On Wanderlife’s trip to Bali this year we ventured to Ubud. Ubud has made a name for itself as one of Bali’s ‘spiritual centres’ and over the years developed a thriving tourism industry for travelers wanting to see the ‘real bali’. Within Ubud amongst the rice paddies is Ubud’s famous sacred Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Padangtegal. A protected area for the local monkeys where they are fed, cared for and worshiped by locals.
Like many sacred spots in Bali, the Ubud Monkey Forest has become a booming tourist attraction and for 30,000Rp (2-3 USD) you can go and explore the forest for yourself. After having our own slightly scary experience in the forest, here are our Wanderlife Travel tips to keep in mind when visiting.
Wanderlife Tips for Ubud’s Monkey Forest
– Monkeys are wild animals. Sure, these monkeys have become accustomed to human interaction, but this doesn’t make them any less wild, you can’t pat or play with wild animals.
– Ubud’s monkeys are very smart. The monkeys here are renowned for stealing anything and everything, cameras, phones, food you name it, given the chance they will nick it. If possible we suggest to leave your bags in a locked car, keep your camera straps on and only enter with empty pockets.
-You can feed them, but we would not suggest it. One of the biggest buzzes around the monkey forest is that you can feed the monkeys, but we highly suggest you skip doing so. There is a stand selling small bananas within the sanctuary, where you can buy food for the monkey. But watch out as they hand around near the stand looking out for people buying the bananas. Expect to lose 3 out of your 5 bananas in the first 10 seconds. The monkeys don’t wait patiently for you to hand them a banana like you would hope, they’re wild and unpredictable and feeding them is risky business.
– Monkeys bite! There are many accounts of monkey attacks and bites from visitors coming to the Ubud sanctuary. Not surprisingly most occur from those feeding the monkeys and resisting to let the food drop when they come up. While you’re not likely to get attacked unless you have something they want, if you do have something and you resist giving it there is a high chance you’ll be attacked.
– Water bottles are a no no. Your humble water bottle is a prime target for Ubud’s monkeys and is more than likely going to attract thieving monkeys looking for water. Yes the Ubud monkeys know how to unscrew and drink from a water bottle and so it’s best to avoid brining one into the forest.
– Watch what you wear, I made a rookie error here and wore a long flowing Camilla Kaftan. It was great for photos, but a prime target for trickster monkeys that wanted to grab and pull at it. I would suggest wearing simple clothing and little jewellery.
– Have a healthy respect for the people of Padangtegal who own and run the forest. Remember that the Ubud monkey forest is not a zoo, it is a sanctuary and scared place of worship for locals. Respect the area, the people and the animals. We feel if you go as an observer and keep these tips in mind when visiting, you’re likely to have a positive & memorable experience.