What not to do in the Ubud Monkey Forest

A trip to the island of Bali and Ubud would not be complete without visiting the Ubud Monkey forest. I was looking forward to it. Cute monkeys! Baby monkeys! OMG we can feed the monkeys! Then I remembered my past monkey experiences and the tales of others.

“I got bitten by a monkey in Cambodia…”

“If one bites you, you’ll need a tetanus shot.”

“Remember that monkey that jumped on that guy’s backpack?”

“I saw a monkey steal a kid’s toy once…”

“Watch out for the mother monkeys, they will chase you down if you go near their babies…”

And all of a sudden I felt apprehensive about wandering the forest with bananas in hand. It didn’t help when we arrived and saw the large warning signs about monkey behaviour and the Do’s and Don’t’s of feeding them.

  • Sunglasses and hats away, or the monkeys will take them
  • Carry no food or snacks – lest you want to lose it to a bold monkey thief
  • If feeding the monkeys, hold it out and give it to them once they approach. Do not tease them with it and try to hide the food, especially from female monkeys with babies.

After paying our entry fee we opted not to feed any monkeys, saving any risk of contact and holidays being ruined by tetanus shots. We were content to wander around and take photos of monkeys, as well as the beautiful forest.

As we were not carrying any food, the monkeys pretty much ignored us and were content to let us take photos. I did see some tourists behaving badly, including a Russian woman who tried to hide the bananas down her top and then screamed when a monkey climbed up her body to retrieve them. I assumed that as the signs were in English and Indonesian, she hadn’t read the rules. Or maybe she just chose to be reckless, my travel buddy mused.

I felt like I was on high alert the whole time I to the comings and goings of hundreds of monkeys, large and small. It all came to a boiling point when I saw one guy deliberately taunting a female monkey with a baby on her chest. He kept teasing her with the banana and then pulling it away. The monkey was becoming distressed and I LOST it. Next thing I know I’m yelling at this guy in front of all these people and he’s yelling back all smug, and my travel buddy has exited stage left, embarrassed by my outburst, which admittedly is rather out of character. I don’t know what came over me! I definitely have become more critical of tourists behaving badly as I have gotten older, and I was certainly on edge around all those monkeys.

I managed to compose myself, and walked away trying to hold my head high, standing by my argument. My poor travel buddy quickly escorted me to the exit and promised to buy me a juice to ‘calm my nerves’…

Afterwards I reflected on whether I enjoyed the monkey forest. The animals seemed well treated, it was clean and scenic and enjoyable to walk around. I certainly am wary of monkeys which made me quite cautious, but you can’t deny that the Ubud monkey forest is a lovely place to visit, as long as you are prepared for cheeky monkeys, and perhaps even cheekier tourists!

So if you are visiting the Monkey forest in Ubud, be a GOOD tourist… respect the rules and the monkeys. Or you may just have some nutty Australian woman yelling at you…

See, even the monkeys were laughing!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *