This past summer I had the pleasure to visit amazing Bali for a week long vacation. The first thing I did after I checked into the hotel was head down to the Ubud Monkey Forest. I had read about this monkey sanctuary forest in various travel articles and I couldn’t wait to go experience it for myself. I ended up enjoying it so much that I decided to go back the next day and spend some more time with my new friends.
The monkey forest is open from 8:30am-6:00pm and the forest closes exactly on time, so make sure to go early. The entrance fee is 40,000 IDR which equals to $4 USD for adults. The monkey forest is located in the southern part of Ubud, just a few blocks away from the main downtown streets. If you are staying in a beach city like Kuta, it takes about an hour drive to get to the monkey forest, but it is definitely worth making a day trip out of it.
Once you approach the forest you will notice monkeys roaming around freely on the streets and parking lots, even trying to snatch souvenirs from the local vendors set up outside. The forest doesn’t have fences around so the monkeys can technically come and go as they wish, however most of them stay in the designated areas because the park keepers provide housing and food like sweet potatoes and various fruits.
When you enter the monkey forest you will instantly feel like you just stepped into a Planet Of The Apes movie. The forest has multiple trails with beautifully carved statues, bridges, rivers, and even a monkey cemetery. The forest also has a Balinese temple where a ceremony take place every few hours. The whole sanctuary can be walked through in about 30 minutes if you’re very brisk and short on time, but you can also easily spend a few hours there if you’re watching a ceremony and taking some really awesome pictures.
The trees that make up this forest are made of long, hanging branches that the monkeys use to move around. All together this sanctuary forest houses around 600 monkeys. In some parts of the forest you might see 10 little monkey babies hanging in the trees and it will melt your heart, they are the cutest! In other parts of the forest you might see something not so cute.
Inside the monkey forest you can also purchase bananas to feed the little guys but be cautious: WHAT MONKEY SEES, MONKEY TAKES. We had purchased a pack of bananas the second day of our entry. The vendor suggested for us to hide them into our scooter helmets which worked great…until one of the monkeys spotted the bananas from a tree top. Within seconds he had Tarzaned his way down, called upon his friends and we were swarmed by a monkey gang. Chaos broke out and we had monkeys jumping all over us, stealing the bananas faster than lightning, trying to stuff their mouths and grab bananas with every limb, all at once. But in all fairness, we knew this was going to happen once we bought the bananas and the monkeys were just doing what monkeys do best.
As scary as it might sound to get swarmed by a monkey gang, don’t let any of this discourage you from participating in feeding the monkeys. Overall, once the initial excitement and chaos ended, the monkeys were happy to just sit with (or on, mostly on) their new friends and enjoy a nice snack. When they were done, they gently came off and went on with their day.
Other than claiming their birthright of stealing bananas, the monkeys just hang out at the forest and usually leave people alone. Every direction you look, there are dozens of monkeys going about their day, whether that means playing in the trees, napping on some park benches, or grooming each other in the middle of a walkway. It was really fun to watch the babies play with each other as well as interact with their elders.
However, a quick search on the internet will pop up many terrifying stories of tourists getting attacked and bitten, so just remember to be courteous to the sanctuary and don’t mess with or disturb the monkeys because you are a guest in their home. I can vouch for this myself as we saw one tourist surprise a monkey by poking his back when the monkey wasn’t looking. The monkey was more than unhappy, and immediately retaliated by angrily running at the guy, hitting his feet, and chasing him through the entire park. Don’t be that guy.
If you happen to be planning a trip to Bali, make sure to head up to Ubud and visit Monkey Forest. If you use good judgement, it is a truly unique experience and one that will definitely leave you smiling.
Do you have any crazy experiences with the animal kingdom, perhaps you stuck your head in a lion’s mouth or went swimming with the sharks? If so, leave us a comment below.
Written by Laura Sausina