UBUD MONKEY FOREST SANCTUARY
If you are planning to visit the lively, and ever so lovely, town of Ubud on the island of Bali, then I must recommend spending one of your days having monkeys climb all over you at the Ubud Monkey Forest.
If you aren't planning on visiting the island of Bali, well, you should -
and then you should go to the monkey forest.
We didn't really know what to expect, we had assumed it would be somewhat similar to a zoo - depressed, caged, and lifeless animals taken out of their natural habitat to be on display for humans (which I fully do not support!).
This... was completely different and it made me so happy to visit.
The Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal is a natural forest sanctuary that is home to many grey long-tailed macaques. There are no animals in cages, confined areas, or anything of the like. The monkeys are free to come and go as they please, and walk right up and interact with you.
Over 600 monkeys live in this area because they are protected by the local people and are constantly fed. Seriously, these monkeys have a good life - why else would they want to live anywhere else? They choose to stay here.
During your visit you will see them swinging from the treetops, hanging out on the statues and sculptures around the forest, walking on the same path as you, and my personal favorite, sitting on peoples shoulders or heads as benches.
The monkeys diet consists of mostly sweet potatoes, but bananas are for sale at booths inside the forest. Buying a bunch of bananas is the best way to ensure the monkeys will befriend you.
We bought a small bunch and i'm glad we did because I tried to hide them in my purse and the monkeys we're too smart. They have good smell, and could track down exactly where I had them stashed. They did their best to antagonize me until I gave in and they got their way.
It was very entertaining watching the monkeys in their natural habitat. They were very lively, active, and all looked healthy. They are very familiar with humans, so I never felt threatened or in danger. Although, it is advised against making eye contact or invading their personal space, as these are signs of aggression and dominance to them. If you are in any sort of uncomfortable situation, there is an abundance of staff found everywhere on the grounds keeping watch. It's good to keep in mind that these are wild animals, so just be mindful of your actions.
One of my favorite things was watching the monkeys interact with other humans. Leaping and climbing all over people, giving them new hairstyles, and even trying to steal their rings, bracelets, and personal belongings. I watched a monkey successfully go into a ladys purse and pull out a receipt and tease her by not giving it back. The monkey won.
If you are lucky, a monkey will use your head as a table and lather your hair with a fresh banana conditioner. It's pretty much comparable to a day at the spa, right?!
The fun part is there are endless photo opportunities here - and the monkeys seem to be ready for any and all photoshoots. My favorite photos are of the babies - as they cling to their mamas and just stare at the camera.
We spent a few hours here just walking around, laughing, and having the biggest smiles on our faces. It was well worth the 50,000 idr (~ $3.50 USD) entrance fee. We could have easily stayed all day long!
It's conveniently located right in the town center of Ubud. From the hustle and bustle streets, you'd never know a sanctuary is just a few steps away. In addition to the monkeys, there are also three Hindu temples in the forest dating back to the 14th century. They are exceptionally beautiful, and tucked away under the dense canopy top. The forest is about 14 acres, so there is plenty of paths that will lead you around exploring. There are beautiful exotic photo opportunities with all the banyan trees and dragon staircases. Throughout the forest there are beautiful mossy steps and statues to admire.
We're already planning our next visit before we leave!
Ubud Monkey Forest
Opening Hours: Mon - Sun 08:00 - 18:00
Location: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud
Tel: +62 (0)361 971 304
How to get there: Start from the Ubud main road and enter south to Jalan Hanoman, which you make a right turn towards the sanctuary