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The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is one of the most popular attractions in Ubud. Although it is known for the opportunity to interact with the macaques, the forest is, first and foremost, a nature reserve and temple complex. Prior to visiting the forest, we were unsure what to expect, and we did a lot of research to understand if it was an ethical experience. If you are also looking for clarification, here are a few good things to know before you go.

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud - Know Before You Go





The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is located in the village of Padangtegal in Ubud, Bali. It is a nature reserve that covers approximately 12.5 hectares and is home to over 1,200 long-tailed macaques as well as 115 different species of trees.

Ubud Monkey Forest - What to know before visiting

Since the 14th century, the forest has been regarded as a sacred site, home to guardian spirits. The macaques are considered sacred by the local Balinese people, who see them as symbols of protection and mischief. Some of the tree species inside the sanctuary are also considered holy and are used in many Balinese spiritual practices.

In the 20th century, the forest was recognised as an important conservation area, with extra effort put into research and preservation, responsible tourism and raising awareness of the cultural and environmental significance of the site.


The Monkey Forest is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 6 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance and are cheaper on weekdays. For up-to-date pricing, visit their website. There are very clear guidelines and warnings signposted at the entrance, inside the forest and online. These guidelines mostly relate to the macaques and are in place to ensure no harm comes to the visitors or the animals. These guidelines are:

  • Do not panic or run – if the monkeys jump on you, drop any food and walk away slowly.

  • Do not look the monkeys in the eyes – this can be seen as a sign of aggression.

  • Do not bring or hide any food or drinks – they will know and will try to find it. Do not ever try to pull it back off them.

  • Do not bring in plastic or paper bags – to keep the forest litter free and avoid monkeys taking and playing with it.

  • Take care of your belongings – especially any valuables you bring with you. Management will not take responsibility for any items stolen or damaged by the monkeys.

Inside the forest, there are staff members tending to the monkeys, the forest and the visitors. If you wish to interact with the macaques for a photo, this is arranged with them. Although seeing the macaques is part of the experience, there is so much more to see inside the forest. The Forest Conservation area was added in the 1990s to provide more space for the growing monkey population. The paths winding through here can be much quieter than other parts of the forest.

Temples in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

There are also three temples inside the complex. In the northwest area is Pura Beji Padang Tegal (Holy Spring Temple), which can be reached by crossing the Dragon Bridge. It is the place for worshipping the Goddess Gangga. The main temple is Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal (Great Temple of Shiva). It is a place of worship for the God Shiva and the Goddess Durga. In the northeast area is Pura Prajapati Padangtegal (Cremation Temple). This temple is also connected to the Balinese Cemetery. Balinese Hindus believe those buried in this cemetery have their souls protected by God until the cremation ceremony, which happens every five years.

While you can admire the temples from the outside, tourists are not allowed to enter. This is reserved for the local community only.


There are two main questions people have before visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Is it safe? Is it ethical?

The answer is multi-faceted. Many believe encouraging the monkeys to sit on people for photos, closely followed by a food reward, is an unethical tourist attraction. If you agree with that statement and have issues not just with partaking in such an activity but also watching it happen, then this place is probably not for you.

While we did not partake in the animal interactions, we saw these organised photo opportunities happening in multiple parts of the forest. If you want to avoid this, we recommend sticking to the temples and the forest conservation area and avoiding the area marked as “central point”.

Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali - Is it Safe

Aside from the monkey interactions, the actual health and care for these animals is a priority of the Monkey Forest. According to their website, since its opening in 1960, they have never found any cases of rabies or other diseases in their monkeys. They are able to live freely in their natural habitat and are protected from the activities of humans outside the fences.

Ultimately, the decision to visit a tourist attraction involving animals is up to you. As mentioned above, it is possible to explore the park without having direct contact with the monkeys. You can explore the complex and observe the animals without participating in any photo opportunities.

We followed the guidelines listed above and had no interactions with the monkeys. They can walk close to you, but we didn’t have any climb on us and saw no altercations around us. However, there are some people online who say they have witnessed or experienced bad interactions with the monkeys. We cannot speak to something we didn’t see but felt we should mention it anyway.


The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is located on Jl. Monkey Forest in Padangtegal, Ubud. The entrance to the complex is through the lobby, located just off the main road. There is a large parking area, a spot for taxi drop-off and a walking path from the main road.

Driving from the Jl. Raya Ubud, the main street of Ubud town, to the Monkey Forest, takes between 5-10 minutes. Walking this same route takes around 25 minutes.


You do not need to bring much with you to the Monkey Forest. In fact, it is recommended that you leave very valuable items at home, especially things like your passport and jewellery, and do not bring any food.

  • Dress appropriately – Bali has a hot and humid climate, and the forest is an outdoor site, so dress for this weather and sun protection. While you will not be entering the temples, it is important to remember that the forest is home to sacred sites and dressing with that in mind, covering shoulders and knees, is respectful.

  • Comfortable shoes – you will be doing a lot of walking, so this is a must.

  • A small bag – if you are bringing any belongings (e.g. wallet, phone, camera, sunglasses, water bottle, etc), be sure to bring a secure bag that you can put everything in. Keep it zipped up so these items are not seen by the monkeys.

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