Terraced rice fields so steep they're hard to believe and monkeys so bold they'll steal the sunglasses right off your head. Yes: Ubud is just as magical, mystical, and magnetic as they say it is. It's no wonder the fourteen inland arts villages that make up the cultural district of Ubud have become such a big-time travel destination.
We didn't stay long. (Or, at least, not long enough. But isn't that always the case with everywhere cool?) Bali isn't that big, but there's so much to see that you've got to hedge your bets a bit — especially if you want to surf and eat as much green curry as possible before the sun sets on your entire trip. Still, what we did see in Ubud was enough to make us know we barely scratched the surface, and — despite the crowds and motorbikes and map-touting tourists — we were someplace we'd never really forget.
Ubud (say: Oo-bood) is a collection of small villages, each with its own unique flavor. Teggalang, for example, is known for its steep terraced rice fields (pictured above) and souvenir stands, while Kutuh, just north of central Ubud has gently rolling hills and meandering paddies that are lovely to explore via bicycle. Ubud is named after the Balinese word for medicine (ubad), and, sure enough, the number of wellness centers, spas, vegetarian cafes, and yoga centers that dot the area is extensive. Though Yoga Barn is the most famous studio and attracts a large crowd of ex-pats, don't be afraid to try some of the lesser known places like Radiantly Alive and Taksu.