Bali With Kids: Why It’s Still The Perfect Option

Bali is an uber-trendy option for the Instagram crowd right now, and as a destination is experiencing something of a renaissance. And I get it. Great food, trendy bars, the health and wellness scene… It has a lot to offer. The international jetsetters of the world more often than not have Bali on their hit lists.

Yet in Australia, Bali is often seen as a bit… ordinary. It’s cheap and quick to get to, and Australians have been making their holidays there for decades. Given the ease with which it can be done, it’s a great option for those with the limited means to choose another destination. As such, many other Australians will now turn their noses up at Bali, saying it’s “too bogan”.

I was once one of these people to an extent. The sports bars of Kuta filled to the brim with drunk yobbos do absolutely nothing for me. The schoolies crowd is even worse. I loathe the fact that this scene has given Australians a bad name in Bali. But things are starting to turn around; there are positives to all of this. No, really.

The thing is, with such an influx of Aussie tourists and now expats, Bali has become a brilliant option for families with young children. I know to some extent it always has been, but in 2019 Bali has absolutely everything you need to have a safe, fun holiday with even the littlest of travellers. Here’s why.

Just a note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and book a hotel or tour, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Flight time to Bali

From Adelaide, where I live, a direct flight takes five hours. From Sydney, the journey is a little over six hours, while from Perth you’ll be there in under four. Our Kiwi mates will be in Bali in a little over eight hours from Auckland,\. This is the same flight time from most southern-Australian cities to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. From Bali, you can fly through to many Asian cities in just a couple of hours. All of this makes Bali a great option for those of us living in the Asian and Oceanic regions.

From our home city, the fight left around 7pm. This meant the kids were pretty tired and were able to have a quick bite to eat onboard then snuggle up and sleep. Sure, it meant they were wide awake when we landed, but by the time we cleared customs and immigration, got to the hotel and settled in, they were tired enough to go back to sleep… and they slept in a little in the morning. Bonus!

The Bali Villa scene

While there are countless amazing resorts for every budget in Bali, what Bali really has going for it is the private villa scene.

Back when I first went to Bali in 2011, we stayed at the Samaya in Ubud. One-bedroom pool villas in luxury hotels were emerging as the perfect romantic option. These days, you can hire an entire house. Doing this is an excellent option for families: it’s affordable, luxurious, and there will be plenty of space for the whole family.

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The last time we were in Bali with my extended family, we booked the Jadine Villa in Canggu (you can find my Jadine Bali Villa review here). This gorgeous villa featured four bedrooms, two pools (one that was shallow enough for the kids), beautiful gardens and a fully-equipped kitchen. Being in Canggu, we just walked down to the supermarket to pick up supplies and having the kitchen meant we had snacks on hand at any time. This was perfect for feeding little kids.

There was a chef on staff so we woke up to breakfast every morning. The facilities were still cleaned every day, just as you’d expect in a hotel. We also had our own concierge who showed us around and made sure we had everything we needed. When we had issues, they were addressed immediately.

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Breakfast in the villa… everyone opted for Indonesian brekkie except my Dad, who stuck with his bacon and eggs!

There are so many villa options throughout Bali, so finding the perfect option for your family is easy.

Baby gear hire in Bali

As building standards are different in Bali, it isn’t a requirement that any pool is fenced. We chose to hire a villa that had lockable french doors that opened out to the pool area, and we kept these closed at all times. However, some villas are open plan. In this case, it is really easy to hire portable fences to make sure the pool area is safe for the kids. Talk to your villa hire company; they’ll know exactly how to get it sorted.

The easiest way to get around Bali is by car. This can be tricky to do safely with kids because of the need for car seats. Our villa team made sure car seats were fitted before they picked us up from the airport. The seats then stayed with us at the villa for the duration of our stay so we could use them in any vehicle.

Bali Baby Hire is a great place to start looking for all the things you might need when traveling with kids. Other than fencing and car restraints, they can sort you out with cots, high chairs, baby gates and pretty much every baby item you could imagine.

Balinese food

Traditional Indonesian food can contain a bit of spice, but there are so many great dishes that the kids are bound to love. Our kids (like most I would guess) can’t go past a serve of mee goreng or satay. We loved walking up to The Joglo in Canggu for lunch, where there’s also a playground for the kids to entertain themselves on while they wait for lunch to be served.

While Indonesian cuisine is absolutely delicious, Bali actually has quite an international food scene. Some of the best chefs in the world have been lured to Bali and the culinary options available reflect this abundance of talent. While you’ll find the best of the best in the five-star resorts, there are some brilliant options around Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud in particular.

The ‘trendy’ ways of eating are well catered for in Bali: if you follow a vegan, raw or clean eating diet you won’t be short of options. Seafood lovers will also be very impressed; you absolutely cannot go past a seafood feast in Jimbaran Bay. The food is amazing and the experience is a Bali must-do.

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Outside of silver service restaurants, I’ve never experienced anything outside an enthusiastic welcome when eating with little ones in tow. Special mentions go to The Dirty Duck and Bale Udang, both in Ubud, for serving up incredible, authentic Indonesian food and making the whole family feel at ease.

Beach Clubs in Bali

You guys KNOW how much I love beach clubs. Here’s my list of the eight best beach clubs in Bali, but let me say this: whichever you choose, you’ll have an incredible time.

That said, some are better for kids than others. We found Finns, The Lawn and Sundays to be the most child-friendly options. From the kids’ menu to the facilities, these options made us feel so welcome. The kids got such a kick out of the swim-up bar and because there were other kids around, it was possible for them to make friends… And for us to meet other like-minded families! Part of the reason why I love beach clubs is the social aspect. When you stay in a villa, the one thing you miss out on in comparison to a resort is the ability to meet other families. At the beach club, though, this is so easy.

My tip: hire one of the bigger day beds so there’s plenty of space if the kids need to take a nap.

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Bali’s kid-friendly culture

So let me tell you a little anecdote. We travelled to Bali when our youngest was four months old, and he was exclusively breastfed. I was a bit worried about how we would go; I’m still a nervous breastfeeder. Even though I 100% believe in mothers feeding their infants whenever and wherever they wish, I don’t really love feeding in public. Anyway, after spending four-and-a-half hours of a five-hour flight with bub on my boob, I was already a bit over it. He was one of those babies who would NOT take a bottle.

The whole family went to explore Tanah Lot (if you’re not familiar, it’s a Hindu temple that juts out into the ocean, and it’s beautiful). After a while, bub started to grizzle and I had to feed him. I sat down somewhere out of the way to feed when I became conscious of this European couple giving me the dirtiest glares. It was awful. I felt so uncomfortable. It’s one thing to know you’re doing the right thing, but when someone looks disgusted at you, you still second guess yourself. I hurriedly fed the baby and moved on.

When we were walking out, though, I saw this huge statue – it was of a mother with both her breasts out, and eight infants clamouring at her! I laughed. Firstly, the kids look kind of like they’re harassing her and I sooooo relate to that… but secondly, right in front of me was this huge carving showing me how natural and beautiful it is to feed one’s baby. At the temple!

Tanah Lot | Things To Do In Bali | Bali With Kids | Why Bali Is The Perfect Family-Friendly Destination #bali #indonesia #asia #travel #travelblog
Tanah Lot… yes it’s pretty popular (go at dawn to beat the crowds)

As the holiday went on, I had a few of these encounters with other travellers. But every time, it was juxtaposed with a Balinese person in my corner reminding me I was a great mum. One Balinese person even said to me: “children are the world’s biggest blessing, sometimes you Westerners forget that”. And it’s completely true.

I feel like in our culture we treat children as a burden or an inconvenience sometimes. Every time I walked into a restaurant or beach club or shop, I said, “is it okay I have my children with me?” And every time I was greeted with complete enthusiasm. The Balinese people wanted to play with our kids, entertain them, and snuggle them while I ate or shopped. They really do treat kids like the blessings they are, and it was a beautiful reminder that this haggard, exhausted mum really needed.

Medical facilities in Bali

You’d be forgiven for thinking the medical care may not be the same as at home… Or that it would be difficult to access if you don’t speak Indonesian. However, with the growing expat and tourist community has come increased international-friendly medical services. In fact, at some clinics expat doctors can be found. BIMC Hospitals are always a good option; as they mostly cater to tourists all staff speak fluent English. They also often link up with insurance providers which will make your life easier.

One night in our villa, our eldest son had a nasty accident. We notified our villa hosts and they immediately replied and called a doctor for us. Locum doctors are able to come to your location round the clock and there are decent hospitals nearby if needed. What was an incredibly stressful situation was made so much easier by our helpful villa team, efficient medical options, and the ability to be able to converse in English.

Like any destination, make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance. Also be sure to check what their rules are when it comes to medical attention. Usually, if it’s an emergency you would go straight to hospital then notify your insurance company. However, if not it pays to always call your insurance company first. Keeping them in the loop makes life much easier when it comes time to lodge a claim.

I could probably think of 100 more reasons to head to Bali for a family holiday, especially if it’s the first time you’ve travelled overseas with little ones. But I’ll leave it there for now. Obviously my focus is on travelling with young kids, but my friends over at Wyld Family Travel have some great pointers on heading to Bali with teens. Let me know in the comments below what the most important factor is for you when deciding on a family travel destination.

Also, if you’re keen to expand your horizons after a Bali jaunt, the rest of Indonesia features in my post on 2019’s top travel trends. Check it out!

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