Bali needs no introduction. It is known the world over as an exotic Indonesian island perfect for a vacation. It is a particular popular spot for us Australians, despite the fact that it has a reputation of being full of bogans.
It is popular for good reason. Bali has lots to offer visitors from its beaches to its food and culture to the purpose built tourist attractions. It is especially a great option for families. The Balinese are very family friendly and children are made to feel welcome everywhere.
J and I have been to Bali two times before we had kids, although I was pregnant with S the second time and terrible morning sickness ruined the experience. We had a fabulous time the first time though and we were excited to repeat the experience with a third visit.
Day 1: We flew from Kuala Lumpur and headed straight for the Grand Mirage Resort in Nusa Dua for two fantastic days. We barely left the resort but were busy swimming, eating (great all inclusive package), ocean kayaking and other activities.
Day 3: We moved on to the southern resort part of Nusa Dua and stayed at the absolutely amazing Samabe Bali Suites and Villas. Here we relaxed, had massages, did a cooking course and just unwound after the busy couple of months leading up to our trip.
Day 5: We headed to Legian for three nights. We loved staying in this area previously and were excited to return. We visited Waterbom Bali, had massages and had a fantastic seafood feast at Jimbaran.
Day 8: We transferred to a village near Ubud in a lovely Airbnb home with private pool surrounded by rice terraces. Bliss! Our days quickly transformed into a routine of pool time, a visit to Ubud, nap/work, more pool time, delivery dinner, movies. My mum also joined us here.
Day 13: We flew back to Malaysia to start our new life in Penang!
We ate some fabulous meals in Bali, particularly in Ubud and on our resort stays in Nusa Dua. The seafood dinner in Jimbaran was also awesome – here seafood shacks line the beach and the kids can play in the sand while the sun sets. It’s a perfect spot and I am annoyed we didn’t go here on our previous trips.
There is a massive variety in Bali and it is not hard to eat Indonesian or Western food. However, I was surprised how hard I found it as a vegetarian. It was easy in Ubud (and was also easy for my vegan mum), but elsewhere options were few and far between. In Legian, often the only choice was fries or asking for something without the meat.
We were disappointed by the food in Legian. We remembered it being super delicious with cheap prices and generous serving sizes. We did not find any of these things to be true this time.
Our budget was AUD$80 a day plus accommodation with less when we were in the all inclusive resorts. I was surprised to find that this was not that easy. However, we did have the occasional massage and drink. The dinner at Jimbaran was fabulous value at about 400,000 rupiah (about AUD$40), but combined with the taxi rides was hard on our budget.
Legian was particularly bad value with restaurant prices much higher than we found elsewhere. The accommodation was also expensive and it actually became cheaper for us to pay for two hotel rooms because of all the extra charges for kids. We were also in Bali during a peak time though.
Also ensure that you budget for a visa on arrival which currently costs US$35 (also payable in other currencies at bad rates – it was AUD$48), although there is talk of this stopping soon. There is also an airport departure tax of 200,000 rupiah (about AUD$20) for all passengers on all international flights which is not included in your ticket price.
The kids loved Bali. Why wouldn’t they? Their time was filled with pools, manicures, adventures and fun food. They loved having our own pool and going to kids club (yay!) when we were at the resorts. Waterbom was also a massive hit, particularly the Funtastic playground.
We had a great time in Bali. Our goal had been to relax after the crazy months leading up to our departure and we achieved this without a problem.
We visited in January which is the rainy season. It did not rain all that much while we were there and it did not affect us. It was very humid though – the weather seems very pleasant and cool in Malaysia by comparison.
The other negative part of the season was all the bugs. They were everywhere. S and I were eaten alive and this stopped our enjoyment at times. Eating outside could become very unpleasant with flies and bugs all over us and eating inside was not always an option. This problem also made us appreciate the good quality accommodation we stayed in where the bugs were taken care of quickly and efficiently.
However, Legian was a big disappointment. The beach was absolutely filthy – just covered in trash. Apparently this is an annual event which happens every December – March. The food we ate was not very good and over priced. It was not how we remembered at all, and I can’t see us coming back to this part of Bali.
Our other stops were fabulous. The resorts in Nusa Dua were great – next time we will base ourselves there. Ubud is just a lovely area which is so different to the beach parts of Bali. We could have easily spent a lot longer here especially with our beautiful house with the pool.
Will we go back? Of course, we love Bali and it is a great place to holiday with kids.
You can also read our complete guide to planning your Bali family holiday.
Have you been to Bali? What did you think?