Attacked by Monkeys in Monkey Forest

monkey forest ubud

Monkey Forest was one of the more traumatising experiences from my time in Bali. A forest filled with hundreds of monkeys that spend their days stealing from, and leaping on top of, tourists? It was never going to be somewhere that I enjoyed.

I tried to avoid passing through this land of nightmares, but sometimes it was unavoidable. It was easier and quicker to pass through the forest in March 2012, too.

I had bought Dave a bottle of Sprite as a present and was walking to our apartment

There was a shortcut through Monkey Forest that passed through Monkey Forest and I decided to take it. I skipped happily along the dirt track, plastic bag in hand. I imagined the sheer delight Dave would display upon being presented with the magical lemon and lime concoction. I knew it would win me the Best Girlfriend Ever award.

Then it happened.

monkey forest ubud

As I danced around a crowd of monkeys that were eyeing me up with suspicion, I noticed one of them slowly and deliberately creep towards me.

Instinctively, I sped up, feeling my heart begin to race as he increased his pace to match mine. I tutted and stopped on the path, turning to face him. “Go awaaaaay!” I hissed, stamping my feet on the ground. My attempts to intimidate and scare him failed and I watched him lunge towards my bag with an agility that I could only dream of possessing.

With a single swipe of his arm he had ripped through my plastic bag and snatched my beloved bottle of Sprite.

“No!” I squealed.

Assuming it was simply a mistake and that the monkey had manners, I held out my hand, fully expecting him to hand the bottle back to me.

He didn’t respond, and started to twist the lid of the Sprite, trying to get inside.

This meant war.

monkey forest ubud

I stamped my feet once more and growled with all the force I could muster – this tactic usually works when I am trying to chase intimidating cats and dogs away. However, this monkey was hardened. He was hardened from a lifetime of encounters far more brutal than a small girl tapdancing near his face.

Snarling and baring his teeth, he hissed and began to charge at me, reaching top speed in just a few seconds.

I cowered for a moment, waiting for the sonic boom to send my to my feet. The shockwave never hit and the monkey was closing in on me. As my eyes widened in horror, my future flashed before me in a series of images:

The monkey sinking his teeth into my leg.

Going to the hospital to get rabies shots.

The shots failing to work.

Lauren foaming at the mouth.

Oh my god.

I was about to die. 

monkey forest ubud

I turned to escape, running faster than my legs could carry me. After two steps the inevitable happened. My flip flops slid out from under me and I fell flat on my face, the cool mossy ground providing welcome relief from the humidity. I shook my head. This was not the time to be relaxing.

I scrambled onto my hands and knees, and began to drag myself along the ground. I winced, feeling the sharp rocks ripping the flesh from my legs. The skin on my hands began to tear open.

I shrieked, realising that the battle was over. There was no point in trying to escape now. The monkey had outwitted me. He was the victor and it was time for me to surrender. I turned around, squinting, bracing for the attack, waiting to die.

But nothing happened.

It had gone.

The monkey had disappeared and in its place was a crowd of Japanese tourists, eyeing me with a mixture of confusion, horror and glee.

My face flushed as red as the blood dribbling from my knees. I clambered back to my feet, brushed myself off and stumbled back to our apartment. I was empty handed and full of sorrow.

What a day.

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  1. crazy sexy fun traveler
    May 15, 2012

    Good that you are ok! I don’t know why but I always get attacked byt these monkeys! They just love me!

    • May 15, 2012

      Poor you, they’re horrible animals! ;)

  2. George
    May 15, 2012

    I knew when you proposed the idea it was going to be a cracking post. Loving your new life abroad then ;)

    • May 15, 2012

      Hahaha, thanks! It’s definitely eventful…!

  3. Ryan at Travel and Graphs
    May 15, 2012

    Glad to see that you made it out alive! Monkeys are the most overrated animal, nothing but jerks, that lot.

    • May 15, 2012

      SO true! I thought they were cute until I got within a few metres of them.

  4. Carmen
    May 15, 2012

    Where everyone else will squeal and go “Monkeys are adorable!!” (Re: Paul Frank) they are scary scary scary HIDEOUS evil little creatures.

    You’re so brave, glad you made it out alive.

    • May 15, 2012

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so!

  5. May 15, 2012

    Watch out for those monkeys! This post gave me a laugh as it reminded me of the adventures that I had with the monkeys in Nepal – they can be so crafty, creeping up on you, trying to steal your food. Its scary as they are such smart creatures!

    • May 15, 2012

      I know! They look so innocent…

  6. DebbZ
    May 15, 2012

    “a small girl tapdancing near his face” LOL.I can’t stop laughing when I picture that scene :p
    But the monkeys in Monkey Forest are much better than in Sangeh. Those are criminals, they would snap ear rings, necklace and other valuable stuffs. Robbers :(

    • May 15, 2012

      Oh, it was so traumatising! I’m glad I didn’t experience the ones in Sangeh :)

  7. Amanda @ Farsickness
    May 16, 2012

    I was completely terrified the entire time I was at the Monkey Forest. I tried to stay in as far from the perimeter as possible at all times and never sat down. A monkey jumped onto my friend’s shoulders and I proceeded to freak out as she sat calmly. I’m not sure what I would’ve down had one actually touched me. I feel for you.

    • May 18, 2012

      Hahahahaha! I would have had a major panic attack if one of them had climbed on me. Worst. Nightmare.

  8. May 16, 2012

    I had a similar story in the forest North of Bangkok. Know what you feel, Lauren :) Glad it did get you :)

    • May 16, 2012

      i meant it didn’t ;)

    • May 18, 2012

      I’ve heard the ones there are even more crazy!

      • May 20, 2012

        He he! I am going to compare them next year :)

  9. Aaron
    May 16, 2012

    This is hilarious! I was there in Ubud a few months ago and I was a paranoid schizo with my camera. I had my wife act as armed guard when I changed lenses for fear they’d run away with my bag! Great post!

    • May 18, 2012

      Same! I saw them stealing earrings out of girls ears when I was there. Nothing is off limits!

  10. Jen
    May 16, 2012

    Oh god Lauren I was laughing so much at this. Your life makes me happy x

    • May 18, 2012

      Hahahaha! I’m glad you found it so funny! :D

  11. Sophie
    May 16, 2012

    My now 24-year-old daughter still remembers those Ubud monkeys (or their mothers) checking her shorts for bananas when she was 4.

    • May 18, 2012

      Hahahahaha, oh wow! That sounds terrifying…

  12. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    May 16, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the dark side of the monkey forest. It’s a funny story since it worked out alright :)

    • May 18, 2012

      Thanks, Scott! :) After I’d stopped crying I found it funny too :)

  13. Ava Apollo
    May 16, 2012

    There are monkeys running amok in Granada too, and one of my friends got peed on by one. Hey, at least they didn’t pee on you!

    • May 18, 2012

      True! I’m not sure what would have been worse!

  14. Gisele
    May 17, 2012

    This is why I am a bit afraid of monkeys.. We cannot say how innocent or not they are.. I think we should be careful always..

  15. Crystal
    May 17, 2012

    Monkeys have attacked, injured and even killed citizens. Consider these suggestions to fight off a monkey attack and keep yourself safe,

  16. Jeremy Branham
    May 18, 2012

    Man why does this stuff always happen to you?! These are fun to read but I don’t understand how you get yourself into these messes! :)

    Hopefully the monkeys enjoyed your Sprite!

    • May 19, 2012

      This has been happening my entire life, Jeremy! I guess I should have started my site sooner so I could have them all documented! :D

      I hope they choked on it…. ;)

  17. Torre – Fearful Adventurer
    May 20, 2012

    I’m still traumatised from the time I was in Bali, age six, and a monkey stole my peanuts. You see, back in the 80’s, we used to buy peanuts from a stall and feed the monkeys. The peanuts were sold to tourists specifically for this purpose. I don’t think they do that anymore?

  18. Micamyx|Senyorita
    May 20, 2012

    Hahaha what a frightening incident yet funny story lol =)) my hair was almost pulled by a monkey when I was younger but my dad kicked that monkey (like literally lol). These monkeys can be really mean at times! Glad you’re ok though.

  19. Josh @ Green Global Travel
    May 25, 2012

    What a crazy experience! Glad to see you’re ok though. Now I know to be more cautious if I’m near a group of monkeys! Thanks for sharing this and these pictures.

  20. jmayel & sacha
    September 11, 2012

    this was a funny post! can i ask who dave is? he is mentioned in a lot of posts but we looked through your site and couldn’t work out who he was.

  21. Carol
    February 14, 2013

    A friend of mine had a terrible experience with the Monkey Mafia at Uluwatu…
    She allowed this little terrorist to sit on her lap, despite warnings from us…
    As she cooed at it, it bared its teeth at her…STUPIDLY assuming it was smiling at her, she bared her teeth back..
    With the speed of lightning, it reached into her mouth & stole her top false teeth!!!!!

    She didnt get them back!

  22. Debbie
    September 19, 2013

    For some reason, I understand the feeling. Perhaps, this is because I experienced it before. lol.
    But it’s lucky that nothing happen to you and those monkeys didn’t chase after you.

    • October 7, 2013

      I wouldn’t have wanted to get rabies shots, that’s for sure! :-)

  23. Dorian
    October 2, 2013

    That is one thing that I’m always careful about, it is the wild life.
    You never know how they are going to react.
    I have seen to many things !
    Great blog.

    • October 3, 2013

      I was definitely a lot more careful after the monkey incident :-)

  24. Vicky
    November 5, 2013

    Lauren, I am thoroughly enjoying reading your ‘incidents’! I came across your page whilst searching for ‘what to pack in my back pack’ as I am sure I need about 10! You are so funny… my favorite so far was your ‘Bangkok massage’ although I am sure it was not yours! I hope I will have as many exciting stories as you to tell !!!

    • November 6, 2013

      Thank you so much, Vicky! I’m glad I managed to keep you entertained! :-)

  25. December 22, 2013

    A terrifying but funny story all in one, it’s good to know that nothing too bad eventuated from it. The story sounds like the perfect travel story to tell to a few friends at a bar.

    • December 29, 2013

      Thanks, Steve! It’s definitely a story that makes my friends laugh whenever I tell them!

  26. January 26, 2014

    Hahaha, o my. I know these monkeys! Vicious! They have relatives in Pushkar India, and Bantu Caves Malaysia!

    • January 27, 2014

      Noted as places to avoid in the future! :-)

  27. January 27, 2014

    Great story, I was terrified of those monkeys in Ubud, and I didn’t even know they would bite!

    • January 29, 2014

      Aren’t they so frightening?! They’re so vicious!

  28. Alex
    October 31, 2014

    interesting story as I got bitten by hand by a young monkey in Ubud’s Monekey forest as well.
    Also got attacked by another monkey (big one this time) while taking pictures.. they tend to become aggressive when you expect less.

    • October 31, 2014

      Sorry to hear you were also attacked by monkeys, Alex!

  29. Monica Gray
    November 17, 2014

    This is such a great travel story, and I’m glad you made it out okay! I’ve been attacked by monkeys too- I was in South Africa, they had gotten into my friend’s lodge in a place we were staying at, they were throwing bananas and eggs around… when I tried to escape, one of them jumped on my leg and scratched me- I ended up getting rabies shots in SA and when I got home to NY! Now I find it hilarious, but then it was frightening!

    • November 18, 2014

      That’s such a hilarious image of them throwing bananas around :-). Glad you made it out of there alive!

  30. February 22, 2015

    Great story and well told. I’ve fortunately managed to survive passage through the Monkey Forest unscathed quite a few times, but have been attacked at the Monkey Temple near Permuteran, Bali and near the White Sand Beach. Amazing how big those canine teeth are when they come chomping at you in attack mode.

    • November 22, 2015

      They’re enormous! One of the scariest sights I’ve ever witnessed, for sure!

  31. August 6, 2015

    I understand I am a bit late in commenting on this post. Yet I want to. You made me laugh so much. I can totally picture the monkey using that sprite to add it to a lime, sugar and mint mixture to make mojito and toast to your health. LOL. SHAME ON YOU for feeding into their alcohol habits!

    Oh my, sorry I am still laughing.

    • August 7, 2015

      Hahaha! Glad you enjoyed the post, Claudia! :-)

  32. Michael Dembenski
    January 23, 2016

    You cant get mad at such cute little animals.

    • January 29, 2016

      You could if they gave you rabies and you died!

  33. March 11, 2016

    I visited Monkey Forest whilst I was in Bali in December, and the short cut from our hotel to town was by the side of the monkey forest. All I can say is – never go near monkeys with a plastic bag, drinks or food – they will have them off you in a heart beat! Also, never try and hiss or stamp your feet at a monkey – have you seen their teeth!?

    Hehe – great story xx

    • March 13, 2016

      I did immediately after I hissed and stamped my feet, haha!

  34. Liam Smith
    December 26, 2018

    Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for sharing this story. I’ve had a similar situation in the Monkey Forrest. One of the monkeys attacked my girlfriend, while the group was having a naive laugh about it, she was truly shaken. Later, when we arrived at the villa, we realised that it wasn’t naive nor funny at all, and we contacted the medic since she got a nasty cut on her hand. She had to take anti-rabies treatment and it kind of ruined our stay at that time. But we weren’t going to allow it to ruin our impression of Bali, so we went again next year and it was perfect. Hope your misfortune did not ruin your view of Bali.

    Wishing you all the best in your future travels.

    • January 8, 2019

      Oh man, that really sucks. Glad to hear you were able to have a much better experience second time around :-) I returned for a second time last year, actually, and also had a much better time!

  35. Shaun Snapp
    December 21, 2019

    There is nothing any human can do to a monkey unless they have a weapon. I am 6 1 and weigh 245 and I would never play around with a monkey. First, a monkey is like 2 to 3 times quicker than any human. I offered a monkey in India a peanut with my right hand, and before I knew it, he had taken the whole bag of peanuts out of my left hand. I had no time to react, the bag was gone. Let us say that I somehow managed kick the monkey, I don’t really win anything. Its just monkey. I am a human. He is just following his instincts. So I can’t really hold him accountable.

    You have to hand over anything to the monkey and just get out of the situation without being bit or scratched. Both no doubt lead to some type of shot.

    So this is just a consolation that women or man, small or big, I don’t think it matters. Perhaps a local Balinese person knows how to deal with them. But again, I don’t know what can be done against their speed and quickness advantage.