Of course, we can’t compile a list of the best places to stay in Bali without mentioning Ubud. Brought to the tourist’s eye through Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is the center of all things zen and spiritual. If you’re longing for a yoga retreat in the jungle, a scenic bike ride through the terraces, or a visit with a Balian (local healer), Ubud is your place. Walking through the winding, small-town streets, you’ll see why Gilbert felt so drawn to the place —there really is an almost indescribable magic feeling in and around Ubud. Whether you plan to stay at an Ashram, homestay, or resort, if you’re looking for serenity and peace, head to Ubud. Some of my personal favorites in Ubud are the Anand Ashram for ultimate spiritual deep-diving, Bonato Homestay for wholesome downtime, and The Four Seasons at Sayan for a heavenly, majestic stay (it’s so good that it was mentioned in 2020 Condé Nast Gold List).

Choose to disappear into the jungles and rising hills that shroud the southern surf beaches and you’ll soon be lost in the jungle-clad interior of Bali. It’s there, just under an hour’s drive from Kuta, that you’ll discover the arty town of Ubud. The place is filled with coffee shops, vegan eateries, and art galleries (it’s a major painting and crafts center). And there are some uber-relaxing retreats to enjoy nearby, with infinity pools that poke out over cascading rice paddies.

To steal a phrase from Guns N’ Roses: welcome to the jungle! That’s what surrounds Ubud up in the highlands of Bali north of Kuta. Swirled in plumes of mist and crowned by clumps of monkey-swinging teak trees and palms, this is perhaps the most mystical part of the isle of the gods. Bali is both a top-notch destination for yoga lovers, and it’s drawn artists for decades – the countless galleries and museums attest to that. Hindu temples poke above the woods at the Monkey Forest, where you’ll need to keep an eye on your wallet as you stroll the stupas and dodge the macaques. Take a Bali bicycle tour for a mix of culture and history, and for dinner, don’t miss Dewa Warung: a traditional, down-to-earth Indonesian tavern with mouthwatering tempeh satay skewers!

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