Today on Ladyhattan I am sharing an insider travel experience at one of the most amazing forests in the world – The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Located in Ubud on the island of Bali, you will find a nature preserve and Hindu temple complex inhabited by hundreds of wild monkeys. Yes, hundreds of highly entertaining monkeys. Read below for more on this must-see travel attraction along with photographs and travel tips for your next visit.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary contains 27 acres of protected grounds, 605+ long-tailed macaque monkeys, and three 14th-century temples. As you approach the gates, you will notice an older woman selling bunches of bananas. Buy them and hide them! Having a secret stash of bananas will come in handy if you plan on having any interaction with the monkeys. At the entrance of the Forest, you pay a modest donation ticket price and enter at your own risk.
Once inside the Monkey Forest, I could not believe my eyes. They were everywhere – hanging from trees, walking by my feet, begging for bananas and yelling to get my attention as they sat arrogantly perched on ancient decorative statues. I quickly pulled out a banana and within seconds realized that I had made a terrible mistake. These monkeys were incredibly intelligent and observant. The second I reached for the yellow fruit, they immediately labeled me as the “lady with the good stuff”… I could even hear them howling to one another about the stupid American chick who flashed a juicy banana. Suddenly I was swarmed by eager monkeys encouraging me in every way possible to pull out another banana. One sassy monkey even put her hand on the hip with the other hand gesturing me to surrender the banana. If you are feeling bold enough, you can even place a banana on your shoulder and encourage the monkey to climb up your body to retrieve it. Let’s just say that I will never look at monkeys or bananas the same after this Monkey Forest experience.
You can make your way around the Forest by following various pathways covered by the shade of gorgeous green trees, and yes, filled with plenty of monkey sightings. It’s absolutely glorious and truly enlightens one’s spiritual side with the rich religious history associated with both the Forest and the monkeys who have called this space home for hundreds of years. My favorite and most peaceful moments were in the far back part of the forest where I saw mothers nursing their babies. There were a few sweet moments were I also caught a male monkey scratching or patting the back of his partner as she cared for the baby.
But every so often we would hear a fellow tourist inside the Forest gasp or scream for help. Yikes. We were entertained to realize how smart these creatures were in their aggressive tactics of playing the tourists like fools. For example, on numerous occasions we would see a monkey steal the sunglasses from a tourist or grab something of value inside a designer purse. Calculated in their planned robbery, the monkey would then patiently stare down the victim from the comfort of a tree while waiting for what he really wanted – a freaking banana. Eager to get those Gucci sunglasses back, the tourist would call to the monkey with a ripe banana in hand, “okay, okay, here is your banana, Mr. Monkey,”… And just like that, a fast trade would occur where the monkey would throw back the stolen property at the instant a banana was provided for. Shrewd little monkeys indeed. All laughs aside, this is one of my favorite travel attractions in the world and I highly recommend a visit if you are ever passing through the Island of Bali. For more details and travel tips to consider when visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, scroll on down to the bottom of this post to find a helpful guide.
LADYHATTAN TIPS FOR VISITING THE MONKEY FOREST
- Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
- Open to the public daily from 8:30am to 6:00pm
- Plan to spend about 1-2 hours here
- Dress appropriately (comfortable and closed toed shoes are best)
- Make sure to empty your pockets (yes, the monkeys will get into them)
- Zip up all bags and backpacks, but try to leave them behind if possible
- Do not carry any other food/drinks besides bananas
- Any exposed gear will be grabbed by the monkeys (i.e., sunglasses, headband, hat, camera case, etc.)
- Avoid prolonged eye contact or slow movement which can be perceived as a threat by the monkeys
- Be aware that some monkeys are known to carry Hepatitis C, fleas, and in the very rare case, rabies (from bites only)
- Stay on the marked pathways and avoid venturing off into wild terrain
- Be respectful, as the forest is also a religious attraction
- There is great nearby shopping with interesting crafts/arts
- For better restaurant selection and shopping markets, head back to the main strip that takes you to downtown Ubud (about 10 minutes away from the forest)