One of the most popular attractions in Bali – and one of the things that drove me to visit the island – is the Ubud Monkey Forest. Situated just south of the center of Ubud, this massive green space is home to more than 700 mostly-wild monkeys with zero fear of humans. If you’ve always wanted to get up close and personal with primates, but aren’t into zoos and other places where the animals are kept in captivity, Ubud Monkey Forest is a great option for ethical, animal-loving travelers.
Monkeys, Monkeys, Everywhere…
The monkeys in the Ubud Monkey Forest are technically crab-eating macaques, though locals tend to call them Balinese long-tailed monkeys. These monkeys are native to much of Southeast Asia, including Bali, and have been introduced to habitats as far away as Taiwan and Samoa.
There are more than seven hundred monkeys living in the Ubud Monkey Forest, including adorable newborn babies, protective females and aggressive males. Bali’s high season for tourism also corresponds with the monkey’s primary mating season, so it’s especially important to maintain a safe and respectful distance from babies and new parents.
The monkeys usually live within family groups consisting of multiple females, fewer males and their associated offspring, who they care for through the feeding and grooming that you’ll see throughout the park. It is said that there are about seven family groups living in the Ubud Monkey Forest and that each group has been 100 and 150 monkeys. Each group has its own territory in the park.
Crab-eating macaques mainly eat fruits, nuts and seeds, though they have occasionally been known to indulge in a baby bird, frog, fish or lizard too! As noted below, it’s important that you don’t bring in outside food or drinks (for yourself or the monkeys!). Generally, I found that the monkeys weren’t particular interested in interacting with me, and when I saw that one was about to jump onto my shoulder I just quickly moved away. However, the monkeys will aggressively search for food, so seriously, just don’t bring it. In your bag, in your pockets, in your pants… it’s a recipe for a monkey bite.
The Forest and Temples
The Ubud Monkey Forest has several distinct natural areas. Most of the center of the park is like you’ll see in the top two photos – wide pathways underneath lush green trees. In total, there are more than 100 different species of trees in the forest.
Some of the higher areas (around the “forest conservation” zone are drier, with less greenery) while the lower areas along the stream (directly above) are much damper and more humid. In the low-lying areas the paths are more narrow and slippery, so walk with caution.
The majority of the park is shaded and there are lots of benches along the paths. There are also toilets dotted throughout the forest, though I can’t speak to their cleanliness (or whether or not a curious monkey will pop by for a visit!).
This is a Sacred Monkey Forest, so it’s fitting that there are three Balinese Hindu temples inside the Ubud Monkey Forest. They are located in the southwest, northwest and northeast sections of the forest. According to the forest staff, these temples date back to the 1300s and are still in active daily use, meaning that as a tourist, you should not be entering unless you are dressed appropriately and intending to participate in worship. More details on dress code can be found below.
Visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest
It sounds crazy, but I pretty much flew halfway across the world to visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. It was definitely one of the things that drew me to Bali (along with the amazing vegan and vegetarian food, and the focus on health and wellness).
If you’re traveling to Ubud, Bali and thinking of visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest, there are a few things you should know before your trip.
How much does Ubud Monkey Forest Cost?
Adult admission is 80,000 IDR (approximately $5.50 USD or $8.00 AUD) and children’s admission is 60,000 IDR (approximately $4 USD or $6 AUD).
When can you visit Ubud Monkey Forest?
The monkey forest is open daily from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm. The last ticket is sold thirty minutes before closing. I recommend that you plan to stay for about an hour and a half. If you get there before 9:00, there will be fewer crowd and you’ll have more “one-on-one” interaction with the monkeys.
Where is Ubud Monkey Forest?
If you’re seriously monkey-obsessed, consider booking a stay at Umaya Ubud Villas. This affordable hotel has private villas and standard hotel rooms built around a small swimming pool, and is accessible via a short walk along the edge of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Expect frequent monkey sightings!
It’s easy to walk from central Ubud to the monkey forest, but those with mobility impairments or small children may want to take the complimentary shuttle. Details are available on this Facebook page.
Do the Ubud Monkey Forest monkeys have rabies?
Do I look like a primatologist?
The Ubud Monkey Forest claims that there has never been a confirmed case of rabies in the monkey forest.
However, there are many reported cases of rabies in Bali’s street dogs, and the monkeys in the forest are free to roam freely around Ubud. It is theoretically possible that a monkey could come into contact with a rabid dog, though there is no evidence this has happened.
In a fairly recently news article, one New Zealand doctor recommends that travelers get a rabies vaccine before visiting Bali. The rabies vaccine is a series of three shots, administered on Day 0, Day 7 and then either Day 21 or Day 28.
According to the Center for Disease Control, if you don’t have this vaccine and you’re bitten by a rabid animal, you will need four shots of the rabies vaccine plus an extra dose of Rabies Immune Globulin, which is expensive and not always available in remote or developing locations. I have read first-hand accounts from travelers who have been to Bali in the past twelve months and needed to fly to Singapore or Australia to obtain this vaccine.
However, if you’re already vaccinated, you just need to get two more doses of the standard vaccine (which is widely available) and you don’t need the hard-to-find Rabies Immune Globulin shot.
Personally, I chose to vaccinate for rabies before traveling to Ubud, Bali. You can read more about my travel health planning if you’re interested.
What should you wear to Ubud Monkey Forest?
There is no specific dress code for the majority of the Ubud Monkey Forest.
Generally, men can wear shorts or pants, along with a t-shirt or a tank top with wide straps.
Women are also free to wear shorts, skirts or pants, and t-shirts and wide-strapped tank tops are also acceptable clothing.
For footwear, flip-flops or sandals are fine, as most of the paths through the forest are paved.
Monkeys are attracted to loose items and sparkly things, so keep your sunglasses in your bag and avoid wearing excessive jewelry (I watched a monkey steal a sequined scrunchie right out of a girl’s hair… much to her displeasure!).
Inside the Ubud Monkey Forest there are three Hindu temples. It is a sacred monkey forest, after all! Entrance to these temples is restricted to locals who have come to pray. Typically, they will dress in traditional Balinese prayer clothes to enter the temples. Please do not attempt to enter these temples (or even just to peek inside) unless you are dressed appropriately and engaging in prayer.
What are the top safety tips for the Ubud Monkey Forest?
The Ubud Monkey Forest does an excellent job of posting rules, regulations and safety tips at the entrance and throughout the park. In case you want to review the essential safety guidelines before your visit (for example, in case you’re visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest with children), keep these tips in mind.
- Consider getting a rabies vaccine before your trip. Better safe than sorry.
- Don’t bring food or drinks (including empty packaging) into the Ubud Monkey Forest.
- Don’t touch the monkeys.
- Only feed the monkeys bananas that are purchased inside the forest (availability varies).
- Don’t feed the monkeys any outside food or drinks (theoretically this isn’t even possible assuming you’re following the first guideline!).
- Avoid making eye contact with the monkeys (especially larger males).
- Don’t litter (obviously).
On a scale of one to ten (one being “monkeys are my favorite animals of all time” and ten being “I dream of existing as a half-human, half-monkey because monkeys are freaking amazing”) how much do you love monkeys?
Let me know in the comments!