How to travel to Bali with Kids!

how to travel to bali with kids: how we did it, while avoiding family holiday packages and resorts, and enjoying the amazing beauty of bali

Bali is an incredibly popular family holiday destination and for many years we had thought that Bali with Kids was not for travellers like us…

A confession: we have never been to Bali before. And, part of us didn’t want to go, either.  You see, we are adventurers who have crossed the TianShan, hiked for weeks in the Andes and crossed 40 degree Central American borders while pregnant…

As many people take a family holiday to Bali, it didn’t really fit our idea of our self-perception of travellers.    But even adventurers need breaks – right?  And that’s why we recommend travelling to Bali with Kids. With lots of things to do in Bali, it is is the perfect place for a family holiday.

Even when your soul longs for adventure, the realities of travel with two small kids means you need to be practical!  Bali ticks all the boxes – short, cheap flight – plenty of sunshine, great weather, and culture!

To answer the question: How travel to Bali with Kids – and not stay in an expensive resort for a week – this is our guide!

What did we do >> Bali  with Kids

We started out in Tuban (which we loved), to Nusa Dua (which wasn’t our cup of tea), to a place halfway between Singaraja and Lovina (our favourite), to Munduk, then Ubud, and finishing up with a splurge hotel in Taro.

We read a lot – way too much – and over-thought.  Google searches for “Bali for kids” consistently came up with a list of resorts; and even though we tried to stay firm with our intuition, in the depths of winter it’s hard to do that!  We started out on a tight budget – intending to also make this a cheap holiday but then upgraded and expanded the budget as time went on.

We ended up booking a travelling holiday – that is 5 different locations over a 3 week period, meaning that we broke our own rules and stayed at some places just 2 nights – which predicably meant unsettled (therefore cranky) kids on a couple of occasions

Puri Lumbung hotel in Munduk… a highlight! Check out our review.

Our reflections on How to travel to Bali with Kids,  see some of the culture and try to stick to a budget. Bali is what you make of it.  There is something for everyone.  There is also a billion blogs out there offering stories and advice.  If you are an experienced traveller go with your gut instinct.  Bali is easier than most places you have travelled to; and there are more options.

#1. Costs –Bali with Kids can be affordable.

Just because there is a lot of information on the internet recommending resorts in ‘Bali for Kids’ it doesn’t have to be like that. There are lots of great little hotels, which are much more affordable.  (They probably don’t have a kids club or babysitters – but if you want you can organise that when you get there.)

The caveat to this is – the cleanliness of the pool.  Oh, actually, that the place must have a pool and secondly, because the kids tend to swallow a lot of water, it’s important that the pool is clean.  We checked out of one hotel after a day because of a dirty pool.

Also:  if your children are small and not swimming, do ask about the depth of the pool as places with shallower pools were better for a 2.8 years and 6 years.  (but not ‘paddle pools’ as they were too shallow!!!)

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Sunset in Nusa Dua

#2. Resorts or Hotels – where to stay in Bali with Kids

There are a lot of resorts in Bali; these gorgeous establishments are filled with pools, frangipani, nannies and fabulous restaurants.  These are an excellent option if you are looking for a resort style holiday where the central goal is to relax, and not get hot and sweaty discovering the local culture.

At first, when we mentioned we were a family of 4 – many places wanted to put us in two rooms. We negotiated and Master 2.8 slept in our bed most nights and they added an extra bed for Miss 6. We saved a lot by doing this – so if you don’t mind co-sleeping (or that’s what happens anyways) do negotiate, even by email.

A note about  Hotel Reviews – go with your gut instincts and if you read Trip Advisor do so with a ‘grain of salt.’ Trip Advisor is a great tool, but it is also a bunch of people’s opinions and is not moderated.  Strangely enough, our favourite hotels were ranked quite lowly… and the most highly ranked hotels were not as enjoyable

Inata Bisma Hotel in Ubud in the Rice paddies.

#3.  Bargaining – Bali with Kids

Bargaining is what you do for souvenirs. An old traveller’s habit (refined by living in South and Central America) is to estimate a fair price in your head.  Common sense and a bit of shopping around defines what is a fair price.  If the starting price is way too high, we walk away.   Otherwise, if the starting price is reasonable we bargain a tiny bit or hardly at all… especially if we are talking a couple of dollars.  There was a good amount of bargaining happening in Bali, which makes you feel that you are free to walk away.

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Using numbers and bargaining prices are great ways for kids to use their maths

#4. Negotiation

Negotiation of prices is different in thank bargaining (for us) and usually refers to services like hotel rooms, transport or guide services. A couple of the not less hotels were open to “negotiation’ and we made savings of between $10 and $30 a day – simply by asking if they could do a better deal.  With transport, we needed a large car and it seemed that prices were relatively consistent.  Transport is not something we want to skimp on, and look for well-maintained cars and slow, careful drivers.

#5 Transportation – Bali with Kids

We hired drivers from the hotels, or negotiated in the local town and carried 2 car seats the whole way. They were included in our luggage allowance, and so there was no point paying a Bali baby hire company.  (As we were moving around, we used a range of drivers).  Both kids seemed very happy to have their own car seats, especially Master 2.5 who would prefer to be moving about the car but respectful of the car seat.

In Bali we were mostly located right in the towns, and this meant that we walked everywhere!  In the case that we weren’t able to walk there were plentiful local transport (Bemos) and also tourist style buses to travel to bali with kids, bali with kids, bali family holiday, bali family holidays

#7 Food – Bali with Kids

The enormous range of delicious, cheap food available in Bali is is definitely a “plus” for Bali.. Whether eating in your hotel or down the street, the range of food was awesome. of food options so some nights was Pizza and Pasta (requested by Miss 6) while other nights she could have something she liked (if it’s not Pasta, it’s a fish) while the adults got to try a fantastic range of Balinese and Indonesian foods. Master 2.8 has always been fussy – which is why I packed a huge bag of snacks and frequented Mini Marts a lot.   Our nightly meal budget ranged from $10 to $70 for a family of 4.

Meal at Villa Agung, Lovina. Notice the already eaten spaghetti bog… we usually ask for kids meals as soon as we sit down.

#8 Learn the language  – Bali with Kids

We learn a little bit of the language in any new country we visit; it has multiple benefits… none the less the children learn a little big about other cultures.  We learnt a few basic phrases and the numbers and not only did it help in less touristy places but got big warm smiles, and Sama Sama!  The Balinese really seemed to appreciate our efforts and we have promised that for the next visit we will learn at least a few more phrases as it gets such a genuine response!

Off the beaten track, it was harder to communicate though nearly everyone in any tourist enterprise seemed to speak enough English to help us get by!

#9 Travelling with Kids – Bali and Children

The Balinese were, as expected warm and caring towards the kids, taking their hand and wanting to talk with them. They seemed particularly partial to our little boy and we understand that every family wants a boy… From the moment we flew in, to the moment we flew out, he got a lot of attention from the Balinese (I should note, he didn’t particularly like it, making him shyer than normal) this was unexpected all around – especially his reaction to the attention.

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#10 Culture – how much did we experience of Balinese Culture? 

With flowers, an infinite grace and temple offerings being made each morning at every hotel it is hard to not feel or see the Balinese culture.  These graceful acts of faith are a deeply engrained part of the culture and are not part of a show that is offered for the tourist’s benefit.

As the hotels we stayed in were nearly all located close to local villages, every moment you stepped outside the door you were in contact with Balinese culture.  Whether it was families on their way to a ceremony or shrines on the street, the culture is palpable and entrancing.

It was Bali’s culture, and how that was easily translatable to the children that perhaps entranced us most, about the island of the gods.  We wore sarongs in temples and talked to the drivers about the different ceremonies and their obligations.  Learning about the culture and religion was an absolute highlight for us.

#11 Sustainability & Responsible tourism

True environmental sustainability is difficult to assess as a tourist; when we started researching our trip to Bali we looked for “eco” lodges but they were not plentiful and some were extremely expensive.

Without knowing much about the island we would assume that the Kuta, Seminyak strip would have vast environmental and responsible tourism issues.  Knowing the corruption in the Suharto times, and a little background reading on anything political… and you will be left wondering about your choice of destination.  Surely I will never stay in Nusa Dua again, which is supposedly built on land illegally acquired under Suharto… or hotels that are built too close to shrines.

Throw in modern Australian stories, including that of Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine and you may go no further.

But do; we have a list of recommended reading if you are interested.

Also, start doing your research on sustainable tourism experiences, while we haven’t checked this out ourselves, a sustainable week in Bali sounds good

Conclusion – Bali with Kids

Bali has entranced travellers for a long time, and for good reason, the “Island of the Gods” combines tropical beauty with a captivating culture.  Certainly, we believe you need to get away from the highly touristed areas (including Ubud) to discover this magic.  But it is there – and it is able to be found.

Would we go to Bali again?

In a heartbeat!! We loved the tropical ambience; the grace and beauty that filled the island.  We could see ourselves spending extended time there.

Things we wish we had have done!

You know a destination has captivated you when you spend your plane trip home planning the next trip!!!   We quickly put together a new dream itinerary to do all the things that we had wished we had done the first time.

Bali with Kids – our other experiences

Where to stay in Bali with Kids?  The Best Bali Family Hotels*

A totally prepared 30 day off the beaten track Bali with Kids itinerary.

Getting off the beaten track – Munduk & Bedugul, Bali for families

Want to stay in a rice storage lumbung – Puri Lumbung Cottages Munduk Hotel Review

Quite possibly the best Airport Hotel we have EVER stayed in Patra Jasa Resort Hotel Review

We’ve travelled with Lonely Planet for over 20 years! For unbiased and detailed advice, they are our trusted guide book.  Even in this digital age, you can’t go past them for maps and info on the go.  Take a Look>>

Bali & Lombok Guide
Bali & Lombok travel guide, 16th Edition Jul 2017 by Lonely Planet
Indonesia Travel Guide
Indonesia travel guide, 11th Edition Jul 2016 by Lonely Planet
Learn a little of the local language.
Indonesian phrasebook, 6th Edition Sep 2012 by Lonely Planet

Looking for some more Bali Inspiration?

Here are some fantastic photos and lots of good reasons to visit Bali Blissful Reasons to Visit Bali

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