Bali with Kids. My friends either love it, or hate it. My family, we love it!
This is my seventh trip to Bali, the third with my daughter (3) and it definitely won’t be our last.
There are lots of other websites with a lot of great information about traveling to Bali with kids, so instead of rehashing I’m going to give you my personal top tips, and put some links at the bottom of this post for where you can get more detailed information on where to stay, things to do etc. Would also love for any recommendations for where to stay/what do to etc in the comment section below. Share the Bali love folks!
The main thing first timers need to know is that Bali can be a lot of different holidays all in one place. If you’re not into the crazy hustle and bustle of the Kuta markets, you can avoid them completely and head for a villa well away from that. It’s not all about bartering, markets full of fakes and the endless tooting of taxis. Please don’t be put off by bad stories from people who have had bad experiences. Most of the time they’ve chosen the wrong place to stay, or the wrong day trips for their family…..do your research, work out what you want, and you’ll have a fantastic holiday.
- Where to stay?
This one is tricky, because it really depends on what kind of holiday you’re after, how big your group is, your budget, kids ages etc. So I’ve broken it down into holiday types below.
Big budget, luxury, beachfront locations – try Nusa Dua, a villa in Ungasan or beachfront Seminyak. Nusa Dua you’ll pay top dollar for almost everything, it’s a bit isolated and away from the main tourist part so options for eating can be a bit limited, where as Seminyak beachfront is expensive, but you have the option to eat at the many many different options within walking distance from the hotels. If you want something truly spectacular check out Semara Luxury Villas in Ungasan. We stayed in a 5 bedroom villa and if you can get a few families together to split the cost it actually ends up not tooooooo pricey. And for the clifftop infinity pool views on sunset it’s magic.
Larger family groups – I’d definitely recommend the many villa options in Seminyak and Legian . You can pick up some great deals online on places like Scoopon or try www.cantikbalivillas.com or www.balifamilyvillas.com for a range of villas of sizes and prices in lots of locations. If anyone reading this has any recommendations on villas you’ve stayed in and recommend please comment the name below so we can share info.
Cultural/Quieter – try Ubud or a villa out of the action in somewhere like Canggu or the South of Bali near Uluwatu or Ungasan.
Mid budget, kids clubs, in the thick of the action, could be anywhere in the world but you don’t care because all you want is the kids to have fun and you to be able to swim up to a bar and order a mojito. Try the Hard Rock in Kuta, Bali Dynasty in Kuta or take a look at some of the hotels in Sanur. Warning: If you choose to stay in Kuta you WILL get hassled all the time from the market vendors. So if you don’t like that kind of things DO NOT stay in Kuta.
Mid/Big budget, Small/Large families, quieter than Kuta try the beachfront strip along Seminyak/Legian. FuramaXclusive in Legian have one/two and three bedroom suites, the location is great and the price is normally really good. Cheap and cheerful option is the Jayakarta Hotel or one of the many other beachfront options along that area. This trip we stayed at Anantara Resort, which was really nice, on the expensive side, but I think my favourite hotel in Bali so far in terms of location, rooms, facilities. No kids club though and not super “family” orientated, but for small families or older kids, it’s great
Also have stayed at Royal Beach in Seminyak which is also a little bit pricey, but has a range of room sizes and prices. Once again a great location, this one has a kids club and the hotel grounds are gorgeous.
Probably avoid Cocoon and Double Six, they’re pretty loud and party places.
One that I did walk past this time was Skai Beach Club that looked really nice. Haven’t stayed there myself but would love to hear if anyone has and if it’s family friendly. There are also lots of eats around this area, Italian to Mexican and everything in between. The market areas of Seminyak and Legian are still busy, but distinctly less full on than Kuta so you can still have that bartering experience without feeling like you’re constantly under attack.
Or you can try one of the really family orientated hotels in the South Kuta area. We spent one night at the Bali Dynasty with it’s free kids club, giant waterslide, kids water play area, playground, kids eat free etc etc. It was good, and it was full of families and our kids had a great time here BUT I’m not a huge fan of this area, and well, I know this sounds strange but, you do have to put up with everyone elses kids…….you know what I mean?
- Is Bali safe?
I know a lot of people are worried about this and it’s a really hard question to answer, but I can honestly say I’ve never personally felt unsafe in Bali (have been 7 times) I’m sure that unsafe things happen, and I’m sure that there will be people out there with horror stories, but I’m sure that the same things happen all over the world. You just need to make safe decisions. Don’t get on a scooter without a helmet, make sure you have your wits about you on the roads and footpaths (give way to pedestrians is not a thing in Bali), don’t leave your stuff unattended……just don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do in Australia and you’ll be fine. Have walked home at night time with my daughter loads of times and never felt unsafe, have never been robbed, have never been attacked.
Yep you’ll more than likely get ripped off at least once on your first visit, yep you’ll get hounded for “shopping” or “paint your nails” or “massage” if you choose to walk down the market streets and yep you’ll find the road rules “interesting” but if you make safe decisions……you’ll be safe.
- Will I get sick?
This question is a bit the same as the above. I’ve never personally been sick over here, but know people who have caught a case of the dreaded Bali Belly. I always bring a box of Hydralyte Iceblocks with me just in case the runs or the spews happen. Avoid tap water. You’ll find bottled water all over the place and most of the hotels will give you plenty in your room for drinking and brushing your teeth etc. If you don’t have iron guts like my family does, possibly avoid the carts and smaller local eateries, although I hate saying that because you’ll probably miss the chance to try the most delicious plate of noodles or rice (Mie Goreng or Nasi Goreng) you’ll ever pay a few bucks for. Vaccinations – ask your doctors please.
- Get a driver
A trip to Bali for us wouldn’t be the same without our driver and friend Gede. He’s been our driver since we started coming to Bali and is an absolute GEM and my friend. It makes life SO much easier to have someone reliable and trustworthy to drive you around, especially if you’ve never been before and not sure of the prices. Do yourself a favour and try and grab Gede for your next trip to Bali. He’s also great for recommending restaurants, day trip ideas, where to eat, where to go to buy particular things. Book him early though cause I’m sure after this post he’ll soon be booked up. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook – www.facebook.com/gededriverbali or text him on +6281337570130
- Best time to go?
The dry season runs from May through to September. The wet season runs from October through to April. From what I know, wet season doesn’t mean it rains everyday, and normally if/when it does it’s not for too long. It’s also off peak in the wet season and you’re more likely to score yourself a great accommodation deal. Try to avoid Nyepi Day. Nyepi Day signifies the start of the Saka New Year in Bali and is a day of Silence, reflection, fasting and meditation. The airport is closed, no one is allowed on the streets or beaches, no taxi’s are in operation. Bali is essentially closed for business this day.
- Got a fussy eater?
Bali honestly has EVERY type of food for every price range and a lot of places offer a kids menu (the fish and chips are so yummy in almost all of the places we’ve had them). And if all else fails pretty much anywhere will do you up a toasted cheese sambo (jaffle) if you ask. There’s plenty of convenience stores where you can pick up bananas, crackers, milk etc which I always stock up on when we first arrive to throw in my bag for snacks during the day.
- Need a babysitter?
A lot of hotels/resorts will offer in house babysitting, and if not are happy to organise one for you through one of the agencies. I’ve used Karsini before where you can scroll through the employee resumes and testimonials online to choose and book a nanny/babysitter. There are quite a few babysitting services available online, some of which are owned by Australians. Check with your friends to see if they’ve used and recommend anyone in particular, but I’ve had nothing but excellent experiences with all the babysitters I’ve used in the past. The Balinese are fantastic with kids! Prices are super cheap by Australia standard, and for a full 8 hour day you’d be looking at around $50AUD or around $6-$8 per hour by the hour. A lot of families will hire a nanny for the whole holiday to just be an extra set of eyes, that way you can actually relax by the pool or enjoy dinner knowing that you have someone there with their full attention on the kids. And at $50 a day, it’s SO WORTH IT!!!
- Hire your baby gear – including pool fences
Bali has a number of baby hire companies who will hire our anything from a pram to a pool fence. If you’re staying in a villa and worried about the lack of pool fencing in Bali it might be worth your peace of mind to look into hiring a pool fence. Google “Bali pool fence hire” for a list of businesses offering this service.
- Talking about prams?
I’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed about this one for every trip. My daughter is almost 4 and happy to walk for a while, but in the heat it doesn’t take long for me to hear “carry me Mummy” The footpaths aren’t wide and mostly not smooth so last year when I hired a pram, I used it once and then got so frustrated trying to manoeuvre it through the crowds I wanted to throw it into the ocean. Used it once, and then it say unused for a week.
Saying that, lugging 18kgs on my back or hip isn’t idea either so I’ve decided that actually the best option is to not take her walking/shopping when I’m planning on being out for a while. It’s better for both of us that she stay behind at the hotel and swim. Or just jump in a cab.
If you can, and bubs is small/light enough I’d say you’re better off using a baby carrier.
Or get one of these……which I’d love to get my hands on for a trial run (Hi! Mountain Buggy I love you and would love to try this out) #shamelessplug
- Where to go? – I’m only going to recommend the ones I’ve been to and liked. There is a zoo, elephant rides etc but I’m not into those types of attractions so have never been. We spend most of our family time in the pool or at the beach
– Kemenuh Butterfly park
– Ubud Monkey Forest – even though the monkey’s scare the shit out of me.
– Waterbom Water Park (like Wet n Wild)
– Canggu Club (waterslides)
To sum it up, Bali is the kind of place where you can make the holiday that YOU want. There are so many options on where to stay, where to go, what to do that you can really tailor every detail to suit exactly what you want from your holiday.
If you don’t want the bartering mayhem of Kuta…………don’t go there
If you don’t want to spend a fortune…………..keep your eyes peeled for sale flights and accommodation deals, there’s always a bargain to be had.
If you have a big group…………………check out a villa
If you want luxury………………no worries!
If you don’t……………………no worries!
If you want to learn about Balinese culture…..do it!
If you want to have a five hour massage while you’re kids are at the kids club…..do it!
Other tips for first timers
- When you get off the plane, you’ll smell Bali. It’s a smell only Bali has and you’ll be used to it after one day.
- You’ll get ripped off at least once at the markets.
- You’ll make at least one joke about being a millionaire
- You’ll be shocked by the road rules
- You’ll get honked at by every taxi that passes you
- You’ll accidentally run your toothbrush under the tap water and spend the next day waiting to suffer the consequences.
- You’ll buy a sarong, dress or kaftan and promise yourself that you’ll definitely wear it in Adelaide and never ever do.
- You’ll get called Rhonda
- You’ll never look at bottle openers the same way again
- The day before you leave, take all of your washing to a laundry and have it washed and ironed. It comes back clean, smelling great, ironed and wrapped up to just throw in your suitcase. I found one that will wash a 3kg bag in 4 hours for about $7 AUD! Ask Gede to show you where it is (I can’t remember what it’s called)
- Don’t tell any shop owners that you’ll come back tomorrow if you never plan to, they WILL remember……even if it’s 5 years later 😉
- Please learn and teach your kids how to say thank you in Bahasa. It nice to have nice manners.
Thank you = Terima kasih
Useful Bali with Kids links
The Bali Bible – 15 of the best family friendly resorts in Bali
My Little Nomads – Bali Family Hotels
Together We Roam – Complete Guide to Bali
Holidays with Kids – Top 10 Family Resorts in Bali