Lying in the misty green uplands of Bali is one of the most famous forests in the world: the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Ubud. Home to 600 Balinese monkeys and more than 12 hectares of native flora, the forest is one of the gems of Indonesia.

Here’s everything you should know before you go!

The History Of The Monkey Forest

You will find the Sacred Monkey Forest in the quaint village of Padangtegal, located in Bali’s marvelous uplands. Although tourists come from all over the world to walk through the mystical forest and interact with the monkeys, the grounds hold much spiritual importance for the residents of Padangtegal.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

Within the forest are three temples reserved for Balinese traditions and prayer: the Main Temple, the Cremation Temple, and the Holy Spring Temple. Visitors are welcome to admire the magnificent structures, which have been standing since the 14th century.

In the Main Temple, locals worship the god Shiva. The second temple is known as the Cremation Temple, where locals pray to Lord Brahma Prajapati. In the third temple, the Holy Spring Temple, worshippers pray to the goddess Gangga. There is a sacred pool located outside this temple, where it is said to be good luck to toss your coins into the water.

Around the forest, you will notice several monkey statues that are also of spiritual significance to the Balinese people. They represent the energy surrounding the temples and their powers. Although the temples are fascinating landmarks and hold much importance to the residents of Padangtegal, most foreigners come to the forest hoping to get up close and personal with some of the 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques that call the woodland home. Nature-lovers will also be thrilled to learn that the forest is home to 186 species of trees, some of them standing for more than a century.

Aside from being a sacred and spiritual place for the village people, the Monkey Forest is a great asset to the local tourism industry. The forest also acts as a conservation and education center, where the wildlife is protected.

Between the flourishing shady trees, the historic temples, the troops of curious monkeys and the abundance of fresh air, the Monkey Forest of Ubud remains one of the most popular locations on the island of Bali.

What You Need To Know Before You Go Inside

Part of what makes the Monkey Forest so alluring is that it’s one of the few ethical animal experiences in Southeast Asia. The monkeys are fed a diet of sweet potatoes, seasonal fruit, and papaya leaves. They’re also free to roam in their natural habitat, and witnessing it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Before you enter the forest, there are just a few things to be aware of.

As soon as you set foot in the forest, you’ll understand that this is no zoo; you are in the monkeys’ territory. They move between the trees and paths of the forest at their own will and you’ll often find them sitting on walls. This means that they do sometimes jump on visitors. Even though in most cases they won’t go near you unless you bring in food, they are wild animals and therefore unpredictable.

There are forest staff members around to offer assistance if you need help, but they’re not always able to see everything that goes on throughout the windy trails of the forest. The best thing to do if a monkey jumps on you is to stay calm and slowly walk away.

Monkeys are attracted to plastic bags, food, and drink bottles and aren’t afraid to steal those items right out of your hands. They’ve also been known to open bags and look through pockets, so it’s best to leave anything of value outside the forest.

 

Many visitors love to interact with the monkeys, but it’s important not to irritate them in any way as irritated monkeys do bite. It’s also not advisable to feed them, mostly because they’re already fed but also because if you do bring any food with you, you’ll most likely be swarmed.

There is a Monkey Forest First Aid Center on the grounds which is where visitors go in the event that they are bitten. According to the official Monkey Forest website, the monkeys do not have rabies, so bites are treated with antiseptic cream and alcohol.

It’s best to avoid eye contact with the monkeys as they can interpret this as a sign of aggression. As a safety precaution, it’s also a good idea to avoid going near baby monkeys as their mothers can become defensive.

For the admission price of 80,000 Indonesian Rupiah (about $6 USD), the Monkey Forest of Ubud is well worth visiting. Be sure to follow the safety guidelines (outlined here and on the official website) and you’ll have a unique and memorable experience.