We travelled as a family to Bali in October 2018 and explored around Ubud, Sanur and Canggu. Bali really took us by surprise and takes the gold star for being our most relaxed family holiday.
Venture away from the main tourist areas and you will find relaxed villages, lush rice paddies, fresh food and zesty refreshing drinks, temples, waterfalls, looming volcanoes and smiling locals (who like to joke about the Ketut/Rhonda ad for those who know what I am talking about!). Combine this with accommodation and attractions to suit any budget and Bali ticks most of the boxes for a great holiday.
No of international tourists per year: approx 6.5m
Money: Indonesian Rupiah IDR. Largest note is approx AUD$10 so expect to carry a thick wad of cash!
Beliefs: Majority Hindu. Also Muslim, Christian and Buddhist
Language: Indonesian and Balinese, English
Best time to visit: Year round. Peak period July-August, Dec and into January. We travelled in October which is rainy season, but the weather was wonderful.
My love for Ubud is eternal, as reflected in the blog posts being mostly from the Ubud area! Explore the villages, amazing temples, waterfalls and immerse yourself in the art and history of Bali. Ubud is a cultural centre and if you find cosy accommodation in a quiet village you might not ever want to leave! Oh and don’t forget to visit the cheeky monkeys at the Monkey Forest.
Don’t hold back, get the massages, order another drink, have seconds for dinner, go for one more swim then do it all again tomorrow! And don’t feel guilty about it, you are supporting the local economy after all.
To be honest, a beach has to be pretty amazing to impress me! I know that sounds snobby, but I have been spoilt living in Australia and an hours drive from beautiful, clean, sandy beaches.
So what about Bali beaches? Some beaches are covered in rubbish, others are manually cleaned each day (such as outside resorts) and like pretty much everywhere in the world you will find plastic rubbish. We visited the beaches at Sanur, Nusa Dua and Canggu and didn’t find rubbish was an issue at these locations. Yes, there was rubbish around but it wasn’t so bad that it felt “dirty”. Does that make sense!?
Bali has around 20,000 temples – hence why it is known as the Island of Gods – with each village having multiple temples. Temples at rice fields, temples at springs, temples at waterfalls, temples in the main street, temples temples everywhere!
There are also really excellent museums such as ARMA Museum in Ubud, cultural villages and traditional dance performances. Take the time to visit some temples and learn about Bali’s history – you won’t regret it!
Beaches and Temples
Did you know that around 60% of groundwater extracted in Bali is used for tourism? And these groundwater aquifers are being depleted and impacting of water availability for locals? You can help conserve water by avoiding resorts with large or multiple pools, being mindful of the time spent in showers and think about whether you really need to go to a water park. There are plenty of lovely hotels with smaller pools for your relaxing Bali holiday.
Respect the dress codes at temples and remember that Bali is a conservative country.
If you are paying AUD$5 for massage, then you shouldn’t expect a 5 star massage service. Being served one-dollar drinks? Then be patient if they take time to arrive. If you pay $50 for a hotel room then accept that some lizards might sneak through a gap in the door and visit. Please, be a good tourist and put the costs into perspective.
Plastic pollution is present in Bali, you can argue whether it is tourism, or locals or the fact that Indonesia has been taking other countries recycling – but it does’t mean you should contribute. Try not to get take-away containers for food and drink (why not sit and enjoy it!) and don’t assume that if you put rubbish in a bin it will be disposed of appropriately.
Best option is to avoid as much packaging as possible – this counts too for all the blow-up pool toys being sold along the beaches outside resorts. Whilst the inflatable unicorn is totally gorgeous, it that will no doubt break and be left in Bali (unless you take it home if your home country has good waste management systems!).
In 2019 plastic bags and straws were banned, but I have not been to Bali since then to see if this is being enforced.
Know what are reasonable prices before you go, and don’t barter too hard. While tourists might think it is fun to barter hard, remember you are bartering with a real person who needs to make a living. The fact you could afford to visit Bali puts you in a better financial position than most locals.
Accommodation – Bali covers all accommodation budgets from backpackers through to luxury stays. For a comfortable family stay with 2 bedrooms, breakfast and swimming pool budget AUD$50-$100. Moving past $100 per night will get you very good accommodation.
Food – On average we spent around AUD$5 per meal and around AUD$1.50 for drinks (fruit smoothies, teas etc).
Transportation – The cost of transport changes with the area. A private driver for a day in Ubud was AUD$70, whereas from Canggu was AUD$80.
Cost Summary – Our 2 weeks in Bali came in around AUD$5,000 which included flights from Melbourne.
Before you head off on your Bali adventure make sure you have researched the charges for using your bank or travel card. ATMs will give a maximum of 1,250,000IDR (around AUD$125) which means you may need to make multiple withdrawals to get enough money. This can add up very quickly in fees!
Private car with a driver is charged by car, not number of people. Find people to fill the car and split the cost! A full day is often cheaper than 2 x half day trips.
Books to provide further inspiration and help plan your amazing journey.
Many Journeys Blog has a range of blog posts on Bali Indonesia to help you plan your visit.