Ten Family-Friendly Ubud Activities For Experiencing Balinese Culture

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We’ve been enjoying our time here so much on the Indonesian island of Bali. The last few weeks have been packed with doing Ubud activities and learning about Bali facts. From visiting the famous Monkey Forest to walking along the rice terraces of Tegalalang, the village of Ubud is full of family-friendly activities that allow travelers to experience Balinese culture.

I recently partnered with Global Family Travels, a tour company based out of Seattle, WA, to explore Ubud activities and experience Balinese culture. They have family-friendly tours in countries around the world scheduled throughout the year. The one I went on was focused on learning about the culture of Bali and opportunities for service that families can do while in Bali.

Rice terraces at Tegalalang Rice Terraces, with restaurants in the background. In the picture are some tourists engaging in popular Ubud activities such as walking along the rice paddies.
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces north of Ubud (October 2019)

Getting to and getting around Ubud

The village of Ubud, and the surrounding villages, has historically been a center of culture for the Balinese. And it’s this richness in culture that draws tourists to come to Ubud in search of the quintessential Bali experience. 

Ubud is located close to the central part of Bali, away from the beaches and ocean. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar. The village is surrounded by rice terraces and rice paddies, as people still cultivate this crop for their own subsistence.

The best way to get to Ubud from Denpasar is to hire a private car and driver. It will cost between Rp. 400,000 to 600,000 (roughly $28-35 USD). Once in Ubud, you can hire taxis to get around (you’ll need to make contact with local drivers as they are all privately owned). 

Alternatively, you can rent scooters to drive around the village and its surroundings. Scooters cost roughly Rp. 50,000-70,000 per day to rent. You’ll need an international driver’s license to drive a scooter around. Also, be sure that you get helmets to go along with the scooters. Many of the injuries among travelers in Bali occur from scooter accidents. 

Riding a scooter with my kids (October 2019)

Experiencing Balinese culture with Global Family Travels

An alternative to trying to organize all the Ubud activities on your own is to go with a group tour, like Global Family Travels. This takes all the travel planning out of your hands, so you just need to go along for the ride as you discover Balinese culture. This makes your Bali experience so much easier!

Global Family Travels’ tours really focus on cultural immersion and service learning. It’s a perfect fit for worldschooling families, who want more than just the standard tourist sites. With Global Family Travels’ Ubud activities, you really get a chance to talk with Balinese people, and learn about Balinese culture first-hand. 

During our Bali tour, we met a Balinese prince, took part in cultural activities, and even learned all about the complex water irrigation system that ties the rice paddies to the temples throughout the island. In Bali, Global Family Travels partners with an organization called Bali Institute to select activities and organizations that are truly locally-focused and locally-run.

Global Family Travels has upcoming family-focused trips to Galapagos, Ecuador, and India. Take a look at the tours they offer to find one that fits your family’s travel plans.

Posing with Jennifer Spatz, founder of Global Family Travels (October 2019)

Our favorite family-friendly Ubud activities

As we’ve spent time in Ubud, we’ve tried to really immerse ourselves in Balinese culture. While visiting the tourist sites have been fun (who can resist snapping some Instagram-worthy shots of the rice paddies or using our Fujifilm FinePix XP140 underwater camera to snap photos of fish and coral while snorkeling?), the activities we’ve enjoyed the most have been focused mainly on learning how locals live.

In addition to the activities we did with Global Family Travels, we did a few additional Ubud activities on our own. It made our Bali experience truly special and unique!

For those of you looking for ways to experience Balinese culture on your next visit to Ubud, here are our favorite Ubud activities that are perfect for families.

Making masks with Global Family Travels (October 2019)

#1: Sample Balinese cuisine at Green Kubu Cafe

The way to our family’s heart is through food, and Ubud has no shortage of great places to eat! For authentic local Balinese cuisine, though, I suggest making a trip out to Green Kubu Cafe. It’s located north of Ubud in Tegalalang, in the middle of rice paddies! 

At Green Kubu you can sample Balinese dishes like Satay Ayam (chicken satay) or Bakmi Ayam (chicken soup with egg noodles). And after your meal, you can walk around the grounds, have your kids play in the playground, or take a ride on their big swing (it’s a fraction of the cost of Bali Swing, and just as fun!).

Satay ayam with nasi tipat, a popular meal after doing Ubud tourists activities. A bamboo plate with a banana leaf liners. On top is a stack of rice pressed into cubes, with skewers of chicken satay. On the side of the plate is a small wooden bowl with peanut sauce.
Satay ayam (chicken satay) with nasi tipat (rice) (October 2019)

#2: Take a Balinese culture class

From our trip with Global Family Travels, we learned that Balinese culture is based on the concept of Tri Hita Karana, the three causes of goodness. For Balinese, life is about the balance between the spirit, nature, and community. All the Ubud activities we’ve done have focused at least one of these elements.

As part of our Bali experience with Global Family Travels, we took some short classes in Balinese culture. These classes include learning how to make a traditional Hindu offering (known as a canang) and learning some Balinese dance movements. During the end of the week, we also learned about mask making, and even took home our own mask! It was a great way to expose ourselves to the rich culture that exists in Bali.

A traditional Balinese Hindu offering made as part of an excursion tour of Ubud activities. A small square container made with palm leaves, with pink, purple, orange, and blue flowers, along with green moss.
A traditional Balinese Hindu offering (October 2019)

#3: Take a woodcarving workshop 

One of Bali’s lasting cultural traditions is woodcarving. You can see it in the beautiful doors, furniture, and sculptures throughout the island. 

As part of our Bali experience with Global Family Travels, we took a woodcarving workshop with a Balinese carver. During the workshop, the carver showed us how to use chisels and hammers to carve out designs on wood. It’s an intricate process, and a complex traditional Balinese door can take months to carve! We had a chance to carve parts of our own names on wood. That process took us close to 30 minutes for just a few letters!

A name carved into a wood board, with other designs carved into the wood, as part of wood carving Ubud activities. The carved name board sits on a bamboo mat. Next to the board are narrow metal chisels and a wooden mallet.
Carving my name on wood (October 2019)

#4: Tour a royal palace

While there is no longer a king in Bali, there are still princes and princesses who lived in Bali! One of the fun Ubud experiences you can do is to tour a royal palace and learn about how the traditional Balinese homes are structured. 

The Ubud Royal Palace is open for tours to the public. But the nearby Peliatan Palace, in the neighboring village of Peliatan is also available for tours. We visited this palace with Global Family Travels and had a chance to meet a real prince!

The prince of Peliatan talking about Bali (October 2019)

#5: Watch a dance performance

At the Ubud royal palace, as well as other places throughout Ubud, you can watch a traditional dance performance of Balinese dance. This is one of my favorite Ubud activities to experience.

Within Balinese culture, dance is an important part of Hindu ceremonies at the temples. The dance is often accompanied by a traditional percussion ensemble called a gamelan. The gamelan sets the rhythm and mood of the dance, with its frenetic beats and multi-layered melodies. It’s such an iconic part of the Bali experience.

Dancers at the Ubud Royal Palace, one of the popular Ubud activities to do. Six dancers dance in the middle of a stage, in the foreground are gamelan players, facing the dancers and away from the camera. In the background are audience members watching the dancers.
A dance performance at Ubud Palace (October 2019)

#6: Take a walk among the rice paddies

Another iconic part of Bali are the rice paddies. The most famous rice paddies around Ubud are the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. But if you want a rice paddy experience without the crowds, head to the Juwuk Manis rice paddy walk, just off of Jalan Kajeng in central Ubud.

We walked along this walking route as part of an herbal walk we took with Global Family Travels. The walk was led by a local company called Nadis Herbal, and we got to learn all about the local herbs that Balinese use in their cuisine and medicines.

The herbal walk offered by Nadis Herbal cost Rp. 300,000 (roughly $21 USD) per person. They last about two and a half hours.

Walking at Tegalalang Rice Terraces (October 2019)

#7: Learn how to cook Balinese food

While walking along the Juwuk Manis trail, we passed a restaurant called Dicarik Warung that offers Balinese cooking classes. After our tour with Global Family Travels, our family came back to take a cooking class on our own. It was by far one of our favorite Ubud activities!

During our cooking class, we made a turmeric drink, Balinese satay, chicken meatballs, and even dessert! The classes cost Rp. 300,000 (roughly $21 USD) per person, and last about two and a half hours. Dicarik Warung doesn’t have a functioning website, but you can send a WhatsApp to their number (+62 819-9936-0090) to schedule a class. 

Making peanut sauce during our cooking class (October 2019)

#8: Visit a water temple

Water is life in Bali. It’s what helps the rice grow, which in turn feeds the population of Bali. In fact, the Balinese continue to use a centuries old irrigation system called subak that brings water from the mountain springs to the far reaches of the island.

At the base of the water sources are water temples, the most famous of which is Tirta Empul. The water temples provide holy water to help Balinese purify themselves during worship. 

During our tour with Global Family Travels, we visited Pura Mengening, a smaller water temple located near Tirta Empul. We had a chance to learn about Hindu prayers at the temple, and our guide even led a prayer for us. Similar to my experience visiting Pura Lempuyang, it was so moving to take part in this ritual and learn about another religion.

Pura Mengening, a water temple that tourists can visit as part of an Ubud activities tour. A pool of water surrounded by moss and plant covered stone wall. A waterfall in the background fills water into the pool, and five stone spouts on the right also fill water into the pool.
Pura Mengening, a water temple in Bali (October 20

#9: Take a batik class

My family loves doing arts activities. One of the Ubud activities we did with Global Family Travels was to take a batik class with Deking Batik. I had previously done a few batik classes in Yogyakarta, so I was excited to refine my skills in wax print.

Batik is a big part of Balinese culture. During our batik lesson, we traced wax designs onto the fabric. And we also added paraffin wax to create additional texture in the design before dyeing it a color of our choice. 

A white table with a small square batik design made with wax. In the background is a box covered in a batik decoration, and an empty wooden frame. This picture was taken during batik classes in Ubud, Indonesia, and are popular Ubud activities for travelers.
Batik wax design before dyeing (October 2019)

#10: Enhance your Ubud activities with a ride out to nearby villages

Another one of the Ubud activities we enjoy doing as a family is riding around the villages outside of Ubud on our scooters. Riding along the small roads, past houses and shops, you can really get a glimpse of what Bali life is like, away from the buzz of Ubud.

As part of our tour with Global Family Travels, we did a bicycle tour through the small roads near Tegalalang with Greenbike Adventure. During the bike ride, we stopped by a traditional Balinese house to experience local Balinese culture from a village perspective. And we also rode through traditional rice paddies. I was channeling my inner Julia Roberts from the movie, Eat, Pray, Love!

Our bike tour was a modified version of their regular Kintamani Downhill Cycling Tour. These tours usually cost Rp. 550,000 (roughly $30 USD) per person. Bicycles and helmets are included, even for kids. There’s a van that rides down behind the bicycles during the ride, so even young kids can take part in the tour. 

A bicyclist rides along a paved road in Bali, as part of downhill cycling Ubud activities. The bicyclist is biking away from the camera, so we see their back. To the right of the bicyclist are trees and plants, and to the left of the bicyclist is a traditional Balinese building in the foreground, and trees in the background. In front of the bicyclist is an arch across the road with words written on it.
Riding through a village near Ubud (October 2019)

Getting the ultimate Bali experience from these Ubud activities

In Ubud, it’s easy to just stay in the center of Ubud, and frequent the usual stops that tourists visit. Because the village is so popular with foreigners, it has virtually every kind of amenity you might want – coworking spaces, coffee shops, massage spas, international restaurants, swimming clubs. But these things only show you the tourist side of Bali.

To really get a Bali experience, it takes a bit more effort to step outside of the tourist path. But it’s doable, even for families. With the tours from Global Family Travels, families can leave Bali with meaningful Bali memories and a deeper appreciation for Balinese culture. And even if your family is visiting Ubud on your own, all of these Ubud activities can help you gain a deeper understanding of the culture of Bali.

Have you done any of these Ubud activities before? What did you think? Share your family’s experiences with Balinese culture in the comments! 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received a free tour from Global Family Travels in exchange for writing about the company. However, the views expressed in this post are completely my own.

10 Family-Friendly Ubud Activities For Experiencing Balinese Culture | The Wandering Daughter | Ideas for family-friendly Ubud activities that families can do to experience Balinese culture. Ten Ubud activities that families can do during their trip to Ubud, Indonesia, on the island of Bali.
Pinterest image with two photos and words in the middle. The top photo shows a child putting peanuts into a mortar. The bottom photo shows two children walking along the edge of a rice terrace.

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10 Responses

  1. The photo of you on the scooter with your kids is priceless! Satay ayam with nasi tipat rice, yes please! Looks yummy. How fun it would be to take a woodcarving workshop!! Nice job carving your name. And a cooking class … we LOVE taking cooking classes.

  2. There is actually quite a lot to do for young children as well as hiking, beaching and being lazy. My children would love to take in the culture class, do some crafts and dancing. We havent been to Indonesia yet but its going to be tackled with and would love to entertain the little ones with items from this list. 🙂

  3. Bali is a great place for families. Balinese people are very nice to children and would go out of their way to make their time in Bali enjoyable. Things like cooking classes, craft classes and culture classes would be great to open their little minds and get their creativity going!

  4. Ubud is on our wish list and we have been considering it for next year. As a family traveling with two kids, it sounds like planning through a company such as Global Family Travels would provide us with the best options and experiences. Many of the activities listed would be on our “must” list!

  5. All of these activities sound light on the pocket and still so much fun while learning! I am sure your kids enjoyed as much as you did. I’d love to tr Batik making for sure as I’m intrigued with art. And what is better to know about the culture other than food? Lovely article.

  6. So many fun things not just for families, but fo anyone!! Good job with that wood carving, I feel like I would fail abysmally at that haha. But I’d love to take a cooking class! And just eat lots of Balinese food in general. And the water temple sounds really interesting too!

  7. You have listed unique Balinese cultural activities to do in Ubud which really looks interesting. I would love to go for wood carving workshop. I would love to see some cultural dances and royal Palace tour here.

  8. I just love Bali, I had my honeymoon there 10years ago. I don’t have children but I would totally do these activities with my husband. Especially taking a bike ride to the nearby villages or doing batik classes in Yogyakarta they both sound like so much fun.

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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