We wind up most trips to Bali by spending a few days in Ubud, the island's cultural capital. We'll have been scuba diving out in the boondocks, so while we outgas we like to get a little more urban, and Ubud fits that bill. Its business is tourism, just as Kuta's is, but here it's cultural tourism, with some of Bali's best performing arts troupes playing here nightly.
The action centers on Monkey Forest Road from the central market (a warren of shops and stalls occupying a city block at the top of Monkey Forest, on down to the Monkey Forest itself. Cendana Hotel is about a 15 minute stroll from the marketplace, but it's on a flag log. So it's not even visible from the road--just a sign and a driveway.
The resort itself is next to a large rice paddy. That's what you see when you go out on your room's veranda in the morning, then walk farther to the resort's restaurant where you get your free breakfast.
The rooms are spacious, with good AC and western toilets, but otherwise a traditional Balinese accommodation--no TV, no glass windows yada yada. The lushly landscaped grounds include a deep freshwater pool and a mineral water pool. There's an Internet cafe for guests by the reception area, but also free WIFI.
All the resorts will arrange tours and drivers for you, but you'll pay extra for the convenience. For our last four visits we've used an independent driver/guide named Wayan Borneo (www.wayanborneo.blogspot.com), who will pick you up at the airport and take you to Cendana, and then take you anywhere on the island you like on day trips.
We use him because he knows where the less touristy attractions are--the temples not full of other Westerners and self-appointed tour guides, the rice paddies not obscured with street vendors, the night markets locals go to for recreation. He can also take you to his village and show you what real, day to day village life is like in Bali today.
His informal taxi stand is on Monkey Forest road across from the entry to Cendana.
The bottom line for Cendana is that it's ideal for travelers who want Bali as real as it gets while still hanging on to AC and Western toilets. We've stayed in fancier places, such as Pertiwi down the road, which is terrific but not, we felt, worth the extra money from Cendana's midprice range (i.e. about what Motel 6 costs here in major market areas). We've also stayed in cheaper fan rooms elsewhere, but I couldn't get to sleep.
So for cultural tourists I think Cendana is an ideal balance.
One extra is that it's just a few doors south of a temple (pura) that offers night time performances under a roof--most performances are open air. So if it's raining, this becomes one of the few places where the show still goes on regardless of weather, and its an easy walk from Cendana.
Not far the other way is Cafe Wayan on the other side of the street. Here, like Cendana, you can get seating in a garden setting far from the noise of Monkey Forest Road. And it offers a
Sunday buffet with lots of Balinese dishes, all labeled, giving you a chance to find out what you like and what it's called.
We were originally led to Cendana by the locally owned scuba diving liveaboard operator we use, Grand Komodo Tours ( http://www.komodoalordive.com/ ). They're a local outfit, and their recommendation of Cendana is another sign of the advantages of getting to know local businesses and using their recommendations.
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- Also Known As:
- Cendana Hotel Ubud
- Cendana Resort Ubud
- Cendana Resort And Spa Ubud, Bali