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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Recommended reading: Check out our post on the best luxury hotels in Bali!
Photo credits: 2, 4, 6 to 9, 11, 12, 14 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase