The Ubud Monkey Forest is located at Padangtegal village which nowadays is part of Ubud. This forest is the most popular tourist attraction in the cultural village of Ubud.
Packed tourist busses from the south of Bali daily to pay a visit to this sacred monkey forest sanctuary. And while some can have a good time some other travelers vow never to return again.
This patch of forest (10ha) is inhabited by 4 large groups of crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis). As the name suggests they should be eating crab all day but since there’s no beach their diet mainly consists of fruits, seeds, plants, flowers and occasionally bird eggs, lizards, frogs, and bird chicks.
It is also home to the 3 interesting temples: the Pura Penjapati, the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal Temple, a Holy Spring Bathing Temple. And not to forget 115 species of trees.
The temples at the Monkey Forest
At the Pura Penjapati Temple complex, you’ll find a graveyard. Here the recently deceased are buried while waiting for the appropriate days or funding for the cremation. In front of this cremation temple, you’ll see many statues of Rangda the Witch. She is also known as the ‘Goddess of Death’.
Even more interesting is the Pura Agung Padangtegal Temple southwest of the forest. This temple is the ‘High Temple of the Dead’ of which every Balinese village has one. The turtle at the entrance is called ‘Bedawang’ and represents the underworld. At the inner temple, you can see even more statues of the evil witch Rangda. The gate of this temple is only open during ceremonies.
Once you walk towards the middle of the forest you’ll run into the huge banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis). Here you can descend a flight of stairs and cross a cool-looking stone bridge towered by another large banyan tree. Here you’ll end up at an old carp pool and the mystical Holy Spring Bathing Temple.
Meet the Sacred Monkeys
From here it’s hard to imagine that most tourists come here wasting their time feeding aggressive long-tailed macaques.
The juvenile and infant monkeys look very cute to us. However, the Hindu Balinese consider every macaque sacred and should be left alone. Monkeys play an important role in the story of the Ramayana. In this story, the monkey General Hanoman saves princess Sita from the hands of the evil king Rawana.
Just outside the entrance to the Ubud Monkey Forest street is lined with tourist shops and banana vendors. You can buy some bananas and feed the monkeys even though they are already obese by the trucks of food brought by the hordes of tourists.
Since these macaques have no predators in this nature reserve and have adjusted to humans they can get very aggressive when they don’t get what they want. They can become very territorial when tourists play with their young. Remember they will not hesitate to attack you.
Note of Caution
Moreover, the most overlooked fact is that these macaques are easy carriers of various diseases such as Rabies, Tetanus and Herpes B virus which attacks the central nervous system resulting in neurological dysfunction or death. A scratch, a bite or monkey saliva can result in a miserable holiday.
Rabies is widespread on Bali (something the Government tries to keep out of the press as much as possible) probably because the Balinese believe their monkeys to be sacred and they believe dogs to ward off evil spirits.
Therefore when you visit the Monkey Forest come prepared. Leave your jewelry at the hotel, close your bags, and have your vaccinations done at home.
The best thing to do in this forest is to admire the temple structures, soak up the special atmosphere and ignore the monkeys.
Open daily 8.30 am – 6 pm, entrance fee Rp 20.000