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Monkeying around in the Ubud Monkey Forest

Please only travel when it’s safe to do so.

A lot of monkey business goes on at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali!

We spent a whole morning watching and photographing them – playing, eating, jumping on people and stealing sunglasses and other items from surprised tourists.

Visiting the monkey forest is one of the most fun things to do in Bali.

But be forewarned. Those monkeys are wily.

Here’s what you need to know when visiting this Bali monkey forest.

Macaque monkey sitting on a temple in the Ubud Monkey Forest

What is the Ubud Monkey Forest?

The 27-acre monkey forest is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex in Ubud, Bali.

Monkeys are important in Balinese culture, portrayed in Balinese dances (like the Hindu-based “Ramayana” dance epic and the “Kecak” dance), carvings and other art.

And the monkey forest isn’t just a popular tourist attraction – it’s actually a sacred site. Technically, it’s called the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

It’s the jungle home to three centuries-old holy temples and over 600 cheeky long-tailed macaque monkeys.

It was nice to see that the monkeys, which have the run of the place, are well looked after in the reserve.

Temple attendants ensure you aren’t too bothered when the monkeys jump on you, which they do.

Monkey on a man's head in Ubud Monkey Forest

Every now and then, we’d hear screams (then gales of laughter) from hapless tourists when a monkey would clamber up on them or pull at their skirts.

Where is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary?

The shady forest is a 30-minute walk downhill from the town center cross-roads (at the end of the Monkey Forest Road).

What’s it like to visit the Ubud Monkey Forest?

We removed our watches and jewelry before visiting.

We’d been warned the monkeys try to pull off your earrings or other jewelry, thinking it’s food or something fun to play with.

But the little green hand sanitizer bottle hanging from Janice’s backpack was like catnip (monkeynip?) for them. They kept trying to yank it off, and would climb up Janice’s pants leg and hang on to her backpack to grab it.

It was difficult sometimes to shoo them off!

We particularly enjoyed watching the monkeys play.

One kept rattling a coke can with a stone inside it.

Another rolled a marble on the ground with a leaf, and a third had grabbed someone’s camera lens cap and was playing with it.

Mom and baby monkey in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud

And the babies!

They stole our hearts.

The scrawny and hairless black babies clinging to their moms and suckling were so adorable.

Temples in the Sacred Monkey Forest

Temples at the Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali

The grounds themselves are a cool respite from the sweltering heat – a dark shady forest with huge banyan trees.

The three stone temples found within the grounds are the Dalem Agung Padangtegal Temple, Holy Spring Temple and Prajapati Temple, all built around the 14th century.

Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali

The Holy Spring Temple is down a long flight of steps next to a stream in the jungle forest.

To reach it, you walk across a moss-covered stone bridge high across the stream; long banyan vines hang down above you and below.

We almost felt like we were on the movie set of a Raiders of the Lost Ark remake.

Veer off down some slippery steps and you also see two large Komodo dragon statues there.

But the monkeys are the star attraction.

From the languages spoken, we noticed that people from all around the world – Japanese, European, Indonesian, a few North Americans – were visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest.

Ubud has definitely been discovered!

And like us, all were enthralled by the monkeys.

Baby monkey at the Bali Monkey Forest

6 Tips for visiting the Bali monkey forest:

1) Treat the monkeys with respect – they are wild creatures and could bite.

2) Don’t run away or panic.

3) Keep your camera close to you and hang on to your things.

4) Don’t wear jewelry, watches or anything you’d regret losing.

5) Don’t wear sunglasses. The monkeys will steal them off your face or head if given a chance.

6) You can buy bananas at the entrance gates to feed the monkeys. But beware if you do. They will jump on you to get at the bananas; they can smell them even if hidden in your backpack.

Ubud Monkey Forest

What is the Ubud Monkey Forest entry fee?

The cost to enter is 50000 IDR (about $3.35 USD).

When is the monkey forest open?

It’s open every day from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.

Recommended reading: Check out our post on the best luxury hotels in Bali!

More Asia travel inspiration!

Read our posts on:

Lombok | There are beautiful boutique hotels and beaches in Lombok. It’s worth visiting Lombok too when you visit Bali!

Yangon (Myanmar) | Check out these 25 fun facts about Yangon. (The Shwedagon Pagoda isn’t the biggest in Myanmar.)

Thailand | From gilded temples to postcard-perfect beaches, there are many beautiful and exotic places to visit in Thailand.

Osaka (Japan) | Is Osaka worth visiting? What you’ll miss if you don’t go.

Sri Lanka | Climb the UNESCO rock temple of Sigiriya. Snooze under waving palms on a beach. Roam the fort city of Galle. For an epic Sri Lanka holiday, see our two-week Sri Lanka itinerary.


Photo credits: 2, 4, 6 to 9, 11, 12, 14 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the owners and founders of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, luxury hotel reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Jess

Monday 16th of March 2015

Wow, these monkeys look amazing, especially the little ones. I want to go there to see how they come to steal bananas.

Freya

Sunday 10th of August 2014

That must have been an amazing experience. Your photos are stunning so I would love to visit there, but I'm not sure whether I would like monkeys jumping on me :)

Samantha

Sunday 10th of August 2014

Awww what great photos! The monkeys look so innocent and then there's a picture of one standing on someone's head. Reminds me of the white face monkeys here in Costa Rica, they are quite mischievous! Guess it must be in their nature !

Becky Padmore

Friday 25th of July 2014

I absolutely loved watching the monkeys in Ubud, one of my favourite places in Bali!

Meagan

Sunday 20th of July 2014

We are going to Ubud next month and I can't wait to visit all of the temples and this monkey forest. I have been doing my research and seems like buying bananas isn't really the right thing to do. I want to look at the monkeys, but don't want to have them climbing on me.

Janice and George

Sunday 20th of July 2014

Well, you're visiting Bali in the right month! (the coolest). And you're making the right decision about letting other visitors buy the bananas - so you can laugh as the monkeys climb up on them :-).