Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali, a delightful little town that boasts amazing Indonesian architecture, some of the best restaurants on the island and, best of all, a sacred forest filled with cheeky monkeys.
Who doesn’t love monkeys? They’re cute and cuddly, they look and act like tiny little people and we’re practically long-lost cousins, sharing a common ancestor roughly 25 million years ago.
Okay, so the macaques at Ubud’s Monkey Forest are a little bit naughty…
People say The Monkees monkey around – but that cheesy pop group is far more sanitary than the monkeys of Ubud’s Monkey Forest. Truth is, these cheeky macaques are more akin to a street gang of petty criminals than a band of TV-friendly musicians.
As photographed above, the wild monkeys of Ubud’s sacred Monkey Forest seemingly need no invitation to climb on people and attack harmless water bottles (both pictured above). They will try to steal anything shiny that captures their attention and will most definitely make a beeline for anyone carrying food on their person.
They say more than 600 wild long-tail macaques live in Ubud’s Monkey Forest – and I wouldn’t dispute that figure. They seem to be everywhere, peering down from the treetops and the walls and ruins inside the park.
Meanwhile, outside the Monkey Forest’s stone walls, they’ll be congregating along the Jalan Monkey Forest road, where they’ll happily run after anyone who walks by with some food.
They may look cute and cuddly but they’re also pretty feral. They do carry diseases and, if bitten, you’ll need to visit a clinic immediately to get a vaccination against rabies; I kid you not! The best piece of advice to avoid getting bitten by a monkey would be to not carry any food with you into the park.
It costs roughly 20,000 Indonesian Rupiahs to enter the Padangtegal Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (but everyone just calls it the Monkey Forest) and you can pay extra to buy some bananas to feed to the monkeys. The park itself is gorgeous, with heaps of interesting stone structures, temples and walkways.
You might have seen Ubud in that horrendous movie Eat Pray Love Vomit; try not to hold that against it, it’s actually a brilliant place to visit. The sacred Monkey Forest is just one of its many highlights.