Exploring Ubud’s Monkey Forest: A Backpacker’s Essential Experience

Last Updated on April 27, 2024 by Kylie

Home to over 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques, this Hindu temple complex is one of Ubud’s most popular spots receiving over 10,000 visitors monthly. Here’s your guide to experiencing one of the most popular backpacker attractions in Ubud, Monkey Forest.

And if you’re heading over soon, check out the ultimate itinerary for 9 days in Bali.

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Getting to Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest is conveniently located at the end of Monkey Forest Rd. From the main area of Ubud, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the sanctuary. However, for safety purposes, I strongly recommend booking a Grab or a taxi because they’ll take you directly to the main entrance.

Pedestrians and cars share roads surrounding the forest, so it’s not as easy to navigate on foot. Speaking as a female traveler, I always tried to avoid walking on those kinds of roads (especially at night) to decrease the chances of drive-by robberies and pedestrian-car accidents.

The main entrance is at the northern end of the sanctuary along Monkey Forest Rd. and the exact address is JI. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.

What time is the forest open? 

Monkey Forest is open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. 

What is the entrance fee?

Weekdays: 80,000 IDR ($6 USD)
Weekends: 100,000 IDR ($7.50 USD)

How long can I expect to be there?

I recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours. The sanctuary is relatively large, so allow yourself ample time to wander.

General safety for backpackers visiting Monkey Forest

Posted just before entering the sanctuary is a list of rules to abide by:

  • Do not panic
  • Do not run
  • Do not look the monkeys in the eye
  • Do not hide any food
  • Do not bring any kind of plastic/paper bag
  • Please take care of your valuable belongings
  • Don’t ever touch, grab, or disturb the monkeys
  • Feeding monkeys peanuts, candy, bread, drinks, and any other snacks are prohibited

These rules keep both you AND the monkeys safe! As a backpacker, the last thing you want to spend is an exorbitant amount of time and money on preventable doctor’s visits.

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

As far as safety as a solo traveler goes … are the monkeys aggressive?

Yes and no. If you mind your distance and don’t bother them, they’re perfectly fine. But if you have food (even hidden in your bag – they can smell it), get too close, or try to pet them, they will fight back. After all, they are wild animals simply defending themselves.

Be careful with baby monkeys! Mothers are VERY protective and will intervene if they feel their babies are being threatened. Even though they’re so cute, keep a safe distance!

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Are there any health concerns? 

Please consult a doctor for professional advice. The following is based on my personal opinion and experience at Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.

If you’re planning on traveling around Southeast Asia for an extended period, I recommend getting a rabies vaccination to be safe. Monkey Forest has a health center on-site that’ll document the case and clean the wound. With the initial rabies vaccine (pre-exposure), a post-exposure shot is needed within 48 hours after a bite (vs. 24 without the initial vaccine).

According to Monkey Forest’s website, although contracting rabies is uncommon, it’s safer to assume a high prevalence of rabies than not to.

One of my friends got scratched by a monkey, and when she signed the form to document her injury, you wouldn’t believe how many others were bitten or scratched on that day alone!

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Does Monkey Forest have a dress code?

There’s no established dress code, however, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes or sandals that are non-slip; the sanctuary is mildly hilly and heavily forested. As far as clothing goes, wear whatever you’re comfortable with.

Two things to NOT bring are SUNGLASSES and JEWELRY! Once a monkey snatches it from you, that’s it – there’s no fighting for them back.

Bags are tricky because the monkeys can easily figure out how to unzip bags, undo knots, and pickpocket. I carried a small backpack and held it tightly in front of me the entire time. Whether you take a backpack or purse, hold onto them tightly in front of you. A backpacker’s nightmare is losing their personal belongings – especially to a monkey!

Ideally, you should only wear the essentials and leave all accessories behind. The more you have, the more chances you’re giving a monkey to snatch something.

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Should I bring my phone into Monkey Forest?

First and foremost, DO NOT carry your phone in your back pocket!

Having your phone in your back pocket is giving the monkeys a golden opportunity to snatch it. They’re intelligent and will fearlessly reach into pockets and bags.

Break this habit for the day and leave your phone in your bag when you’re not using it. Mindlessly holding it out in the open isn’t worth the risk. When you have it out, hold onto it tightly!

Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Are there temples at Monkey Forest?

Monkey Forest is rooted in Hindu beliefs, specifically Bali’s traditional philosophy of tri hata karana, which focuses on three streams of physical and spiritual well-being. The streams are in harmony with God, harmony amongst others, and harmony with the natural environment.

As you explore the sanctuary, you’ll come across three Hindu temples that date back to the mid-1300s.

Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal: the main temple for worshipping Shiva
Pura Beji: temple for purification and worshipping Gangga 
Pura Prajapati: temple honoring the god Prajapati

Fun fact: across Pura Prajapati is a cemetery for temporary burial. A mass cremation is held every 5 years.

Although these temples are closed to the public, it’s important to understand the cultural connection they have with the sanctuary as a whole. They remind visitors of Bali’s Hindu vision to unite all harmoniously.

Save this for your Bali backpacking trip!

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36 Comments

  1. August 8, 2020 / 10:16 am

    What a detailed post! I am glad your friend was ok and I now know to drop my food if anything happens like that!!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:07 am

      Thank you! Yes! I’m SO glad it was just a small superficial scratch and nothing worse!!

  2. Alma
    August 8, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    Great article with sound advice. I am so against feeding wild animals. We have monkeys and baboons in South Africa and they are a nuisance, largely due to human behaviour. We love seeing them and watching them, but they need to fend for themselves in the wild and not go for easy pickings.

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:08 am

      I completely agree with you on that!!!

  3. Val
    August 8, 2020 / 2:23 pm

    What a great place to explore in Ubud! These little monkeys can be a bit cheeky sometimes but they are so cute!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:09 am

      Hahaha yes they are 🙂

  4. August 8, 2020 / 3:04 pm

    I loved reading your blog! 🙂 I was going to Bali in July, but my trip was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, I am looking to travel to Bali next year and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is in my itinerary. Thank you for all the great tips!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:10 am

      Awww bummer! Well I’m glad you’re going next year!! You’ll LOVE Bali! Can’t wait to hear about your experience at Monkey Forest!

  5. August 8, 2020 / 3:54 pm

    What a great post and such nice pictures, I wouldn’t know that it is not a good idea not to feed them. Thanks for the heads up

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:11 am

      You’re welcome! And thank you 🙂

  6. August 8, 2020 / 3:55 pm

    This is so cool! I love monkeys and I would absolutely love visiting this spot. And you are right they are extremely intelligent and you should always have something in mind when around them.

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:12 am

      It was such an incredible experience! And yes it really surprised me how intelligent they were!

  7. August 8, 2020 / 6:47 pm

    This is such a great post! These photos are so lovely, I love it!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:12 am

      Thank you so much!! 🙂

  8. August 8, 2020 / 6:59 pm

    OMG that paparazzi monkey, ahahahah! #literallydead! Such a great post!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:13 am

      Hands down my favorite picture from Bali HAHAHAHA thank you! 🙂

  9. Michelle
    August 8, 2020 / 8:25 pm

    What a fun experience. I have to be honest though, I don’t know how I would feel if the monkeys got one me. LOL!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:13 am

      I would’ve freaked out if they climbed on me hahaha I’m glad they didn’t! It was fun watching them climb on my friends though LOL

  10. August 8, 2020 / 8:36 pm

    Wow you’ve outlined everything here! Thanks for all the great tips, it looks amazing to visit!

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:14 am

      It’s SO amazing!! Thank you so much! 🙂

  11. August 8, 2020 / 9:25 pm

    It looks so fun…yet so intimidating. I would naturally want to take pictures with my camera but that seems like a bad idea. And it seems like wearing contacts is a better choice than your normal seeing glasses? What a bad time to be naturally blind haha

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:16 am

      As long as you hold onto your camera tightly and store it when you’re not using it, you should be fine 🙂 And so true lol I’d say contacts are definitely the safer route!

  12. Karen
    August 9, 2020 / 1:42 am

    Wow these monkeys sound like a hungry seagull on the beach. Must be cool to see all the monkeys in a natural habitat.

    • August 9, 2020 / 10:17 am

      Monkey Forest was incredible! I was shocked at how ruthless they were when it came to food.

  13. August 9, 2020 / 11:59 am

    I love this! I missed this when I was in Bali because I’m scared of monkeys but your post makes me wish I’d visited! One for next time. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the group photo with the monkey selfie 😆

    • August 10, 2020 / 12:06 am

      Aww haha the monkeys can be intimidating! Next time for sure! 🙂

  14. August 9, 2020 / 12:39 pm

    What a great post and an amazing adventure with the monkies! I’m glad your friend was ok!
    The paparazzi monkey is priceless! haha

    • August 10, 2020 / 12:06 am

      Yes! I’m glad she was fine too 🙂 hahaha my favorite Bali memory!

  15. Shay
    August 9, 2020 / 1:18 pm

    This is the first thing I’m doing when I *eventually* visit Bali, and I cannot wait! Thanks for all the tips. I’ve had experiences with wild monkeys before, and you definitely need to be prepared for the unexpected.

    • August 10, 2020 / 12:07 am

      I can’t wait to hear about it when you visit! 🙂 And yes! Expect the unexpected!!

  16. Taylor K Taverna
    August 9, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    Oh I’ve solo traveled through Bali a few times and loved it!! This is such a fun spot!

    • August 10, 2020 / 12:07 am

      I loved Bali so much!! Can’t wait to visit again 🙂

  17. August 10, 2020 / 10:02 pm

    so cute!! the monkey selfies kill me. I would love to visit here someday!

    • August 11, 2020 / 4:37 am

      That selfie is priceless! Hahaha yes you should!! 🙂

  18. August 14, 2020 / 11:18 pm

    OMG these photos made my day. haha the monkeys are so frickin cute! Thanks for all the tips (I promise to not put my phone in my back pocket and not feed the monkeys!!!) haha Love this post! Thanks for sharing!!

    • August 15, 2020 / 9:02 pm

      The monkeys are hilarious!! Hahaha yes definitely do not feed them whatsoever! 🙂 Thank you so much!

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