Bali is one of the top holiday destinations for Australians and definitely for those of us with families. Just the thought of it conjures up images of sun, sand, relaxing and swimming. It's a tropical paradise that is affordable and so close! We visited Bali when Tully was a toddler, and we just went back with a group of friends, and 10 kids aging from 5-13! So I've updated this post to reflect what Bali looks like now when travelling with kids.
A Guide to Bali with Kids - Top Tips Before Going
Some things you should know before you go...
- Everywhere has wifi. Every hotel, villa, cafe, restaurant. You can easily get around Bali without getting a SIM card but if you do want one you can get one at the airport.
- Download the Gojek app. It's like the Uber of Asia. Set yourself up by selecting your country and adding your phone number and your credit card details. You can then order food, order a car or even get a motorbike ride to where you need to be. Delivery fee is around $1-2 and car rides in Seminyak cost us around $1.50- $3 depending on demand.
- Download the HappyFresh app. You can order grocery delivery. If you are Seminyak you want to choose GrandLucky as your supermarket. They will deliver in 90 minutes and are great for snacks and drinks if you are in a villa.
- DO NOT, under any circumstance, use an ATM in a mini mart. Your card will be skimmed. Bank ATMs only. Same goes with Money Changers. You want official, authorised money changers in the fancy shop fronts. Not a hole in the wall one.
- If you are getting a taxi, only get a BlueBird Taxi. Be careful because there are many other blue taxis trying to pass themselves off as Bluebird. The more aggressive the drivers are about getting you in a taxi, the more you should avoid them. And once you're in the Bluebird taxi, make sure the meter is on.
- Pedestrian crossings mean nothing. So don't try and cross the road on them like you would normally.
Where should I stay?
What I love about Bali is the opportunity to stay in villas instead of resorts. I don't like being trapped in a resort and of course, you pay a premium price for everything in a resort because there is no option. Staying in a resort will see you paying almost Australian prices for everything.
Bali has a million villa options available, you can find websites dedicated to them, as well as Air BnB. There are huge ones with loads of bedrooms and smaller ones. Almost all have their own pool and support staff that clean and maintain the property. Research the area you want to stay in and then look for a good villa. Some of the larger hotels also have villas on site, which gives you the convenience of a hotel stay, with room service etc, but the space of a house. I'm a big fan of having my own kitchen with kids so I can prepare food if they are fussy.
Different areas for different things
I stay in Seminyak as it's my favourite. It's the trendier part of Bali with the nice shops and restaurants. Nusa Dua is where you'll find all the amazing resorts (a bit like the Gold Coast) and Kuta is where the nightclubs are (and I wouldn't recommend staying there unless you are an 18-year-old on a bender weekend). Caangu is the up and coming new area but it's expensive, the road there is awful, and honestly I'd avoid at all costs.
As a family we prefer villas and for this trip we just took with our friends we found an amazing villa called Villa Kinaree Estate. It was two villas, a 4 bedroom and a 6 bedroom, that slept all 20 of us comfortably. The benefit of having two villas is, in the evening, we could banish the kids to the other one to play! We booked through Total Bali Villas, which was better than booking direct because they handled EVERYTHING! This included all our airport pick ups and drop offs, and all cars for our activities while we were there. It's also great having a third party involved in case there are any issues. I highly recommend. They have a whole range of villas, all over Bali.
One thing is that there are no swimming pool fences in Bali. Anywhere. So if you are staying at a villa and you have a child you think is likely to go in the pool unsupervised you can hire temporary pool fences from Bali Baby Hire. They will check out the villa before you arrive, measure it and install the fences before you arrive. We did this when Tully was 15 months because the pools are often right off the lounge area and I didn't want to live in fear that she would fall in the whole time. It cost us about $200 for the 10 days we were there and it was worth every cent.
If you want to stay in a hotel with a great kid's club to get some much-needed relaxation, check out this guide to the best Bali hotels with kids clubs!
Do I need to bring my carseat/ pram/ high chair/ cot/ sterilizer etc?
Take a pram for the airport but be aware that you won't use it much in Bali (unless you are maybe staying at a hotel or for visiting places like the Safari Park). Day to day Bali's infrastructure doesn't support prams. The footpaths if there are any) are often in a state of disrepair and are uneven and narrow at best. It's also really busy with people and traffic- it's not orderly like here at home. Just an FYI- zebra crossings are just a road decoration to cull unknowing tourists. They will not stop at them!
Take your port-a-cot for peace of mind. Some hotels may provide them but they won't meet Australian safety standards. Everything else you need you can hire from Bali Baby Hire (this isn't sponsored by them I swear! I have just used them and found them to be great. They are run by Australia's so they are across safety standards and what Australian mums expect.)
Car seats- they are not required in Bali but I certainly wanted one. Some hotels have them but you can also hire them and they will be delivered to your villa or hotel and installed in the car before they pick you up from the airport. If you are using taxis or GoJek though you'll have to go car seat free.
What food/ nappies/ medicine do I need to bring?
These days Bali with kids isn't much different to Australia with kids in regards to what is available. They now have massive supermarkets with loads of Australian food available. You can also get nappies, wipes and everything else you need for a baby. Bintang Supermarket in Seminyak is one of the most popular with Australians. Just be aware that Australian food = Australian prices. I took some pasta, Vegemite, tuna and some snacks when we went, just in case. Also be aware that Bali bread all contains egg to help make it fluffy so if you/your kids can't eat egg stay away from the bread.
You probably know that you can't drink the water in Bali. Everywhere you stay has bottled water and most food is washed with bottled water in popular restaurants. I've never had any problem from the salads etc. I've only had Bali Belly once when I was 12, and I've been more times than I can count.
If you need to sterilise take along some Milton tablets or hire a steriliser. When you bath the kids just make sure it's a quick bath and they aren't floating around swallowing the water.
Medications wise it's always good to back some Hydralite because little ones can dehydrate quickly in the heat. Also take some anti-nausea medication, Immodium, lots of insect repellent and sun cream. There is no malaria in Bali but there is Denghi Fever so you need repellent on from the afternoon.
Where are some fun places to take the kids?
Here's our whole Itinerary so you can see, and then I'll put more info on each place we visited below:
This is a 'Wet n Wild' style water park has something for everyone, from little pools and slides to the big thrill rides. You can be here all day and set up camp on the sun beds or even in a cabana for a bit more $$. My favourite thing to do is just float the lazy river in an inner tube! You can rent cabanas for the day, from 2-12 people. It's best to book one online though for the day you want to go (well in advance) because the ones they have on the day sell out in minutes of the doors opening.
They have a wristband system for ordering food and drink so you don't have to carry a card. You pre load your wristband with money and they give you back what's left at the end. Be aware that, if you want to rent towels, its a 60 000 IDR deposit and 20 000 IDR per towel. So preload your band with enough for that.
Swings/ Tubing/ Tlaga Singah
We did a tour with Indra Transport and Tour that went to Ubud to visit the coffee plantation and swings, go tubing, and visit Tlaga Singah, a pool club in the jungle. The tour costed us nothing (except a tip for the driver) because the way it works is that they get money from the locations for bringing us there. However there was costs for each of the activities. Be aware though if you take the tubing experience that, contrary to the photos, it's 95% in dark, low, claustrophobic tunnels. And you can't get out mid experience. I don't recommend for anyone scared of the dark, spiders or tight spaces. We learnt the hard way!
Coffee Plantation/ Swing
This is where you see people swinging over the rainforest on Instagram. There are a series of single and multiple person swings set up. They range from about $20-30 to participate. The kids loved it but it was very disorganised! You can also do coffee tasting.
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Bali Safari and Marine Park the ultimate- you go on a bus to see all the safari animals up close, including lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants, tigers, and lots more. Then you exit into the park where you can see elephants having their bath, feed them, pat them (and even ride them although after doing it once I wouldn't do it again I felt bad and my elephant was very angry with the whole situation). There are many opportunities to interact with the animals but the one I recommend the most is the Feed the Predators.
Basically we went in the back of a truck, in a cage, and drove though the safari section to feed the lions, tigers, elephants and zebras. For the carnivores, we were given meat on a long pair of tweezers, and the animals came up to the cage to be fed. It was AMAZING! The tigers got on top the cage to be fed, and even the male lion came to eat. It was of the best animal experiences we have ever had!
You can also do a night zoo experience and sleep over.
This is a day trip to Nusa Lembongan, a small island off Bali. Bali Hai is a boat company that owns a beach club on Lembongan, as well as a pontoon just off the shore. You can choose which one you want to go to. The pontoon has a big water slide and you can go snorkeling and banana boating. The boat docks at the pontoon and they serve you lunch on it.
If you choose the beach club (our choice and definitely the best one) you go to this amazing resort on the beach. You can swim and relax, go snorkeling (this is absolute beginner snorkelling and each session only goes for 30 min so don't get too excited), banana boating, a tour of the island and loads more. You are also served a BBQ lunch. It was so lovely and definitely worth doing. Just be aware that if you get sea sick ask for tablets from the staff straight up. I learned the hard way! Check out their trips though!
Sundays Beach Club
I talk a lot about Sundays Beach Club in my post on Bali beach clubs but it's such a fantastic day out with the family. For the entry fee you get food, drink, towels, and use of stand up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkelling equipment. The water is crystal clear and it's absolute paradise. Make sure you stay the day! Also, you want to be there at low tide because that's when you can use the equipment.
Hopefully, this helps you plan your trip to Bali. It's just the most beautiful place and I hope you love it!