UBUD, Bali – Serenely located in lush foothills and surrounded by terraces of emerald-green rice paddies dotted with scarecrows and fluttering with colorful flags, Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, is a breath of fresh air after the bustle of Kuta and Seminyak.

Ubud is Bali's spiritual heart, and everyday life on the island is imbued with ritual, so start your day's exploration with a stroll around the old center, dropping into temples and observing local rites, such as the lighting of incense and placement of offerings at colorful shrines. Don't miss the elaborate Puri Saren Agung, the palace of Ubud's last ruler, Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati.

Lunch at a restaurant overlooking the rice paddies is a must. Popular Bebel Dengil (Dirty Duck) specializes in Ubud's famous crispy duck and suckling pig. At The Pond, which is more elegant with a prettier setting overlooking a tranquil lily pond, try fried spring rolls and scrumptious pork ribs and wash it down with Balinese wine.