When the weather cools down for those of us further from the Equator the tropical playground of Bali stays toasty warm, making it a favourite winter escape for many. It’s not just the low cost dose of sunshine that lures tourists; from magnificent mountains and volcanic hillsides, to rugged black sand surf beaches and bustling city streets, Bali’s got something for everyone.
We stow away with writer Kate Veling and her family of five as they venture to Bali. Hailing from beautiful Western Australia and now based on Australia’s Gold Coast, Kate is a seasoned journalist who often contributes stories about the best local arty and cultural places to visit for More Gold Coast as well as creative venture and lifestyle articles for Slow Living Magazine (amongst others). When she’s not writing or kid wrangling, she’s also a marriage celebrant at Inner Circle Ceremonies which takes her to some of the most gorgeous scenic spots across Australia. So basically when it comes to awesome places, Kate’s got it dialed. Here’s her pick of the best family-friendly things to do on the Island of the Gods.
“Bali: It’s kid-friendly, relaxing, there’s a lot of variety and the Balinese people are so lovely”
Kids ages: 8, 5 and 3
Who did you fly with (and more importantly would you fly with them again?): Jetstar – we got sale flights and frankly, I’m happy to sacrifice a bit of leg room and a mid-air meal for a bargain price.
Where did you stay? Villa Demari Lestri in Seminyak and Mango Tree Villas in Jimbaran. Seminyak is all hustle and bustle – you have countless restaurants, bars and shops on your doorstep. There’s lots to do within walking distance. In Jimbaran, our villa was in a Balinese neighbourhood near the school and the local markets which was great. Probably a more “authentic” experience. The beach was just down the road and we ate at the fish restaurants the area is famous for every night, where they serve you at plastic tables and chairs on the sand. Some of the best food in Bali, and definitely the most kid friendly place to eat!
How long were you there? 12 days.
Been to Bali before (and if so, did you previously have kids in tow)? Yes – I’ve been four times, the last time was five years ago when we had a 3-year-old and a baby.
So why Bali? The cheap flights sort of sparked the idea and we thought a tropical holiday in winter would be awesome. We were right! It’s kid-friendly, relaxing, there’s a lot of variety and the Balinese people are so lovely.
What was the kid’s highlight of the trip? WaterBom Park and having our own pool at the villa.
[Ed’s Note: WaterBom Park is one of the most popular water fun parks in Asia, and is located in the middle of Kuta. Open daily 9am- 6pm. Admission: adults 520 thousand rupiah (roughly $50 AUS), children 370 thousand rupiah(roughly $35 AUS), infants 2 and under are free, and family passes 1630 thousand rupiah (roughly $160 AUS)]
What kinds of activities did you undertake while you were there? We did a couple of standard tourist activities like Water Bom Park and the Safari Park which were a massive hit with the kids. Apart from that though we pretty much just chilled out, relaxed and went on mini-adventures around the areas where we were staying.
[Ed’s Note: Bali Safari and Marine Park is a wildlife park famous for it’s elephant safaris and located in Gianyar – around an hour drive from Kuta. There’s shuttles from most major tourist hubs. Open daily 9am-5pm. Various packages available; prices start at adults 797500 rupiah (roughly $80 AUS) children 652500 (roughly $65 AUS)]
Things you wish you knew before you went: We’ve learned from experience that if possible it’s better to stay in a villa than a hotel when you have kids, otherwise you’re kinda stuck once they go to bed!
Best things to do for free/low cost: Walk along the beach at sunset – it’s a great way to end the day, the kids can explore and run off steam, join in beach soccer games and interact with tourists and locals who are all doing the same thing. Cheap eats and drinks available at the beach bars and cafes. The kids also spent about 75% of their time in the pool at our accommodation – they were marinated in chlorine!
Any problems with water/food/airborne illnesses? A touch of Bali belly for dad but the kids were fine (phew!). Hand sanitizer was our friend.
Any other pitfalls families should avoid? A lot of restaurants look reasonably priced but in small print down the bottom of the menu they mention the 20% service charge which blows out the budget a bit.
And lastly, what did your kids take away from their travels about Balinese culture? They really enjoyed getting to know our caretaker and housekeeper Dee. He’d come and cook breakfast for us every morning and chat to them as he went about his work and it was great for them to get to know a local. We also took them to the big local food markets in Depasar – it was dirty and smelly and they didn’t like it much, but I think it’s good they got to see that side of things too rather than just the schmick tourist spots.