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.
Isn’t Bali just full of Australian tourists?
Firstly, if you are interested in drinking, partying, lazing on a beach all day, sleeping away a hangover or topping-up your tan, then just stop reading. This is NOT the post for you! If you want to avoid the major tourist areas, but not be completely off-the-beaten track then please continue….
Many taxi drivers were surprised that we were on our first trip to Bali since it is so close to Australia. They commented that many Australian tourists they transport around the island have been multiple times and that Bali is a second home to Aussies. This is exactly why we hadn’t been to Bali despite the close proximity. We really didn’t like the idea of holidaying with masses of tourists and have no interest in shopping or spending all day on a beach lounge.
So why did we decide to go?
Location: Bali is close for us. From Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to
Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) Airport was 6 hours, then 5 hours on the way back due to a good tailwind. From the Denpasar Airport it looked easy to get to Ubud and other main areas. I find it tiring to take a 7 year old on a long flight, and then convince them to sit in a car for another 2+hours to get to hotel. So Bali was looking good for easy logistics!
Food: We love trying new foods and the Indonesian food that we saw on cooking shows and documentaries looked awesome.
Safety: Unfortunately, many people still relate Bali to the 2002 Bali Bombings in Kuta. But don’t let this put you off going. We had heard from so many other travellers that the locals are super nice and Bali feels very safe. Most people have heard the expression “Bali Belly”, we had too, but chose to ignore it.
Cost: Bali can be any price range you want. Backpack for dirt cheap, or go for a high end luxurious all inclusive beachside escape. We like good, simple, clean mid-range hotels so thought Bali would suit up perfectly. It is also cheaper to fly from Melbourne to Bali than from Melbourne to the west coast of Australia!
Why did we fall in L.O.V.E with Bali?
Bali was chilled out with great food, plenty to see and wonderful friendly people. We were blown away with the temples, rice fields, forests, waterfalls and memorised watching locals do daily offerings and care for the village temples. We loved the variety of food and drinks and actually I could really go a soda water with lemongrass, sugar syrup, ginger and fresh lime right now.
Keep reading to find out what we loved about each location we visited.
Ubud is considered the cultural heart of Bali and boasts rice fields, forests, health retreats, countless digital nomads, cultural performances, museums and a totally relaxed atmosphere with a constant smell of incense wafting through the air. The relaxed atmosphere is intoxicating and you can’t help but slide into a relaxed state while slurping Mee Goreng noodles and drinking fresh fruit juices.
Within 1 day of being in Ubud I was already dreaming up how we could become digital nomads and stay! Originally we had planned to go to Bali in October 2017 but due to the awakening of Gunung Agung volcano (Mount Agung) we postponed the trip. I will still a little nervous about holidaying on a small island with an active volcano, but once in Ubud I was so in love that all thoughts of the volcano disappeared!
Ubud is a brilliant location for half day or full day trips to places like Gunung Kawi, Pura Tirta Empul, Tegallalang Rice Terrace, Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), waterfalls and much much more! More posts will be created with ideas for day trips from Ubud.
Sanur is on the east coast of Bali around 30 minutes drive north of Nusa Dua. We chose Sanur as Lonely Planet described it as being a quieter area with a good mix of restaurants and calm waters due to the protection of a reef. This description was true (snaps to LP!) but it was still too resorty for us. My favourite thing about Sanur was the Beachfront Walk (around 4km) that was concreted and wide enough for walkers and bike riders to share. Strolling along this waterfront was quite pleasant and there are heaps of warungs (small family owned restaurants and cafes) to grab a cool drink or meal.
Walking along the beachfront in Sanur had background soundtrack of: “Ma’am you want massage” “You come my shop” “You come my shop later” “I have ball and toys for your boy” “Jet Ski?”. As we only stayed 3 nights this was easily entertained, but I think if we had stayed longer it might have worn thin! But, that’s also just a part of Bali!
Our final destination was Canggu on the West coast around 1 hours drive north of Kuta. Canggu was cool, surfy, bit hipster and a fun mix of international (yoga studios, pizza bars) and traditional (local temples, warungs).
Canggu is a great choice if you don’t want to be near a beach that’s lined with expensive resorts. However, it’s growing popularity is already changing the landscape – it will be awful if Canggu becomes the next Kuta.
Canggu had a crazy rough beach (at high tide) that you couldn’t have paid me to swim in but has a strong surf culture. I messed with a live offering at the beach..but that’s a different post!
Negatives of travel in Bali
No place is ever perfect to travel but we found that by avoiding to main tourist hot-spots we avoided most of the common annoyances of Bali – pushy taxi drivers, people haggling you along beaches and highly motivated shop keepers that don’t give up on a sale. We did find a jump in the “annoyance” levels going from Ubud to Sanur but it was never threatening and a polite No thank-you generally ended the interaction.
Be careful with the food. Remember above I said we choose to ignore the term “Bali Belly”, well we jinxed ourselves! We are careful with food when we travel, but not super careful (Ok. Lets be honest, we are careful with Noodle but not that great with ourselves! If it looks good, we eat it!). It was over and done with in ~6 hours and I would risk “Bali Belly” again for another trip to the Island of the Gods.
Travelling with kids? Are they scared of insects? Since restaurants, shops etc are all open there are lots of insects buzzing around. This didn’t bother us at all, we found it lovely to have butterflies and beetles hovering around over lunch. Looking for skinks and geckos was also a great way to pass time while waiting for meals to come. But if it’s likely your child will be constantly shrieking “there’s a bug” and acting as though an insect plague of biblical proportions is about to occur then you should just leave them at home and go without them.
Overall, these negatives are totally manageable for us and we will definitely be making another trip to Bali.