Nothing pisses me off more than our pictures not turning out well. So you can image how annoyed I was to discover that all 200 pictures we snapped when visiting Monkey Forest were slightly out of focus. Thankfully, this meant we got to visit Monkey Forest TWICE since we both really wanted to re-visit to get some better pictures.
Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali is not a zoo or an animal sanctuary. It’s literally a park in the middle of the city that’s filled with hundreds of wild monkeys. They aren’t caged and they aren’t forced to stay yet for some reason the monkeys have no interest in leaving. The area is considered sacred by the locals and they believe that’s why the monkeys don’t want to leave.
There’s a small entrance fee of 30,00 IDR ($3 CAD) to enter the area, and that money goes towards maintaining the grounds. You’ll find a number of bathrooms and stalls selling bananas around the park, as well as staff who are always walking around.
I had heard a few horror stories of wild monkeys attacking tourists at Monkey Forest. I even read about monkeys empty contents of bags, stealing peoples cameras and biting the tourists. I was a little nervous about our first visit to be honest.
Once I realized there was staff everywhere I felt a lot better. The staff are there to not only clean the grounds but also to watch out for your safety.
We bought a small bunch of bananas for 20,00 IDR ($2 CAD) and immediately had monkeys coming towards us. They can smell those bananas from so far away. One of the first monkeys to approach us was pretty big and seemed a big aggressive, but a nearby staff member was quick to coach us on what to do to avoid an angry monkey situation.
That same staff member also helped us use the bananas to lure monkeys into jumping onto our shoulders for some amazing pictures. I had always seen pictures of other people doing this at Monkey Forest but was terrified to try it myself. With the help of the staff telling me how to hold the banana and when to let go I had no problem doing this multiple times.
Now, a few words of caution before you visit Monkey Forest yourself:
- It’s better to buy multiple small bunches of bananas rather than one large one. Your bananas won’t last long and it can be a bit overwhelming to have multiple monkeys on you.
- Never touch the monkeys. Let them touch you (which they will)! Touching them first may be perceived as a treat and will result in a monkey attack.
- Don’t get too close to the babies. My god they are cute, but their mom’s are very protective. Use your zoom feature to get good shots of them.
- Don’t feed the monkeys potatoes (the staff feed them these and you’ll see them all over the ground). We tried to give a potato to a monkey and he was PISSED when he realized we weren’t giving him banana.
- Don’t put bananas in your bag. They will smell them, go crazy and they are very capable of unzipping your bag.
- Watch your DSLR lens. Don’t be scared, but be aware! Monkeys have been known to remove long lenses off cameras.
Ready for the video? I’m calling this one “The Monkey Whisperer” because Paul really has quite a way with the monkeys. I think it’s entirely possible that they think he’s one of them thanks to his European-amount of body hair LOL.