Nightlife: Bars, Cafes, Music, Movies

Culture & Religion
News & Gossip
by The Ubud Team
Ubud is not renowned as a hot place for the wilder kind of nightlife. Try Kuta or Seminyak for that. The community treasures its traditional atmosphere, and a civilized and safe atmosphere on the streets. Consequently, there are no discos or full-fledged night clubs. There's plenty of acoustic music, though. Dynamic conversation is the number one form of entertainment, so don't be shy. Join in. Try one of the following spots, or cruise them all to see where you find a crown that suits your mood.

Bebek Bengil Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal. This long-time favourite restaurant in Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal (South Ubud), is open pretty late, and there's regular crowd of locals and their friends who "hold court" here. Some even sleep there and get their mail there. It's a key centre for the latest news and gossip, especially late at night in the back. The food is very good, drink prices are fair, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The ownership and management team consists of Agung Raka, Mande and Ngurah, three extremely personable Balinese gentlemen who speak excellent English. You'll find them and their friends (local and foreign) excellent sources of information on the going-on in Ubud. The restaurant has its own football team made up of assorted friends and regulars. "Bebek United" plays locally, just for fun, and after the game the atmosphere at the restaurant (win or lose), is particularly lively. Solo and duet bamboo gamelan music in the afternoon and evenings, featuring Dewa, a well-known local gamelan teacher, who will give you private lessons at Bebek if you ask him.

Café Tutmak Jalan Dewi Sita. A hip café, created by Ketut and his wife, who hails from Berkeley, California. The best coffee in the known universe. A key hangout for creative expats and locals. Live acoustic music several nights a month (frequently unannounced), often featuring Ketut Yuliars, the owner of Ganesha Bookshop, who plays mandolin and sitar, joined by talented locals on flute, guitar, drums and other instruments. Distinguished musicians visiting Ubud are encouraged to collaborate with "Yuli" and his friends. We have seen extraordinary violinists from Europe and Japan, Flamenco guitarists, harpists and even didgeridoo players here. If there's no live music, the conversation, coffee, backgammon, scrabble, drinks and desserts are more than enough to keep you happy here for hours. The evening chef, Guskok, is a charming fellow. With just a little coaxing he will share with you his extensive knowledge of cultural traditions and the pace of change in the Ubud area. Open until about 11 or 11:30.

Ary's Warung Jalan Raya. A Chic, but relaxed restaurant and bar with excellent recorded music and highly aesthetic surroundings. Late dining until about midnight. Drinking until 1. An excellent place for an intimate little dinner, or a group party upstairs. You will see the most glamourous Ubudians here in full regalia, but the atmosphere is not snobbish, and you needn't get dressed up to feel comfortable.

Beggard's Bush Campuhan. This venerable institution was founded by the illustrious Victor Mason, its erstwhile publican, and one of Bali's most colourful living characters. It flourished for years as the only true British Pub in Bali, and the headquarters of the Bali Hash, the Bali Bird Walks, and a whole passel of eccentric and fascinating regulars. Now, under new ownership and management, "The Bush" is closed for renovation, and sorely missed. Stay tuned for news of its re-opening.

Café ARMA Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal . Pengosekan area. A rather elegant, large restaurant with live music on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 o'clock, featuring Gus Tilem on blues guitar. Sometimes called the "Ubud Millionaire's Club", it is frequented at times by a sophisticated, but affable set of local figures, including Agung Rai himself. The Ubud Mountain Bike Club (a group of Balinese men who are some of the most distinguished members of Ubud's 30-something generation), usually dines here on Thursdays, too. The friendly and knowledgeable chef, Agung Putra Dalem, is extremely talented, and produces fine Italian and Indonesian food from newly built kitchens which boast a first-rate bakery and authentic pizza ovens. Good wine. Great apple pie and breads. Super place for a big party or a "last-night-in-Ubud" dinner.

Café Exiles Pengosekan Road, Pengosekan Village. This is the place to be on Saturday night, and sometimes on Wednesday, too. There's live music (blues, R&B, Funk) both nights. The only place in Ubud that really jams. An egalitarian atmosphere encourages lively discussions and debates, and energetic dancing, with participants of all ages and nationalities. Audience/performer distinctions blur, as locals and visitors get in on the act, doing cameo vocal performances, or picking up an instrument to join in. A solid local crowd is augmented by visiting expats from glamourous enclaves in Seminyak and Sanur, plus a strong showing of Balinese and Javanese patrons from the intellectual and artistic set, who come up from Denpasar and elsewhere for the night.

Sai-Sai Bar Monkey Forest Road. This is the number one hangout for young local and visitors alike. Live music almost every night (pop or traditional bamboo gamelan). Big screen TV, Movies. Pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. A "barbecue" atmosphere in the back. Good, cold beers and a wild range of cocktails. The owners are two brothers, Gung Nik and Gung Landung, who both are extremely personable and charming. Gung Nik is a fanatic when it comes to antique motorcycles, and Gung Landung is a popular goalkeeper fo local football teams.

Putra Bar Monkey Forest Road. Live music "jam sessions" Monday - Saturday, 9 - 11 p.m., with jazz and latin music on Monday and Thursday, A favourite watering hole for locals and visitors, with a relaxed, unpretentious ambience. It's nice to sit at the streetside tables and watch the world go past. Gung Oka, who manages the place is one of the friendliest guys in town, and he speaks excellent English.

The Chedi In the Chedi Hotel, a few kilometres north of Sayan Village. On Friday nights David Ades, an absolutely outstanding saxophonist plays. You can have a really elegant dinner here, where the presentation, the service and the wine list are all truly superb.

Jazz Café Jalan Sukma 2, Tebesaya, in the East part of Ubud, near the main cremation ground. Emphasis on blues and jazz guitar. Agung Wiryawan, the owner, is a skilful guitarist himself and has an extensive collection of recorded music. Happy hour with discounted beer from 5 - 8. Live music some Tuesday and Fridays from about 9 p.m., with local and visiting musicians, The owner encourages talented musicians who happen to be in Ubud to make cameo performances here during evening jam sessions. (Tel 976594).

Studio 22k Jalan Raya, Tebesaya. A tiny, elegant little bar in from of Oka Kartini's bungalows. Dame Oka Katini and her handsome sons hold court here, amid antique woodcarvings and exotic gardens. They pour excellent cocktails, serve good wine, and occasionally host little dinners for friends old and new. The music system is excellent, and so are the sounds that emanate from it, selected by Buana, Dame Oka's gregarious son, who also runs the jewellery shop behind the bar, where he sells a bast collection of original designs by himself and his eccentric European collaborators.

Bali Buddha Café Across the lane from the main post office. Celtic music on Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., followed by poetry readings.


Numerous cafes and bars show recently released movies on big screen televisions, and there is no charge to watch. Casa Luna tends to choose films of higher intellectual content, as well as quality films for children and families (Tel - 976283). Times for some of the locations are as follows: Casa Luna (Jalan Raya) 7:00 with a second film following around 9:00. Sai-Sai Bar (Monkey Forest Road) 7:00 Putra Bar (Monkey Forest Road) 7:00 and 9:00 Bamboo Restaurant (Jalan Dewi Sita) 9:00. Do Drop Inn ( Behind the Football Field) 8:00, Coconut Café (Jalan Suweta) 8:00, Café Yogyakarta (Monkey Forest Road) 7:00.

Temple Ceremonies

The odalans or temple anniversaries in Ubud and the surrounding area last well into the wee hours, with dance and music performances, lontar readings, socializing, food and gambling. Perhaps this could considered "nighlife". There's no alcohol, and you must dress strictly adat and behave yourself, though. Check the calendar of events within these pages for dates.

Banjar "Bars"

Different banjars in and around Ubud periodically hold "bars", at their wantilans or bale banjars (village halls), usually to raise funds for a temple restoration, a gamelan orchestra or some such worthy cause. These all-out parties are the only occasion when a discotheque is allowed in Ubud, and the music and dancing can get very lively, and go very late at night. The most famous "bar" is on New Year's Eve in the centre of Ubud, which generally lasts until at least four in the morning. Others can be discovered by watching for the large signs and decorations in front of the bale banjars which herald such event. They sometimes last for several consecutive nights. Foreigners are extremely welcome, and will have no shortage of dance partners.

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