Getting Attacked by Monkeys at Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

If you are an animal lover like us, then visiting a ‘Sacred Monkey Forest.’ sounds like a no-brainer. Hanging out with monkeys in a forest? Sign me up ten times! In the popular town of Ubud, Bali is the Sacred Monkey Forest. You can enter with the small admission of 35,000 rupiahs (~$3.50) per person and even buy a bunch of bananas for 50,000 rupiahs (~$5) to feed the monkeys inside.  There are hundreds of ridiculously cute pesky long-tailed Macaque monkeys scurrying around in the forest. There are four different groups  gangs of monkeys occupying different territories of the forest.

Here is my cautionary tale of how I got attacked by monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud.

don’t buy the bananas

Just a little disclaimer here at the beginning of the story. I didn’t know this at the time and it should have been common sense but do not buy the bananas they sell at Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest! The monkeys are used to humans but they can get aggressive and bite if you even smell like food let alone walk in carrying a whole bundle of bananas like the idiot tourist I was. You will see why you should never buy the bananas in a moment. What can I say, ya live and ya learn.

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

We saw the bananas for sale and decided it was a great idea and a fun way to get close to the friendly monkeys. Boy, were we wrong. We did not do our research. There are many websites that say do not buy the bananas and to beware of the monkeys inside the sacred monkey forest.

Apparently, there are a record number of monkey bites daily to tourists and also monkeys who pickpocket unsuspecting tourists. Worst case scenario, the monkey bites can lead to rabies or other diseases. Lucky for us, no one in our group got bit even though I foolishly had bought the bananas,


Without knowing the information above, I bought the bananas! I was wearing a long black maxi dress and carrying my bananas freely in the open like an idiot tourist. I fed a few monkeys successfully with one banana each where they politely grabbed the banana out of my hand like I was their Mother Teresa of the monkeys or something which didn’t help me prepare for what was about to happen.

I fed one of the larger male monkeys, we would find out a few moments later by a local monitoring the park that the larger monkeys are much more aggressive and will attack people even if they smell like food let alone carrying a whole bushel of bananas in your purse. This alpha male monkey, who I am going to give a hardcore name – Razortooth, wanted to show me who was boss. Razortooth was not happy with my measly offering of one banana.

I was chased down by Razortooth who then decided the best way to stop this dumb tourist with all the bananas was to grab the bottom of my dress with a death grip. Once Razortooth had a tight hold on my stupid dress he decided he would then let me know he meant business by yanking and pulling on my dress.

If I had been wearing a skirt, Razortooth would have surely exposed me to the entire monkey forest that would no longer be sacred.

I decided to throw a banana and take off because shit just got real. I needed to free myself of these bananas pronto before Razortooth caught back up to me.

Which he did, and Razortooth yanked the crap out of my dress with his sticky little fingers.

After tossing the rest of my nanners to distract Razortooth, I took off. Mission accomplished.


After that whole ordeal with Razortooth I was on edge. I always thought I’d have a Snow White effect on wild monkeys and they’d want to be my best friend. And to be fair, my idea was dumb but this was my first encounter EVER with wild monkeys. We kept a respectable distance from the monkeys and kept a side eye out for Razortooth.

We saw other unsuspecting tourists who probably thought the same as me, that monkeys want to be their best friend too – paying a worker money to let a monkey climb on their shoulders for a picture. This looked awesome on Instagram before coming here, but after me experience with Razortooth I was going to take a hard pass.

Just as I was about to reconsider trying to be a monkey friend again I saw a dude get bit by a monkey and the worker just watched and stared then took money from the next person who wanted to pose with a selfie.

A lesson I learned which should have already been common sense, DO NOT TRY TO TAKE SELFIES WITH WILD ANIMALS.


In the end, I walked away unscathed physically but emotionally was distraught that my wild monkey friend dreams would never come true. But all jokes aside, this was one of those experiences I regret. As an animal lover I should have known better and am much more aware of tourism based around exploiting animals. I wouldn’t say the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud is exploiting animals, but they shouldn’t be selling bananas or letting people touch wild animals inside the forest.

That being said, please learn from my mistake and be sure to research anything involving animals before participating. You’ll find out the sad truth behind animal tourism such as elephant riding, tiger temples, and even the kopi luwak coffee plantations, another thing we did in Bali that we regret and now know is cruel to animals.

Try your best to be a respsonsible traveler and try not to make the same mistakes we did. If you do something you later find out was wrong or unethical then spread the word so others don’t make the same mistake.


 

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  • Yikes, pantsing monkeys! Your photos are amazing, but that’s pretty intimidating that they can (and do) bite so frequently. I nearly got pickpocketed by well-trained monkeys in the jungle in Honduras, once. They are definitely capable creatures.

    • Haha holy cow that reminds me of the movie hangover II! They are so smart its scary. Thanks for the comment Leah!

  • Monkeys!!! I have heard that the monkeys can get quite aggressive with tourists, but never experienced it myself. I love the picture of the baby monkey being taught how to climb.

    • Oh man Mikaela neither had we before. But then these monkeys just wanted those bananas! But I think that is what happens when you get hundreds of tourists everyday. They just grow more and more confident. Thanks for the comment I am glad you liked the photo! I spent a couple hours in the heat in humidity trying to get some cute shots.

  • Hilarious yet scary at the same time. I love that places like Bali still have so many beautiful nature-intensive sites for people to visit. Thanks for sharing this and don’t feel too guilty about the bananas. You were just trying to interact with the monkeys, I bet?

    Great words and photos. I really love being a subscriber to this blog, regardless of group affiliation.

    • We definitely thought it was a fun and cute idea at first. Especially considering they were selling it right outside. So we thought hey, ya, Monkeys get hungry lets be best friends with them. But then we realized they are so smart that they have grown confident that we aren’t going to hurt them! They are fearless. Thanks a lot for your comment Carl that means a lot!

  • I’ve been reading up about Ubud a lot lately because we plan to go to Bali in September. Most of the monkey attacks I’ve heard about have been about those darn bananas. Do you think they’ll leave you alone if you don’t have food? I really want to go, but not if the monkeys are going to harass me. haha

    How much of your time was spent in Ubud? Any other must sees you recommend?

    • Meagan, they definitely will not attack you if you don’t have food. Once we dropped our loot we were not hassled anymore. you will be completely fine and have some great opportunities for some cute photos and a nice time.

      We headed to Ubud twice during our trip. It is centrally located to a lot of activities in Bali and has lots of expats which is nice. We stayed 2.5 hours away so we aren’t so knowledgeable about Ubud. But we recommend water rafting the telaga waja river, hiking the volcano, snorkelling and or diving, as well as Besakih temple. If you have any questions just send us a fb message we are more than happy to give you our tips. We plan on going again pretty soon!

  • Wow I’m sure you guys won’t soon forget about this. I’ve always thought monkey were the coolest animals and it’s crazy how similar they are to us. Still though, they are animals and things aren’t always gonna go well. I’m glad you made it out unscathed!

    • We definitely won’t forget about it. You are correct they don’t always go well at all! We are glad to have our fingers intact!

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  • We watched people go through the same thing when we were there!! Luckily I didn’t have to read about the danger of buying the bananas to know to stay far away. I’m already pretty scared of monkeys, even at a zoo. lol Glad nothing serious happened!! We definitely didn’t stay too long, we ran out. 😛

    • You guys are smart! Wish we would have realized not to buy the bananas sooner! Megan loves animals and any excuse to be their “friend” she is right on board. Haha Too bad she found out the hard way those monkeys didn’t want to be her friend back. Thanks for commenting!

  • HAHA omg! My first thought when reading that you bought bananas was “UMMM WTF were you thinking?!” I was there last summer and distinctly remember at the ticket booth there being a sign to leave any and all food in the trash before entering, and rightfully so! Right when we got in a woman got her bag attacked because she had something in it. We saw a girl get bit, and real live monkey sex on a tree. Those monkeys totally changed my thoughts on them. I typically love monkeys but I did not think those were cute. So aggressive and my friend and I were actually so nervous our whole time in the forest lol. It’s definitely an adventure, and I’m glad you didn’t get pantsed! Tho, that would have made for an excellent story 🙂

    • Haha that’s so funny/unfortunate. We are so glad nothing serious happened because it made it a memorable and funny experience to look back on! The ladies selling those bananas seemed so innocent. Little did we know we were being sentenced to an unexpected attack! Those are some good sales people. We have learned alot from this experience! Thanks for commenting on our blog! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  • That video cracked me up. The monkey was pretty scary looking, too! I would not have enjoyed having my pants yanked on by one of those guys.

    I had my ice cream stolen by a monkey in Bako National Park, Malaysia. I was trying to get a good picture and didn’t even think about my ice cream presenting a temptation for the critter. I lost the ice cream, but got one of the most chilling pictures I’ve ever taken!
    http://openroadbeforeme.com/2012/12/secluded-beaches-and-evil-monkeys-bako.html

    Great photos, nice work!

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  • Haha that’s so funny! We didn’t think it through! The women selling those bananas seemed so nice and we trusted them. Haha but really they were just great sales people. We are glad nothing serious happened and it made it a funny/memorable experience. At least we are able to warn those who might stumble upon our blog! Thanks for commenting!

  • Eeek! I know how scary that is – I have a video of almost the same thing except the monkey was after my water bottle (and I was wearing a maxi skirt that he grabbed). I managed to get away from him but a few minutes later another one came and took it right out of my hand – we tried to get it back but they can get really aggressive!

    • Haha, I am so sorry to hear that! Hopefully the little guy didn’t expose you to everyone! We saw almost the same thing you described at Angkor Wat too! Those monkeys know how to get what they want! We also saw a few people trying to pose with monkeys on their shoulders in Bali and they got a monkey bite!

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  • Intan Apriyani

    I partly agree, the monkeys are quite aggresive and it wasn’t a good idea to get them in the position that some visitor want to take a picture with. Sometimes the monkeys could clawed or bites you. The place isn’t that crowded in the morning and over all it was a beautiful forest with carvings,bridges and statues arround the place.

    • You’re right! It was really dumb of me to get those bananas too!