Every so often, a backpacker will settle into a destination and think "wow, I wish I could stay here longer". Luckily, we only had a one way ticket into Indonesia, so when we arrived in Ubud we knew right away this is where we would be spending our month before our visa kicked us out of this beautiful country.
Ubud is a very popular place for backpackers, expats, digital nomads, and family vacations. There is no beach, but it is the cultural centre of Bali, oh - and there are TONS of amazing vegan restaurants.
Finding a villa in Ubud for us to stay for 24 nights was intimidating, at first. We read blogs, forums, and talked to expats, and the general consensus was: just ask around, and hopefully you'll get lucky.
After our experience of villa hunting, we couldn't give better advice: just ask.
We rented a scooter for 50,000 rupiah ($5) and headed out for Penestanan area near Ubud centre, as we heard this was a nice area with many villas mixed in the rice paddies, and Alchemy was located nearby. If coming from the CoCo Supermarket on Haneman Road, head up until the street ends at Ubud St. Turn left (weaving through traffic as it is technically a one-way street) and head all the way down until you pass a beautiful temple on your right, then on your left will be a steep hill. Take this sharp left turn and head up the hill, and you're now in Penestanan.
Our morning view from the front door of our villa
We started by turning down random narrow streets through the rice paddies and looking for "Villa For Rent" signs. If we saw a sign, we would knock on the door to see if it was available. If the villa is reserved, ask the owner if they know anybody who is renting a villa, and go and check theirs out.
We also took a look at the notice boards outside of Bali Buda and Bintang Supermarket, and if the advertisement had an email address on it, we asked if their villa was available (we didn't have a phone).
We found the Balinese locals in Penestanan to be extremely helpful, all of those we asked called around to see if any villas were available, and many drove with us to show us their friend's properties.
Small roads weave between rice fields
Most of the places we were shown were in the 10-15 million rupiah per month range ($1000-1500), which was way out of our budget. We felt like we would be out of luck, so after we ate a delicious meal at Alchemy, we asked the cashier if he knew if any rentals were for sale. He wrote down our email address, and sure enough, 30 minutes later he told us to swing by the restaurant and he would show us a villa that was available. We didn't end up choosing that villa, but this goes to show you that the best thing you can do is ask, then you shall receive!
One of the final villas we looked at was down twists and turns of a narrow cement path through rice fields (it was quite terrifying to drive down, at first). We found it by speaking with a local, who then called his friend, drove with us to the villa, where we then met the owner, Ketut.
Make sure you don't fall off the side of the skinny road!
The place was absolutely gorgeous, it has a full outdoor kitchen, seating area, pool, and is brand new. No A/C, though, which was okay with us since we are outside all day anyways.
We spoke with Ketut and negotiated to get our villa for 8 million rupiah per month ($800), and since we were only staying for 24 nights, the total cost for us was 6.4 million rupiah ($640). We also managed to rent Ketut's cousin's scooter for $60 over the 24 days, which is a pretty good deal.
I could get used waking up to this every morning.
Simple, clean, and everything we need.
Balinese archetecture and stunning foliage make this place truly special
We love it here and it will be VERY hard to leave. Especially when the rent here is almost half of what we pay back in Ottawa.
So, after our experiences hunting for a villa near Ubud, all we can advise is ask around and eventually you will find your Balinese paradise.