Bali, affectionately known as ‘the island of a thousand temples’, is a hotspot for families who want to immerse themselves in a warm, friendly, and inviting culture.
The Indonesian island is also a magnet for travellers in search of an affordable vacation — paramount for those travelling with children. Add to that, the balmy weather, flavourful food, inviting beaches, glorious countryside, endearing spiritual beliefs, and friendly locals, and you have all the makings of a top family holiday.
Here are ten great things to do in Bali with kids.
Batik is the creative craft of wax dyeing, which originated in Indonesia. The word batik means drawing with wax, which is how printmakers get their design onto the material. Deking Batik Class in Bedulu Village near Ubud comes highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about this cultural art form. The owner, Deking, teaches students how to make their own unique batik print with patience and care. Students also rave about the homemade snacks, such as banana fritters, made by Deking’s wife! This activity is something the whole family will enjoy.
Kuta’s Waterbom splash park is loads of fun. Crowned the number one water park in Asia by TripAdvisor, there are rides and attractions rated ‘mellow’, ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’, so you can be sure there’s something for all ages, abilities and personalities. The Lazy River meanders through lush foliage and is ideal for some chill time. You can float along the shallow canal in tubes. It also makes a stunning backdrop for a family photo, so be sure to smile for the park photographers!
A day at the zoo is a traditional family outing that appeals to all ages, so head along to the excellent Bali Zoo. Visiting this zoo is not just about viewing wildlife in a safe environment. There are several up-close-and-personal experiences to be had (also safe!). For a few extra dollars, families can eat breakfast with Dora — a cheeky orangutan — or feed the elephants. If you’re in the right place, at the right time, you may even be invited to help feed the tigers!
Cycling alongside Ubud’s iconic rice paddies and terraces is often found among the top things to do in Bali for the beautiful photo opportunities. Not only is this vibrant part of the island worthy of your Instagram feed, but it’s a chance to visit small local communities and get some exercise in too. Book a family-friendly bike tour that combines the riding with a homestead visit, which will give everyone a peek at daily life in Bali.
Beach clubs are big in Bali. Think multiple swimming pools, swim-up bars, restaurants, day beds, DJs, live music, ice cream, cocktails, and good vibes galore. Plus, they’re generally family friendly. Finns Beach Club claims to be the best in the world, and with free entry, it’s worth judging for yourself. But there are perks that come with pre-purchasing a Finns Bali Day Pass. They include entry to Splash Water Park, time in the Cubby House Kids’ Club (for ages 3 to 12), a day spa pass for the adults, a single day bed per adult at Finns Beach Club, free Wi-Fi, and transport between the two Finns properties.
Exchange the resort oasis or urban hum for a jungle experience that will have you zip-lining through nature in Bedugul — about two hours’ drive north of Kuta. Bali Treetop Adventure Park offers seven courses, 12 zip-lines, and 72 challenges in a range of difficulties for ages four and older. These forest adventures are great family bonding experiences and a brilliant way to see another side of Bali. If you can’t get enough of the fresh air and wilderness vibe, get on a jungle swing in Ubud. Bali Swing has 15 traditional single push swings that propel you over the forest canopy. Swings are designed for ages five and older. Tandem swings are available.
While you’re in Ubud, take a stroll through the famous Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This humidity-heavy rainforest is home to over 700 macaque monkeys, who are used to people gawking at them, and not backwards in coming forward. The curious critters are entertaining to watch and offer plenty of photo opportunities, but remember that they’re not pets — they’re wild animals. It’s best not to get too close or try to touch them. Don’t take food of any kind into the forest. You’ll draw unwanted attention.
Dance is an intrinsic part of Balinese culture and Hinduism, a religion followed by around 80 percent of the island’s population. Dancers are fitted out in colourful dress to perform unique moves in a trance-like state, which is believed to be driven by spirits inhabiting the body. This traditional dance may be overwhelming for very young children, but it’s a great way to entertain and educate older kids.
For many travellers, Bali is first and foremost a resort destination. However, if exploring Balinese culture is high on your family’s holiday to-do list, a visit to a traditional temple (pura) is a must. Daily spiritual practice is an essential part of life on the island, which is why you’ll see flowers, rice, and burning incense along the footpaths and in doorways — a gift to the gods. Walking the grounds of the many temples and shrines dotted across the island will give further insight into just how prominent religion is in Bali. Pura Besakih is said to be the holiest temple of them all. It’s important to respect temple etiquette by covering your shoulders before entering.
There’s no better way to fast-track to the heart and soul of Balinese culture than through the island’s cuisine. You’ll find an abundance of quirky cafes, beachside eateries, food trucks, and tourist-friendly restaurants where you can sample signature dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice) and sate ayam (chicken skewers with peanut sauce). Taking a cooking class as a family will teach everyone how to make these tasty dishes at home. Dean’s Bali Cooking School in Seminyak welcomes kids to classes (under parental supervision), where they can help or just watch. And eat, of course.
When travelling to Bali with a family, a self-contained villa makes a great accommodation option. You’ll have plenty of extra space and the option to self-cater. Villa Finder makes the process of finding a villa so easy. Enter your travel dates and the number of bedrooms required, then browse the available options. You can filter by price, amenities and proximity to the beach. If you want to save time, the Villa Finder team will find the right option for you.
But the service doesn’t end there. While you’re staying in your villa, you can ask the Villa Finder Concierge team to help with arranging anything you need — from groceries and restaurant bookings, to tours, activities, and special requests like having a private yoga or Zumba class, or an in-house chef for the evening. The Concierge will even plan parties, order birthday cakes, and more.
Villa Finder launched in 2012 in Bali and has recently completely revamped and relaunched its website. In addition to Bali, travellers can now browse for villas in various destinations, including Vietnam, Myanmar, Australia, New Zealand, the Maldives, India, Cambodia and Japan. Customer satisfaction is the company’s top priority, and you can be sure that the villa you choose has been handpicked, inspected and properly maintained. The company’s promise is ‘Your Happiness Guaranteed’, which will leave you free to focus on the moments that matter.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of great things to do in Bali with kids? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand and Australia. She also spent six months working on a cruise ship in Europe. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book or zooming in on a beautiful scene. She’s also likely to be boarding a plane — or jumping out of one.