Travelling with anak-anak (children) in Bali is an enriching experience. Locals consider kids part of the community, and everyone has a responsibility towards them. Children of all ages will enjoy both the attention and the many diversions that will make their holiday as special as that of the adults.
Best Regions for Kids
Kuta & Legian Though crowded and crazy, and sometimes sleazy, beachfront resorts near the sand, surf lessons and all manner of cheap souvenirs will entice kids and teens.
Lovina Modest, quiet hotels near the beach, limited traffic and a reef-protected beach make this place a good choice far from the rest of Bali.
Nusa Dua Huge beachside resorts with kids' programs, a reef-protected beach and modest traffic.
Seminyak There's traffic and the surf is strong, but there are also large hotels on the beach and an appealing mix for all ages.
Sanur Beachside resorts, a reef-protected beach, light traffic and proximity to many kid-friendly activities.
Ubud There are many things to see and do (walks, monkeys, markets and shops). Evenings may require greater creativity to keep younger kids amused, although many will be entranced by the dance performances.
Bali for Kids
Children are a social asset when you travel in Bali, and people will display great interest in any Western child they meet. You will have to learn your child's age and sex in Bahasa Indonesia – bulan is month, tahun is year, laki-laki is boy and perempuan is girl. You should also make polite enquiries about the other person's children, present or absent.
The obvious drawcards for kids are the loads of outdoor adventures available. But there are also many cultural treats that kids will love.
A guaranteed snooze right? Wrong. Check out an evening Barong dance at the Ubud Palace or Pura Dalem Ubud, two venues that look like sets from Tomb Raider right down to the flaming torches. Sure, the Legong style of Balinese might be tough going for fidgety types, but the Barong has monkeys, monsters, a witch and more.
If young explorers are going to temples, they will need sarongs. Give them 100,000Rp at a traditional market and let 'em loose. Vendors will be truly charmed as the kids try to bargain and assemble the most colourful combo (and nothing is too loud for a Balinese temple).
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Tirta Empul, north of Ubud Kids will love the Indiana Jones–like pools at the ancient water palace and park.
The critical decision is deciding where to base yourselves.
There's a huge range of accommodation options for families.
- A hotel with a swimming pool, air-con and a beachfront location is fun for kids and very convenient, and still provides a good break for parents. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices.
- Many larger resorts from Tuban north through Legian and also at Nusa Dua have special programs for kids that include lots of activities during the day and evening. Better ones have special supervised pool areas and other fun kids' zones.
- Many hotels and guesthouses, at whatever price range, have a 'family plan', which means that children up to about 12 years old can share a room with their parents free of charge. The catch is that hotels may charge for extra beds, although many offer family rooms, which can accommodate four or more.
- A family might really enjoy a villa-style unit in Seminyak, Kerobokan and the Canggu area. Within your own small private compound you'll have a pool and often more than one TV. Cooking facilities mean you can prepare familiar foods while the relative seclusion makes naps easy.
- Many hotels can arrange a babysitter during the day or evening.
- Hotel staff are usually very willing to help and improvise, so always ask if you need something for your children.
- At family homestays and guesthouses, especially in Ubud, young travellers might just feel part of the family as they watch offerings being made and people their own age going about their daily business.
What to Pack
Huge supermarkets and stores, such as Carrefour in south Bali, stock almost everything you'd find at similar shops at home, including many Western foods. Nappies (diapers), Western baby food, packaged UHT milk, infant formula and other supplies are easily purchased.
Babies & Toddlers
- A front or back sling or other baby carrier: Bali's barely walkable streets and paths are not suited to prams and pushchairs.
- A portable changing mat, hand-wash gel and so on (baby changing facilities are a rarity).
- Kids' car seats: cars, whether rented or chartered with a driver, are unlikely to come with these.
Six to 12 Years
- Binoculars for young explorers to zoom in on wildlife, rice terraces, temples, dancers and so on.
- A camera or phone that shoots video to inject newfound fun into 'boring' grown-up sights and walks.
Eating with Kids
Eating out as a family is one of the joys of visiting Bali. Kids are treated like deities by doting staff who will clamour to grab yours (especially young babies) while parents enjoy some quiet time together.
Bali, especially, is so relaxed that kids can just be kids. There are plenty of top-end eateries in Seminyak and elsewhere where kids romp nearby while their parents enjoy a fine meal.
If your children don't like spicy food, show caution in offering them the local cuisine. For older babies, bananas, eggs, peelable fruit and bubur (rice cooked to a mush in chicken stock) are all generally available. Many warungs (food stalls) will serve food without sauces upon request, such as plain white rice, fried tempeh or tofu, chicken, boiled vegetables and boiled egg. Otherwise, kid-pleasers like burgers, chicken fingers, pizza and pasta are widespread, as are fast-food chains in south Bali.
The main danger to kids – and adults for that matter – is traffic and bad footpaths in busy areas.
The sorts of facilities, safeguards and services that Western parents regard as basic may not be present. Not many restaurants provide highchairs, places with great views might have nothing to stop your kids falling over the edge, and shops often have breakable things down low.
Given the ongoing rabies crisis in Bali, be sure to keep children away from stray dogs.
For any activity, it's worth checking out conditions carefully. Just because that rafting company sells tickets to families doesn't mean they are well set up to cater to the safety needs of children.