Southeast Asia may not be considered among the world’s foremost shopping capitals, but after a day spent meandering the streets of Ubud, Bali, I would urge any naysayers to think again.
Cleverly merchandised boutiques packed with everything from artisanal soaps to couture dresses line the serene, temple dotted streets of tropical Ubud–the rice terrace strewn locale made famous in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. But Ubud doesn’t need immortalizing in a New York Time’s bestseller. With its consumerist prowess, this uber-chic town is capable of standing proud all on its own.
Here, my favorites for fashion, beauty and other fabulous finds in Ubud.
A chic navy dress with a jaunty tangerine sash instantly drew my eye as I wandered past this delectable boutique on Monkey Forest Road. After perusing racks bursting with custom made dresses, tops and skirts worthy of a hip SoHo address, I dubbed the dress in the window deserving of a try on. Being a lanky 5’10”, I am generally loath to try on clothes in the petite dominated world known as Asia. But the dress fit well, and were it not for the strange hemline that dove past my calves in back and rose mid-thigh in front, I may have left the shop carrying my favorite new ensemble at a financial setback of only $60.
This minimalistic little boutique on Monkey Forest Road immediately drew me in with its clean lines and orderly displays. I’m a sucker for clever packaging, and when I beheld the miniature soaps wrapped like old-fashioned confectionary, Steve dismissed me as a lost cause and stepped outside to wait. Meanwhile, I reveled for a while in the neat rows of dainty jars of handmade mango or passion fruit jam and locally sourced sea salt before finally making my purchase.
My nomadic nature means that in general, I can’t form collections or purchase too many knick knacks from around the globe. But perhaps that’s why one of my shopping downfalls are luxuriously scented, decadently crafted handmade soaps. Soaps are one purchase that can be enjoyed and used up along the journey, thereby adding no additional weight to my already hefty backpack. The scrumptious variety at Jamusara were immediately snapped up for my imminent bathing pleasure. I’m always hoarding great artisanal soaps because even if I don’t use them right away, I love the clean, fresh scent of a new bar permeating my luggage. Trust me, the olfactory delight of a fresh hunk of soap is worth the extra kilo.
Enter Jamusara. I nearly swooned upon setting foot in this glowingly gorgeous boutique packed with lusciously scented bathing accoutrements. Towering pyramids of asymmetrical bars lured me deeper and deeper into the lavender, frangipani and jasmine scented shop. It was with great effort that I eventually managed to make my meager selection of a bar of the herbal mint variety. I look forward to the day when I am not confined by the diameter of my backpack and its measly 23-kilo weight limit.
Jamusara is located on Jl. Raya Road, opposite Ubud Market.
Okay, so this isn’t a boutique, but a stellar French bistro–you’ll be hungry after all that shopping after all. Decorated like a French country garden, with cozy lighting and weathered wrought iron furniture, Kebun Bistro serves quiche, onion soup and wine that will make you question which country you are actually in.
Kebun Bistro is located at 44 Jl. Hanuman Road.
Have you been to Ubud? What are your favorite shops and restaurants there? Please share in the comments!