Which is better, Ubud or Sanur

When it comes to planning a trip to the island of Bali Indonesia, a dilemma that travellers often face is where to stay. Faced with many great places in Bali such as Kuta, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Uluwatu, Amed, Ubud or Sanur can become confusing and overwhelming.

Two of the most popular destinations in Bali are Ubud and Sanur. Each place has its own unique charm and attractions, making it challenging to choose between the two.

In this article, we will explore the highlights of Ubud and Sanur, compare their key features, and help you decide which destination suits your stay in Bali.

Cultural highlights of Ubud

Bali, known as the “Island of the Gods,” offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors. Ubud, located in the central part of the island, and Sanur, situated on the southeastern coast, are two distinct regions that showcase different aspects of Balinese culture and lifestyle.

While Ubud is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and serene natural beauty, Sanur entices couples and families with its tranquil beaches and laid-back atmosphere. Sanur and Ubud both offer a Bali holiday full of sightseeing.

Overview of Ubud

Ubud, often considered the cultural heart of Bali, is a town nestled among lush green rice terraces and dense forests. It is famous for its traditional arts and crafts, ancient temples, and spiritual retreats.

The town attracts artists, yogis, and wellness enthusiasts from around the world who seek inspiration and rejuvenation in its serene surroundings of rice paddies and the hills of Ubud.

Cultural Attractions

Ubud is home to numerous art galleries, museums, and traditional Balinese dance performances.

The Ubud Palace, also known as Puri Saren Agung, showcases the region’s architectural grandeur and serves as a venue for cultural events and performances such as Kecak Fire Dance, Legong Dances and the Ramayana Ballet.

The nearby ARMA Museum, Puri Lukisan Museum and Neka Art Museum display a vast collection of Balinese and Indonesian artworks, providing insights into the local art scene on your holiday in Bali.

Natural Beauty

Many travellers, flock to Ubud’s natural beauty and rice terraces. The terraced rice fields, such as Tegalalang and Campuhan Ridge, offer breathtaking vistas and excellent hiking opportunities.

Additionally, the lush Monkey Forest is a must-visit, where visitors can observe playful macaques in their natural habitat while exploring ancient temples hidden within the forest. Head to Sayan Point restaurant, which overlooks the rice terraces and river.

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Yoga and Wellness Retreats

Ubud has gained international recognition as a hub for yoga and wellness retreats. With its spiritual ambience and abundant healing energy, the town attracts yoga practitioners, meditation enthusiasts, and those seeking holistic wellness experiences.

Various retreat centres and studios offer a wide range of classes, workshops, and treatments for the rejuvenation of the mind, body, and soul.


Ubud Monkey Forest

One of the most popular attractions in Ubud is the Ubud Monkey Forest, a sacred sanctuary housing around 700 Balinese long-tailed monkeys.

Monkeys having fun and climbing on statues at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud Indonesia
The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

Visitors can stroll through the lush forest, interact with the playful monkeys, and admire ancient temples nestled within the area. It’s a unique experience that offers a glimpse into the harmonious coexistence of nature and spirituality in Ubud.

Just be aware that the monkeys can sometimes become aggressive, so enjoy watching them, but it is recommended that you keep your distance. Book your visit today.

Exploring Sanur

Situated on Bali’s southeastern coast, Sanur presents a different side of the island. Known for its pristine beaches and relaxed atmosphere, it offers a more laid-back experience compared to the bustling streets of Ubud.

Days in Sanur will be spent relaxing on the beach, taking a walk on the boardwalk, enjoying a day spa, calling in at a café, beach club or bar and just enjoying one of the most peaceful areas of Bali.

Sanur Beach and Water Activities

Sanur boasts a beautiful coastline with golden sandy beaches and calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and water activities.

People preparing to have fun with water sports at Sanur Beach
Having fun on Sanur Beach

The beach stretches several kilometres, providing ample space for sunbathing, beach sports, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk along the shore. Water sports enthusiasts can indulge in activities like snorkeling and diving, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Visit the Turtle Conservation Centre in Sanur

The Sindhu Dwarawati Turtle Conservation Centre is dedicated to the protection and conservation of sea turtles, particularly the green turtle, which is one of the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world.

The centre provides a safe environment for the turtles to hatch and grow before being released into the ocean. There are also opportunities to participate in turtle releases and watch the newly hatched turtles make their way to the ocean. The centre is located right on the beach and can access straight off the beach path.

Serene Atmosphere

Unlike the vibrant energy of Ubud, Sanur exudes a serene and tranquil ambience. The town has managed to maintain a more traditional and relaxed feel, attracting travellers who seek a slower pace of life.

The absence of hectic crowds and traffic makes it an ideal destination for those yearning for peaceful solitude. You will not find a pumping nightlife in Sanur, you will find live music on Jalan Danau Tamblingan Street and along the beach at beach resorts.  

Local Markets and Cuisine

Sanur offers a delightful culinary scene with an abundance of local eateries and international restaurants.

Traditional Bali satay sticks with rice

The night market, known as Pasar Sindhu, is a must-visit for food lovers, offering a wide array of traditional Balinese dishes and street food delights. Exploring the market is a culinary adventure, where you can savour the flavours of Bali and interact with the friendly locals.

If you want great restaurants and bars, relaxing afternoons and evenings with multiple dining options, Sanur is one of the best areas around the island.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Sanur is not just about beaches; it also has its fair share of historical and cultural sites. Pura Blanjong, a small Balinese temple dating back to the 10th century, is known for its ancient inscriptions and stone pillars.

The nearby Le Mayeur Museum showcases the artworks of the Belgian painter Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur, providing insights into his life and his love for Bali.

Comparing Ubud and Sanur

Now that we have explored the highlights of both Ubud and Sanur on Bali Island, let’s compare some key features to help you make an informed decision on whether you stay.

Location and Accessibility

Ubud’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of Bali. It is situated approximately an hour’s drive away from the international airport, allowing for easy access.

Houses, shops, villas and powerlines in Ubud Bali
Exploring the main area of Ubud

On the other hand, Sanur’s proximity to the airport makes it a convenient choice for those seeking a quick beach getaway without venturing too far.

Both these locations are excellent to explore the island, you can take a customizable day trip to many to explore Bali. You can easily see the Gate of Heaven, and take a day trip to Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan, Mt Batur, Legian, Tirta Empul, Seminyak and Canggu just to name a few. Exploring is a great way to spend the day seeing the best places in Bali.

Lifestyle and Atmosphere

Ubud’s cultural and artistic vibes, coupled with its tranquil surroundings, attract those who appreciate a more Bohemian and introspective lifestyle in beautiful Bali. It is a place to immerse oneself in spirituality, art, and wellness.

Sanur, with its laid-back atmosphere and pristine beaches on the coast of Bali, appeals to those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation in a more casual and beach-oriented setting. Sanur is great for couples looking for romance and families looking for a safe beach.

Activities and Attractions

Ubud offers a plethora of cultural, artistic, and natural attractions. It is a hub for art galleries, museums, traditional performances, and yoga retreats. Nature enthusiasts can explore the stunning rice terraces, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

Sanur, on the other hand, caters to beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts, with its beautiful coastline, white sand and various water activities. It also offers a glimpse into Bali’s history and heritage through its temples and museums.

A Place to stay

Both Ubud or Sanur offer a wide range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets.

A luxury resort in Sanur Indonesia
You will easily find amazing places to stay in Bali

Ubud provides a variety of choices, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels nestled amidst rice fields to budget-friendly guesthouses and homestays in the town centre. Sanur, being a beach destination, offers a mix of beachfront resorts, villas mid-range hotels, and budget-friendly accommodations. Whether you prefer a tranquil jungle retreat or a beachfront oasis, both destinations have something to offer.

Choosing between Ubud or Sanur

Now that we have compared the key features of Ubud and Sanur, how do you decide which one is better for you? Here are a few factors to consider:

Preferences and Interests

If you are interested in immersing yourself in Balinese culture, exploring ancient temples, and indulging in art and wellness activities, Ubud would be an ideal choice. On the other hand, if you are more inclined towards beach relaxation, water activities, and a laid-back atmosphere, Sanur would be more suitable.

Budget Considerations

Consider your budget when making a decision. While both destinations offer a range of accommodations catering to different budgets, prices may vary. Ubud’s popularity as a tourist hotspot might make it slightly more expensive compared to Sanur, which has a more relaxed and local vibe.

Duration of Stay

The duration of your stay also plays a role. If you have limited time and want to experience the cultural richness and natural beauty of Bali, a few days in Ubud would allow you to explore its highlights.

Rice fields in Ubud Indonesia

However, if you are looking for a longer seaside beach getaway and are planning to spend time combining beach relaxation with day trips to other parts of Bali, Sanur offers a convenient base.

Family-Friendly or Solo Travel

If you are travelling with a family or seeking a family-friendly destination, Sanur might be a better choice in Bali for families due to its calm beaches and various water activities suitable for children. On the other hand, solo travellers or those seeking a more introspective and spiritual experience might find Ubud more appealing and want to stay there on a trip to Bali.

Neither destination is a hotspot for nightlife in Bali, so if your itinerary includes hitting up some nightclubs you’re better off in Kuta than Ubud or Sanur

Ubud to Sanur and vice versa

After you decide whether you stay in Sanur or Stay in Ubud there is no reason you cannot take a day trip to either.

Ubud or Sanur, one for the beaches like this one, one for culture and heritage
Byrds Nest Beach Club in Sanur

The journey time between both destinations can vary depending on the island’s traffic conditions and the chosen mode of transportation. Bali is home to some notoriously packed roads in South Bali and on average, it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour by car, 7.

In conclusion, both Ubud and Sanur offer unique experiences on your trip to Bali that cater to different interests and preferences. Ubud showcases Bali’s cultural heritage, natural beauty, and spiritual retreats, while the beach in Sanur offers tranquil beaches, water activities, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Consider your interests, budget, and the type of experience you seek to make an informed decision. Whichever destination you choose, Bali’s charm and hospitality are sure to create lasting memories.

For more accommodation options in Sanur Bali, click through to our places to stay page or search Booking.com Agoda or Luxury Escapes.

The best time to visit Ubud or Sanur

The best time to visit Sanur and other spots in Bali, Indonesia, is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the weather is generally sunny with low humidity, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as walking, swimming, snorkelling, and lying by the pool.

April and October shoulder seasons can also be good times to visit Sanur, as the weather is still pleasant but with fewer crowds. Pack your suitcase and book your flights for one of the best periods to visit attractions such as Bali Zoo, Waterbom and the Monkey Forest.

However, if you don’t mind the occasional rain shower, visiting Sanur during the wet season from October to March can also have advantages. The lush greenery and cooler temperatures can be refreshing, but ensure you have a waterproof bag and umbrella for your outings in case of a downpour.

It’s worth noting that Bali is a popular tourist destination, and the peak season for tourism is from June to August. Planning your visit outside these months is best if you prefer to avoid crowds and higher prices.


  1. Which destination is more suitable for nature lovers?
    • Ubud is perfect for nature lovers with its stunning rice terraces, lush forests, and beautiful hiking trails.
  2. Are there any water sports activities available in Ubud?
    • While Ubud is known for its cultural and natural attractions, it doesn’t offer water sports activities. Sanur is better for water activities like snorkelling, diving, and paddleboarding.
  3. Can I find luxury accommodations in Sanur?
  4. Is it easy to get around both places without a car?
    • Ubud and Sanur have good transportation options, including taxis, private drivers, and scooter rentals. Ubud’s town centre is easily explored on foot.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post about Sanur Bali! We hope you found it informative and helpful when planning your trip to this beautiful region. If you’re looking for more information about things to do in Sanur, recommendations for places to eat, or where to go from Sanur, be sure to check out our website.

Our team is dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date and accurate information to make your holiday planning, from choosing hotels on and off the beach to scooter rental, as smooth as possible. Once again, thank you for reading, and we hope our articles continue to be a valuable resource for your travel plans.

More Bali and Sanur inspiration for your holiday

Things to do in Sanur

Things to do in Sanur and its content is created by two Australians who have been to Sanur many times. We have enjoyed food and drink on the beach, we have sipped coffee on Jalan Danau Tamblingan. We have stayed in homestays and hotels in Sanur and made day trips to see the best of Bali. Not only that, but we aim to keep the information fresh by continuing to visit Sanur and getting first-hand information off our Balinese friends.

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