The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, better known as The Ubud Monkey Forest, is one of the highlights of Bali. With three Hindu temples and just over 600 monkeys spread over 27 acres right in the middle of Ubud, it's something you simply can't miss.
But with just over 10,000 visitors a day passing though this sacred area it's best to keep a few things in mind while you're there so you can do your part in keeping the sanctuary around for years to come! Here's a quick list of a few Do's and Don'ts to insure you have a great time at The Monkey Forest!
- Things you should do -
Learn about the temples
The sanctuary is most well known for all of the monkeys. But did you know that the forest is also home to not one, not two, but THREE Hindu temples? What’s even cooler is that all three of them date back as far as 1350. I could on forever about everything from the temporary burials and mass cremations that take place at the Prajapati Temple, to the influence on local Balinese art, but that would fill up an entire post all on it’s own. Just take the time to do a little reading before you head out to see the monkeys. That way you’ll be able to appreciate not just the little furry guys, but the rest of the park as well. Two for one!
Be respectful (It’s a temple)
Like I just mentioned there are actually several Hindu temples located around the sanctuary so it’s also important to remember to be respectful. Most of the general areas are much like walking through a park. But if you decide to check out some of the actual temples then just be conscious of what’s going on around you. The staff has actually even closed off some areas of the temples to the public and reserved them only for locals who are coming to pray.
Go down to the river
The entire park is only about 27 Acers or 1/10th of a square kilometer. Unless you are particularly short on time you will probably be able to see most of it. But just in case you do need to pick and choose, be sure go head down to see the stream. It is absolutely beautiful and it's an opportunity to get some amazing pictures! The entire park is incredibly easy to get around thanks to all of the well-maintained trails and steps. The stream is down in a small ravine so you will have to take some steps to get down to it. But it shouldn’t be too much trouble for most people.
- Things you shouldn't do -
don't Tease the monkeys
Among a whole host of other things, this includes:
Offering food to a monkey and then pulling it away.
Pretending to have food when you do not.
Attempting to scare the monkeys.
Visitors to the sanctuary are bitten by monkeys regularly. In fact you may even notice that the staff are carrying slingshots. These are used as a last resort to scare away larger more aggressive monkeys when they decide to bite or attack a visitor. It’s not common for encounters to go this far, but the simple fact that the staff had to develop some way of dealing with it shows that it does happen. Just be nice to the monkeys and remember that you are intruding on their home.
don't Bring food
The monkeys are given sweet potatoes three times day, and this makes up the majority of their diet. However the staff does realize that visitors to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary want to feed them as well. Who doesn’t want to feel their little hands taking food before running off into the trees!
So the fruit portion (mostly bananas) of the monkey’s diet is what is sold to visitors. This means that between the potatoes from staff and the bananas from tourist the monkeys are happy and healthy! But you will notice quite a few over weight monkeys when you visit. This is because not everyone is getting with the program. Visitors often sneak in snacks of their own to feed the monkeys including bread, chips, candy and other forms of junk food. Not only is this ruining all of the hard work and planning done by the staff, it’s shortening the lives of the monkeys by given them food they should not be eating!
don't Touch the monkeys
The sacred forest monkeys have obviously become very accustom to humans dropping in to say hello. The temple complex sees just over 10,000 visitors A DAY! You will notice right away that the monkeys have no problem strolling along on a casual walk with the people. They jump around and play together while on lookers snap photos. Even climbing up the leg of an unsuspecting tourist.
However always remember that despite their lack of fear of humans, these are wild animals! They are not trained and this is not a show. A large male can be all smiles and taking pictures one minute and taking a big bite out of your hand the next. It’s okay to take some pictures standing next to them but always keep a reasonable distance, watch the monkey for signs of irritation and never attempt to touch them!
avoid Having things in your pockets
Despite the fact that visitors are not allowed to bring outside food into the sanctuary, that doesn’t change the fact that some people still do. The monkeys know this and the sweet treats humans have are often more appealing than bananas. The monkeys have learned to be very VERY sneaky. They'll reach right into your purse or pants pockets and help themselves to whatever you have before you even know what happened!
These little pickpockets will take food, keys or even your phone and run right up a tree with it. Trust me when I say that once a monkey takes off with your $900 iPhone, you’re not getting it back. To avoid all of this just bring a backpack and put all of your belongings in it. Don’t set it down under any circumstances and make sure it has a good locking zipper. You should avoid having food in your backpack even if you aren’t planning on giving to the monkeys when the staff isn’t looking. They will be able to smell it anyway, and it’s going to make your backpack more of a target.
Have you been to The Ubud Monkey Sanctuary? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!