Bali’s sweltering heat and humidity makes for some not-so-cute travel moments and at times you may feel like you can’t escape it. But, past the Ubud Palace and nestled amongst the rice paddies lies a cool and hidden sanctuary unlike any other. It is this part of Bali that you will find the legendary and exotic Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a preserved jungle filled with thousands of cute and friendly Balinese monkeys.
If you’re traveling to Bali, you have no doubt heard that this should be one of your major tourist stops when visiting this part of Indonesia. After researching and eventually traveling to this unique and wild part of Ubud, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary to keep you safe, entertained and free from rabies (yup, that’s a thing to be concerned about-read on).
Directions and Admission
It’s pretty easy to get to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Simply find Jalan Monkey Forest (aka Monkey Forest Street) which is the main street that runs through Ubud. Take this all the way until you get to the Sacred Monkey Forest! Once you arrive, you will start to see a monkey and get SUPER excited. Go straight to the front desk so you can get your dose of monkey. 50,000 RP/per person and you’re in!
‘Cause who doesn’t wanna impress these little guys? Unfortunately, the staff won’t be too happy about your short shorts or midriff here. As a sanctuary filled with actual temples, be respectful of the local attire and make sure you are covered. Avoid spaghetti straps and wear a tank top or T-shirt. Cover your legs and wear a sarong, skirt or loose-fitting pants. And I’m pretty sure it goes without saying, but… leave your cute crop top for the Bali beach clubs.
Empty Your Pockets
You may have seen other guides telling you how hands-y these little guys can get. And you best believe it’s true! Luckily, we followed this advice and put all of our important belongings in our small backpack and put a small lock on the zipper. No joke, a monkey jumped on Kevin to break into our gear! He used his tiny, opposable fingers to try and open the zipper and, once he realized he wasn’t getting lucky, swung down Kevin’s arms to scamper away. Not before quickly sticking his hands in Kevin’s pockets to see if he could find a snack. So leave your sunglasses, bulky wallet, keys and other necessities at home unless you have a backpack and lock!
If you do bring a backpack with a lock (which I highly recommend), you’ll be able to bring all the appropriate monkey-safari gear: cameras. I brought my GoPro Hero 4, my Canon and my iPhone 6 plus. Kev manned the Canon while I switched between the GoPro and iPhone. I also think a selfie stick is necessary. If your camera has amazing zoom capabilities, then you are safe. However the selfie stick allows you to get a little closer to the monkeys without using your healthy body as a barrier. Just remember to keep a firm grip on your stick!
Monkey Around, Just Not with the Monkeys
Honestly, I get it. I soooo do. As an Insta-hoe, I understand how badly you want some pics with the monkeys. I was tempted until I learned that by buying the bananas for the monkeys, you are provoking seriously WILD ANIMALS that have rabies or other diseases. Most of them are tame, I’ll give them that. But do you wanna be the one guy or girl who has to GTFO because they were scratched or bit and might have rabies and spend a couple thousands of dollars getting the shots to save your life? No, you don’t. So simply watch the other
dummies tourists do it, because there will undoubtedly be a ton and you can watch them get a pic and get bit and scream and run and cry. With that being said…
The odds are stacked against you. A hundred people and hundreds of monkeys. You most likely will have one jump on you. Don’t scream! Don’t panic! The more upset you are, the more the monkeys will think you are a threat and freak the F out! Just mind your belongings, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and enjoy this little creature picking bugs out of your hair. It might actually be the most thorough head massage you’ll experience. (I lie, Bali is KING of spa treaments.)
Mind the Bats
The one thing that no one ever warned me about? Bats! Freakin’ bats! Once you reach the center of the sanctuary, you will reach a medium-sized platform. If you look above at the overhang, you will see hundreds of bats sleeping above you! For a split second, you see their little noses and stretches and think they’re cute. Then you remember True Blood and Vampires and that they also have rabies and you remember that they’re not cute, they’re actually terrifying as hell! But don’t worry, just take a few pics, observe and move on.
Explore Your Surroundings
Outside of the monkeys, the tourists and the bats, you are surrounded by lush jungle sceneries, secret waterfalls and ancient temple buildings. There are also a few different animals you can see (although I will keep that as a surprise!). Take all of the trails you can to explore a little more than just your monkey friends.
Very rarely are you able to experience wild animals this close up. So with all of those previous points in mind, enjoy! This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience so snap your camera, giggle at the goofballs and have the best time ever! You might find this will be one of many trips to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.