Ubud Monkey Forest – How to Feed Cute Monkeys and Stay Safe
I had my first close encounter with a monkey at Ubud Monkey Forest. This cute monkey just walked up and gently grabbed me by the crotch! Welcome to Ubud Monkey Forest. I squealed out a giggle as she shimmied up the front of my body. It really tickled, but I was also giddy with excitement. Then this cute monkey plopped down on my shoulder. I had a new friend. It was priceless.
Like every kid, I dreamed of playing with cute monkeys. I finally got my chance at Ubud Monkey Forest. It was a simple moment, but it brought me such joy. I realized that I was surrounded by a beautiful jungle in Bali, playing with a wild monkey who lives in an ancient Hindu temple!
I was amazed and felt so lucky. This was actually beyond what I dreamed of as a kid. I was elated that we didn’t listen to all the online horror stories about monkey attacks. We almost skipped Ubud Monkey Forest because of those stories, but that would have been a huge mistake. If you’re debating the safety of Ubud Monkey Forest, there is no need to worry. You can enjoy the cute monkeys and stay safe.
What About All the Online Horror Stories?
Before we get into the specific safety precautions and rules, we want to address the fear of random monkey attacks. Random monkey attacks were our biggest fear before our visit. There are tons of stories about people who were supposedly following all the rules when vicious monkeys attacked without provocation.
The Myth of Random Monkey Attacks
Yes, people do get bit and scratched, but mishaps are not random. If you take the right precautions and follow the rules, you will be safe. According to the officials that we asked, the hurt person has always intentionally or unintentionally done something to provoke the mishap. We witnessed this truth for ourselves during our visit.
One of the biggest unintentional mistakes is wearing or bringing items that are tempting for the monkeys. For example, wearing jewelry is highly discouraged at Ubud Monkey Forest. If someone simply forgets about their jewelry, a monkey may jump on them. The monkey is only after the jewelry, but it seems like a violent attack. The person is startled, panics a bit, and tries to get away. This, in turn, frightens the monkey. He may bite or scratch. All the person remembers is the seemingly random attack, and another online horror story is born. They may not even be aware that they caused the incident. The solution is simple – don’t bring tempting items into Ubud Monkey Forest in the first place. There are literally warning signs about this all over the place.
We also saw countless intentional mistakes, like trying to pet or pick up a cute monkey. This is a more obvious NO-NO, but it happens all the time. The monkeys are very friendly, and usually, the person gets away unscathed. This encourages others to do the same, and eventually someone gets hurt.
The girl in the above photo is a perfect example. She made repeated attempts to touch the little monkey, while her dad just stood around watching. The cute monkey was clearly scared but remained calm and peaceful. When the monkey finally had enough, he screamed and ran off. Just then his mother came charging in to protect him. It could have gotten ugly, but luckily, someone was there to protect the girl (it sure wasn’t her father).
Sometimes the price isn’t physical pain. A woman sitting next to us was trying to hold a monkey. It screamed in fear and pooped all over the woman before running off. It ruined her day, but she deserved it.
It’s so frustrating when Ubud Monkey Forest gets bad press. Even the monkeys who do scratch or bite often tolerate several attempts to touch them before they defend themselves. It just isn’t fair that these cute monkeys get labeled as vicious when it’s not their fault.It just isn’t fair that these cute monkeys get labeled as vicious when it’s not their fault.Click To Tweet
How to Stay Safe at Ubud Monkey Forest
Hire an Experienced Private Guide.
Our number #1 safety recommendation is to get an experienced, private guide. In all the horror stories, we never read that they had a private guide devoted to their safety. Private guides are surprisingly affordable in Bali, and ours was great. Our guide had been to Ubud Monkey Forest more than 1000 times. He made sure that we took all the right precautions. He also gave us countless little tips that kept us safe. Often it was something simple like where to stand near a monkey or how and when to approach one. For safety, these little details matter. It’s impossible for a first time visitor to know them all. Using common sense is important, but having an experienced guide walk you through is better and safer.
The experienced guide also made everything more FUN. He knew the best spots and the best times to see and interact with the cute monkeys. He was also our translator when we spoke with the Ubud Monkey Forest staff. We learned so much more this way. He even arranged for us to contact the monkeys under staff supervision.
Only Contact the Monkeys with Official Staff Supervision
Our guide and the Monkey Forest staff advised us not to buy bananas for the monkeys. Feeding bananas to cute monkeys on your own is awesome. We did it safely at Bukit Malawati, Malaysia. But it isn’t as safe at Ubud Monkey Forest. Many people do feed the monkeys these bananas without incident. It is certainly fun, but it can also be risky. The biggest risk of feeding monkeys on your own is getting swarmed. It is easy to make a well-intentioned mistake and end up hurt. They are cute monkeys, but they are still wild.
We wanted to minimize any risks, so we did our feedings (we did several) under the supervision of the Ubud Monkey Forest staff. Again, in all the horror stories we read, the people are trying to handle wild animals by themselves, without assistance from the trained professionals. We can’t imagine anyone getting hurt while under the supervision of the staff.
The staff spends all day, every day, with these monkeys. They know them very well. The staff ensured that we would only encounter friendly monkeys. They would delay or pause our encounters to chase off any aggressive monkeys in the area. They also ensured that we would only encounter one monkey at a time, eliminating the risk of getting swarmed. Feeding the monkeys this way was exponentially safer and so much FUN! We were able to relax and enjoy the experience. Each of these feedings only costs 10,000 rupiah, which is only about 75 cents in USD. It’s a super bargain.
Plan to take Special Precautions
The best precaution is to bring only the entrance fee and a camera. Any unnecessary items can attract unwanted attention from the monkeys. Carrying so little can pose a challenge when you’re traveling. Some planning is necessary depending on how you’re visiting the Monkey Forest. If you take our advice and hire a private tour guide, you will have a locked vehicle to secure your belongings. Otherwise, you will need a plan to store your things. One option is to leave your stuff at the ticket counter. They will let you store it there and “watch” it for you, but it may not be secure enough for real valuables.
Food is the worst thing to carry around, even the bananas sold at the entrance. This also includes candy, gum, mints and any other edibles. The monkeys will smell it and hound you.
All jewelry should be removed. Don’t bring any paper or plastic bags. The monkeys have learned that these usually contain food so they constantly snatch them. The monkeys also love to steal water bottles. The best thing is to buy small bottles in the concession area and finish them. Don’t carry them around the Monkey Forest. You can wear sunglasses or hats, but you must be prepared to lose them to the monkeys. It didn’t happen to us, but it can.
Follow the Posted Safety Rules
The safety rules are posted all over Ubud Monkey Forest. They are simple and easy to follow. There are several rules but these 3 are the most important.
1. Relax. The monkeys feed off your emotional energy.
2. Avoid prolonged direct eye contact. It’s a sign of aggression for the monkeys.
3. Don’t touch the monkeys / Let them touch you. Obvious, right.
Stay away from the Baby Monkeys
None of the posted safety signs mention this specifically, but it is one of the most important safety rules. Our guide and the Monkey Forest staff told us that if you grab a baby, dozens of monkeys will attack you. Avoiding babies may sound obvious, but it is extremely tempting. There are lots of babies around and the mothers trust humans enough to let us close to the babies. The urge to hug one of these adorable babies is strong, but if you try to touch one, you may end up in the hospital.
Corny as it may sound, safety was the foundation of our awesome experience at Ubud Monkey Forest. You can have a blast with the cute monkeys and stay safe. Just remember that they are wild animals. If you get the help of an experienced guide and the Monkey Forest staff, you chances of getting hurt are basically nil.
Good to Know:
Address: Jalan Monkey Forest – Padangtegal – Ubud – Gianyar- Bali (80571)
Operating Hours: 8:30am – 6:00pm
Dress Code: Casual. There are temples, but no need for sarongs or special clothes.
Private Tour Guide:
Bali Golden Tour: There are so many great tour companies on Bali. We used this one and were very happy. They offer very professional and very affordable private tours. Read their reviews on TripAdvisor.
Anumana Ubud Hotel
Anumana is a prime 4-star hotel in Ubud, walking distance to the Monkey Forest and conveniently located the rest town. This gorgeous hotel offers free wifi, breakfast, shuttles into Ubud, and all the other services you’d expect from a 4-star hotel. Their lagoon-inspired pool is gorgeous. The prices at this luxury hotel are quite reasonable.
Check the latest rates on: Agoda | Booking.com
Read Reviews on: TripAdvisor
Plataran Ubud Hotel and Spa
Plataran is another great 4-star hotel in Ubud within walking distance of the Monkey Forest. The Plataran also offers free wifi and breakfast and has big, beautiful pool. Breakfast is served on the second-floor terrace and provides a great view of the traditional Balinese village. It is close to the main attractions, but far enough away to be peaceful and relaxing. They also offer some very affordable rates for such a nice hotel.
Check the latest rates on: Agoda | Booking.com
Read Reviews on: TripAdvisor
ChrisPosted at 08:00h, 19 November
I don’t think anybody could fairly/rightly blame the monkeys if something went awry.
The bigger problem for me is this type of tourism.
I’m never a fan of using animals like this for the amusement of tourists, and I think it better if people don’t interact with them like this at all…
The Travel NinjasPosted at 02:23h, 20 November
Chris, our personal views on acceptable animal encounters are always evolving. One of our chief goals in traveling is to learn and grow. We would no longer participate in all the activities that we did in the past, but Ubud Money Forest doesn’t seem to harm animals in the least. It’s unfair to describe Ubud Monkey Forest as “using animals.” It is not at all like those places that chain, cage, and/or sedate animals, and then force them to work or perform. The monkeys have no physical restrictions whatsoever. If they want to stay in the trees, they do. If they want to interact, they do. If they don’t want to interact, they don’t. Nobody, especially the Ubud Monkey Forest staff, forces the monkeys to do anything. Besides, the vast majority of the time spent at the monkey forest is just watching them play with each other. We probably spent an hour watching them swim, for example. The monkeys are crazy about it. They repeatedly dive in, swim around, climb out, and dive in again. It’s fun to watch, but they just do it for their own enjoyment. No one makes or encourages them to swim, and no one, even tourists, is giving them treats. Most of your time at Ubud Monkey Forest is spent like this.
Mar PagesPosted at 05:52h, 26 November
I think we all forget that no matter how human they look and how peaceful they seem, monkeys are wild animals and we blame them, as you say, when actually it is us who should not be doing what we do. Sad to see parents letting their children touch them and on top of that not do anything to avoid the damages when in reality they should be teaching them about the dangers of wildlife. Your tips, although common sense, are not observed by most. Great thing you had a guide and were smarter than most. In the end, you had a better, and safer time! 🙂
The Travel NinjasPosted at 06:09h, 26 November
Hello Mar. Thanks for commenting. You’re right the cute monkeys are wild animals. Ubud Monkey Forest can be a very safe and fun time. It’s the monkeys’ home, we have to be polite guests and follow their house rules.
Ami BhatPosted at 22:45h, 26 November
Well, I am not sure if these guys are completely harmless. I had been here with a group and one of the monkeys grabbed a slipper of my friend – quite unprovoked. She was just sitting on a bench minding her own business and one of them just attacked her and grabbed her slipper. We had the ranger to help and he offered the monkey nuts in turn for the slipper. I found the whole thing hilarious but I also, realise that the monkeys were conditioned by the rangers to know that if they steal something they will get something in return for giving it back. Frankly that should be encouraged.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 22:48h, 26 November
Hello Ami. Thanks for commenting. You’re right that the monkeys will steal loose items including sandals. We’re talking about the stories of supposed violent physical attacks by the monkeys. According to the rangers, those don’t happen. The monkeys just don’t do that unprovoked. They’re just out for food, not blood.
Thuymi @ AdventureFaktory.comPosted at 00:38h, 27 November
Didn’t get the chance to visit the monkeys when I was in Bali – Perhaps next time. Good thing nothing happened to the little girl – it could’ve been bad
The Travel NinjasPosted at 00:43h, 27 November
Hello Thuymi. Thanks for your comment. That little girl was lucky. It was actually our guide that saved her. Hope you get a chance to visit Ubud Monkey Forest one day. Its a really cool place.
DariaPosted at 22:59h, 28 November
What an amazing experience! It’s so good of you to post suggestions on how to properly interact with the monkeys so both parties can stay safe and enjoy each other.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 23:22h, 28 November
Hi Daria. It was quite the unforgettable experience! Yes, we want to help others have as good a time, if not better, as we did. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful. 🙂
Tasheena@SimplyTasheena.comPosted at 08:37h, 29 November
Great post! This looks like a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:40h, 29 November
Hi Tasheena. It was definitely an unforgettable experience! 🙂
Blair VillanuevaPosted at 08:42h, 29 November
Ubud monkeys are indeed soo cute. But still they are wild monkeys. So better not attempt to take it and be satisfied to enjoy their beauty afar. Anyway, that’s what camera are there for.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 08:45h, 29 November
Hi Blair. Yes, you are absolutely right! Even with precautions we still need to keep in mind that they are wild animals. They are indeed adorable. We have to remember that if we choose to interact with them and something happens then we are the only ones to blame.
Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.Posted at 08:55h, 29 November
Monkeys are my favorite animals of all time!! I would probably want a guide there, though, while I attempted to pet or feed a monkey!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 09:19h, 29 November
Hi Divya. For an incredible and fun experience make sure that you use a guide when trying to interact with the cute monkeys. The guides know the personalities of the monkeys the best. We would never try to interact with them on our own. It is much too dangerous.
SharonPosted at 14:51h, 29 November
Good for you guys for visiting the monkey! I would probably freak out if a monkey crawled over me!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:55h, 29 November
Hi Sharon. That is a good point if you or anyone with you would freak out if a monkey crawled on them then it may be best to not visit the monkey forest. Monkeys are free and if they feel like crawling on you, they will. You just need to remain calm if they do. Typically, they will not bother you if you don’t have food/drink or anything loose (sunglasses, slip-ons, jewelry, hats, etc) that will tempt them.
AmberPosted at 14:58h, 29 November
This would be fun! I’d like to do this–only I’d be sure to do it safely, of course. My daughter would want to keep one as a pet, I’m sure.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:59h, 29 November
Hi Amber. As long as the rules are followed and you don’t interact with the monkeys unless supervised by a professional, it will be an amazing experience! 🙂
RosePosted at 15:00h, 29 November
Ok, I’m not completely scared off. While reading I was wondering about kids being allowed. I mean after all they are loud, and like to run. I hate seeing unattended kids with passume parents. If that girl got hurt it would have been everyone else’s fault but the girl who is kind of young but ….her parents should have ensured she would do the right thing. This post was one of my favorite. Lol, def better then your diet yesterday.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 15:05h, 29 November
Hi Rose. That’s a good question. Parents know their own children the best. If the parent knows that his or her child is one that loves to scream and run then I would advise against taking them to the Ubud Monkey Forest. Such behavior would frighten the monkeys and possibly make them feel like they are being attacked which in turn will make the monkeys want to attack back in self-defense. Although, kids are allowed, I would definitely not recommend either very young kids or kids who are not well behaved to visit. Things can turn badly quickly. It would be, however, an incredible experience for the older kids who know how to follow the rules and STAY CALM. They can learn quite a bit just by watching the monkeys interact with each other in their natural habitat. The girl that you see in the video would have been ok had she not decided to touch the baby monkey but it was clear that her parents had not given her clear instructions or that she was not disciplined enough to follow the rules. It can be tricky. So if a parent has concerns about how his or her child would behave then I would suggest against taking the child to the Ubud Monkey Forest.
Lennae StubbsPosted at 16:47h, 29 November
I’m so happy to read this, you always hear a lot of horror stories about monkeys. I have encountered a monkey before but it was very tame. I guess with any type of animal if you annoy it, tempt it or scare it, it will do what ever it needs to do to defend itself.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 16:54h, 29 November
Hi Lennae. Yes, monkeys are adorable and can be very tame but they can also be extremely dangerous especially if they feel threatened. We had an awesome time at the Ubud Monkey Forest but we also made sure to follow the rules!
Krystal // The Krystal DiariesPosted at 20:08h, 29 November
It seems like an interesting adventure but I think I’d prefer to keep my distance and let the animals be.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 20:15h, 29 November
Hi Krystal. Although, we did have the unforgettable experience by safely interacting with the monkeys it still would have been a great experience just watching them interact with each other.
Healthy Cooking MomPosted at 02:48h, 30 November
I think it should be mandatory to have a guide for both the monkeys sake and the people visiting, some people just cant seem to help themselves.
dotonherwayPosted at 06:34h, 30 November
Oh wow these monkeys are so adorably cute! It looks like your family had fun times.
Valerie RatliffPosted at 14:09h, 30 November
If I ever get to go to Bali I’m so going here. I love animals and the monkeys would be so fun.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 14:15h, 30 November
Hi Valerie. Oh yeah we would HIGHLY recommend it! It was quite a memorable experience. You will LOVE it. ☺
Jasmine WattsPosted at 01:14h, 01 December
I love that video of little girl! It sounds like an unforgettable experience!
The Travel NinjasPosted at 01:16h, 01 December
Hi Jasmine. That was a bit scary. The funny thing is that the guide that I was with was actually trying to tell the dad not to let his daughter touch the monkey. This could have gotten really ugly! Luckily the guide was around and knew how to get the momma monkey away. Otherwise, that little girl could have been badly hurt and it would not have been the monkey’s fault.
AnosaPosted at 01:39h, 02 December
Ok this was a really good read and interesting to know that the bad press wasn’t exactly true in this case. No jewellery if I ever visit here that’s for sure
The Travel NinjasPosted at 01:44h, 02 December
Hey Anosa. Thanks that’s good to hear. Ubud Monkey Forest is safe with a guide and supervision and rule following.
Sandy N VyjayPosted at 11:04h, 01 April
The baby monkeys are absolutely adorable! Although it is really upsetting to see people not following the rules. Even children should be stopped from breaking the rules.
The Travel NinjasPosted at 11:11h, 01 April
Hi Sandy N Vyjay. We agree. We don’t think a lot of online info is fair about the safety of Ubud Monkey Forest.