The Monkeys of the Monkey Forest

This post is also available in: German

So far, my interactions with monkeys have mostly been on the lawless side of things. I watched them rip bags of popcorn out of little girls hands in zoos, in Tanzania, I saw them stealing from vehicles and in South Africa, I heard about them ransacking whole neighbourhoods. In the Caribbean, they got drunk on stolen beverages, in Uluwatu, one tried to bite me and in Ubud, one finally succeeded. And often, I just saw them plotting their next heist with their gangs in the distance.

Monkey at the monkey forest

At the sacred monkey forest sanctuary in Ubud, around 25km from Denpasar, they keep the crafty thieves docile with lots of banana bribery. Visitors can purchase whole bundles of the yellow fruits at the entrance and then throw them to the over 600 long-tailed macaques, a species found throughout Southeast Asia. Some decide to hold them up high, in hopes a monkey will climb their legs trying to get its treat. Accordingly, the ground is littered with banana peels and I caught myself slipping Mario Kart style more than once.

Lady selling bananas at the monkey forest

Unlike the ones in Uluwatu, the monkeys in Ubud are fairly friendly and are accustomed to people. They spend their days hanging out by the pathways, grooming each other and getting fat on bananas. While most of the time, life in the monkey forest seems serene, there are four troops of macaques in the forest competing over the area and the males frequently get into violent clashes to assert their territory. Meanwhile, the little baby monkeys look like tiny, adorable and derpy old people. They bounce around on tree branches or cling to their mothers, all the while gripping an exploded banana.

Baby monkey with its mother

Baby monkey eating a banana

Monkeys, in Balinese Hinduism, embody negative, as well as positive forces, therefore the monkeys living on temple sites are revered and are thought to be able to guard the area from evil spirits in the form of Barongs. These demons representing the spirits of animals, are said to inhabit the area to protect the sacred monkey forest from malevolent forces and their statues can be found throughout the forest. It’s fun to try and find all the beautiful overgrown sculptures and the temples and shrines within the forest are definitely worth a visit as well.

I could have spent all day at the sacred monkey forest sanctuary, the entrance fee is only 20’000 Rupiah (about 2$), and you get a lot of fun out of it. The monkeys are adorable and their antics hilarious.  And: I only got bitten once and I think it just wanted to play.

I’ve tried my hardest to select just a few of my best photos from the monkey forest, but in the end, I just had to give up and upload them all. So here’s a big dose of monkey cuteness:

Monkeys at the monkey forest

Statue of a turtle

Baby monkey with its mother

close up of a monkey at the monkey forest

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Monkey statue

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Monkey forest sanctuary

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Offerings in the monkey forest

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Lizard statue

Demon bridge

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Monkeys of the monkey forest

Author: Tiffany

Tiffany is a Swiss travel writer, digital nomad, and photographer, who, after a fateful journey through Africa, has decided to get her passport renewed, sell all her junk, and live out of a suitcase in various corners of the world, as well as share the experiences with other travel enthusiasts. This blog is intended to inspire you to pack your bags, leave everything behind for a while, and make you go discover the world. Check her out on .

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8 Comments

  1. Great pictures Tiffany! I love the personality in their little faces! This looks like a very cool site to photograph the monkeys, even if they are more accustomed to humans and less “wild”. Do you have to do anything for your bite? Hope it isn’t too bad!

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    • They sure are adorable Callie. The bite isn’t bad at all, the monkey just kind of grabbed my finger and started chewing on it lightly – kind of like a cat playing. But some Russian lady started yelling at me that I was insane for touching the monkeys ;)

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  2. Love your photos! I could sit and watch monkeys for hours. They are pretty entertaining characters, that’s for sure!

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    • Thanks Rhonda :) they are very entertaining when they are not trying to rob or attack you.

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  3. Cool pics! I have to admit I was a little scared by the monkeys at Ubud… I saw one poor girl with bananas surrounded by monkeys who were pulling at her bag and trying to get into her pockets!!

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    • Yup monkeys have no manners, but they do kind of make up for it when they stuff a banana in their little face all cute.

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  4. I loved this place so much! Though, these fellows were pretty demanding when they’ve spotted I got peanuts, I still had loads of fun with a few monkeys getting on me and sitting on my shoulder.

    Though, I didn’t like some big males who gotten aggressive when you didn’t want to give food to them.

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    • Monkeys are such a mixed bag :) the babies are adorable, but the males can get so aggressive out of nowhere.

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