Solo Traveler’s Guide to Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary | Ubud, Bali

If you’ve got Ubud on your Bali itinerary, then chances are you’ve heard of the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Home to 1,049 Balinese long-tailed monkeys, this Hindu temple complex is one of Ubud’s most popular spots receiving over 10,000 visitors PER MONTH. No solo traveler should pass up such an iconic Bali experience!

This post is all about what to expect as a solo traveler on a day trip to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali!

AND if you’re heading over soon, check out the ultimate itinerary for 9 days in Bali.


Getting to Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest is conveniently located at the end of Monkey Forest Rd. From the main area of Ubud, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the sanctuary. However, for safety purposes, I strongly recommend booking a Grab (Southeast Asia’s equivalent to Uber) or a taxi – they’ll take you directly to the sanctuary’s main entrance.

The roads surrounding Monkey Forest are shared between pedestrians and cars. Speaking as a female solo traveler, I always tried to avoid walking on those kinds of roads (especially at night!!) to decrease the chances of drive-by robberies and pedestrian-car accidents.

The main entrance is at the northern end of the sanctuary along Monkey Forest Rd. and the exact address is: JI. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.


What time is Monkey Forest open? 

Monkey Forest is open daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. 


What is the entrance fee to Monkey Forest?

Tickets are on sale until 5:30 PM. As of October 2019, adult tickets cost 80,000 rupiah ($6 USD)


How long can I expect to be at Monkey Forest?

I recommend giving yourself 1-2 hours. The sanctuary is relatively large, so allow yourself ample time to wander.


General safety for solo travelers visiting Monkey Forest

Posted just before entering the sanctuary is a list of rules to abide by:

  • Do not panic
  • Do not run
  • Do not look the monkeys in the eye
  • Do not hide any food
  • Do not bring any kind of plastic/paper bag
  • Please take care of your valuable belongings
  • Don’t ever touch, grab, or disturb the monkeys
  • Feeding monkeys peanuts, candy, bread, drinks, and any other snacks are prohibited

I know … we all want to feed and pet those adorable monkeys, but trust me – it’s RISKY. These rules are set to keep both you AND the monkeys safe! Especially as a solo budget traveler, the last thing you want to spend is an exorbitant amount of time and money on preventable doctor’s visits.


As far as safety as a solo traveler goes … are the monkeys aggressive?

Well … yes and no. If you leave them be and mind your distance, they’re perfectly fine (and are so intriguing to watch). But if you have food (even hidden in your bag – they can smell it!), get too close, or try to pet them, they will attack. After all, they are wild animals simply defending themselves.

Be careful with baby monkeys! Mothers are VERY protective of their babies and if they feel their babies are being threatened, they WILL intervene. Even though they’re so stinkin‘ cute, keep a safe distance!


Should I get a rabies vaccine before visiting? 

Please consult a doctor for professional advice. The following is based on my personal opinion and experience at Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.

Before visiting, I did some research on the chances of catching rabies from a monkey bite/scratch at the sanctuary, and honestly it sounded pretty rare. 

Monkey Forest’s website shares their work alongside the Primate Research Center of Udayana University and Dr. Agustin Fuentes (University of Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology). According to them, none of the monkeys have tested positive for rabies within the last 14 years. Also, when reading other bloggers’ experiences of getting bitten/scratched in the forest, I didn’t find any saying they got an infection or caught rabies itself.

Personally, if I had gotten bitten in Monkey Forest, I would’ve gotten a post-exposure rabies vaccine (just to be on the safe side). Speak to your healthcare provider and do whatever makes you feel most comfortable!

If you’re planning on solo backpacking Southeast Asia for an extended period, I definitely recommend getting a rabies vaccination to be safe. If you do get bitten or scratched by a monkey, there is a health center on site that’ll document the case and clean the wound. If you got the initial rabies vaccine (pre-exposure), you’ll need to get a post-exposure shot within 48 hours after a bite (24 without the initial vaccine).

One of my friends got scratched by a monkey, and when she signed the form to document her injury, you wouldn’t believe how many others were bitten or scratched on that day alone!


Can you feed the monkeys?

Yes, but by all means DON’T DO IT! I cannot stress this enough!

At the time of ticket purchase, you can buy bananas to feed the monkeys. If there’s anything you remember from this, let it be that they will stop at NOTHING for your food. 

If you hand a monkey a banana, they’ll take it, but assume you have more. Once you’re out of bananas, the monkeys can still smell it on you. They’ll think you have more and will continue to climb on you and search through your belongings.

Food is probably the biggest cause of attacks in Monkey Forest. While we’re on the topic, DON’T BRING IN FOOD (drinks are highly discouraged as well). Even if you think you’re in the clear to sneak a little bite of a granola bar, you’re not. Remember, over 1,000 monkeys live here – you ALWAYS have eyes on you.


Does Monkey Forest have a dress code?

Nope! But I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes or sandals that are non-slip; the sanctuary is mildly hilly and heavily forested. As far as clothing goes, wear whatever you’re comfortable with. If you’re worried about little nips from monkeys, I recommend wearing either long pants or a long-sleeved shirt (keep in mind, Bali is humid).

Two things to NOT bring … SUNGLASSES and JEWELRY! These are stolen all the time. Once a monkey snatches it from you, that’s it – there’s no fighting for them back.

Bags are tricky. Monkeys can easily figure out how to unzip bags, undo knots, and pickpocket. Fanny packs are great as long as they’re tightly worn around your waist. I carried a small backpack and held it tightly in front of me the entire time. Some of my friends took small crossbody bags, and those worked just as well.

Whether you take a backpack or purse – always hold onto them tightly in front of you! Every solo traveler’s worst nightmare is losing their personal belongings – especially to a monkey!

Ideally, you should only wear the essentials and leave all accessories behind. The more you have, the more chances you’re giving a monkey to snatch something and possibly injure you.


Should I bring my phone into Monkey Forest?

DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT carry your phone in your back pocket!

Having your phone in your back pocket (or any pocket for that matter) is literally asking monkeys to steal it (and they will). Remember, they’re intelligent and will fearlessly reach into pockets and bags (sometimes they’ll even peek into your shirt). 

Break this habit for the day and leave your phone in your bag when you’re not using it. I know this can be annoying … especially when we’re trying to capture those precious moments! As a solo traveler, your phone is so valuable – it’s not worth the risk. When you have it out, hold onto it tightly!


Are there temples at Monkey Forest?

Monkey Forest is rooted in Hindu beliefs, specifically Bali’s traditional philosophy of tri hata karana, which focuses on three streams of pursuing physical and spiritual well-being. The streams are: harmony with God, harmony amongst others, and harmony with the natural environment. You’ll see that sanctuary isn’t purely a “tourist attraction”, but serves as a place to connect the animals, forest, and people.

As you explore the sanctuary, you’ll come across three Hindu temples that date back to the mid 1300’s.

Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal: the main temple used for worshipping Shiva
Pura Beji: temple for purification and worshipping Gangga 
Pura Prajapati: temple honoring the god, Prajapati

Fun fact: across Pura Prajapati is a cemetery for a temporary burial. A mass cremation is held every 5 years.

Although these temples are closed to the public, it’s important to understand the cultural connection they have with the sanctuary as a whole. They remind visitors of Bali’s Hindu vision to unite all harmoniously. As you wander the sanctuary solo, remember this and be grateful for what the sanctuary symbolizes.


Attacked at Monkey Forest?!

We weren’t IN the forest, but were just outside one of the sanctuary’s smaller exits. We had gone into a convenience store across the street for a quick snack (big mistake) and continued along the sidewalk when we ran into a couple of monkeys.

One of my friends was still eating her snack, but everything happened so quickly that we didn’t realize the monkeys were after her bag of nuts. They climbed up and right as she dropped them (after nearby people yelled to drop the food), the monkey scratched her on the way down.

Luckily it was a superficial scratch and she had gotten her initial rabies shots (although you need a post-exposure vaccine after a scratch/bite). We headed back to the health center and they quickly cleaned it up. We debated if she should get her post-exposure vaccine, but after consulting a nearby clinic and her doctor from the US, she decided it wasn’t necessary since the cut was pretty superficial (plus the fact that it was a scratch and not a bite).


My honest opinion of visiting Monkey Forest as a solo traveler

Monkey Forest should definitely be on every solo traveler’s Bali itinerary! The sanctuary was incredible and seeing hundreds of monkeys in their natural habitat was crazy! 

Now is Monkey Forest ethical? Honestly I’m not sure, but from my visit, it seems ethical. Monkeys were free to roam as they pleased and didn’t suffer any repercussions for stealing or scratching. Wherever they were seated, visitors were expected to walk around, even if they blocked an entire staircase. There weren’t any performances or signs of harmful treatment. They even had the freedom to wander outside of the forest.

At photo ops, the monkeys didn’t seem “trained”, but were bribed with food to help get the best angle (no hooks, sharp objects, nothing). And if the monkey ran off, that was it – no more photo ops.

Luckily, we were able to get a photo before this monkey was over the paparazzi 🙂

Whew! Now you’re ready to explore Monkey Forest! Enjoy your solo travels and stay safe! 🙂

Have you visited Monkey Forest? Share your experience in the comments for other readers to see! And if there’s any other advice on enhancing a person’s solo trip to Monkey Forest, please share!


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36 Comments

  1. August 8, 2020 / 10:16 am

    What a detailed post! I am glad your friend was ok and I now know to drop my food if anything happens like that!!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:07 am

      Thank you! Yes! I’m SO glad it was just a small superficial scratch and nothing worse!!

  2. Alma
    August 8, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    Great article with sound advice. I am so against feeding wild animals. We have monkeys and baboons in South Africa and they are a nuisance, largely due to human behaviour. We love seeing them and watching them, but they need to fend for themselves in the wild and not go for easy pickings.

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:08 am

      I completely agree with you on that!!!

  3. Val
    August 8, 2020 / 2:23 pm

    What a great place to explore in Ubud! These little monkeys can be a bit cheeky sometimes but they are so cute!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:09 am

      Hahaha yes they are 🙂

  4. August 8, 2020 / 3:04 pm

    I loved reading your blog! 🙂 I was going to Bali in July, but my trip was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, I am looking to travel to Bali next year and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is in my itinerary. Thank you for all the great tips!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:10 am

      Awww bummer! Well I’m glad you’re going next year!! You’ll LOVE Bali! Can’t wait to hear about your experience at Monkey Forest!

  5. August 8, 2020 / 3:54 pm

    What a great post and such nice pictures, I wouldn’t know that it is not a good idea not to feed them. Thanks for the heads up

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:11 am

      You’re welcome! And thank you 🙂

  6. August 8, 2020 / 3:55 pm

    This is so cool! I love monkeys and I would absolutely love visiting this spot. And you are right they are extremely intelligent and you should always have something in mind when around them.

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:12 am

      It was such an incredible experience! And yes it really surprised me how intelligent they were!

  7. August 8, 2020 / 6:47 pm

    This is such a great post! These photos are so lovely, I love it!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:12 am

      Thank you so much!! 🙂

  8. August 8, 2020 / 6:59 pm

    OMG that paparazzi monkey, ahahahah! #literallydead! Such a great post!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:13 am

      Hands down my favorite picture from Bali HAHAHAHA thank you! 🙂

  9. Michelle
    August 8, 2020 / 8:25 pm

    What a fun experience. I have to be honest though, I don’t know how I would feel if the monkeys got one me. LOL!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:13 am

      I would’ve freaked out if they climbed on me hahaha I’m glad they didn’t! It was fun watching them climb on my friends though LOL

  10. August 8, 2020 / 8:36 pm

    Wow you’ve outlined everything here! Thanks for all the great tips, it looks amazing to visit!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:14 am

      It’s SO amazing!! Thank you so much! 🙂

  11. August 8, 2020 / 9:25 pm

    It looks so fun…yet so intimidating. I would naturally want to take pictures with my camera but that seems like a bad idea. And it seems like wearing contacts is a better choice than your normal seeing glasses? What a bad time to be naturally blind haha

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:16 am

      As long as you hold onto your camera tightly and store it when you’re not using it, you should be fine 🙂 And so true lol I’d say contacts are definitely the safer route!

  12. Karen
    August 9, 2020 / 1:42 am

    Wow these monkeys sound like a hungry seagull on the beach. Must be cool to see all the monkeys in a natural habitat.

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 9, 2020 / 10:17 am

      Monkey Forest was incredible! I was shocked at how ruthless they were when it came to food.

  13. August 9, 2020 / 11:59 am

    I love this! I missed this when I was in Bali because I’m scared of monkeys but your post makes me wish I’d visited! One for next time. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the group photo with the monkey selfie 😆

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 10, 2020 / 12:06 am

      Aww haha the monkeys can be intimidating! Next time for sure! 🙂

  14. August 9, 2020 / 12:39 pm

    What a great post and an amazing adventure with the monkies! I’m glad your friend was ok!
    The paparazzi monkey is priceless! haha

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 10, 2020 / 12:06 am

      Yes! I’m glad she was fine too 🙂 hahaha my favorite Bali memory!

  15. Shay
    August 9, 2020 / 1:18 pm

    This is the first thing I’m doing when I *eventually* visit Bali, and I cannot wait! Thanks for all the tips. I’ve had experiences with wild monkeys before, and you definitely need to be prepared for the unexpected.

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 10, 2020 / 12:07 am

      I can’t wait to hear about it when you visit! 🙂 And yes! Expect the unexpected!!

  16. Taylor K Taverna
    August 9, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    Oh I’ve solo traveled through Bali a few times and loved it!! This is such a fun spot!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 10, 2020 / 12:07 am

      I loved Bali so much!! Can’t wait to visit again 🙂

  17. August 10, 2020 / 10:02 pm

    so cute!! the monkey selfies kill me. I would love to visit here someday!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 11, 2020 / 4:37 am

      That selfie is priceless! Hahaha yes you should!! 🙂

  18. August 14, 2020 / 11:18 pm

    OMG these photos made my day. haha the monkeys are so frickin cute! Thanks for all the tips (I promise to not put my phone in my back pocket and not feed the monkeys!!!) haha Love this post! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Kylie
      Author
      August 15, 2020 / 9:02 pm

      The monkeys are hilarious!! Hahaha yes definitely do not feed them whatsoever! 🙂 Thank you so much!

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