Walking: Penestanan & Campuan Ridge

  • Start Ubud Palace
  • End Ubud Palace
  • Length 6.5km; four hours

The wonders of Sungai Ayung (Ayung River) are the focus of this outing, where you will walk below the luxury hotels built to take advantage of the lush, tropical river valley.

From Ubud Palace, head west on Jl Raya Ubud, over the Campuan bridge (noting the picturesque old bridge), past the beautifully expanded Pura Gunung Lebah below. Take the steep steps opposite the Hotel Tjampuhan up to a road that bends left and winds across the forested gully of Sungai Blangsuh (Blangsuh River) to the artists' village of Penestanan. West of Penestanan, head north on the small road (before the busy main road) that curves around to Sayan. The Sayan Terrace was Colin McPhee's home in the 1930s, as chronicled in his classic book A House in Bali. The views over the valley of the magnificent Sungai Ayung are superb. The best place to get to the riverside is just north of the Sayan Terrace hotel – look for the downhill path before the gate to the rooms and follow the increasingly narrow tracks down. Locals will ask you for a tip of about 10,000Rp to show you the way. Note that as you follow the river, you'll encounter farmers asking for money to cross their land; 5000Rp is a reasonable amount to give. There is no need to give money to any 'guides'.

Following the rough trails north, along the eastern side of the Ayung, you traverse steep slopes, cross paddy fields and pass irrigation canals and tunnels. This is a highlight of the walk for many people, as we're talking about serious tropical jungle here. You don't need to follow any specific trail as you head slowly north along the river; instead just wander and see where your mood takes you. After about 1.5km you'll reach the finishing point for many white-water rafting trips – a good but steep trail goes from there up to the main road at Kedewatan, where you can walk back to Ubud. Alternatively, cross the river on the nearby bridge and take a steep, 1km loop through tropical forest to the very untouristy village of Tegalkuning. Return to Ubud on Jl Raya Sanggingan, with its shops and cafes offering respite.

Walking: Ubud's Urban Rice Fields

  • Start Ubud Palace
  • End Ubud Palace
  • Length 8.5km; 3½ hours

This walk passes over the lush river valley of Sungai Wos (Wos River), offering views of Gunung Agung and glimpses of small village communities and rice fields.

Start at Ubud Palace and walk west on Jl Raya Ubud. At the confluence of Sungai Wos and Sungai Cerik (Cerik River) is Campuan, which means 'Where Two Rivers Meet'. This area was among the first to attract Western painters in the 1930s and you'll understand why from the still-lush foliage and the soothing roar of the rivers. The walk leaves Jl Raya Campuan here at the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas. Enter the hotel driveway and take the path to the left, where a walkway crosses the river to the high-profile yet serene Pura Gunung Lebah. From there follow the concrete path north, climbing up on to the ridge between the two rivers. Fields of elephant grass, traditionally used for thatched roofs, slope away on either side. You can see the rice fields above Ubud folding over the hills in all directions.

Continuing north along Campuan ridge past the Klub Kokos lodging, the road improves as it passes through paddy fields and the village of Bangkiang Sidem; from its outskirts, an unsigned road heads west, winding down to Sungai Cerik, then climbing steeply up to Payogan. From here you can walk south to the main road, and continue along Jl Raya Sanggingan, which seems to boast one or two more small boutiques and galleries every week. At Mozaic restaurant, veer to the west on to trails that stay level with the rice fields as the main road drops away. It's a fantasyland of coursing waterways and good views among the rice and villas. If you're entranced with Ubud and want to linger longer, many of the small bungalows are for rent by the month. When you come to the steep concrete steps, take them down to Campuan and back to Ubud.