It is a weird feeling to be walking through the Monkey Forest in Ubud. On the one hand you feel as though you were walking through the lounge room of a huge family of monkeys, on the other hand you get the feeling that the monkeys watch you just as much as you watch them. Yes, the monkeys from Monkey Forest know which way the wind blows. If there are tourists nearby it means that food is not far. Some of them approach curiously, others sit completely bored in a corner. Tourists? Not again. Then there are others who look at you as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. Look how cute I am!! And then, wham, they reach for your bag. Do you have any food in there? And then there are those who let you know without any doubt that you, as a human, are in the way at the moment. If that’s the case you are better off retreating a few steps. Because sometimes macaques monkeys can become quite aggressive.
However, after spending some time in the forest, you suddenly understand what they are about. You know in advance which of the monkeys need to be approached carefully and which you can get close to. And some of them just seem to be waiting for you to take their photo.
If you respect them and are careful, you have the opportunity to get really close up and thereby gain an insight into their life which you would otherwise not have. Then you can watch them cuddle and fight with each other. Or feed and sit and listen. If you take your time you will be able to take many impressive photos. And you will notice that monkeys and humans do have a lot in common after all. If one of them does turn aggressive, you won’t judge them too harshly. After all, the question is how we would behave if hundreds of tourists came through our lounge room every day.
How do you get there?
It is best to stay locally in Ubud for a few days, then it is really simple: walk down Monkey Forest Road and there you are (you can tell by the increasing number of monkeys). Alternatively, you can naturally take a day trip to Ubud which generally includes a visit to Monkey Forest.
What is the best time to go?
The best time is early in the morning. You should plan at least one hour to see everything at a leisurely pace. The tourist buses arrive from ten o’clock in the morning onwards and ideally you’ll be gone again by that time because it is quite crowded and, correspondingly, the monkeys like having their photo taken less.
How much is the admission fee?
It works out to be about €1.20 per person. The admission fee finances the upkeep of the monkey forest and the temples inside it.
What do you need to bear in mind?
There are several temples within the forest which you are either not allowed to enter or, if you are, you must be clothed appropriately. Tip: Pack a sarong in your bag and wind it around you when you go into one of the temples.
Are you planning a trip to Bali and would like some more tips? You can find them in my e-book “A Flashpacker’s Guide to South East Asia”.
Yvonne Zagermann is a travel blogger and award-winning German TV editor. Her travel blog JUST travelous is not only one of the best German travel blogs, but it is also counted among the Top 100 travel blogs worldwide. She writes bilingually (German/English) about unique experiences, adventure travel and flashpacking.