Bali with Kids: A Complete Family Travel Guide
In the past two years of traveling with our baby to 15 countries, Bali tops them all as the most family-friendly destination we’ve been. Here is a detailed guide on traveling Bali with kids.
I’ve lost count of the number of traveling families we’ve seen and met on this trip. After all, the island IS perfect for kids — whether 6-months-old babies or 12-year-old adolescents — in every way possible: there’s a whole slew of outdoor activities you can do here, from surfing to white water rafting, and the island is just brimming with culture and traditions. Most importantly, the cheap prices and array of choices you get in terms of accommodation and restaurants make family travel such a breeze.
What we love most about Bali is that even though tourism has changed some parts of the island, the ‘real Bali’ still thrives — and like the scent of incense, cloves and flowers, it permeates every corner of the island. The unique culture of Bali is resilient, persistent and very much alive, not only in its small villages, but also in the towns and cities, where ancient traditions blend with a burgeoning global lifestyle.
In general, traveling Bali with kids is very easy and highly recommended for those seeking an affordable, well-rounded holiday with the whole family. Here are some of our practical tips to help you plan your own family trip to Bali.
Bali with Kids
When to Travel Bali with Kids
Bali has two main seasons: a wet and a dry. The dry season runs from April to September and is the best time to visit for good weather. The wet season is from October to March. In the wet season, there is generally just a huge downpour every day. We’ve found the weather to be still sunny and nice, only occasional rains in the evenings (we’re here from February to April). There are far more bugs around in the wet season and this can be annoying.
The busiest times in Bali are during the school holidays, especially December and January, and the July to August holiday period in the Northern hemisphere. The best time to avoid the crowd is around April – June and September. However even at busy times, there is plenty of room for everyone and there is plenty to do in Bali for families at any time of year.
I would also suggest visiting during a Balinese festival, to get a chance to witness the Balinese’ vibrant culture at its best. We were here during Nyepi, Balinese New Year, in March 2017. Also known as the Day of Silence, the day itself is a day of reflection, meditation and abstinence (no electricity, no movement and no food), but the days leading up to it are filled with colorful parades and holy rituals.
What to do in Bali with Kids
The reason why Bali is so popular with families, is that there’s just SO many things to do in Bali for kids of all ages. You get the best of both worlds: the wide black sand beaches that are great for surfing and relaxing, and the lush tropical inland that teems with giant volcanic mountains, waterfalls, and stunning rice terraces perfect for short hikes.
Then there’s also the cultural side to Bali — picture traditional villages, holy springs and ancient temples — that will intrigue even the younger kids. At the same time, it also has plenty of modern conveniences like malls and supermarket chains, making it easy to travel even with new-born babies.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Bali with kids:
- Go surfing in Kuta or Canggu: the big waves here can be unsafe for small kids but are great fun for older ones. Rent a board for US$5/hour or hire a surfing instructor for $15/hour.
- Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud: we brought Kaleya on her birthday and she absolutely loved the monkeys (even the aggressive ones) as well as the walking trails.
- Soak in the Tirta Empul Holy Springs: kids will love the Indiana Jones–like pools at the ancient water palace and you’ll get to learn about the interesting Bali Hindu practices.
- Watch the Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple: this traditional fire dance is dramatic and full of action, perfect to keep the young ones entertained. Kaleya didn’t fidget at all the entire time, and she absolutely loved it!
- Do a road trip up to Singaraja in the north: Kaleya loves road trips (she usually dozes off and wakes up super energized) and it’s great fun exploring the hot springs and temples along the way.
- Walk the rice terraces of Jatiluwih or Tegalagang: it’s great fun to do some light hiking with your kids — some slippery and muddy parts may not be safe, but most of the trails here are paved.
- Wander around the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple: this lakeside temple complex is the absolute most gorgeous temple on Bali and it’s filled with animal statues and play areas that are great for kids.
- Get lost in the Ubud market: it’s the best spot to shop for souvenirs or buy some sarongs (for temple visits). Let your kids try bargaining and I’m sure they’ll have fun at it!
- Visit the Ogoh Ogoh museum in Mengwi: Ogoh Ogohs are statues of demonic creatures that are paraded around Bali during Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. This museum has a great collection of them and kids dig them!
- Check out an evening Barong dance at the Ubud Palace: the performance has monkeys, monsters, a witch and more to keep the young ones enthralled.
- Catch sunset at the seaside Tanah Lot Temple: the location of this temple atop a rock on a black sandy beach is outstanding, and the rocky area surrounding it can be plenty of fun for kids as they’ll find crabs sputtering around.
Which Area to Stay in Bali with Kids
We stayed at every corner of Bali you can imagine: from the southern tip (Nusa Dua and Uluwatu) and the touristy trio (Kuta, Seminyak, Legian) to secret hidden corners (Balian Beach and Nyanyi) and the spiritual hub of Ubud. From all the regions we stayed, we have found the following areas to be the most family-friendly in terms of accommodation, restaurants and ease to moving around.
Poised at the southernmost tip of Bali, this area easily has the best beaches on the island in my opinion, with white pearly sand and clear waters, unlike most of the beaches on the island (big waves and black sand). It’s far from the madness of Kuta and the surrounding areas. Nusa Dua has two separate parts – the gated resort area that’s away from it all, and Tanjung Benoa, which has quite a few local shops and restaurants.
Recommended Hotel: Samabe Bali Suites & Villas
Samabe Bali is a five-star resort poised on a cliff top overlooking the spearmint waters of Nusa Dua. We absolutely loved our private villa that had a huge living space and our own pool. Samabe Bali also offers families a choice of “limited and unlimited privileges” for its guests. “Unlimited privileges” cover everything including immersive day trips and the full gamut of meals and beverages, entertainment, and spa treatments. Check the latest prices here.
Located just a 10-minute drive from the airport, this area is where most people would stay after landing or before departing. What was once a tiny fishing village with a daily market is now home to several world class beach resorts. What we like most about Jimbaran is the clean and calm white sand beach that’s comfortable and safe for swimming. It’s not extremely touristy like Kuta, and not as crowded and busy. The bay has a stretch of seafood restaurants on the beach that draw in lots of tourists during sunset but they are heavily overpriced.
Recommended Hotel: Intercontinental Bali
For a real Balinese experience, you won’t go wrong at the Intercontinental Bali. Featuring beautiful traditional Balinese architecture and furnishing, the resort gives the illusion that you’re entering an ancient palace studded with temples, pagodas and lotus ponds. The resort is just steps from the famous Jimbaran seafood restaurants. It has a kids’ club as well as a kids’ buffet corner at its poolside restaurant. Check the best prices.
This is the heartland of Bali, not only geographically but also culturally, spiritually and historically. Ubud was once a sleepy artist village, but has transformed into a mini-metropolis now thanks to tourism. Despite that, it’s still a good place to base from which to explore the surrounding region packed with temples, rice terraces and mountains.
Recommended Hotel: Villa D’Uma
This small family-run villa is located within the rice fields of Penastanan in Ubud. It’s brand new and the rooms are spacious and gorgeous. There are only three rooms in Villa D’Uma, so you get lots of privacy as a family. We absolutely enjoyed our time here, waking up to views of the rice fields and having breakfast on our verandah. However, it’s a 15-minute walk to the main road, so it’s more suitable to families with older kids. It’s also really affordable. Check the latest prices here.
Located on the east coast of Bali, Sanur is suitable for those who want a slower paced version of Kuta and Seminyak, without steering too far from the rest of Bali. Sanur tends to draw in many families, as its beach is protected by a reef meaning that the water is calm and shallow – making it safe for kids. Let’s not forget Sanur is also home to Bali’s biggest playground for kids, Peekaboo — we went twice during our stay in Sanur and Kaleya couldn’t get enough of it.
Recommended Hotel: Puri Tempo Doeloe
Quirky and tastefully designed, this heritage hotel is housed in a traditional Indonesian ‘palace’ with beautiful bungalows painted in pastel colors and decorated with antique and vintage furniture. It’s probably my favorite hotel in Bali for its eclectic design. It’s also very well priced and offer great value. Check prices here.
How to Get Around Bali with Kids
It is easy to get around Bali. There are plenty of transport choices around — you’ll probably find people asking if you need a taxi every five steps you take. Taxis are affordable, but haggling every single time can be exhausting — we prefer taking Uber as it’s cheaper and fuss-free. Take note thou there are red zones where Uber or Grab is not allowed to operate (such as the Uluwatu area).
Otherwise, most people rent either a scooter or a jeep to get around. A scooter costs around US$5 to rent for a day, and a jeep around $15-25/day if you’re renting for just a few days. We rented a Toyota Avanza (a popular vehicle here) for just US$350 for a month and a half, and it’s a comfortable and convenient way to explore the island with Kaleya as well as our families and friends who were visiting. We found his car rental company in Seminyak and found him to be very reliable. Email me if you want me to connect you with him.
If you are getting your own transport, keep in mind that it can be challenging to navigate the road of Bali. Alberto has driven in many different places in the world (Turkey, Oman, Vietnam to name a few), so he’s got lots of driving experience. Traffic can be crazy in the built-up areas of Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran and Denpasar, and most drivers have little or no regard for traffic laws.
There is also the option of public bus (called bemos) which can be a cheap way of getting around, but in general they don’t really suit travelers’ needs as you need to wait for the vehicle to be full and it can take awhile to get your destination.
Eating in Bali with Kids
Balinese food is delicious, but also mostly spicy. Luckily many warungs (local food stalls) will serve food without any chili, spice or sauce upon request. Easy options that you can find in every warung or restaurant include rice congee (bubur), soy bean fritters (tempe), fried rice (nasi goreng) and meatball noodle soup (bakso mie). Otherwise, kid-pleasers like burgers, chicken fingers, pizza and pasta are widespread, as are fast-food chains in south Bali.
Food is generally safe, although we did experience a stomach bug while here. We’ve eaten at a range of places, from street side food stall (where a meal costs around 20,000 Rp or US$1.50) to high-end beachfront restaurants (prices upwards of 200,000 Rp or US$15 per person). You’ll find nasi goreng and mee goreng on almost every menu, but there are plenty of choices if you’re not on a tight budget.
Some of our favorite kids-friendly restaurants include:
Genius Cafe, Sanur — This cool beachfront cafe has an excellent kids menu that’s nutritional and flavorful. Kaleya loved the steamed fish and rice here. Prices are on the higher end, but portions are huge here. The general atmosphere here is great and it’s hugely popular with bohemian families looking to dine under the stars with sand between their toes.
Moana Fish Eatery, Canggu — Backdropped by rattan and lush vegetation, this Polynesian fish diner is one of the many cool restaurants you’ll find in hip Canggu. They’ve got babies’ highchair as well as crayons and drawings to keep kids entertained. The food is exceptional here — Kaleya loved their mahi mahi burger that came with salad and sweet potato fries.
De’Warung, Ubud — Located near the monkey forest, this restaurant overlooks a pond with lily pads and a fountain, and has a lush surroundings. We highly recommend the rice table on their menu, which includes a slew of curries and rendang dishes. They also have a highchair and the staff are more than willing to come keep your kid entertained while you enjoy the feast.
How to Stay Healthy in Bali
Remember to consult your travel doctor about necessary vaccinations a few months ahead of your trip to ensure plenty of time for any series of shots required. We didn’t get any vaccination for Kaleya.
Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are recommended for Bali, and they should be given at least 6 weeks prior to departure. For those going off the beaten track such as to rural areas, the Typhoid vaccine is also recommended at least a week prior to travel.
Rabies is an on-going problem in Bali, so avoid letting your children play with animals and consider a rabies vaccination before departing. Be wary of mosquitoes — malaria can be found outside of the resort areas and dengue fever affects a substantial number of people and has no preventative treatment other than avoiding bites — mosquito nets, coils and repellents are especially important during the rainy season.
Pharmacies, 24-hour clinics and private practices are easily available all over Bali (especially in tourist hubs like Seminyak and Ubud). Bali International Medical Center (BIMC) and Bali Clinic in Seminyak are some of the most well known centres in Bali. We had to bring Kaleya to see the doctor twice because of an insect bite infection and severe constipation.
The first time we went to the first private practice we found in Canggu — the doctor was professional, efficient and kind, and it cost us just 350,000 Rupiah (US$25) for the consultation and medication. The second time we found a 24-hour clinic in Ubud near where we were staying — the doctor wasn’t very fluent in English, but managed to explain to us her condition; it came at a hefty price of 780,000 Rupiah (US$55) in total. Luckily we have health insurance for Kaleya that covers worldwide medical fees. I’ve written about why it’s important to have travel insurance and tips on how to choose the right travel insurance.
As you should with any trip to Southeast Asia, bring your own well-stocked medical kit and any children-specific medication. It’s essential to bring rehydration solution in case of diarrhoea or dehydration, which can be quite dangerous in young children. Don’t count on the pharmacies in Bali having what you might need. There are plenty of Guardian and Watson pharmacies all around the island, but we found it quite challenging to get accurate and reliable information.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe in Bali
The main danger to kids – and adults for that matter – is traffic and bad footpaths in busy areas. Bali’s narrow streets and paths are barely walkable, so be careful with kids around. They’re not suited for prams and pushchairs; we usually carry Kaleya when we’re walking on the streets.
Another thing to note for parents is that the type of facilities, safeguard and services that Western parents regard as basic may not be present in Bali. Not many restaurants provide highchairs, places with great views might have nothing to stop your kids falling over the edge, and shops often have breakable things down low. Cars, whether rented or chartered with a driver, are unlikely to come with these. We were lucky to have found a great guy who hired us his car with a booster seat.
For any outdoor activity, it’s worth checking out conditions carefully. Just because that rafting company sells tickets to families doesn’t mean they are well set up to cater to the safety needs of children.
Baby Supplies in Bali
The major supermarket chain Carrefour in Denpasar stocks almost everything you’d find at similar shops at home, including diapers, pre-made baby food, packaged UHT milk, infant formula and other supplies. Otherwise, you’ll find local supermarket chains – Bintang and Coco – in almost every major town like Sanur, Ubud and Seminyak. You’ll also find the same baby supplies there, though with less choices.
In general, imported goods are expensive in Bali. For baby food, you’ll mostly find the Heinz pre-made baby purees on sale here, but they’re pricey and cost around 50,000 Rupiah each (US$3.50). That’s twice the price of what we have in Europe. Diapers are quite cheap — a local brand one costs around 50,000 Rupiah for 24 to 32 units. If your baby is less than one year old, I’d recommend bringing your own formula powder from home.
Balinese’ Attitude to Children
Locals consider kids part of the community, and everyone has a responsibility towards them. Children of all ages will enjoy both the attention and the many diversions that will make their holiday as special as that of the adults.
Balinese people will display great interest in any Western child they meet. You will have to learn your child’s age and sex in Bahasa Indonesia – “bulau” is month, “tahun” is year, “laki-laki” is boy and “perempuan” is girl. You should also make polite enquiries about the other person’s children, present or absent.
All in all, traveling Bali with kids is simple and mostly stress-free. Take the time to research for a great base to stay at, and explore at a slow pace, and you – and your family – will surely fall for Bali’s charms.
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