What to do at Ubud, visit galleries and museums

My Homestay In Ubud, And What I Learned About The Balinese

When I travel, I prefer staying at places owned by locals over those owned by large international chains or foreigners. It’s not only a much more rewarding cultural experience, your travel dollars also help the local economy rather then making some rich foreigner richer. For my stay in Ubud, Bali, I chose a homestay, owned by locals, close to the center of town.

There are several “homestays” in Ubud, and I highly recommend one. Especially one where the owners live on the property too. Mine, the Jati Homestay, is owned by the artist Nyoman Jati. He even has one of his paintings hanging in the Agung Rai art museum.

Even though my homestay was in the center of Ubud, it was located down a long narrow alley off the busy road, so it was remarkably quiet, despite the incessant buzz of motorbikes on the main street.

Homestay In Ubud, Bali: The Balinese Family Complex

The Balinese people live their lives very simply. Most of them live with their extended families, with the oldest male inheriting the homes and responsibility for the extended family members in the compound after the patriarch dies.

My homestay was no different, with the immediate and extended family of Nyoman Jati living in a variety of buildings relatively close together. The extended family included a wide range from grandparents to grandchildren, so it was a great way to get to see how typical Balinese live. The only difference was that my this homestay offers rooms for tourists in the back of the complex, beyond the family homes.

The homes are small, with very few possessions, and much of their life is spent outside (in the shade of the many trees here).

To get in and out of my room, I had to walk past their homes. In most cases, I found them sitting outside. The women were usually preparing their daily offerings to the temples in the area or preparing food, while the men tended to the property or sat around chatting.

Family dwellings of my homestay in Ubud
Family Dwellings

Notice the baskets near the column to the left on the patio above. They’re full of flowers to use for daily offerings. An important part of Balinese life.

Family dwellings of my homestay in Ubud
Family Dwelling

From what I understand, Bali is divided into regions, which are then divided into districts, then villages, then family compounds. The districts carry out regional and national policy. Village level officials are elected by the village council, which is made up of male head of households. Decisions are made communally.

Homestay In Ubud, Bali: My Room

My room had a balcony overlooking the tranquil, but vibrantly green garden.

Garden view from my homestay room in Ubud
Garden View From My Room

There is no air conditioning and no glass on the windows, so the beds are fitted with netting to protect you from mosquitos (Admittedly, I did not see many though). The netting around the bed also adds a cool ambience to the basic, but lovely room.

That said, the rooms often have geckos running about. Mine seemed to spend a significant amount of time ’croaking’ or whatever nose they make. Honestly, it scared me at first, and the took me a few days to get used to it. I live in Arizona, where we have lots of geckos, but I’ve never heard them make noise.

Anyway, if you’re bug or critter phobic, this would not be a good place for you.

My Room

The walls, covered in grasscloth, also added a cool vibe. Admittedly though, the walls are very thin, so if your neighbors are noisy, you’ll know all the details. If you do stay here, please be respectful of your neighbors.

And as the homestay was owned by an artist, each room had a piece of his artwork in it (above).

Homestay In Ubud, Bali: Dewa Nyoman Jati Art Studio

Nyomen Jati also had a studio on the property, where I found him finishing a large painting one day. This really amazed me.

Nyoman Jati Studio at my homestay in Ubud
Nyoman Jati Homestay


The room included free breakfast, local tropical fruits, coffee, and usually either an egg or pankakes, in the dining room below. Yes, those are giant goldfish swimming in the pond around the dining area, which overlooks the garden.


For around $30/night, I was happy with my homestay in Ubud and ended up extended my stay twice.

Admittedly, it has its faults for those demanding a more pristine, western stay.

Homestay Common Dining Room

The bathroom was not the newest, no one cleaned my room after I arrived, and I did share it with geckos, but I still preferred staying here over a fancy resort where I would have been more isolated from local life.

The Balinese People

The people here have a beautiful elegance to them, even in older age. Some suggest the older women are beautiful as they learn to walk with heavy load on their heads and walk a lot, so they are very fit. They keep their heads held high when they walk.

They are very polite, very patient, and quick to smile. And very inquisitive. I received a lot of questions, including asking how old I was, what I did for work, where I lived, etc. And everyone was curious why I was not married and traveling alone. I think I must have gotten this question from everyone I met!

They are also intelligent. I have no proof of this other than a feeling I get when talking to them. It is not unusual for them to be trilingual, speaking; Balinese, Indonesian and English. And something I found very interesting is that they follow two calendars. One for their ceremonies, which has 210 days in a year, and the international calendar that we use. 

In the not so distant past, these were all farming communities. Now tourism is very important and it’s not unusual to find young adults running tourist shops and restaurants.

They have fun when they work. It was not unusual to see young people at work in small groups at the restaurants, talking and teasing each other, yet they keep an eye on you and are there to see what you need as soon as you look their way.

Collectivism Rather Than Individualism

Individualism is not strived for. In fact, there are only four main names, whether children are boys or girls. The names state the birth order; first, second, third and fourth. After that, the same names repeat again. Therefore, many people you meet with have the same name!


Marriage and family are very important to them and they tend to fall in love and marry young. I read that the young couples often escape and marry on their own and that it is an accepted practice that they come back and announce it is too late to change. All in good spirit, or course. I have no idea if this is still true or not, but marriages are not forced.

Home Stays In Ubud

Home stays are a great way to experience Balinese life on a more personal basis. These places are often simple, but reflect the way real families live.

The Jati Homestay is the homestay I stayed at. My room was quiet and located between the Monkey Forest and Ubud Palace, about a 10-minute walk to each.

Other options include the following. These are noted as guest houses, but are owned by locals, so they are very similar.

Yoga’s House is a guesthouse that gets positive reviews. It’s located about a 10-minute walk south east of Ubud Palace and about 15 north of monkey Forest. Note that it’s called Yoga’s house because the owners name is Yoga, not that they offer yoga classes.

Nyoman Sandi Guest House is a guesthouse run by a local family. It’s located a little farther out, about a 15-minute walk north of Ubud Palace, but located closer to Ubud’s rice fields.

Rice fields walks are one of the top things to do in Ubud
Ubud Rice Field

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Final Thoughts on My Homestay in Ubud And Bali

In many ways, I found the Balinese to be very pleasant and very refreshing from westerners in many ways. The people are very much a part of the beauty of Bali.

In addition to getting a better understanding of the Balinese culture, I also received great advice on the top things to do in Ubud. See my posts on Best Things To Do In Ubud: Top Sites And Sacred Places, the best Top 4 Ubud Rice Fields Walks, and details on my Cooking Class in Ubud for more. I also attended a Cremation Ceremony via invite of the Jati family. This was both an honor, and quite fascinating.

To see some of Bali’s more exotic beaches, visit Uluwatu on Bali’s southwestern coast. In addition to its exotic beaches, it’s a great place for surfing and yoga.

There’s also Nusa Dua on Bali’s southeastern coast. This area is unique as it has pristine beaches, most of them groomed by fancy 5-star resorts.

For an interesting visit to some smaller, more cultural villages in Bali, read about the Small Villages of Munduk and Lovina. They are both a great escape from the more touristy parts of Bali (including Ubud) to see more culture, as well discovering variety of stunning waterfalls and temples.

For an overview of all highlights of Bali, as well as logistics like safety, scams, money matters, and more, see my Ultimate Bali Travel Guide.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie


  • Lori Weed

    Hi Julie,

    I’ve heard Singapore is quiet also, how nice especially since there are so many people there and the Super Trees were cool. I think I need to add Bali to my list of future vacations and I loved your $20/night accommodations. Safe travels and have fun adventuring! 🙂

  • cyndi

    I love the painting he is doing. Your room looks lovely and very inviting. I can see why you are staying there.

  • Debi Borowski

    Hi Julie, just wanted you to know I’m out here following your fascinating journey. Thanks for sharing it with us! ~Debi

    • juliedecocker@yahoo.com

      Hi Debi! Nice to hear from you….hope all is going well there!! 🙂

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