Let me guess, you think monkeys are really cute don’t you?
What about when they are baring their teeth and holding you hostage by gripping the end of your dress? Not so much. This is what happened to me and trust me, it was not cute. When I tried to remain calm, go to my happy place in my head and walk away slowly, the monkey held on tighter and then proceeded to stuff my dress into its mouth. Luckily for me, he did not seem to like the taste of a red polka-dot dress and eventually let go. I have to admit, when I told this story to my friends at home they nearly wet themselves laughing. But at the time I thought I was on a trajectory towards rabies-induced foaming-at-the-mouth madness (I didn’t have my vaccination). But now I can laugh about it, the cheeky monkey…
Despite that unpleasant little episode, the rest of my experience was great and the Monkey Forest in Ubud is a lovely place to visit on your travels in Bali.
Other Bali blogs you may be interested in:
- Bali Travel Guide: Jungle Fish Beach Club, Ubud
- Hidden Bali: Banyumala Waterfall, north of Ubud
- Bali Travel Diary: My Trip in 28 seconds
- Area Travel Guide: Canggu, Bali
What is the Monkey Forest?
The Sacred Monkey Forest is home to around 900 Balinese long-tailed Macaques and 186 species of tree, as well as a Hindu Temple. The forest demonstrates that humans can coexist with animals, as many festivals are still held in the grounds.
Entering the monkey forest is like entering an enchanted forest and the pathways wind their way into its heart. My favourite part was the Holy Spring Temple where there is a big old wise tree, which looks like it could be thousands of years old and a bridge with dragons at its entrance that you walk over. Temples situated around the forest date from the middle of the 14th century. Monkeys and its mythology play an important part in Balinese art tradition, often appearing in dances such as the Kecak and Ramayana dance, where it is a prominent figure.
The monkeys are so mischievous and have fun monkeying around, running after each other, playing and falling off the trees like children, whilst the older ones lounge around like humans and munch on fruit. It really is magical to see, but I have to admit, I was more intimidated by them than I thought I would be. I think it is because they move to quickly and seem so impulsive and inquisitive. Plus the fact that they could carry rabies, so you do not want to be bitten by one, which I saw happen when I was there.
There are plenty of day tours which include the Monkey Forest as a stop, but my friend and I just walked there from our hostel and paid the entrance fee, which was only 80,000 IDR. It is very close to the centre of town, so easily walkable.
To help make your trip to the forest fun and safe, I have a list of tips below.
Tips for visiting the monkey forest in Ubud
- I would recommend that you have the rabies vaccine if you are travelling to Bali. I didn’t because I wasn’t there for that long, but I was a bit jumpy when I was surrounded by monkeys
- Do not walk around eating food, those monkeys get serious food envy and if you catch them when they are hangry and wont share your food then there may be trouble
- If, unlike Joey, you do share food then don’t feed the monkeys as all of a sudden you will have the whole jungle surrounding you
- Don’t look the monkeys in the eyes as they can see this as confrontation
- I would be very careful if you walking around holding your camera and they are very curious and might steal it!
- Make sure your bag is completely zipped up as they are curious and may want to look inside
- Don’t wear your sunglasses on top of your head
- In order to avoid a confrontation with a monkey like I experienced, I would suggest not wearing long clothing such as maxi skirts or dresses which the monkeys can grab a hold of – it is also at their eye-level
- Also, people tend to crouch down in order to take photographs of the monkeys and block the path. You are told to stick to the paths and so an orderly queue then forms behind them and people are standing still and I think this is the reason the monkey took a disliking to me. Because I was standing still and not moving and he probably got territorial. So don’t be that person who blocks the path, stand out of people’s way, which brings me onto my next point…
- If you encounter a queue formed by one of these people and you are surrounded by monkeys then just be rude and walk around them/in front of their photos, that’ll teach them
- If a monkey comes up to you and grabs you like it did me then I would suggest that you try and move away slowly and not looking it in the eye
- There is an area where I saw people could sit and the monkeys would climb onto you, but I would not recommend this, because I saw one sitting on a girl who had braids with beads in the ends. The monkey picked one up and put it in its mouth and the girl tried to pull it away and the monkey bit her hand.
The monkey temple is open every day from 8:30am until 6pm.
Tickets cost 80,000 IDR for adults and 60,000 IDR for a child.
If you are heading to Bali then visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud is an absolute must. It is such a memorable experience and one of my best memories from Bali – and one of the funniest stories.