Holidaying in Bali with kids definitely ticks all the boxes whether you want to take it easy or fill your time with adventure. This ever-popular Indonesian island is packed with beautiful, safe sandy beaches and stunning scenery that will wow even younger travellers usually more interested in screen time. Its child-friendly temples have plenty of space to run around and the colourful handicraft markets offer endless shopping opportunities where pocket money goes a long way.
Plus arguably the most delicious food in the whole of South East Asia – yes you might even get your fussy 7 year old eating spicy tofu wrapped in banana leaves! Not forgetting the constant aromas of incense and frangipani and the incredible warmth of the local people.
So rather than a one-centre fly and flop, take a look at our Top Ten Activities for Families in Bali starting with the ‘Classic Bali Hai Five Activities’ followed by the ‘Wow – never knew you could do that in Bali Top Five’ and let us design a truly exciting and memorable holiday.
Top 10 activities when holidaying in Bali with kids
1 – Getting to the heart of Bali
Ubud is the heart and soul of Bali. A confusion of upmarket restaurants, cool cafes and designer shops alongside traditional warungs (simple eating places) and craft markets. Sip on a dragonfruit juice (replete with bamboo straw), watch the beautiful people go by, join the locals in a footie match then let the kids hone haggling skills spending their holiday money on sarongs, woodcarvings, shell jewellery or tie-dye clothes. And of course, every 8yr old boy needs a painted dagger…
2 – Hanging out with the birds
A visit to a Bird Park may seem a little on the tame side for a family holiday to Indonesia but the Bali Bird Park really is the perfect introduction to the exotic array of native wildlife as well as the ideal way to acclimatise to the overwhelming heat and humidity. Recover gently from the jet lag feeding parrots, pelicans and cormorants in a surprisingly fun and interactive experience. Forget Hitchcock, even the most nervy of children will love having a macaw land on their shoulder.
3 – Temple-hopping
Bali’s many temples are not only exquisite but also beautifully child-friendly. Kids will love being wrapped in a sarong and then being able to roam freely around the open-air compounds. Play hopscotch in the gardens of Ulun Danu, spot monitor lizards swim the moats at Taman Ayun and watch curiously as the pilgrims bath in the holy waters of Tirta Empul. And some of the guide’s entertaining stories of legends and gods may also sink in.
4 – Chop chop – get those taste buds watering
Indonesian food is utterly delicious and not necessarily as spicy as other Asian cuisine (just watch the sambal). Take the children on an eye-opening trip to a night market (we recommend Gianyar, just outside of Ubud) and gorge on simple but delicious nasi goreng, fresh seafood and the ubiquitous nasi campur. Or why not get the kids cooking their own meals at one of the many cookery schools – combine children, sharp knives and gas stoves in a safe way. Watch them create gado gado, chicken satay and banana leaf-wrapped steamed tuna. Ever thought you would see your children eat curried tempeh?!!
5 – Hit the beach
Ultimately though Bali is all about the beach and there are so many to choose from. The black sands of the north coast at Pemuteran are a low key base from which to head off on snorkelling trips in search of Nemo amongst the corals of Menjangan Island. Ride the surf at Jimboran and enjoy the legendary sunsets at Seminyak. Sanur is possibly the best location for families with its safe reef-protected waters, coconut palm-fringed white sandy beaches and café-lined boardwalk. Hire an SUP, enjoy a sun lounger massage and get your hair braided – the perfect spot to wake up to a glorious Bali sunrise and another day in paradise.
6 – Breakfast on the crater rim of Mount Batur
Coercing children out of bed at 3am to climb an active volcano in the dark may not be everyone’s idea of holiday fun but without doubt it will be a memorable addition when holidaying with kids in Bali. After a reasonably gentle 2hr ascent, you can sit on the crater rim of Mount Batur, eating eggs cooked by natural volcanic steam in the company of some rather over-enthusiastic monkeys, and watch the sun rise over nearby Mount Agung (explosively out of bounds). The dip in the hot springs afterwards never felt so good.
7 – Time to get wet
Take a hugely enjoyable white-water adventure on the Ayung River. The Grade III rapids offer enough excitement to garner squeals from the kids without turning parents’ hairs grey (er). The guides are excellent (“Watch out for those crocodiles…”) and with plenty of opportunities for swimming between the rapids this is the ideal way to beat the heat in a gloriously tropical setting. A fantastic family-bonding experience. Check out this YouTube video of rafting on the Ayung River.
8 – Getting Arty
Bali’s arts and craft scene is world famous. The best way to experience the genuine side of this is to visit artists in their family compounds. This is a true ‘off the beaten track’ encounter few travellers get to enjoy. Led by a hugely knowledgeable and passionate local guide, you can tailor the tour to your family’s interests – budding drummers can learn local techniques (without annoying the neighbours), blossoming artists can join an art class using oils with a bamboo stick or for the ultimate holiday souvenir, build your own kite and fly it with the local kids.
9 – Ready for the adrenaline rush
Get the adrenaline pumping on a full-on canyoning adventure at GItgit. Suitable for all those who like dangling off cliffs, free abseiling through 15m waterfalls, jumping into rock pools or sliding on a Tyrolean Traverse. Screams of terror mix with cackling laughter and loads of High Fives all round – but hey, there are hot springs at the end… If this sounds too much, then Sambangan’s Secret Garden offers a fun mix of pool swimming, gentler waterfall slides and increasingly high jump offs starting at 2m ending with the ‘Go on Dad you can do it’ 15m big one… Chest-thumping stuff.
10 – On yer bike
Away from the traffic of Ubud there are some peaceful rural roads that are safe to enjoy on two wheels where kids will genuinely run out to wave and village life can be enjoyed close up. Free wheel down from the volcanic highlands (no pedalling required), stop at coffee and cocoa plantations to watch the roasting and taste the infamous luwak product (kids- you won’t believe where it comes from) and visit a local farmer to learn about bee-keeping, basket weaving and tasting some of the native fruits. And in between rides, take time to meander between the impossibly lush, green rice terraces.
Travelling in Bali with kids
Want to know more about travelling in Bali with kids? Check out our Indonesia & Bali family holiday section and take a look at our sample itineraries – our 14 day Highlights of Bali trip or 16 day Active Java & Bali – or call us on 01728 752751.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
We always love to hear about your experiences holidaying in Bali with the family, so please do send us your reviews and feedback. Thank you – [email protected].