Bali is an incredibly popular family holiday destination and for many years, we had thought that Bali (and especially Bali with kids) was not for travelers like us.
A confession: we had 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 Bali family holidays, it didn’t really fit our idea of our self-perception of us as travelers. However, even adventurers need breaks – right? That is why we recommend traveling to Bali with kids. There are lots of things to do in Bali, and it is is the perfect destination for a Bali 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!
So our challenge was, how to travel to Bali with kids and not stay in an expensive resort for a week? This is our guide!
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What Did We Do In 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 favorite), 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. 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 traveling 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. This predictably meant unsettled (therefore cranky) kids on a couple of occasions
Our best advice on how to travel to Bali with kids is to 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 traveler go with your gut instinct. Bali is easier than most places you have traveled to: and there are more options.
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 organize that when you get there.
The caveat to this is the cleanliness of the hotel pools. 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. Not ‘paddle pools’ as they were too shallow!
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 favorite hotels were ranked quite low and the most highly ranked hotels were not as enjoyable.
If you are looking for recommendations, check out our post “The Best Bali Family Hotels“.
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.
Negotiation of prices is different than bargaining for us. It 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 we always look for well-maintained cars with slow, careful drivers.
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 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, etc.
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. Because of all the food options 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.
Learn The Language
We learn a little bit of the language in any new country we visit. This has multiple benefits, none-the-less the children learn a little big about other cultures. We learned a few basic phrases and the numbers. Not only did it help in less touristy places, but we got big warm smiles and Sama Sama! The Balinese really seemed to appreciate our efforts and we have promised that for the next visit that 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!
We’ve traveled 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.
Traveling Bali With Kids
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.
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 ingrained 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.
Sustainability & Responsible Tourism In Bali With Kids
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 assume that the Kuta, Seminyak strip would have vast environmental and responsible tourism issues. Knowing the corruption in the Suharto times, and if you read a little background reading on anything political, 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, but a sustainable week in Bali sounds good.
Conclusion – Bali With Kids
Bali has entranced travelers 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 tourist 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.
Our Favorite Eco-Fair Trade Beach Supplies
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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