The Sacred Monkey Forest is located in central Ubud, Bali. It is an unbelievable place to get up close and personal with hundreds of monkeys in a natural environment.
I did a lot of research before heading to the Monkey Forest because some people said stay away, the monkeys are too aggressive and others were saying it’s the best place ever. I was a bit cautious because we had our 2-year-old daughter so I wanted to make sure her safety would not be jeopardized. So after reading many reviews and suggestions we bit the bullet and gave it a try and we were so glad we did. We had a wonderful experience and made some great memories.
The Sacred Monkey Forest is a sacred sanctuary set among a lush jungle forest in the middle of the village of Padangtegal, located on a main street in Ubud called Monkey Forest Road. It’s very inexpensive, only costing a few US dollars for admittance (50,000 Rupiah). It is considered a very spiritual place and there are three holy Hindu temples set within the Monkey Forest. It is a magical place with a mysterious exotic air.
There is so much beauty within the forest, from the natural lush jungle to the mossy covered concrete statues, and the streaming water that it is quite a sight even without the monkeys.
Of course the monkeys are the main attraction as there are over 700 of them that reside in the Monkey Forest.
We arrived at the Monkey Forest first thing in the morning as it is an extremely popular tourist spot and gets crowded quickly. Also this helped avoid the Bali heat. I highly recommend getting there early in the morning or late in the evening right before closing to avoid the chaos, it’s well worth it.
Prepare to be in awe at watching the monkeys interact with each other and with the humans. It is important to read and follow the rules so that you do not aggravate the monkeys or upset them. There are signs stating the rules in English and other languages, and believe me they are there for your safety. For example you are not to look at the monkeys directly in the eyes because it is a sign of aggression and they may attack you.
It is also important to keep all of your belongings tucked away because the monkeys will try to take anything they can from you, they are little thieves and are not afraid to jump on you to grab a phone from your hands or a bottle of water. It’s very amusing to watch tourists get mugged and seeing a monkey run off with a tube of chap stick or a cellphone with a selfie stick attached.
The monkeys range in ages from cute little babies to older monkeys. They are an absolute hoot to watch, everywhere you look you will see them playing, eating, jumping from trees, and just being mischievous.
If you so desire you can bring in bananas to feed the monkeys or they are available to purchase throughout the Forest, however, be careful because once they see the bananas in your hand they will be all over you to get them. The first bunch of bananas we pulled out were gone within 3 seconds. If you pull out just one banana at a time and hold it up you will be sure to have a monkey climb up you to get the banana and it will usually just hang out and chill on your shoulders while it enjoys the banana. My husband had monkeys on him everywhere we went, they really liked hanging out on him and they would climb and sit on his shoulders for so long it was cracking us up!
A word of caution to the ladies, do not wear a strapless shirt or dress to the Forest like I did because the monkeys will be climbing all over you and they will pull down your dress and you will be flashing the park if not careful. They liked to use my dress as a ladder so I always had to keep one arm free to hold it up!
If traveling with small children I would not advise to take a stroller in the Forest because there are some steep stairways and narrow walkways that you will want to explore. I saw some people with strollers which gives the monkeys a good area to jump on and play around on so if your kids are a bit skittish about the monkeys this might really freak them out, it’s better to hold onto the kids or pop them up on your shoulders for the best seat in the house.
Enjoy this unique and wonderful experience tucked away in a hidden sanctuary. Since it is a holy place be sure to be respectful of local customs and wear appropriate clothing or a sarong. Relax and if you feel uncomfortable or feel like a monkey is becoming aggressive just walk away and keep on walking. There are some guides who work there who help keep the peace when the monkeys get out of hand, but always remember that they are wild animals so take caution. And hold onto your belongings!