The monkey has classically been known as the troublemaker in many cultures. As access to monkeys is limited for many people, most people won’t know how true this is.
Bali is filled with monkeys just waiting for gullible tourists to come along. Grabbing sunglasses off of heads, taking a child’s toy, grasping for plastic water bottles, and stealing any food in the vicinity is a common sight to see. This will be true anywhere, but in the Ubud Monkey Forest, the monkeys are safer to visit.
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a popular tourist destination that is truly worth the money. There are around 600 Monkeys in the forest and 3 different Hindu temples that they roam around on. My mother was initially worried about the monkey’s aggression and tendency to bite. This will always be a worry, however in the Monkey Forest the Balinese long-tailed monkeys are fed by the staff and are much more used to humans. They are not likely to bite unless they feel threatened or you withhold food from them. That is why you should leave all food outside of the forest and out of the monkey’s reach. If you do want to feed them, there are bananas for sale at the front of the reserve. However, realize that once a monkey sees that you have bananas, it will not leave you alone until you relinquish all bananas in your possession. Just give them the bananas, there are more at the front and they aren’t expensive.
You’re warned at the front that monkeys will likely reach into your pockets, steal water bottles out of backpacks, take sunglasses off your head, and that they’ll want any bright and shiny object they see. Do not pet them and listen to what the staff tell you, because risking a bite is not worth it. If in fact you do get bitten, alert someone immediately and get help.
If you do follow the rules, the Monkey Forest offers an incredible experience where you can witness monkeys in their natural habitats, fighting, eating, carrying their young, etc. You walk next to them and sit next to them on the steps of an ancient Hindu temple. They’ll use you as a spring-board to jump from one tree to another, seen below.
The forest itself is beautiful, filled with winding paths, lush trees, and carved statues. It is very accessible, as I was able to get around in a walking boot for my broken foot fairly easily, and it is a great place for taking pictures (just keep an eye on your camera). Keep your camera ready for monkeys to sit on your shoulder for a brief rest, for baby monkeys to hang off branches and stare in your face curiously, and for chubby male monkeys to lounge atop of the temples, reminding you of drunk old men that have just passed out.
I highly recommend the Ubud Monkey Forest for anyone visiting Bali. It is a reserve dedicated to conservation, learning, and monitoring the monkeys and to educate tourists about these wonderful creatures. You’ll get some of either the best or the funniest pictures of your entire trip here as well.