Top Tips for Visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Girls Getaway Bali

Monkeys, I love monkeys! Or so I thought. During my visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali, I soon learned the difference between a real live monkey and the ‘cuties’ portrayed on various TV programs. I discovered that monkeys in real life aren’t sweet, cuddly pets, they are wild and unpredictable animals and should be treated as such. We didn’t have any unpleasant confrontations with the monkeys during our time in the Sacred Forest, and I only wish I could have enjoyed the visit more. The Sacred Forest sanctuary was quite lovely with its lush tropical canopy and wonderful moss covered statues scattered throughout the habitat. If I wasn’t so freaked out by the monkeys I would have have been happy to spend more time exploring the area.

Bali Sacred Monkey Forest

Here are five tips to live by if you ever find yourself hanging out in a forest with a whole bunch of monkeys.

1. These fellas are not so little, and they can be aggressive. As we got out of our car, our guide casually mentioned we should put away all eye glasses, hats, water bottles, food, and take off anything sparkly or dangly. This is because the little buggers will steal anything they can get their hands on! They’ve also been known to rip earrings off an earlobe, ouch! Needless to say, I hadn’t thought to bring contact lenses and had to be led around the forest, half blind and terrified, convinced these now blurry, humongous beasts were lurking out there somewhere plotting to ambush me.

Macaque, Monkey Forest, Ubad Bali

2. Don’t show your teeth, smile or look directly at a monkey, this is a sign of aggression to the macaques and one of the main reasons people get bitten by monkeys. Check out this ‘biting’ video posted by Maria from GoneSeoulSearching.com:

3. Vendors outside the Sacred Monkey Forest are more than willing to sell bananas to unsuspecting tourists, despite the signs warning you NOT to feed the animals. Food is another thing that really excites the macaques and food fights may occur. Don’t get in between a macaque and his food, in fact don’t hold, or possess food anywhere on your body.

4. If a monkey does decide to take an interest in you, they may jump on you to explore further. Don’t scream, don’t run. Stay perfectly still, let the monkey do its thing, and eventually he/she will get bored and move on.

Sacred Monkey Forest Bali

5. The monkeys are long-tailed macaques and there are about 600 living in the relatively small forest. This guarantees that you will see monkeys, lots of monkeys, and you need to understand this is not a zoo, you are a visitor in the macaque’s habitat. There are no barriers between you and the animals, and mingling will occur. Never forget these are wild, potentially dangerous animals. Respect them, and the fact that you’re in their home, and you’ll have a nerve racking but wonderful experience.

Ok. I have to admit this little guy below was kind of cute and cuddly!

Baby monkey at the Sacred Forest in Bali

Here are a few more photos from the Sacred Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali.

Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud Bali

Monkey Forest Bali

Monkey Statue, Ubud Bali

Comment on this story:

What all the girls are saying:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this advice. I think it’s so easy to see the macaques as cute harmless little guys but as you mentioned they ARE wild animals and it’s important to respect that. It’s not a petting zoo. Hate that you didn’t have your contacts but still glad you found some enjoyment in the trip.

  2. LOVE this post – your mixture of humor and information is spot on! So glad you had a good time, even while “half blind and terrified.” This will be on our shortlist should we ever be lucky enough to visit Bali. Thanks for sharing! -Veronica

  3. I love the Monkey Forest and as long as you keep your distance it’s cool, but yes the monkeys are cheeky! Very very cheeky! I enjoyed going in without any bananas, that seemed to be the key (or have a slingshot, like the ladies at the entrance)