The Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal in Ubud is home to around 605 long-tailed macaque monkeys and is considered a sacred Balinese Hindu site. As Balinese Hinduism encompasses aspects of animism, ancestor worship, Buddhist tenets and Hindu beliefs, the macaques are the embodiment of this spiritual understanding and thought to protect sacred sites such as this.
Known as Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, the Sacred Monkey Forest contains three temples with pagodas, pavilions, bridges, waterfalls and stone monuments shrouded in flowers and greenery and covered by towering trees. The forest surrounding a temple is also considered a sacred area and a bridge between nature and the spiritual world.
The Sacred Monkey Forest contains 115 different tree species some of which have holy significance. Within the forest is the Pura Dalem Agung (Temple of the Dead) with a graveyard and interesting Rangda(a demon goddess in Balinese mythology)figures devouring children at the entrance to the inner temple.
Within this scenic location, the monkey is king. The ravenous Balinese macaques residing in the Sacred Monkey Forest are divided into four distinct troops which can sometimes erupt into violent physical clashes over forest boundaries. However, the majority of observed monkey behaviour centres around grooming and regular feeding times by the staff, although food is on sale for the purpose of feeding the monkeys.
Visitors are advised to not feed, tease or touch the monkeys, but are free to wander around the paved paths of the forest sanctuary and observe these furry friends up close. The macaques tend to congregate in clusters so they are easy to spot and photograph, and their curious natures means you are bound to have an interaction of some description with them.
Entry to the Sacred Monkey Forest is nominal to assist with resource management and conservation projects. Tickets are IDR20,000 for adults, IDR10,000 for children and under-fours for free. Remember to dress appropriately to visit a Balinese temple site. The Sacred Monkey Forest is a 14-minute walk south from Central Ubud down Jalan Sriwedari.