Updated: Apr 13
If you're visiting Bali, The Monkey Forest in Ubud is a must visit.
It is a nature reserve owned by the local village- who see it as an important spiritual, ecological and economic site. The official name of the Forest is Mandala Suci Wenara Wana. Not only is it an opportunity for you to visit the cheeky Monkeys of Bali, but it is also a way to support local employment, ecomony, a place to contain a monkey population and reduce human animal conflict on crops, but as well as an active site of worship.
Local rangers are employed inside the Forest, to maintain the peace. They patrol inside dressed in beautiful traditional Balinese clothing. They'll answer your questions and quite literally get the monkey off your back.
The site has gone under rapid transformation in the past two years, with the addition of a huge new bus bay and tourist entrance, with prices rising to meet costs of developments. The Forest itself is still charming, and worth a visit. As you enjoy yourself, however, I thoroughly recommend following the advice listed at The Monkey Forest. From a five times visitor (I just love watching the Monkeys) who has been bitten and robbed by these cheeky little monkeys, here's some advice on how to stay safe and ethical in the Monkey Forest:
1) Don't take in plastic bottles. Monkeys are smart, and they will want your water bottle. Once they've stolen it, they'll pop it and drink it and litter the bottle. Naughty! This counts for plastic bags too!
2) Monkeys are, genuinely, very naughty and inquisitive. Hide all of your pocessions, jewellery, sunglasses. Expect your phone to be snatched if you are walking around filming. Just be aware. They are curious as well as naughty. Keep your pocessions safe. If you are approached by a monkey, do not stare into it's eyes. This is taken as a sign of aggression.
3) Do not feed the monkeys human food. You can witness the feeding of sweet potatoes, sweet corn and yes, bananas within the park. This natural diet ensures balance and health for the monkeys. Feeding monkeys crisps and cake is really really damaging for their health, not to mention that they can either eat the whole plastic that your treat came in, or litter it in the forest. If you're caught feeding the monkeys, the rangers will be very angry.
4) Do not touch the monkeys. Baby monkeys are really cute! But resist the urge to touch them or any other member of their community. Mother monkeys are extremely protective of their young and monkeys have big teeth. They might come up to you and jump on you, if they do, remain clam and don't panic. Don't grab them or try to cuddle them!
5) Wear respectful clothing. Although this might not be something the park necessarily advertises itself, please be considerate with what you wear to the Forest. It is an active religious site. We witnessed a cremation at the Forest during visitor opening hours- and it's very disrespectful for men to wear no shirt, women to wear bikinis or very revealing outfits.
6) The Monkeys exist outside of the park. The same rules apply to Monkeys outside of the park, as inside. Feeding monkeys and touching monkeys causes behavioural problems. If monkeys get too naughty, and cause bodily harm to tourists, they will have to be controlled. Nobody wants to contribute to that! Keep your distance and your respect. No touching, no feeding.
7) Enjoy the Monkey Forest! It is truly a magical way to spend the afternoon, and if you get the chance to watch the monkeys playing, grooming and going about their daily business, you'll notice just how closely related we are! The forest itself is truly beautiful. Enjoy the knotty, mossy and fern filled crevices!