What To Do In Bali: Ubud Rice Paddies ATV Tour

Let me just start by saying that I’m a Filipina and I have lived in a tropical environment all my life. This is why it completely blows my mind why so many people visit Asia to walk around and pose for photos in rice paddies and other similar locations. Places which seem mundane to me are so fascinating to Westerners.

After having travelled around the world myself, I thought long and hard about it and realized that this isn’t really so different from my delight at experiencing that first snowfall. Frolicking amongst fallen autumn leaves or cherry blossoms is probably a yearly activity for those who live elsewhere but it’s completely fascinating to me. This realization made me finally decide to take a tour around the Bali rice paddies to find out what the fuss was all about.

Bali, Indonesia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. I have been to the island several times in the past and I wasn’t really so impressed by the beaches. However, they must be doing something right as Bali continues to draw in millions of people every year. The party scene is generic to me but the popular wellness district of Ubud piqued my interest.

As part of a week long tour of Bali, my friend Aurie and I decided to go on an UBUD DAY TOUR. We allowed our trusty guide and driver, Arya, to take the lead. He drove us from Nusa Dua to Ubud (about an hour) and took us to a place that operates ATV tours. He said that this is one of the most famous tours and one of the best ways to explore the Bali rice paddies.

Frankly, I was mostly excited to drive the ATV. I had only ever been on one as a passenger. I never drove one myself so it was going to be a new experience. Aurie and I opted to get just one ATV so that we could take turns driving. This way, I could also film (my vlog) while she’s driving.

Tandem ATV cost: IDR1,150,000 (US$80)    Solo ATV: IDR800,000 (US$60)

Before heading out, we had a little orientation. We were told that we would drive through traditional Balinese villages before stopping at a temple. After that, it would be the highlight of the tour: a drive through Ubud’s famous rice paddies. I still find it totally hilarious but whatever, I was already committed.

Bali Tour
Tandem ATV Tour around Ubud, Bali

Our ATV arrived and we were each given a few minutes to practice driving in an empty lot. It was a little bit difficult to control the speed at first because the throttle was just a small sort of lever that you flick with your thumb. That’s right, only one finger controls your acceleration. The little throttle is not that responsive so it kinda wears out your thumb. It’s like the little brakes on your bicycle handlebars except this one can only be gripped by your thumb. It’s quite a thumb workout TBH.

After a quick drive around the lot, I decided to slap on some sunscreen before driving out. We started the tour and we were immediately led out into the Ubud main road! We had a pair of guides with us and we cautiously followed behind their ATV. Luckily, we both drive cars at home so taking the ATVs out on the road wasn’t a problem. However, I can see how it can be scary for some people. We had to dodge cars, speeding motorbikes and even some trucks.

Bali Tour
Driving through a traditional Balinese Village

We eventually left the  traffic and slipped into some small village streets. It was a nice way to get used to the ATV. The Balinese village wasn’t really that interesting though. There were just rows of low walls and thatched roofs. We eventually stopped in front of a small gate and tower which was apparently a small temple. It was a photo opportunity but frankly, it didn’t look too interesting from an architectural nor a cultural point of view.

Bali Tour
Making a quick photo stop in front of a temple in Ubud

Ubud Tours Bali Indonesia

Finally, it was time to drive out into the rice paddies. Driving the ATV became a little bit more challenging because we left the concrete road. We slipped into a dirt path that was only big enough for the vehicle. Blades of grass cut into our faces and legs from both sides so it’s actually a good idea to wear long pants for this activity.Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia

Once we reached the rice paddies, there was really nothing much to see other than the crops. We got off our ATV and decided to take pictures anyway. Admittedly, the endless rows of rice crops made a lovely background. The guides happily took our photos and videos and helped us walk around the paddies. If you have not been here before, you should know that there are very small walkways in between paddies made out of compacted soil. If you slip, your foot gets stuck in the muddy ground where the crops grow.

Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia
Driving behind our tour guides/camera crew

We took photos in the fields and found some small huts to make the scene more interesting. It was not really a cultural experience nor was it very educational. I would have liked it better if there was some information that was shared about the rice industry etc.

Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia
I have to admit, the fields look lovely.
Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia
Trying to be a little bit artistic
Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia
Went for some shade in a tiny nipa hut.

It was really more of a photo op versus an immersion. Fruit picking and other similar activities are much more interesting. If you have been on this rice paddy tour or you have plans to go, maybe you can share some of your thoughts about it? I would love to know why this tour is so popular.

After driving through the fields, we visited a small waterfall inside the Santi Mandala resort complex. It’s a series of villas on stilts that are spread over an area straddling a small river. It’s an interesting place to stay if you want to experience some Balinese vibes. However, the stagnant water under the floating villas look like a mosquito breeding ground for me.Ubud Tour, Bali Indonesia

After about an hour and a half, we headed back. Overall, it was a nice experience driving around the Ubud countryside in an ATV. In the end, I still stand by my opinion that it’s hilarious but at the same time ingenious to turn rice paddies into a tourist destination. Kudos to the Balinese for finding a way to turn what’s common into a massive tourist attraction. We have a lot to learn from them.

If you know about similar tours in the Philippines, please let me know! Watch the full experience in the video at the top of this page.