, deliberately walk on the pathway that it’s NOT on.
  4. I read this somewhere — do NOT have eye contact with the dog. Just look into the distance, walk briskly, pretend it doesn’t exist, and go about your daily business. Apparently dogs can detect fear, so the more scared you are, the more it will feel that something is off and start barking at you, possibly giving chase. Honestly it’s quite hard not to feel scared when you have a large dog barking madly at you and within a few inches away, so the easiest is just to follow the first 3 tips.

Just to clarify, most dogs here will NOT bite if you just leave them alone. But it’s good to play safe, and that’s where the tips above will help. 🙂

In the next part, I share about transport options in Ubud. Read: Living in Ubud, Transport: Scooters, Taxis, and Go-Jek

This is part 2 of a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Living in Ubud, Food: Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Images: Ubud, Rice field, Bali climate, Tegalalang rice terrace, Farmer, All other images © Personal Excellence

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