Ubud, Bali

The Bali in “Eat, Pray, Love”

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Like many travelers, I was shocked and amazed – in the worst possible way – upon arriving to Bali for the first time last year. Where were the picturesque beaches, the relics of migratory Hinduism and the laid-back vibe that drew millions of annual tourists here in the first place? The reality of Bali seemed so far removed from the myth.

And, more importantly, where the eff was Julia Roberts’ cute villa? (I was in search of her sexy Brazilian man, too, but let’s be realistic here.) I wanted to find where Julia Roberts had filmed the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” in Bali.

The Bali you encounter when you first arrive at Denpasar International Airport couldn’t be farther from the one depicted in “Eat, Pray, Love,” from steel-grey waters and trash-covered beaches in Kuta, to the disproportionate numbers of foreigners in could-be-charming places like Seminyak, to the blatant commercialism that has nearly wiped out the semblance of anything local around the island. It’s hard to imagine, upon arriving there, why Julia Roberts would hang out in Bali, let alone film the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” here.


The good news is that bits and pieces of Julia Roberts’ Bali are within your reach. Today I’m going to talk about my favorite of them, the Ubud region, which is home to the lush rice terraces, hindu temples and the gives you the opportunity to get up-close and personal with monkeys. It’s at least possible to imagine Julia Roberts’ Bali scenes from “Eat, Pray, Love” having been filmed here.

Ubud is beautiful, and is probably the closest place on the island you’ll find to the Bali Julia Roberts explored during the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” Unfortunately, however, most of the rest of Bali is absolutely disgusting – you wouldn’t want to eat, pray or love there, even if Julia Roberts was with you in Bali!

Where to Stay in Julia Roberts’ Bali

You’ll probably remember, from the movie, that Julia Roberts stayed in a charming villa located near a rice paddy. Ubud is full of these types of accommodations, some of the best of which include Temuku Villas Ubud and Samkhya Villas.

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About The Author

is the author of 747 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Eti Rihana September 28, 2013 at 2:26 am

Hi Robert,

I understand your point of few as a traveler about Bali. I agree that in some points that Bali is over constructed. However, your comment about the trash in Kuta beach was a bit bias to people who do not know Bali.

Those amazing amount of trashes not because Balinese people throw the garbage into the beach, but every year during summer time in Australia, the strong current and wind from north west which is much cooler move to south east of Indonesia. The current carries tons and tons of trash (trees, branches and other trashes) to Bali south coast for the month of February to March. That is also the peak of rainy season in Indonesia for the whole two months. It means many rivers from all over Indonesia flooded and carries all those trashes (including trees from landslide hills) to the ocean. Nearby island of Bali on the west is a much bigger island, Java.
As you know, sands at Kuta Beach is grey. And there is no way in the world a sandy beach has blue clear water during super windy and rainy season with a strong current and potential wave around 2 – 5 meters for the whole 2 months! In other countries those period can be categorized as Typhoon 5 to 8. Indeed, Jan – February (sometime until March) is not the best time to visit Bali because it will disappoint everybody, because of the weather reason.

If you want to enjoy white … calm beaches without any tourists (or just a very few), there are some places actually. But … I will not share them in this media.


Robby Roubaix August 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

Unfortunately, it is very hard to accept any of your theories ER, because even the locals will tell you that ‘the trash supposedly carried from Australia’ mostly has ‘made in Indonesia’ printed on it. And interestingly is found all along most roads and in most inland and coastal villages in Bali and not a lot on the beaches. The same problem exists on Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida where again, most of the trash is found around built up areas and is more a problem of progress and attitude than one of currents and climate. However, the good news is that it hasn’t reached the catastrophic proportions of India’s pollution from plastic bottles and wrappers and the water quality for diving and snorkeling is still very enticing. There seems to be efforts being made by some locals with sense and pride, to change peoples thinking, organize recycling and preservation of what makes this a beautiful and attractive part of the world

Robert Schrader August 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Thanks for providing your commentary, Robby!

Bellabali September 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm

What an absolute load of crap..Bali is magical, beautiful, every country has its filth, underworld,seediness…but some are just better at hiding it. To say Bali for the best part is disgusting in wrong on every level. IT WAS A MOVIE!! Did you all miss that bit?? Good luck in the search for a similar outcome!! Why???? Cus its a ‘MOVIE’ !!!!!! I love Bali…the real Bali…not kuta or legion…the real Bali..the peopleare delightful…hunble…kind…and dont always just want ur money. Sure high tourist areas are hot spots…so i avoid them. I spend my time with truly loyal and wonderful friends i have made there. In Bali im a millionaire rock star goddess of beauty.
I go as often as i can and have never experienced any kind of trouble in any way.
Bali is my paradise a little slice of heaven. Even the traffic caos has personality.

Robert Schrader September 22, 2014 at 7:31 am

Thank you or providing your perspective, even if I disagree with it.

aussie January 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm

I agree with you bellabali. This guy has no clue what he is talking about.

Carrie February 9, 2015 at 1:12 am

I haven’t seen eat pray love, but I have been to Bali for a month and loooooved it. Yeah it’s different than where i’m from. Some things like people burning their garbage and their crazy traffic and tiny sidewalks aren’t great, but they scenery and the people were so nice, and I would go back any chance I got. I travelled a good portion of island and found each area very different. I was hesitant about going at first because I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a crazy and amazing experience! I guess everyone’s are different.

Robert Schrader February 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Definitely! I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

Tigerlilly April 30, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Wow. I did not see the movie Eat, Pray, Love – but I did read the book that the film was based on. So to answer one of your questions as to why the film was set in Bali – it is because one third of the book, an actual account of one woman’s journey, took place in Bali. I just got back from Bali a week ago. I had a lovely time in my 8 days in Ubud and Kuta, and saw a great deal of beauty while there such as: traditional Balinese dancers and musicians, the most lovely art museum and cultural center, a landscape similar in vegetation to Hawaii (both are volcanic islands) but with the addition of vast terraced hillsides where rice – a staple in the Balinese diet – is grown, an elementary school with lively and talented children, wonderful restaurants with fantastic food, beautiful hotel accommodations, traditional Hindu temples everywhere – and I mean everywhere – every community had its own temple where offerings of flower petals are made three times daily, unbelievably finely sculpted wood carvings and a vast array of stone sculptures in epic proportions, and the most beautiful cows this side of India. I also missed some of the beauty a few of my fellow travelers did encounter – like the monkey forest and an animal preserve where elephants reside. Yes, there is trash in surprising places – often roadside and smoldering/burning even in high end touristy areas. Yet, this inability – thus far – to cope with the detritus of an encroaching modern economy within a traditional culture is not a reason to avoid this gem of an island and an intriguing mix of cultures. The Balinese people we met were honest, kind and sincerely gracious. The glimpse we got into the Balinese – their society, their mythology and the challenges that face this island nation was one I will treasure.

Dominique Migraso September 26, 2015 at 6:56 am

I wanted to go to bali not because of the EPL movie but because of Korean TV series way back 2008. My friends tell me why do I need to go to Bali when El Nido and Coron, Palawan in the Philippines is far more beautiful and virgin. Just curious why all those Westerners love to go to this place. I’ll find out in November to prove that some place has its trash & beauties.

Robert Schrader September 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Good luck!

Maarten April 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Dear Robert,

I’m curious what you mean with “most of the rest”. I mean, Bali is not that small. Which places did you visit and how long did you stay in total? I totally believe the south area is overconstructed and polluted but i find it hard to believe the countryside is a similar disappointment.

Robert Schrader May 2, 2016 at 7:02 am

I just feel like the bad parts nullify the good parts, large as Bali island may be.

Samuel Brooks June 5, 2016 at 8:45 am

Okay, so Bali can be a little much. The driving here is crazy and there is some garbage. But “disgusting” is a VERY strong word to use for it. I’m a 17 year old guy living in Nyuh Kuning, a village just outside of Ubud and Bali is very beautiful. Twice a week, we run through the real Bali in a running group of both Indonesians and bule (tourists), seeing waterfalls, rice paddies, and beautiful gorges. Bali does have a lot of trash, and the south, like Kuta, Legian, and Saturday can be pretty gross with trash and nasty water (can’t pass judgment in Seminyak, haven’t been there), but, Ubud is still very much the south of the island. Go up north, over the mountains to Pemutaran or Ulun Danu, and you’ll see much less trash and more beauty. Eat Pray Love inadvertantly caused the trash too! Think about it, Balinese people talk longingly of the times before the movie, when tourism wasn’t so big. That move made the tourism which brought a lot of money but also brought the trash to the island. While you are correct that the Bali that many tourists see when they limit themselves to a resort in Kuta isn’t amazing, although it’s still beautiful. However, India, for instance, is far more gross than Bali, pretty much anywhere where there are tourists, there’s trash. However, Bali is so small that there’s really nowhere to bring the trash. If you want to see the Bali that Julia Roberts saw, go to the little villages and off the beaten path into the rice paddies (and not just the ones listed in guidebooks, ask locals where to go. I walk at least twice a week in the rice paddies in Nyuh Kuning. It’s very real and realistic). Bali is actually one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. The reason is that, since Hinduism is still very much believed in, crazy cool ceremonies and temples are still active and in use. My point is, even if you’ve only been to Bali for a short while, give it a chance. It really is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, and this coming from somebody whose lived in Mexico, Switzerland, Spain, and Costa Rica, and whose been to Everest, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, and the temples carved out if rock in Ethiopia. (Sorry for any spelling issues, typing this on my phone).

Supergirl June 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Thanks for your insight

RobertCan'tWrite July 3, 2016 at 10:23 pm

*clap clap clap* the White Man’s gaze. Don’t you forget for a minute that it’s white people that ruined the world only to crawl back into their “civilized” countries. Go fuck yourself.

Michele September 5, 2016 at 11:48 am

seems to me that you are a stupid douchebag robert …

lestrim October 13, 2016 at 6:03 am

Do you know that the “MOVIE” is based on a book that is the actual experience of a woman in Bali and Italy and she documented her journey and travels????

Robert Schrader October 17, 2016 at 7:12 am

Yes I did 🙂

gaysaroundthebay March 28, 2017 at 6:50 am

Just this week about to post a Bali Blog post on GaysAroundTheBay.com. And we mention the same thing you shouldn’t really go to Bali for the beaches because they are so dirty. It’s an underdeveloped area so it is what it is. I wouldn’t rank it as a great place to go backpacking but it serves well for villa and high end club life (W Bar, Potatoe Head).

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