by Rebecca Lee
Close your eyes, steady your mind and imagine you are luxuriating poolside, the warm sun basking on your freshly pedicured toes, cold cocktail in hand. The turquoise lagoon pool stretches out in front of you. You’re conscious that your children are close by, being looked after by professionals so that you can unwind- take a deep breath and truly relax. Fast forward a few hours and you’re seated at a very swanky restaurant with cool lounge music and more cocktails. The kids are with you tonight but it’s ok- the wait staff are chatting to them and hanging off their every word. You and your partner get to have a meaningful conversation for the first time in I don’t know how long. He sure looks handsome in his new shirt.. hmmm.. shirts.. nope, no washing or ironing to do – the laundrette is taking care of that for $2/kg. The bill arrives.. your top notch organic meal just came in at half the price of an Australian restaurant… you must be in Bali!
Now.. come back to reality. You’re probably playing “hide and seek” i.e. locked in the bathroom, madly checking Facebook for 2 minutes of peace!
- Bali is approx. 6hr flight from Sydney (slightly longer on the way there, less on the way back)
- Virgin, Jetstar and Garuda Indonesia operate direct flights to Denpasar, the location of Bali’s international airport
- Denpasar is approx. 20 minutes to the beaches of South Bali, 20 minutes to resorts of Nusa Dua or 1hr to Ubud
- You will feel like a millionaire- the local currency is Rupiah. At time of travel $1AUD was worth approx 10,000 Rupiah so you may in fact, at some point be carrying 1million Rupiah in your wallet
- The weather is hot and sticky. May, June and July are generally considered to have the best weather. The rainy season hits at the beginning of November, and you may also wish to avoid the November schoolies crowd which has been growing every year.
Where to stay:
When we thought about visiting Bali, there were 4 key areas that came up:
- Ubud– Central Bali, the artistic and cultural heart of Bali, close to the Bali Zoo, Tegallalang rice terrace and home of yoga retreats, handicrafts and wellness
- Kuta/Legian/Seminyak– South Bali beachside. Kuta is infamous for its nightclubs whilst Seminyak streets are lined with chic boutiques and eateries.
- Nusa Dua– East Bali, a private, resort lined, pristine beachfront. Tourists flock to the nearby sea temple- Uluwatu Temple for an incredible sunset over the ocean
- Jimbaran– a former fishing village, famous for its seafood restaurants on the beach. Feel the sand between your toes whilst you munch on the freshest seafood and relax at one of the luxurious resorts
I was really excited to see the rice terraces, Sacred Monkey Forest and Bali Zoo, so we picked a 3 night stay in Ubud for its proximity to those, and we also wanted to be close to the beach, so had 5 nights in Legian for its family friendly resort and proximity to Seminyak’s boutiques and restaurants.
When planning it became clear pretty quickly that there are 2 options; resorts or villas
There are thousands of villas littered throughout Bali. Some self-contained, others with in house chefs and maids. The beauty of a villa is that its bigger than a hotel room, and most have their own private pool. In Ubud we stayed at the very modern, industrial chic Aria Villas.
The villa was in a side street around 500m from central Ubud. They offer 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom villas overlooking lush rainforest and with in-villa dining and spa treatments on offer- you never have to leave! It all just felt so fancy and luxurious.
My absolute favourite part of the villa was the humungous outdoor bathroom! I actually soaked in the tub and read a book – absolute bliss.
It’s really important, especially if you have young kids, to note that most of these pools are not fenced. I came to learn that literally every service you could think of in Bali is at your disposal. Enter Bali Villa Pool Fence. Their stainless steel temporary pool fencing meets the Australian safety regulations and is complete with a top of the range imported Magna Latch magnetic self-closing gate system. They also comply with Australian Standard AS 1926. 1-2007 Swimming Pool Safety. Part 1:Safety barriers for swimming pools.
The beachside locations of Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Jimbaran are loaded with expansive (and some very expensive!) resorts which cater to every budget.
We stayed at the Padma Resort Legian and it couldn’t have been more family friendly. It was everything we expected and hoped it would be. Lavish buffet breakfast, lagoon style swimming pool with swim-up bar (helloooo happy hour!), toddler splash pool, waterslides and kids club. You name it, it was doable. The resort has multiple restaurants which were all delicious and pretty reasonable (Avg $18 per adult’s meal and $10 for kids incl drink) when you consider the cost of a local pub meal or what an Australian resort might charge.
The Kids Club was an absolute god send. We waived our daughter off at 9am, checked in with her for lunch and brought her home around 5pm. She couldn’t wait to go in the morning! She could have stayed for dinner if she wanted to! Kids Club is for children aged 4-12, however under 4’s are allowed when accompanied by an adult. The staff were just fabulous and our daughter received a great send off on our last day, loads of hugs, smiles and even a couple of tears!
Things to see and do:
- See the most breathtaking scenery where the rice is grown at Tegalalung Rice Terrace (not pram friendly).
- Watch the monkeys play at Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest (not pram friendly).
- Have breakfast with the Orangutans at Bali Zoo.
- Go on an adventure where the animals roam free at Bali Safari and Marine Park.
- Watch the sun set over Uluwatu water Temple (not pram friendly).
- Have a splash in the beautiful beach before eating the freshest seafood dinner with the sand between your toes at Jimbaran Bay.
- Browse the chic boutiques of Seminyak, the artworks of Ubud and the markets of Legian.
- Cool off at Waterbed waterpark.
Bali has an unbelievable amount of fantastic restaurants to visit, and the prices are significantly less than what you would pay for in a Sydney restaurant. For a family of 4, a 3-course meal at a top restaurant, including cocktails came in under $100. A large number of these restaurants were in Seminyak so we would have to take a taxi. They are cheap, but be warned- the traffic in Bali is horrendous. The 6km journey took up to 45mins by taxi!
Here are some of our favourites:
- Motel Mexicola, Seminyak– the best Mexican i’ve ever tasted (and I’ve been to Mexico!) in amongst the coolest fit out I’ve ever seen.
- Strawberry Fields, Batu Belig– super fresh smoothies and meals.
- Revolver Espresso, Seminyak- delicious coffee, Sydney style ie as we like it!
- Barbacoa, Kerobokan- Latin American inspired, barbecue with a beautiful terrace overlooking a rice paddy.
- Copper Kitchen and Bar, Ubud- incredible rooftop restaurant in Ubud, serving amazing cocktails. This was our fanciest dinner, perfect for a date night! Even so, the most expensive dish was $25- cheaper than a steak at The Ranch!
- Fat Bowl, Legian- casual, decadent meals right outside the Padma resort- you must book if you want to have dinner!
- Hire everything!! We decided not to bring our pram with us, preferring to hire one so we didn’t have to drag it to and from the airport. Bali Baby Hire is a one stop shop for anything and everything you might need for your baby or toddler. Megan the owner is an Australian lady so you know you can trust them and she gets what Aussie mums are after. High chairs, prams, portacots, monitors- you name it, Bali Baby Hire has it covered. If you’re bottle feeding you might like to hire a steriliser, warmer or even a microwave. They can also arrange day trips, babysitters and airport transfers – including car seats which are hard to come by! They delivered the Baby Jogger to our villa and picked it up again from the resort.
- Authorised doesn’t mean the same in Bali. Only change money in the bank or a reputable dealer- you will be ripped off if you change money on the street
- Visit the supermarket for small snacks to keep the kids happy in between meals. There are a lot of Australian options.
- We bought nappies through Bali Baby Hire. I’m so glad we did this as it meant more room in the suitcase, and a big bag was waiting for us on arrival at our villa. The brand they sell is Mamy Poko, a Japanese brand of nappies. They were great! Thin, absorbent and not expensive. I did find it a bit trickier to buy wipes for my baby’s sensitive toosh. It was a bit of a challenge to find wipes that were both fragrance and alcohol free, suggest BYOing these!
- Research the restaurants you would like to visit in advance and book on arrival at your hotel/villa via concierge as they can fill up quickly.
- Everyone has a recommendation for a driver and a nanny. You will be expected to pay entry tickets Be kind and offer them drinks
- Come home with a suitcase of clean washing. Outside the resort gates were multiple small businesses offering to wash, dry and iron for $2-$3 per kg.
- High chairs do not exist in Ubud but readily available in coastal area
- Bring mosquito repellent- they are everywhere!
Overall, we had a seriously relaxing holiday and everyone was catered to well and very inexpensively. You could do as much adventure or as little as you liked. I was so impressed by the Balinese culture and their approach to children – people are so friendly and couldn’t do enough to help us such as holding the baby whilst we ate, making sure the kids were wearing sunscreen, offering the kids extra snacks and trinkets, just because. We will definitely be back!