If Bali has taught me one thing, it's the more often we get lost, the more we know many routes of our way home. And to think that some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost, it's an unexpected blessing.
Central Ubud is now more and more commercialized, however we still could manage to find 'secret' pathways that goes over the villages, connects us to the hidden serenity.
One of the best ways to explore the hidden gems in Ubud, is cycling around the mysterious lanes.
The feeling of the aloeswood smell-breeze in your hair is unforgettable, while enjoying the uniqueness of daily local's life at their compound—which relative solitude, and observing hundred ceremonies throughout the year—if you decide to stay longer.
Initially, I rented a bike as I was not yet able to drive a motorcycle, and there was no adequate public transportation in Ubud. Secondly, I wanted to wandering around the village. Third, I just wanted to follow my own schedule of seeing the sights. Forth, it's affordable: bicycle rental rates are between Rp 20,000 ($1.38)- Rp 30,000 ($2.07) perday!
The first day of cycling, I started from Sayan with the plan to visit center Ubud, through Penestanan. Right after 1 km, the route felt like a big mistake, as I was torn between conflicting emotions when I cycled on a steep uphill in Penestanan: should I go back and take another route? I felt totally wrong when I walkup up the uphill—making my bike looked like just an accesorries. But then, I remembered, cycling was not a competition. But I promised to myself, I won't go cycling down that route anymore! However, it was quite dangerous both when I had to paddle up dan down racing with cars passing by, with an extra effort to pass through pedestrians.
Alas, I finally arrived at Campuhan—cycling through the wider strees, crossing the river, started to enjoy the Ubud vibes.
One thing that instantly attracted my eyes on the streets of Ubud, those big trees which wrapped around ina woven black and white checkered textile—known as poleng, embodies the symbol of Rwa Bhineda; the balance of nature. Poleng means two tones, such as black and white or a day and a night, constructs two opposite things that makes a harmonious combination.
Thus the reason why things are wrapped in poleng, those big trees are believed has a respected magical power, and it should be preserved. A pecalang, the traditional Balinese village police whom I asked when I took a breath, explained more about poleng on the trees,“We need to thank the trees that have given us the supply of oxygen; the shelter and food sources for herbivorous creatures.”
I saw lots of poleng textiles in Monkey Forest area, which lead me to shortcuts exploration.
Actually, the term of shortcut is a bit misleading, as it was not 'a shorter alternative' route, but definitely a 'more freely non-traffic' route.
Let's start with:
Monkey Forest street ↔ Raya Ubud street.
What's more annoying than being stuck in traffic while cycling in Monkey Forest street? Near Kopi Bali House, there's a small street which I thought only accessible for pedestrian, which turned out it's a 'secret' no-traffic path that brought me to Raya Ubud through Bisma street! This secret route is also applicable if you need to go to Campuhan street. Beware, a bit rocky stone-cobbled street, please cycle safely.
Monkey Forest street/forest ↔ Nyuh Bojog
If you drive the car from Monkey Forest street to Nyuh Bojog street, you should circling several one way roads, up to total 5.6 kilometers. But cycling throug this short cut, the distance cut down to 500 meters.
Raya Ubud street ↔ Andong street
This shortcut is my favorite for a greenery getaway as the road flanked by rice fields and palm trees. If you dare to wandering around a little further away from the centre, how about cycling north to tegalalang rice terraces—one of the most insta-worthy tourist attractions. I would recommend going early in the morning before the buses start roaming around lunch time. FYI, tegalalang is a nice place to watch sunrise.
Another greenery getaway for cycling; find a jogging track behind Hotel Campuhan which known as Campuhan hill. The thing is, we need to pass around a hundred small stairs, which makes us have to prepare more muscles to carry the bike.
If the stairs scare the hell out of you, how about cycling down Subak Sok Wayah street, along the lush green fields of rice and coconut trees on the small path. If you are cycling from Ubud central to Campuhan, please turn to right before Ibah Hotel to find out this hidden gem. Spoiler: lots of delicious restaurants lined the streets.
If you want to recreationally cycling with a group, then the more the merrier!
Check out these bike tour operators:
- Green Bike Cycling Tour
Cycling into a balinese village compound, experiencing local culture, starting from Kintamani to Ubud.
- eBikes Bali
It's a good choice if you can't decide between riding a motorcycle or a bicycle! Starts from 9 am to 12 pm, then from 3 pm to 6 pm. Custom times can be requested for private groups.
- Bali Eco Cycling
Phone: 0361 975557
They offer two alternatives: the full day and half day—including massage! Available for sunrise cycling, after breakfast, dan after lunch.
- Banyan Tree Bike Tours
They offer the tour for experienced cyclists in small groups, exploring hidden parts in Bali for 4 hour ride along 32 km.
- Bali on Bike
Pick up time Ubud: 08.00-08.30 am.
They take cyclist to the countryside, volcanoes, and lunch at tour owner house.
Their tour probably have the similar route and departure-arrival time.
If you are worried of the cycling duration that seem takes long hour; they offer a downhill tour, as most of the time what you do is simply pressing the brakes.
Before you go jump on the bike:
· Ensure the wheels are properly aligned, and the brakes are properly working
· A properly fitting helmet
· The bike's light—especially if you are heading out the dark.
· A bike lock, especially if you plan to make multiple stops.
· Poncho, don't let the rain ruin your plan.
Finally, enjoy stunning views along our bike routes of Ubud, and remember one important thing: please ride on the left side of the road.