Baby Monkey at the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Terror in the Monkey Forest

I’m a great fan of monkeys and apes. Back home my mum and I often visit Monkey World, an ape rescue centre in Dorset; when we went on safari in Kenya my favourite animal wasn’t one of the impressive big five, it was the gangster of the animal world – the baboon. So, I was pretty excited at the prospect of getting up close to some Macaques at the Monkey Forest in Ubud – that was, until they started attacking us.

Macaque at the Monkey Forest. Ubud

The Perils of the Monkey Forest

If you’ve never heard of the Bali Monkey Forest, here’s the lowdown. The forest forms a sanctuary for the monkeys, who are considered sacred and well protected; there’s even a temple inside the forest where people go to worship. Somewhere along the line the forest also became a tourist attraction. Visitors can stroll through it and see the monkeys up close, watch them play and eat, there’s even a woman outside the entrance selling bananas to feed them. Sounds like fun, right?

Before we even arrived we started hearing horror stories about the Monkey Forest; animals stealing cameras and wallets, chasing people and worse still, biting. A word about Macaques and monkeys in general – they might look cute but even the small ones are incredibly strong and have very big incisors. A bite can be extremely painful at the best of times, but in Bali there’s another hazard to consider – rabies.

Monkeys Eating Fruit at the Monkey Forest

The disease is quite widespread in Bali, we were warned by a doctor in Jakarta not to touch any animals on the island and to make sure we had our pre-rabies vaccines before we visited. Rabies can spend up to two years incubating in an animal before any symptoms appear and a bite from a rabid animal can be deadly if you’re infected and don’t receive treatment fast.

Since we’d already had our rabies vaccinations, however, we weren’t too worried. We’d be sensible and only take a camera with us so as not to attract the monkeys, we were prepared – it couldn’t be that bad, could it?

Terror in the Monkey Forest

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The Attack

Approaching the entrance to the forest we saw, with delight, the first monkeys swarming around the gate, playing, eating fruit and climbing around. As we ventured further in we stopped to watch the cute baby monkeys and some older, greedier ones snatching the best fruit dropped by the tourists. One man carrying a bag of fruit was pursued by a large monkey, who stood up on his hind legs snatching at the bag until its contents were empty.

Baby Monkey at the Monkey Forest in Ubud

We’d been there barely ten minutes before the rain started. It rained every day in Ubud, not just a light drizzle but furious, fat drops of rain which fell thick and fast, pelting and soaking you to the skin, causing the pavements to turn into rivers. We knew enough to just wait it out under shelter for the storm to pass.

When we emerged we stopped to watch a small monkey playing in a puddle, spellbound by its cuteness. Then, abruptly the monkey turned on Andrew, leaping gracefully onto his shoulder, nipping around his neck and working his way down to his waist. With seasoned ease, he promptly shoved his skinny, thieving hand deep into Andrew’s pocket, rummaging around for treasures. Horrorstruck, I watched as the monkey turned his attention to our camera case which, although firmly closed, was soon unzipped by the little pickpocket, who grabbed a lens cap and hopped down. I was relieved that he’d finally gotten off Andrew without biting or scratching him and with the help of another tourist, we managed to retrieve the lens cap.

Mother and Baby Monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest

More wary now we ventured on. While many of the smaller monkeys and the mothers nursing babies seemed to keep away from people, others were attempting to mug visitors; one  tried unzipping a woman’s backpack while she wasn’t looking, another made a grab for a man’s trouser pockets.  I saw one pretty stupid tourist kneeling down, his arm outstretched, attempting to lure a small monkey onto it for a photo opportunity. He succeeded in getting the monkey onto his arm, but jumped up again in shock when it promptly bit him, breaking the skin.

The Monkey Forest, Bali

Andrew and I were both feeling pretty uncomfortable by this point and began heading slowly back towards the exit. In an attempt to keep the monkeys away from us, Andrew tucked the camera under his t-shirt; in hindsight this probably made things worse. The animals knew he was hiding something and began galloping alongside him, grabbing for his pockets, getting up on their back legs and threatening to leap onto him. We walked faster, almost breaking into a run.

“Drop your banana Mister,” shouted one Monkey Forest employee.

“We don’t have any bananas!” Andrew yelled in response as another monkey joined the chase. I gave in to panic and began to dash ahead, straight for the exit, hearing another tourist call:

“They can smell it on you…”

“I haven’t got anything!” Andrew cried angrily as we sped to safety.

Check out the video of our brief visit to the Monkey Forest:

Escaping the Monkey Forest

Yes, we were literally chased out of the Monkey Forest, but at least we escaped unscathed. Our brush with the monkeys didn’t stop there, as we walked past the exit later in the day, Andrew was mugged of his chilli popcorn by one sneaky gangster waiting outside the entrance.

Visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Apparently there are an average of three bites a day at the Monkey Forest; I’m sure countless other tourists have their possessions robbed. While you can’t exactly blame the monkeys – they’re wild animals who’ve learnt that humans provide a source of food and carry interesting things around in their pockets – a visit can still be a scary experience.

So, a word of warning: if you’re heading to the Ubud Monkey Forest, please be careful not to take anything with you. Cover up and wear closed shoes as the animals are likely to jump on you; don’t bring food or try to touch the monkeys; respect them for the wild animals they are.

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  • Shane
    Posted at 08:52h, 03 July Reply

    Getting attacked in Ubud’s Monkey Forest is almost becoming an essential rite of passage for travellers in SEA. I had to square up to one of the little buggers to get Deirdre’s bag back after it run off with it (it was a bit like Kirk vs Gorn – but not in a quarry and without the music). Judging from your experience it sounds like they are getting more and more aggressive.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 10:30h, 03 July Reply

      Ha, I’m impressed that you squared up to one of the little beasts Shane – I would have been tempted to let them keep the bag! It does seem that many travellers have horror stories from the forest to share; the place will surely become a no-go zone in a few years at this rate.

  • Laurel- Capturing la Vita
    Posted at 14:43h, 03 July Reply

    Wow! I can safely say, I will probably never enter that place after reading this story. A real testament in how humans are shaping and changing the animal world. Glad you guys got out safely and with all your stuff!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 16:03h, 03 July Reply

      Even when we thought we were taking the bare minimum we still ‘over-packed’ for the occasion, all we needed was the entrance fee and the camera around my neck and we would have been much safer: much less to worry about. you can never be too careful when it comes to wild animals.

  • Heidi Wagoner
    Posted at 20:06h, 03 July Reply

    Oh no! We had a run in with the Monkeys in Gibraltar. I wrote a post about my mom getting “mugged”, it was a hoot. This place sounds a bit worse, so maybe we should avoid.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:12h, 04 July Reply

      As long as you go to the Monkey Forest well prepared and knowing what to expect it should be ok Heidi. Sounds like the monkeys are everywhere – no doubt we’ll encounter more on our travels!

  • Patti
    Posted at 22:47h, 03 July Reply

    I have read many a blog post about these thieving little monkeys! Glad you escaped unscathed – they look so cute in your video – but beware!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:10h, 04 July Reply

      They do look so cute and innocent in the video Patti but there’s mischief lurking behind the sweet exterior!

  • David (Rosie's husband) & Rosie
    Posted at 23:13h, 03 July Reply

    My son Nathan was interested to see your blog, as he went there in 1994, and says the monkeys were pretty wild then! They’re obviously now aware of humans as sources of food and trinkets from infancy!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:08h, 04 July Reply

      Hi Guys, yes, the thieving is definitely learned behaviour – I dread to think how much more wild they’ll get in the future!

  • Debbie
    Posted at 05:47h, 04 July Reply

    Glad to hear you guys got out safely without being bitten or hurt. That would definitely be scary… Very cute photos and video though and at least you now have a great story to tell!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 10:01h, 04 July Reply

      Thanks Debbie, I’m relieved we escaped without injury too and I’m glad we paid for our pre-rabies vaccines before we left the UK too!

  • Carlos
    Posted at 19:18h, 04 July Reply

    Sounds like Christmas when Chris, Claire, Stephen and Jennifer were little toddlers!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 14:39h, 05 July Reply

      Haha, yeah, they weren’t quite so terrifying though. 🙂

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    […] been so looking forward to the Monkey Forest in Ubud but as you can see from my previous account, we ended up having a pretty scary time there. Even though for most of our visit to the forest I […]

  • Alyson
    Posted at 04:47h, 19 July Reply

    Yep, they are evil, told you! Glad you got out all fingers intact.

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:16h, 19 July Reply

      Yep, if you hadn’t given us the heads up it would have been even more of a shock!

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    Posted at 09:30h, 17 September Reply

    […] aware of rabies. The disease is prevalent in Bali so be careful (especially if you visit the Monkey Forest). We were glad that we’d had our pre-rabies vaccines before we left the UK – although we’d […]

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  • Rod henderson
    Posted at 01:57h, 11 October Reply

    We had no shots at all when we went to Bali. Our doc advised that it was only necessary if going to ‘places that are out of the way’. This is my second 3 week stint on the island. I love it here. The surfing is great, which is the main reason I’ve been twice. There is though a lot, lot more though, including cheeky monkeys.

    I had heard all the stories about the Monkey Forest so I didn’t go there on my first trip, it sounded terrible. Second trip my wife came along and she wanted to go there and to the ‘elephant place’. Really, they are BOTH don’t miss experiences.

    We bought bananas before we went in and were 15′ through the the entrance before we were covered in monkeys and the bananas were all gone in 10 seconds. I had 2 on my shoulders grooming my bald head, several on other parts of my body and one cheeky thing clinging to my leg with his hand in my jeans pocket. My wife and I are both 65 and we were just cracking up with laughter. It was hilarious. Bananas were gone in no time so the monkeys went too. They were just so cute, gentle, persistent, and tame. I still smile when I think about it. I had a camera, but left my specs in the car. The only incident we had was when my wife was crouching down trying to befriend a cute little bub, when she reached out to it the mother rushed up, grabbed the baby, hissed at her like a cat, then ran off with the bub. Who was at fault then? Yep, just don’t lose you concentration, keep thinking. We saw other tourist with monkeys all over them, too. These monkeys know the bananas are for them and they compete with each other. Tourists are just a food source. Stay cool, only take a few bananas in, don’t expect to save any for later and have your camera ready because the action is quite frenetic, but very short. Then go see the elephants after.

    Oh, if you go into a temple, you need permission and you need to wear a sarong. A very few temples will include a sarong hire in their small entrance fee.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:58h, 11 October Reply

      H Rod, thanks for commenting. I’m glad you had a great time in the Monkey Forest and got by without any incidents! I definitely think it was a good idea wearing jeans to protect from any scratches or bites; you’re right, the monkeys can be cute but you should always watch out as they’re wild animals and we need to respect that (I’m sure a lot of the bites are down to tourists trying to touch the monkeys). Good tip about the sarong too!

  • edbeard
    Posted at 08:59h, 10 February Reply

    my friend was attacked for no reason today in monkey forest. we were not carrying any food, and were trying to mind our own business as much as possible. at first, he was cute and jumped on her shoulders. then it started ti bite a bit around her bra strap. i tried to lure it away with some fruit that was on the ground, and eventually he jumped off, showed his teeth, and was looking to attack again, that was until my friend promptly smacked it in the face with her flip flop, which made it run off. if a monkey attacks for no reason, try giving it a quick slap with your flip flop in self defense.

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:49h, 10 February Reply

      Good tactic! It’s sad but since our visit to the Monkey Forest we’ve become very wary of monkeys; recently we had to walk past a pack of macaques on a hill in Cambodia and we carried sticks with us to ward them off should they attack. I’m glad you got out of the Monkey Forest (relatively) unscathed!

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    Posted at 03:27h, 17 March Reply

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  • Peter
    Posted at 08:33h, 14 April Reply

    Interesting to read this. My wife and I visited a few years ago, and went early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. There were relatively few people there and the monkeys had just been given food, as a result they were all quite calm and paid us little attention. A couple of them were curous about my backpack, but since there was no food inside they soon lost interest. We were able to wander and photograph undisturbed for an hour or more.
    The next day we went back at the end of a cycling tour from Kintamani to Ubud. The place was full of visitors with food, and the monkeys were going crazy chasing people for anything they could steal. Sadly, some of the stupidest and most reckless visitors were my fellow Aussies, who seem to think anything goes when they are on holiday in Bali. We decided to beat a hasty retreat before we became collateral damage.
    The problem is not the monkeys, it is the mindless idiots who think they can ignore the rules and interact with the animals as though they are tame. There is indeed a sign at the gate warning against this behaviour, alerting visitors to the dangers of wild monkeys, bites and rabies.
    And yeah, the monkeys are cunning and intelligent. We watched with some amusement as a young boy with bananas hidden in his rolled up tee shirt, had his shorts pulled down by two large males who wanted to liberate a bunch of bananas!

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:07h, 14 April Reply

      Hi Peter, thanks for commenting; great story about the monkeys pulling down the boy’s trousers – I’m glad that didn’t end badly. I agree, tourists need to respect that the monkeys are wild animals and can behave unpredictably at times. Since our visit to the Monkey Forest we’ve actively avoided monkeys as much as we can throughout Asia; they may look cute but they’re not to be messed with!

  • Kelly
    Posted at 13:35h, 21 April Reply

    Thank you for the great article. I felt like I experienced the horror while reading your post and avoided the Monkey Forest at all costs. Thanks for your excellent advice and helping me experience the Monkey Forest with out actually going. Ping back: Safe travels!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:47h, 23 April Reply

      Hi Kelly, thanks for the pingback 🙂 I think you definitely made a wise decision!

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  • Sharon
    Posted at 10:58h, 01 June Reply

    Oh my gosh that sounds terrible! We are going back to Ubud at the start of next year and I think we are definitely staying away from this attraction (our kids are only 2 and 4), and I will be telling my mum the same thing! My husband and I went there in 2007 and it was a bit of an anti climax as the monkeys seemed totally harmless, but perhaps we were just lucky.

    • Amy
      Posted at 13:55h, 01 June Reply

      I would give it a miss Sharon, it’ll probably scare the kids for sure. From what I’ve heard it does seem that the monkeys have gotten bolder and more terrifying in recent years.

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  • Mark
    Posted at 06:26h, 03 July Reply

    Holy crap that’s terrifying. We’ve had two encounters with macaques so far in Japan and China and they’ve thankfully been very friendly, (although I was always a little worried, having not received our rabies vaccines). In Zhangjiajie the macaques were a bit more aggressive, reaching for other tourists’ food bags on occasion, but they were still very skittish around humans.

    Never again though. 😉

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:20h, 03 July Reply

      I’m glad you haven’t had any terrifying experiences yet Mark, I’d be careful around Macaques though, they are little thieves!

  • Chris
    Posted at 05:48h, 11 July Reply

    Seriously, why would you want to make things into such a drama?
    I have been in the monkey forest many times and have never seen any of this happen to anyone who reads the signs and follows the instructions. DON’T bring food, bags, items that for a monkey looks like a toy (i.e. camera, phone etc) and DON’T stare at them or play with them.
    I have seen the monkeys harass people – all of them Americans or Japanese doing it their way…

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:17h, 11 July Reply

      Exactly Chris, we didn’t take food or play with the monkeys. To be fair they can be pretty scary and it was a bit of a drama for us, especially after I’d seen another visitor get bitten.

  • Taj
    Posted at 06:48h, 08 August Reply

    Tell me was there an admission price to see and tour the Balinese monkey forest and temple grounds?
    How many km on foot was the walk around touring the complex?
    Do they have really fast motorbikes for rent like racing or 750cc sized engines on the Island?
    Is Padang Padang beach is nice as Southern California’s beaches?

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:45h, 08 August Reply

      Hi Taj, the admission for the Monkey Forest was about £1.30, it wasn’t a very long walk; I guess it depends on how much you want to see. It’s probably no more than 2KM though. We’re not sure about the motorbikes as we didn’t rent them in Indonesia, I think they only rent out the 100-150cc engines though. We didn’t visit Padang Padang beach and we haven’t been to California either I’m afraid so we can’t help you there Taj 🙁

  • Jennene Kirby
    Posted at 03:13h, 26 September Reply

    I was in Bali and was very excited to go see the monkey’s at the monkey forest in Ubud. After wondering around for about an hour I sat down to watch the monkey’s play then at man came along with several bananas to feed to the monkeys he was trying to give a banana to a small monkey when a large male grabbed it from him. The large monkey ran up the stairs where I was sitting to eat the banana, he threw the skin down near me so I pushed the banana skin away from my leg the monkey made a horrible sound showing his teeth as I looked at him in fear I was just away to get up and walk away he bit me on my right arm drawing blood and leaving a massive bruse. When I got back to where I was staying in Bali I went to the doctor and I received my first rabies injection. I now have to have several more. Now I have to wait and see if all goes okay for me.

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:37h, 26 September Reply

      Wow, that’s awful Jennene. I hope everything goes OK for you. It’s a case of you need to be careful no matter how prepared you are. Thanks for sharing your experience, another warning to others.

  • Greg
    Posted at 16:11h, 11 October Reply

    We’re off to Ubud tomorrow and found this post by googling the Monkey Forest – safe to say we won’t be setting one foot inside the place after reading this so thankyou!

    • Amy
      Posted at 07:25h, 12 October Reply

      Enjoy Bali Greg 🙂

  • Angie
    Posted at 23:54h, 01 November Reply

    Well then. I was planning on going there in March. I thought if I simply strapped my money in one of those hidden cash belts around my leg under trousers or something, and only took a camera which I kept a tight hold of, we’d be ok. But it seems you had the same idea (at least re the camera) and still had a rough time. I’d love to show my son the monkeys, but I’m not so sure how I can make sure he’s safe now :/

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:39h, 02 November Reply

      Hi Angie, we don’t want to put people off visiting the Monkey Forest entirely, we just want to warn everyone about the dangers so they can be prepared. A money belt would be fine I imagine just be very careful with your camera and make sure your son isn’t carrying anything at all. If you wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers and closed-shoes this will help protect you if a monkey does jump on you. Good luck!

  • Africa Muneti
    Posted at 04:14h, 04 November Reply

    It’s true of all the monkeys at these temples in Bali.I had a fairly sized monkey snatch my ray bans off my face in a split of a second .it happened when I visited the Uluwatu I walked in an elderly lady asked if she could b my guide and “protect u fro monkey”…
    I took one look at the old lady and with judgement and sarcasm I dismissed her..”I’m from Africa where I dance with gorrillas..what can a monkey say or do”

    I carried my pompous behind in and did a few rounds into the temple.i then took a few minutes to rest as it was really hot.i sat alone on an observation deck that was thatched nice and cool.In a few seconds .a monkey came up behind me with curious eyes.i said “a hello there my animal friend”..and carried on viewing the maginificent Indian ocean.i suddenly felt something brush my face,only to soon realize that the little fella had snatched my glasses.he did not go far.he gave me a state that seemed to say “what r u gonna do about it ha-?”..
    A nice fellow appeared and asked what had transpired .he attempted to scare the monkey off but behold,the monkey almost jumped on him with rage.the guy fell but luckily wasn’t hurt.
    Immediately a Balineese guy emerged from the bushes .He had a catapult,a stick,and a few other items that made him look like Silvester Stallon as Rocky.I explained that the monkey had stolen my glasses.The monkey was still just 2 meters away from us the whole time.
    It however took a casual slow stroll into the bushes still holding my glasses .The Balineese guy followed the monkey into the brush ,with a perfunctory persuasion to return the glasses .
    Meanwhile,a lovely German lady stopped by to ask what the fascination was all about.She assured me that the glasses would return.She suggested that both monkey and Rocky had done this several times and it was all rehearsed and socked overnight.
    And as surely as the sun comes out in Africa,Rocky returned with a concerned stern warning to “never wear your glasses in here”..
    I asked him how he got the glasses and he said he bartered with a banana for my raybans.
    I thanked him and offered him an American dollar,which he refused with pitiful eyes .

    I got my shades,but in a state of course.cant wear them ,but will def keep them for memories.
    I enjoyed Bali though.

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:55h, 04 November Reply

      Scary story, thanks for sharing 🙂 I’m glad you still managed to enjoy Bali after your monkey episode!

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  • Susan Callery
    Posted at 23:47h, 03 March Reply

    I’ve been to Monkey Forest many times, but the animals seem to be getting more aggressive. The last time I was there, I was attacked by a large macaque and still have the scar to prove it. However, I’m in Bali again now and plan to go back to Monkey Forest.

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:07h, 05 March Reply

      Wow, sounds scary Susan – I’m impressed that you have a the courage to go back! I hope you escape this next visit unharmed.

  • Cathy
    Posted at 08:33h, 28 May Reply

    We recently went to monkey forest but never again. We were warned not to bring in food – which we didnt and we kept a discrete distance while watching them. However. One of the monkeys surprised my son by jumping on him and then reaching into his empty pocket. My son brushed it away only to receive a deep bite on his hand for his trouble. He’s now receiving injections as a safeguard against developing rabies. I wish we’d read this post before going in! Definitely won’t be venturing in again!

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:22h, 29 May Reply

      Hi Cathy, so sorry to hear about your experience. I hope your son is ok; it seems like these attacks are happening more and more often.

  • annacolleen
    Posted at 18:02h, 08 June Reply

    Your visit sounds like you dodged a bullet! From all I have seen and read, it’s human’s who keep this monkey business going, and human’s are the only one’s who will stop the monkey’s behavior. If people are not supposed to feed these little beasts, why are the authorities allowing anyone to sell bananas? I was unaware of the possibility of rabies! I only knew about hepatitis B. I’ve never had the pleasure, but hepatitis A was downright horrible, so if it even mimics, the kind which one contracts from food, you’ll want to avoid getting this, because the symptoms linger, especially the nausea, and you will have to avoid any products containing Tylenol (acetaminophen) for month’s, if not years.
    Your video turned out nicely, so at least you will have this memory of your visit, for years to come.

    • Amy
      Posted at 07:53h, 09 June Reply

      True Anna, it is humans who are ultimately to blame. I guess the authorities in Indonesia don’t want to close down such a popular tourist attraction. Hepatitis sounds awful; it’s definitely worth keeping your vaccinations up to date!

  • Staci
    Posted at 14:51h, 10 August Reply

    I had googled the Monkey Forest before heading to see it to make sure I knew where I was headed. I too, was very fond of monkeys and wanted to see them in a better environment than caged in a zoo. So, although having a slight fear in the pit of my stomach that they would approach me or get too close, I ventured to the forest. When I arrived back at my hotel, after almost breaking down in tears because I have a new official fear – monkeys – I saw your webpage at the bottom of my google search. Had I only seen it prior to going! I was robbed by a little thieving monkey, and I was so shocked he was trying to rip my whole purse off of me which was hanging across my body, that i held on to the purse but he grabbed all that was inside out of it before I knew what was happening! At least the monkey did not bite me in an attempt to make away with my whole bag, but still – my first time every getting robbed at 28yrs old, was by a monkey. Good blog post. Too bad it doesn’t appear #1 in the search.

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:41h, 11 August Reply

      Hi Staci, I’m sorry to hear that you had such a traumatic experience at the monkey Forest, I hope you didn’t lose anything valuable and at least you didn’t get bitten. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Indonesia 🙂

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  • Tim
    Posted at 14:21h, 17 October Reply

    We were there today… Lots of fun! I would post photos of us playing with them but can’t on here.
    Not one tried to bite.. Not sure why you ran from them… I had 4 on me a one point, no problem at all..

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:40h, 18 October Reply

      We ran from them because we just saw someone get bitten and the monkeys jumping on Andrew were delving into his pockets. You were lucky, glad you had a good experience.

  • Natalia
    Posted at 15:00h, 28 October Reply

    My boyfriend and I visited a couple of weeks ago – we were sensible and enjoyed the monkeys from afar, although we saw plenty of idiots trying to provoke them. We were also surprised by the behaviour of so many parents casually leaving their children to run around unattended – these monkeys are wild animals and it’s a shame to see so many people ignoring that. Our Monkey Forest experience was fortunately unspoilt and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
    That said… after our visit we spent the rest of day at the market; our walk back to the hotel took us past a footpath parallel to the Forest and as we strolled merrily, content with our bargain purchases, we suddenly felt the presence of a large monkey following us with intent. Out of nowhere he leapt in front of us, snatching the plastic carrier bag full of newly purchased £2.50-a-piece tank tops (we were really proud of our bartering skills). For a few seconds I desperately, and quite pathetically, tried to pull the bag back from his grip. The plastic bag soon gave way. We were shocked – we had no food on us whatsoever – and daftly we stopped, wagging our fingers at the monkey and shouted ‘no!’ and ‘drop it!’ like a pair of idiots telling a naughty pet dog off.
    Needless to say the monkey took no notice, instead taking a seat on the floor in front of us, and with a taunting stare, proceeded to take a bite out of a vest top. We just watched in disbelief. How ridiculous, being mugged by a monkey! And he had the ghoul to make us watch him mindlessly nibble away, rather than run away with the goods.
    After the telling off didn’t work, we decided to carry on walking – I’d read in LP that they get bored easily, so I hoped we could retrieve it later. At that time, a local passer-by stepped in and through some water over the monkey from a plastic bottle, which made it scarper. Out of principle, I took my vests back – we’d bargained hard for those! Alas, the whole palaver made a good story, and made us chuckle once we’d calmed down from the initial shock!
    Don’t let these stories stop you going though – it’s a great experience!

    • Amy
      Posted at 02:00h, 29 October Reply

      Hi Natalia, thanks so much for reading and sharing your story. You’re right, the monkeys are wild animals, I wish everyone who visits would remember that and exercise caution like you did. Your encounter with the monkey sounds scary, I can’t believe he sat there and ate your vest tops! Lucky that local scared him off for you; while we were there we saw exasperated locals pretending to fire slingshots at the animals (I’m sure that unfortunately they really do fire them sometimes) to scare them off. I’m glad you escaped unscathed though and had a good experience 🙂

  • Chris powell
    Posted at 03:08h, 13 November Reply

    This is rubbish… Don’t let it put you off, the monkeys will only act cheekily if you make a big song and dance about them jumping on you. They are only looking for food and have no intention of harming you. If you buy bananas be prepared for the biggest one to jump on you and demand the food. Don’t think you can select the monkey you wish to give it to.. The monkeys pull rank… They are animals living in groups. Hold it high and don’t try to take it back or hold on to it. If you have a backpack, zip it up, common sense really. Great day out

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:33h, 13 November Reply

      Glad you had a good experience. Unfortunately even though we had no food on us at all and had just a camera with us the monkeys still went for us; as mentioned in the post, we also saw one tourist get bitten so people should be aware of the danger and act sensibly.

    • Liz
      Posted at 23:41h, 24 March Reply

      WRONG! I was just there. Had no food, walked quietly when one came up to me and wrapped his legs around my pants. I stopped and stood still and waited for him to figure out that I had no food when he bit me, and hard. I yelped and he jumped off but came back to bite again when my friend kicked him. And entire group of tourists saw this and we all left immediately. As we were leaving I saw another women with a monkey trying to climb in her shirt and one on her hair. She also had no food but her clothes were loose, as were mine. I would never go back.

      • Andrew
        Posted at 12:28h, 25 March Reply

        Sorry to hear about your experience Liz. It sounds like things have gotten even worse since we were there. I hope you weren’t hurt too badly.

  • mike
    Posted at 16:37h, 13 January Reply

    I’ve read more bad things than good. I’m heading to bali in a few weeks for 12 days without rabies vacination as I don’t have enough time to complete the course before I leave. I’m avoiding the monkey forest like the plague. Any suggestions for activities in ubud that wont kill me?

    • Amy
      Posted at 21:26h, 13 January Reply

      Hi Mike, there’s plenty of other things to do in Ubud. We did a really good eco-cycling tour of the island, ate loads of nice food, had some incredible massages and walked the Campuhan Ridge walk, which takes you through spectacular rice fields. You can also go to the beach, surf, see a traditional dance show or just chill out. Have a great trip!

  • Ryan
    Posted at 16:02h, 25 February Reply

    Honestly this is the funniest blog post I’ve ever read.

    • Amy
      Posted at 18:00h, 25 February Reply


  • Jessie Thompson
    Posted at 13:59h, 26 February Reply

    My mother was sitting having a
    Rest in the Forrest and she was attacked and bitten quite Badley. Nobody seemed to care. In Brisbane she is now being treated for rabies.

    I don’t know how this place is open and why children are alound in. It a very dangerous place.

    • Amy
      Posted at 21:03h, 28 February Reply

      Oh no Jessie, I hope your mum is ok. I think in Indonesia the health and safety laws are so different; as tourists I suppose we have to be aware as tourists about the dangers.

  • Brenda Strickler
    Posted at 01:47h, 22 March Reply

    I have traveled to Bali for 10 years. I was fortunate to be at Monkey Forest prior to them bringing bus loads of people in and selling bananas and peanuts at the entrance. However I was also there after they main lined tourists were channel into the sanctuary. It is a shame that it has all changed so much. The monkeys are now conditioned to being fed by tourists instead of the Balanese care takers that use to be there. We as tourist influence and change so much in third world countries just by showing up and bringing our money. Tread lightly and respect other cultures to preserve them. Even the animals can be spoiled.

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:53h, 23 March Reply

      Hi Brenda, thanks for your comment, it’s very interesting to hear from someone who visited the Monkey Forest so long ago. You’re right, we all have a responsibility as travellers to tread lightly and respect other cultures, including animals.

  • Alexandra
    Posted at 08:26h, 03 April Reply

    We just visited the monkey forest this morning and read your blog before going. I have to say, it’s the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read! Tears were streaming down my face at “Put the banana down, mister!” And poor Andrew being ‘mugged’ of his chilli popcorn. We were a little concerned about our visit, but after having been there, I can safely say that it’s absolutely fine. If you’re sensible, don’t try to grab any monkeys and hold onto your stuff, you’ll be absolutely fine!
    One of the workers there gave us some corn and a couple of monkeys climbed on our shoulders and we got some great photos.(I did get peed on at this point, but one of the workers put the sprinklers on, so I rinsed off before we left and then had a shower when I got back to the hotel).
    I wouldn’t say they were tame, but they weren’t scared or aggressive of us. If you buy bananas the workers stay with you whilst you feed them and a massive monkey came and sat on me. She warned us not to make eye contact with him and because we didn’t, he was absolutely fine.
    I think perhaps the temptation to panic is there if you’re not comfortable around animals, but it’s definitely worth a visit as long as you’re sensible.

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:40h, 03 April Reply

      Hi Alexandra, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad to hear that you had a good experience; when we were there we didn’t see any workers at all so it’s good that they’re making an effort to control things now, hopefully that will prevent accidents in the future.

  • Kaye
    Posted at 15:11h, 05 April Reply

    My daughter was bitten three days ago on her knee, through her clothes. No food. She followed the instructions posted at the gate, kept still, didn’t react at all, until the bite. workers checked her leg which had one tiny puncture mark and said she was fine. My mother was subjected to an attempted robbery on the path outside the forest carrying a bag of shopping. She batted it with a pamphlet she had in her other hand and the big fella ran off. I would not go there with children, especially under 10. It’s pretty scary.

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:17h, 06 April Reply

      Hi Kaye, thanks for sharing your experience and I hope your daughter is ok. I wouldn’t take a child to the Monkey Forest either, just in case.

  • Arianwen
    Posted at 11:05h, 15 May Reply

    Wow! This sounds like quite an ordeal! I’m heading to Ubud tomorrow and I’m not too sure I want to do this now! Thanks for the tips. I’ll be extremely careful if I venture inside!

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:41h, 16 May Reply

      Yes, do be careful! Enjoy Ubud 🙂

  • Purnama Wati
    Posted at 16:04h, 22 May Reply

    traveling to monkey forest ubud bali is very pleasant
    there are several monkeys who like to disturb, but not all bad monkey
    I like to visit some tourist attractions monkey in bali

    • Amy
      Posted at 20:19h, 23 May Reply

      Thanks for your comment, I hope people visit safely.

  • jasmine
    Posted at 08:58h, 06 October Reply

    You’re an idiot! They’e MONKEYS for GOD’S SAKE! The forest was so fun and they were so funny and entertaining they jumped on people and were so sweet!! Id bite you too because you’re obviously an uptight weirdo you should go to the gator forest next time w a steak tied on your neck xoxo

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:32h, 06 October Reply

      Yep, tell that to the hundreds of tourists who get bitten by monkeys there every year and have to get expensive rabies shots. Monkeys are wild animals and their behaviour is unpredictable, hopefully not all tourists are as ignorant (or rude) as you Jasmine.

  • Pingback:Things to do in Bali | Places To Visit In Bali
    Posted at 02:31h, 01 November Reply

    […] visiting Mount Batur, coffee plantations and a traditional Balinese family compound. Aside from a terrifying experience at the Monkey Forest, we had a great time in Ubud and found it hard to drag ourselves […]

  • Pingback:Bali With Kids. Tips and Experience of Bali with Kids.
    Posted at 10:57h, 02 November Reply

    […] our favorite part of Bali and we’ll be back there soon. Ubud is where you’ll find the famous monkey forest, take kids here with caution, these animals are the thugs of the animal kingdom and can be […]

  • J Munro
    Posted at 12:21h, 17 December Reply

    Read this the other day and though “sounds simple. Follow the instructions, don’t do anything silly and it will be fine”. So I went to Monkey Forest today and nearly got attacked by a monkey.

    The place itself is lovely and I had seen quite a few monkeys by the time I got to the temple. A medium-sized monkey decides he wants to attack the bottom of my black linen trousers. I move swiftly away and he chases for a bit then gives up.

    I then wander off but end up coming back the same way and come back up by the temple. This time the monkey (dunno if same one) decides he’s going to have a go at the bottom of my trousers and then climbs me like a ladder until he’s on my freakin’ head. It sounds funny now but I was actually terrified.

    I had no food on me, had not looked the little sod in the eye but here he is. I’m not sure what to do so I move nearer to a statue so he can climb off. I can feel his claws digging into my shoulder and head and I was really worried he as going to bite me. Every fibre of your being just wants to shake it off but you don’t wnat to get bitten. It was horrible.

    Eventually he moves off me on to the statue but then decides to try to claw my hair tie off as I move away. I go away and left. I was actually shaking – which really surprised me.

    They look all cute but they are little ba*****ds. I’m in Ubud for a month and I will not be going there again. They have no fear whatsoever and are quite aggressive.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:45h, 18 December Reply

      Sorry to hear about your experience, I can totally understand why you were terrified. Andrew had the same experience of one climbing straight up him, it happens in seconds and you never know what the monkey will do next. I’m glad you got away without any injuries. It does sound like it’s getting worse there all the time. I hope you enjoy your time in Ubud.

    • Hibba
      Posted at 18:50h, 11 October Reply

      It’s so sad you had to encounter such an awful situation. A bit similar to this happened to me and now I take caution.

      • Amy
        Posted at 12:01h, 14 October Reply

        Yes, we try to avoid wild monkeys wherever possible now!

  • Zuzanna Gardzielewska
    Posted at 09:41h, 13 May Reply

    There are actually three monkey forests in Bali, the monkey forest in Ubud has the calmest monkeys. The other two have more aggressive monkeys as I realise theyre treated differently by the carers. Honestly, ive been around wild monkeys in Jawa as well, and nothing like that ever happened to me. Its important to stay calm, not scream and DO NOT SHOW YOUR TEETH, they see that as a sign of aggression. The minute you run or panic, they will try and further demonstrate their dominance.

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