The Bali Monkey Forest in Ubud is one of the biggest attractions in this part of Bali. It was originally founded as a sanctuary for the monkeys that live in the area, but has since become a major tourist attraction. It is a sacred place, and so should be treated with respect by those who visit it. It is also an active temple, where people still come to meditate and worship, so take that also into consideration when planning your trip. Though you will have free range of the grounds, there are people working and meditating here.
Unlike in a zoo, where the monkeys are behind glass or bars, the monkeys that live at the monkey forest in Ubud are out in the open and are accustomed to interacting with visitors. There is even a stand outside selling fruit that you can use to attract the attention of the monkeys once you have entered the temple area. You don’t have to buy a piece of fruit, but if you want the experience of really getting up close and personal with the monkeys, it might be worth the extra penny. Just so you know some signs say it is not allowed.
Keep in mind that these monkeys are mischievous and they are known for stealing. They will steal hats, food, and even wallets if you are not paying attention. While some might find this charming (and it usually is), you do not want to be stranded in Bali without your wallet, so keep a handle on your personal items so the monkeys don’t grab them.
Even if you do not tempt the monkeys with fruit, you are still liable to see monkeys running around, playing with each other, climbing trees, and interacting with the other visitors. It is important to remember that this is not a petting zoo and that the animals, though familiar with humans, are still wild animals; very intelligent wild animals, but animals nonetheless. Many people leave disappointed because they could not get a monkey to sit on their shoulder or pose for a photo with them.
If you are wary of interacting with the monkeys but still want to see them, when you visit, do not bring any food along with you and make sure your pockets are empty. This will prevent the more inquisitive monkeys from paying you any attention and you will still get to observe them.
Don’t forget the sanctuary is more than just monkeys. You’ll also find beautiful sculptures and other carvings. The sanctuary also has nice buildings that blend well in the natural environment. It was one of my favorite spots in Ubud and Bali is one of the area’s I enjoyed a lot when traveling in Southeast Asia.
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