Bali is a destination where the universe seems to conspire and deliver you a fulfilling experience of self-awareness and self-care. This Indonesian island full of healing energy will touch you from its lush vegetation to its neighborly locals where a simple “suksma” (“Thank you” in Balinese) will prompt a singsong return of “sama sama” (You’re welcome). Whether you’re in town for the rejuvenating massages, yoga retreat, or just a thrill, a trip to Ubud is a worthy one.
It is also within reason to come purely for the food. If you’re a veghead, consider Ubud as the vegan mecca. In all directions you will see signboards with the word “vegan” written on them. At the moment Ubud is probably the closest reality to a vegan world. You’ll also be impressed that many of the vendors are aware of the problem of single-plastic use and have adopted eco-friendly practices such as serving drinks with bamboo straws.
Here are five restaurants and shops to visit for your next trip to Ubud.
1. Clear Cafe
The first thing to welcome you is the revolving wooden door with intricate carvings on both sides. You’ll be asked to take off your shoes and be given a number ticket to retrieve them later. Don’t mind the piles of strangers’ shoes you see on the side; there’s a method to their madness. (You’ll get them back without fail.) Clear Cafe is technically a vegetarian restaurant with some seafood fare; however, the majority of their menu items are vegan or can be made vegan (indicated as VO). The diverse range of foods includes the local dish nasi goreng (fried rice) to the far-flung international dishes like burritos, falafel, pad thai, alfredo fettuccine and a lot more. The high ceilings and bright modern interior make it an ambient place for a date or a group meal. Don’t forget to read a special message arranged with Balinese marigold flowers at the top of the stairs!
After hours of strolling, you may feel a growing pang of hunger and thirst. When this happened to me, I silently wished for a refreshing drink accompanied by a satisfying meal. As though the Balinese gods heard me, I was mere steps away from a delightful surprise. Juice Ja Cafe has an immediate feel of warmth and airiness. Nestled in the hub of shops, this oasis offers a salivating selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Everything that I ordered was fresh, clean, and created with love. The ingredient quality is palpable in every morsel. I recommend the Tempeh Sate; it’d be foolish to leave without a bite of tempeh that is native to Indonesia. The combination of excellent food, ambiance and staff make this a hidden gem worth discovering.
In Ubud you’ll find countless dessert shops serving indulgent treats from acai bowls to raw chocolate to gelato. While there should be no restriction on desserts, if you are going to be a saint about your selection, you can be sinful at Tukies Coconut Shop. The ice cream is made locally and utilizes nearly all parts of the coconut. Imagine a scoop of rich, white-as-snow, chilled coconut ice cream served with slivered coconut meat and jelly and layered with roasted coconut brittle and roasted coconut curls. One bite is all it takes to make you affirm their legitimacy in the cream game. It’ll make you go coconuts!
4. Artcycle Bali
You can find Artcycle Bali on Jalan Goutama that is embedded with trendy shops and restaurants. You may be intrigued by the uniform color and organic design patterns. However, the most exciting part about Artcycle is their dedication to transforming life into new creations from the old. Their work comes from repurposing old tires and inner tubings that fill landfills into stunning jewelry, bags, and even clothing. Founded in 2006, Artcycle sought to address the impact of dumping old tires and polluting the waterways not just around the world but also in their very home country and island. The result of their artistry and mission exemplifies the kind of business solution that helps mitigate the environmental problems persisting today.
What’s better than the healing effect of a head-to-toe massage after a full day? Coconut Wellness Spa stands out from a legion of spas in town for this is an Ayurvedic spa. In short Ayurveda is a centuries-old Indian philosophy and practice of holistic healing of the body according to your natural characteristics. I chose the 1-hour Marma Massage; in Ayurveda marma points are where energy is released along the body. Prepare to have your feet washed in a small foot tub decorated with floating flowers. Two people will massage your body at the same time on opposite sides of your body, and they aren’t afraid to coat you in coconut oil. Keep in mind that this isn’t your typical, sleep-inducing massage; the pressure is strong enough to keep you alert, aware, and awake. If you don’t want any oil massaged onto your head, kindly indicate so. One other perk is that you can hop into the shower to wash off the oil after the massage. Check their website for a full list of services.
Have you ever been to Ubud?
Also by Vivian: Vegan Asian BBQ Jackfruit Tacos
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Photos: Vivian Lee