Ubud was settled by an eighth-century Javanese priest who sensed an aura of holiness in the area.
An hour inland yet worlds apart from the bustling hype of Denpasar, Ubud remains Bali's cultural and spiritual heartland where ceremony and tradition sit alongside world-class spas and health retreats. There's a large expatriate art community and each of Ubud's 14 mountain villages has its own specialty. The best way to explore is with a driver; it's as cheap as ... nasi goreng.
Named after "ubad", the Indonesian word for medicine (there is an abundance of curative plants grown in the surrounding forests), Ubud has a history of alternative therapies and holistic well-being. So congregate with the hippies for a vegan breakfast of organic walnut and spelt pancakes at the local restaurant and health food institution, Bali Buddha Cafe. The downstairs health food store offers alternative therapies and organic baked goods such as chai cookies and yoghurt scones. Check the noticeboard for details on yoga and reflexology workshops.