As a mom, one of my favorite things about the island of Bali in Indonesia, is how unbelievably family-friendly it is. There’s an array of kid-friendly activities, the Balinese people love children, child care is very inexpensive, and you can rent pretty much any baby item you don’t want to travel with or may have forgotten at home.
We visited Bali for the first time with our children in August of 2017 for a week-long vacation. We spent four nights in Ubud and three nights by the beach in Jimbaran Bay. They say you can’t travel to Bali without visiting what many consider to be the heart of the island, and I would have to agree: With its lush vegetation, picturesque rice terraces, and its laid-back yogi-esque vibe, Ubud is a must, so we headed there first. Our accommodations? The dreamy Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.
We landed in Denpasar and had arranged for the hotel to pick us up for the 45-minute drive to Ubud. We requested car seats for the three children, which the hotel provided. That said, the Balinese people are not accustomed to using car seats, so they had no idea how to install them. If your clients are in need of a car seat, let them know they’ll have to install it themselves upon arrival. After almost 24 hours of travel, and another 20 minutes of figuring out the car seat situation, we were on our way to Ubud. The driver provided lemongrass-scented cold towels and water for our drive, which was just perfect.
Embraced by the lush Ayung River Valley, the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan’s unique rice bowl-shaped architecture and serene setting is other-worldly. We stayed in a 1-bedroom villa with two queen beds and a pack and play—perfect for a family. With its 3,767 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space, it offers great privacy and feels like a home-away-from-home. Added perk: The entire villa was child-proofed before our arrival, including the coffee table, outlets, and the plunge pool. It makes for great peace of mind when traveling with a 10-month-old, and 2- and 4-year-olds. Our villa also featured a grassy backyard area with lush hillside views and a small plunge pool, and plenty of comfortable outdoor seating.
The resort has a great variety of activities and amenities for the entire family: From a 2-level pool with river views, traditional Balinese dance performances, and a renowned cooking school, to an open-air bale for meditation, yoga, or Life Talk programs.
The Pici Pici Club, the resort’s onsite kids’ club, was a major highlight for our crew. The building itself is a treehouse tucked away in lush greenery, and the staff is wonderful, providing cultural activities to keep the children learning and entertained.
For the adults, the hotel’s spa offers traditional treatments, and therapists perform chakra rituals and riverstone bathing rituals. The hubby and I enjoyed a Swadhistana ritual, which is a cleansing of the sacral chakra, utilized for self development. So we could relax while at the spa, the hotel arranged two nannies to watch the children ($7 per hour per nanny). The nannies were absolutely amazing with the children; to this day, our girls still ask for their “friends” by name.
Family-friendly Activities in Ubud
If your clients want to experience Ubud outside of the resort, the hotel can arrange for a car to take them to their desired destinations. We reserved a car and driver for a day, and visited a variety of family-friendly attractions: the Bali Zoo, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, the Bali Pulina coffee plantation, the Monkey Forest, and the Tirta Empul Temple.
The Bali Zoo was a blast, and probably the highlight of Ubud for the children. We fed and rode elephants (I still have mixed feelings about having ridden them), and the children had their very first pony ride. They also enjoyed a miniature train that does a loop through the zoo. There’s a myriad of animal exhibits, as well, and there’s a variety of up-close encounters with the animals, including breakfast with the orangutans. There are two restaurants that serve delicious dishes, with both Indonesian and Western cuisine. Nothing like the usual hot dogs and hamburgers you find at zoos in the U.S. And if your client’s kiddos still have energy after visiting the zoo or if they’ve had enough of the heat and need to cool off, their is a small water park just outside the zoo. Your clients can rent a cabana, relax, and cool off.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
The Tegalalang rice terraces are every bit as beautiful in person as they are in pictures. It is one of the most famously photographed locations in Bali. Recommend clients visit early in the day to beat the heat and the throngs of tourists. Also, keep in mind that there are many steps, some of them very steep with no guard rail. If your clients are traveling with small children and would like to explore the rice terraces, opt for the more child-friendly routes or just sit at one of the cafes and take in the view with a fresh-squeezed juice in hand.
Kopi Luwak Plantation
The Bali Pulina coffee plantation is only a few minutes from the Tegalalang rice terraces, and a fun stop for the whole family, especially if the parents are coffee lovers (like us!). Entry is free, and the visit starts with a brief but informative tour of how kopi luwak (civet coffee) is made. Kids will love seeing the civets, the animals that eat and digest the coffee beans, and at the end of the tour visitors can sample the coffee and have a snack at the onsite cafe, overlooking stunning rice terraces. The staff engages the children throughout the tour, showing them different plants and flowers and keeping then entertained.
Tirta Empul Temple
The Tirta Empul Temple is a water temple where the Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. Considered one of the most important temples in Bali, it was built in AD926 and is dedicated to the Vishnu, the Hindu God of water. There’s an area where a spring gives out fresh water, which they consider to be holy, and people go in for a purifying bath. The temple is large, with many areas to explore with children, including a large koi pond. A sarong is required to enter; your clients can rent one at the temple if they don’t have one. If your clients’ kids aren’t particularly fond of visiting temples, but the parents would like to experience one, this would be the one. Tirta Empul is awe-inspiring for the entire family.
The Monkey Forest
The only attraction that I think my family could have done without was the Monkey Forest. The monkeys can be very aggressive if your clients have any food. My husband purchased some bananas at the ticket counter so that the kids could watch us feed the monkeys. Unfortunately, the monkeys were much too forceful, tearing at my husband’s clothes and trying to climb him to grab the bananas. If your clients are visiting with little ones and they absolutely want to see the monkeys here, recommend they DO NOT bring or buy food of any kind.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.