Visiting Bali & Lombok
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Husband and I are trying to decide about travelling to Bali for a month with our young children, ages 5 and 3 (girl and boy). We have been before (pre-kids) and know it is a wonderful place and we think from what we hear that it will be kid-friendly. We'd plan to spend 2 weeks in Ubud and 2 weeks at beach. We'll stay at mid-range places (not expensive hotels). The issue: will there be enough to keep kids occupied? What if they say they want to go home after a day or 2? Are they too young to go on such a trip in the sense that they will not appreciate anything? Will it be too much work for us that will keep it from feeling like a vacation?
Advice from those who have been would be much appreciated. Also, other advice on where to go for a month with young kids if not Bali, i.e. Europe, etc. Thanks! katie
We traveled to Bali last summer with our 3 1/2 year old son. We were there for about a month and spent half the time in Ubud, the other half at the beach on the northeast coast. It was a memorable experience for all of us, and six months later, our son still asks every other week if we can go back. That said, it did have plenty of challenges! I'd be happy to talk to you about the details, if you send me an email. Natasha
We went to bali with our kids, 7 & 4 years old at the time. We stayed in Ubud for 2+ weeks and it was great. There is a cultural center/school there for kids that teaches dance and music. They have a little library that is free and in english. Their shows are great. You can visit the monkey forest for hours. We stayed in a villa with a pool. I think the kids will remember the pool more than anything. The challenge is shopping. There is so much of it that a grown up may want to do, but because of the barganing, it takes a while and the kids get bored really fast. The child care there is only ok. Their attitude is that they need to watch the child make sure it doesnt kill itself. We only used childcare a little bit. When we returned one day we found that our children had turned into monsters and treated the child minder terribly. I was very disappointed, but the person did not expect anything less. The other challenge is how much to keep the kids awake to see the evening shows. I dont know how late your kids usually stay up, but we find that even on big trips it is better to get them to sleep instead of having monsters the next day. This meant that we did not get to go to many of the amazing shows. (we probably should have gotten a babysitter after they were asleep, but bed time was right during the shows) Just do not expect to have a night life.
I find that when we travel with our kids, which we do alot, that what they want the most is our attention. It is alot of work. Water generally makes it easier. The beach is super easy, the pool is easy if they have floaties, but is not a piece of cake.
The time change is harder on them than us and we cannot sleep when we want to. It took alot of communicaiton between my husband and I around what each of us needed from the vacation. He needed to read a ton and I needed a massage almost every day ($10each!!). Things like that made the work worth it. I think that the kids may not remember the details, but they get a sense very early on that the way we live is not necessarily the only option.
We stayed at a fancy place for a mid range price because there was construction going on next door. It was not as quiet as we could have hoped, but the noise was not regular and it was a great price for a fancy place-Sunrise villa. There is a partner who owns it who lives in Petaluma, maybe you can work out a deal. His name is Charles Lindaur- Check out www.indopac.com. They also have a good massage therapist they know. I tried alot of them, and that was the only guy who really seemed to know what he was doing in a theraputic sense. I came back with more movement in my neck than I had in years.
The key to having a chill vacation like this is something that I did not expect, but my husband thought of. We hired a cook. We did not have to sit for hours waiting for food at restaurants and deal with the kids around that. The cook for a month is about $120 plus the cost of the food. IT MADE The vacation for me. We told her what type of food we wanted and which meals we would be around for, and food appeared!!! Feel free to contact me more if you have questions. I have a ton of pictures too, of course. Rebecca
I think Bali would be fine with young kids - of course the plane ride is another story! But I have been to Bali with children many times (although from living in the region). The kids were always happy to go swimming in the pool and occasionally the beach. There is a lot to look at all the time, and people are incredibly open to children. Ubud may be more boring for them unless they like to walk/hike, since it's not near the beach. But you could find a place there with a pool which would help. The main caveat though is that food may be an issue, esp. if your kids are used to American fare only. Things like rice, tofu and ramen noodles will be the easiest and safest things for them to eat - but if they're not used to those kinds of Asian foods then it will be harder to feed them. Of course, there's always KFC and MacDonald's, but that might not fit your idea of the Bali vacation. And they should know to only drink bottled water... Make sure also that you know where the good hospitals and clinics are - if someone gets sick, you'll want to be sure you know where to go. SM
We are planning a trip to Bali in the spring and we are taking our kids (10,13) with us. We are looking for recommendations for places to visit. Are there any spots that you feel we shouldn't miss? Hotels that are worth the price or are a great bargin? Any travel hints or cautionary notes? The Wanderers
I lived in Indonesia for the past 12 years and travelled to Bali often. I have no specific recommendations of places to stay, mainly because it really depends on what you want to spend - the range goes from $15-$600/night. However, it is nice to try and get off the beaten track - over to the east coast near Amed/Tulamben e.g., away from the hawkers and touts - this is also where the good diving is. Most all the temples and tourist attractions are overrun with amateur ''tour guides'' and people trying to sell you things. This gets tiring after awhile, although some tourists don't mind the hassling. One idea is to rent a house and used it as a base for exploring. This idea seems to work best, as you get access to local village life and are not also paying high prices for meals in hotels and resorts. I have used balivillas.com in the past with good results. Otherwise, the area around Sanur is less hectic than Kuta/Legian, and the swimming is good for smaller kids (but dull for adults). The glamorous nightlife - lots of tanned Europeans and wealthy Jakartans - is now further up from Legian in Seminyak/Kerobokan where there are many chic restaurants. There are also some boutique hotels up here and even further up in Canggu. Finally, it's a good idea to get a car with driver - it saves trying to figure out how to get around on your own, is usually not expensive, and he may also be able to take you off the beaten path as you go around the island. And as always, drink bottled water only, peel your fruit and don't eat raw vegetables. Sarah M.
I have to put in a HUGE recommendation for the two Four Seasons in Bali, at Jimbaran Bay and in Sayan (near Ubud). SO beautiful, and well worth the cost. When my husband & I went, we got a package that had us staying a week in Jimbaran Bay, and then a week in Sayan, and, well, WOW! is all I can say. We even unexpectedly ended up going back to Jimbaran Bay for the last week of our stay, after bouncing around the island for awhile...we kept thinking about our stay there and became hopelessly nostalgic; we had no choice but to go back for more! The Four Seasons knows how to make a vacation special. We considered Aman Resorts before we went, but opted for the Four Seasons and never had a minute of regret.
At any rate, definitely visit Ubud, Bali's cultural and arts center. You'll see really stunning dance performances and wayan kulit (Balinese shadow puppets), spectacular architecture, and temples. Spend time in the monkey forest, which is just a trip (look for the tree house!).
We hired a driver when we were there, and I heartily recommend doing this too! He took us to special temples and showed us where to find good food (although it's not hard to find either in Bali), and generally gave us a really personal perspective of Bali. He even ended up taking us to his home and showing us how he and his family live. VERY interesting!! The Balinese are the most friendly and open people we have ever encountered. They are also very devout, and we saw many religious celebrations, including a very dramatic funeral procession. The Balinese are wonderfully effusive with their worship.
Kuta is SO crazy...lots of hard-partying Australians and too much commerce. But we were glad to have spent 1/2 a day checking it out before retiring back to the tranquility of our hotel bale and private pool! There is a huge duality about Bali that is either intriguing or frustrating, depending on your perspective (or mood). It's a VERY tourist-supported island, so there's many people trying to get you to part with your money. On the other hand, the natural beauty of the island, coupled with the lovliness of the people, make it a place that seems like heaven.
Goodness, I could go on and on. Bali made a huge impression on us, and we absolutely love it. If you would like more information, or if you have specific questions, please feel free to email me. Monica
We traveled to Bali for 4 weeks in 2001 on our honeymoon, and had a great time. You couldn't have picked a more wonderful place for a trip with your children. Bali is such a wonderfully peaceful country and a fascinating place to get to know.
A few recommendations:
One of our most memorable experiences was a trek we took with a local guide, Pak Gede. His English is perfect and he's enthusiastic about taking people on hikes through the country to see parts that aren't in any guide books. He took us on a beautiful hike through little-traveled paths into villages where the youngest children had never seen a white person. He creates his own hikes just by wandering through the countryside and meeting people, and as we wandered our way through villages people would come out and say ''pak gede!'' It was great to have a local guide to take us into the ''real'' bali, not the tourist bali, and also someone whose English was so good he could answer any questions we posed to him. He showed us how villages have benefitted from the rising clove prices, and we got to see old women and toddlers working side by side harvesting cloves. He walked us through villages where the poverty is astounding. We met wonderful people and felt completely safe in his care. I can't recommend him highly enough. He's a wonderful person, and the next time we're in Bali we'll surely schedule several treks with him thorugh different areas of the country. If you see him, please tell him Julie and Fred said hi and that we have a baby now. You might remind him we're friends with Meghan and Kadek. He is expensive, but we felt it was worth every penny -- it really helped us get an ''off the beaten path'' experience in Bali with real balinese, an experience that not many tourists find there these days. I Gede (Pak Gede) Merta Gede's Trekking Work: (0366)51077 Muka Pasar Kintamani, Bangli, Bali Indonesia
We would also highly recommend our driver, Landung. He also speaks amazing english and is a delightfully friendly person. He is friends with our friends who live in Ubud, and he has driven all of our friends who have ever been to Bali. You can feel completely safe in his hands -- trust his recommendations on where to go and what to do, and you can also leave your stuff in his car while you explore. He'll take you to restaurants that the locals love (where you won't see any tourists) and he'll haggle to get you balinese (not tourist) prices on fruits so you can try everything (oh god, now I'm craving jackfruit!) He was able to explain all kinds of things for us, like the day we understood from a local that there was an important ceremony involving guns and swords ??? Landung explained that it was a day the Balinese give thanks for tools -- cars, knives, gardening tools, etc. -- they bless them in the holy rivers and then have a big ceremony where they get blessings from the priests. Just another example of why it is great to have an english-speaking local showing you around. Most people book Landung for the whole time htey are in Bali, and he just shows up in the morning and takes you where you want to go. He is inexpensive and a ''must.'' I can't find his phone number, but I'm happy to look for it if you want me to, or you can contact him via the Tegun Gallery (see below)
A gallery we love, and which is owned by our new friends (who we met in Bali) meghan (american) and kadek is Tegun Gallery in Bali. they find beautiful and rare things (many of hte galleries all sell the same stuff). they can arrange your tour with Pak Gede and they can help you find Landung. www.BaliTrade.net, Tegun Gallery 44 Jln. Hanoman, Padangtegal, Ubud Ph/Fax 062 361 973361
One of the most amazing massages we've ever had (YES! GET ONE EVERY DAY YOU ARE IN UBUD!) was from Wayan at the Bodywork Center. Run by a guy named Ketut Arsana who we hear is amazing but very hard to get into see (he's considered a healer, and our friends swear by him). Bodywork Center, Work: 0361 975720, 25 Hanoman Street, Padangtegal, Ubud 80571 ubud. We went back to Wayan day after day after day. We've recommended him to all our friends and everyone adores him.
Feel free to email if you want more ideas. We can also ask our friends who travel to bali at least once a year with infants (she is indonesian, so grandma is in Java) what they would recommend.
have a great trip! Julie, aching to go back to Bali now!
We have been to Bali about ten or so times with our kids. We are going again this summer. We always stay at the Intercontinental Hotel on Jimabaran Bay. Their prices are comparable to other same type hotels . A lot of friends preferred the Hyatt. It is on a human made (not natural) section of Bali. Made for tourists with lots of hotels and a mall for shopping. We like Jimbaran because it is in a real village and has a wonderful open market that you can visit. We take taxis everywhere and as posted there are no seat belts, asking for one won't help.For long trips find a driver through your tour desk. You can get a driver for a day for very little and drive up to Lombok to see the art. You must drive to the elephant park. we have gone for years, since they opened. The owner is an Aussie man that is dedicated to saving elephants and you take a ride through the jungle on one of the beautiful animals. Afterwards you can feed them and take photos. It is expensive though somewhere along the lines of a Disneyland ticket and you only get one ride. On the ride up to Lombok you will see rice patties on steppes in the mountains. The Balinese are wonderful with children. As you drive along you will see women dressed in tradtional clothes carrying baskets on their heads headed to festivals. There may be a funeral and you will note that people don't cry. Death is viewed as normal and re-incarnation will occur. Bali is awesome read up as much as you can. Everywhere except Kuta is good for kids. Kuta is hot crowded and filled with cars. No place for kids. They will complain loudly. It is the shopping/drinking section. Have fun! Bali Bagus!
We are planning a trip to Bali or Lombok in late December with our son who will be 19 months at that time. Does anyone have recommendations for places to stay with a child? Linda
We went to Bali when my daughter was 31/2 months old. It was a spectacular post-partum retreat. The Balinese are fantastic with young children. At most restaurants, the waitress would take the baby while I ate and play with her so I could eat undisturbed. I don't have specific recommendations on where to stay, but in general would recommend local hotels rather than the Marriot type resorts. Have a great time. Monika
There is (was?) an incredible place to stay on Lombok when I was there last (4 yrs ago) called Santai. It's north of Senggigi, about 15 minutes out of town. The rooms were all separate cottages set in the forest, which was left largely intact. They serve communal breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was the nicest place in Bali or Lombok - really special. I hope it is till there. Have a great trip! jill
My sister took my neice to Bali last year for my brother's wedding and comments that it is totally do-able. They stayed at a Balinese resort called Puri Santrian which she said was very nice, and quite affordable. One hassle affiliated with it was hauling the stroller up the flights of stairs to get to the bedrooms. You have to boil water, and if you have a very picky eater they might have problems (rice and fruit are readily available) She also notes that there are no seat belts in any of the taxis and people look at you a bit strangely for worrying about such a thing. Myriam