Ubud Monkey Forest – How to Feed Cute Monkeys and Stay Safe
I had my first close encounter with a monkey at Ubud Monkey Forest. This cute monkey just walked up and gently grabbed me by the crotch! Welcome to Ubud Monkey Forest. I squealed out a giggle as she shimmied up the front of my body. It really tickled, but I was also giddy with excitement. Then this cute monkey plopped down on my shoulder. I had a new friend. It was priceless.
Like every kid, I dreamed of playing with cute monkeys. I finally got my chance at Ubud Monkey Forest. It was a simple moment, but it brought me such joy. I realized that I was surrounded by a beautiful jungle in Bali, playing with a wild monkey who lives in an ancient Hindu temple!
I was amazed and felt so lucky. This was actually beyond what I dreamed of as a kid. I was elated that we didn’t listen to all the online horror stories about monkey attacks. We almost skipped Ubud Monkey Forest because of those stories, but that would have been a huge mistake. If you’re debating the safety of Ubud Monkey Forest, there is no need to worry. You can enjoy the cute monkeys and stay safe.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE ONLINE HORROR STORIES?
Before we get into the specific safety precautions and rules, we want to address the fear of random monkey attacks. Random monkey attacks were our biggest fear before our visit. There are tons of stories about people who were supposedly following all the rules when vicious monkeys attacked without provocation.
THE MYTH OF RANDOM MONKEY ATTACKS
Yes, people do get bit and scratched, but mishaps are not random. If you take the right precautions and follow the rules, you will be safe. According to the officials that we asked, the hurt person has always intentionally or unintentionally done something to provoke the mishap. We witnessed this truth for ourselves during our visit.
One of the biggest unintentional mistakes is wearing or bringing items that are tempting for the monkeys. For example, wearing jewelry is highly discouraged at Ubud Monkey Forest. If someone simply forgets about their jewelry, a monkey may jump on them. The monkey is only after the jewelry, but it seems like a violent attack. The person is startled, panics a bit, and tries to get away. This, in turn, frightens the monkey. He may bite or scratch. All the person remembers is the seemingly random attack, and another online horror story is born. They may not even be aware that they caused the incident. The solution is simple – don’t bring tempting items into Ubud Monkey Forest in the first place. There are literally warning signs about this all over the place.
We also saw countless intentional mistakes, like trying to pet or pick up a cute monkey. This is a more obvious NO-NO, but it happens all the time. The monkeys are very friendly, and usually, the person gets away unscathed. This encourages others to do the same, and eventually someone gets hurt.
The girl in the above photo is a perfect example. She made repeated attempts to touch the little monkey, while her dad just stood around watching. The cute monkey was clearly scared but remained calm and peaceful. When the monkey finally had enough, he screamed and ran off. Just then his mother came charging in to protect him. It could have gotten ugly, but luckily, someone was there to protect the girl (it sure wasn’t her father).
Sometimes the price isn’t physical pain. A woman sitting next to us was trying to hold a monkey. It screamed in fear and pooped all over the woman before running off. It ruined her day, but she deserved it.
It’s so frustrating when Ubud Monkey Forest gets bad press. Even the monkeys who do scratch or bite often tolerate several attempts to touch them before they defend themselves. It just isn’t fair that these cute monkeys get labeled as vicious when it’s not their fault.
HOW TO STAY SAFE AT UBUD MONKEY FOREST
HIRE AN EXPERIENCED PRIVATE GUIDE.
Our number #1 safety recommendation is to get an experienced, private guide. In all the horror stories, we never read that they had a private guide devoted to their safety. Private guides are surprisingly affordable in Bali, and ours was great. Our guide had been to Ubud Monkey Forest more than 1000 times. He made sure that we took all the right precautions. He also gave us countless little tips that kept us safe. Often it was something simple like where to stand near a monkey or how and when to approach one. For safety, these little details matter. It’s impossible for a first time visitor to know them all. Using common sense is important, but having an experienced guide walk you through is better and safer.
The experienced guide also made everything more FUN. He knew the best spots and the best times to see and interact with the cute monkeys. He was also our translator when we spoke with the Ubud Monkey Forest staff. We learned so much more this way. He even arranged for us to contact the monkeys under staff supervision.
ONLY CONTACT THE MONKEYS WITH OFFICIAL STAFF SUPERVISION
Our guide and the Monkey Forest staff advised us not to buy bananas for the monkeys. Feeding bananas to cute monkeys on your own is awesome. We did it safely at Bukit Malawati, Malaysia. But it isn’t as safe at Ubud Monkey Forest. Many people do feed the monkeys these bananas without incident. It is certainly fun, but it can also be risky. The biggest risk of feeding monkeys on your own is getting swarmed. It is easy to make a well-intentioned mistake and end up hurt. They are cute monkeys, but they are still wild.
We wanted to minimize any risks, so we did our feedings (we did several) under the supervision of the Ubud Monkey Forest staff. Again, in all the horror stories we read, the people are trying to handle wild animals by themselves, without assistance from the trained professionals. We can’t imagine anyone getting hurt while under the supervision of the staff.
The staff spends all day, every day, with these monkeys. They know them very well. The staff ensured that we would only encounter friendly monkeys. They would delay or pause our encounters to chase off any aggressive monkeys in the area. They also ensured that we would only encounter one monkey at a time, eliminating the risk of getting swarmed. Feeding the monkeys this way was exponentially safer and so much FUN! We were able to relax and enjoy the experience. Each of these feedings only costs 10,000 rupiah, which is only about 75 cents in USD. It’s a super bargain.
PLAN TO TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS
The best precaution is to bring only the entrance fee and a camera. Any unnecessary items can attract unwanted attention from the monkeys. Carrying so little can pose a challenge when you’re traveling. Some planning is necessary depending on how you’re visiting the Monkey Forest. If you take our advice and hire a private tour guide, you will have a locked vehicle to secure your belongings. Otherwise, you will need a plan to store your things. One option is to leave your stuff at the ticket counter. They will let you store it there and “watch” it for you, but it may not be secure enough for real valuables.
Food is the worst thing to carry around, even the bananas sold at the entrance. This also includes candy, gum, mints and any other edibles. The monkeys will smell it and hound you.
Monkeys love to steal water bottles.
All jewelry should be removed. Don’t bring any paper or plastic bags. The monkeys have learned that these usually contain food so they constantly snatch them. The monkeys also love to steal water bottles. The best thing is to buy small bottles in the concession area and finish them. Don’t carry them around the Monkey Forest. You can wear sunglasses or hats, but you must be prepared to lose them to the monkeys. It didn’t happen to us, but it can.
FOLLOW THE POSTED SAFETY RULES
The safety rules are posted all over Ubud Monkey Forest. They are simple and easy to follow. There are several rules but these 3 are the most important.
1. Relax. The monkeys feed off your emotional energy.
2. Avoid prolonged direct eye contact. It’s a sign of aggression for the monkeys.
3. Don’t touch the monkeys / Let them touch you. Obvious, right.
STAY AWAY FROM THE BABY MONKEYS
None of the posted safety signs mention this specifically, but it is one of the most important safety rules. Our guide and the Monkey Forest staff told us that if you grab a baby, dozens of monkeys will attack you. Avoiding babies may sound obvious, but it is extremely tempting. There are lots of babies around and the mothers trust humans enough to let us close to the babies. The urge to hug one of these adorable babies is strong, but if you try to touch one, you may end up in the hospital.
Corny as it may sound, safety was the foundation of our awesome experience at Ubud Monkey Forest. You can have a blast with the cute monkeys and stay safe. Just remember that they are wild animals. If you get the help of an experienced guide and the Monkey Forest staff, you chances of getting hurt are basically nil.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Address: Jalan Monkey Forest – Padangtegal – Ubud – Gianyar- Bali (80571)
Operating Hours: 8:30am – 6:00pm
Dress Code: Casual. There are temples, but no need for sarongs or special clothes.
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