Bali “the island of Gods” is the most popular budget vacation destination in Indonesia and there is a very good reason to it. There is so much for everyone to do. Bali is amazing with its pristine beaches perfect for surfing, great hiking and trekking, friendly locals, kid friendly, culturally rich, world-class dining and moreover its affordable. Thinking of Bali as your next family holiday destination? Look no further. Here’s your Complete Travel Guide for Bali Family Holidays.
Table of Contents
- 1 Complete Travel Guide for Bali Family Holidays
- 2 What makes Bali special
- 3 Bali Weather
- 4 Best Time to Visit Bali
- 5 Getting to Bali
- 6 Things to do in Bali
- 6.1 Visit the Temples in the land of a thousand Puras
- 6.2 Surfing
- 6.3 Party like no other
- 6.4 Trekking
- 6.5 Visit the Rice Terraces
- 6.6 Experience Balinese Culture
- 6.7 Batubulan Village
- 6.8 Heron bird watching at Petulu Village
- 6.9 Balinese Dress Up
- 6.10 Indulge yourself in the local cuisine
- 6.11 Bali Safari and Marine Park
- 6.12 Ubud Monkey Forests
- 6.13 Black Sand Beach
- 6.14 Handicrafts
- 6.15 Waterfall
- 6.16 Bali Luwak Coffee
- 7 Places to Stay in Bali
- 8 Book Your Stay
Complete Travel Guide for Bali Family Holidays
Bali is in Indonesia with Denpasar as its capital. It hosts the biggest Hindu population with temples and Balinese culture embracing us the minute we exit the airport. Bali also boasts of rich and diverse art forms like woodcarving, handicrafts, paintings and dances.
The Sunset at Seminyak
What makes Bali special
Bali is a very popular tourist attraction. Although similarities have been drawn between Bali and Goa, even called by some as “International Goa” however, its unique culture, natural attractions, friendly people, pleasant climate, lush green surroundings create a magic leaving all mesmerized in Bali.
What makes Bali even more special is to experience its customs and traditions, to witness the rituals and ceremonies in their daily life revolving around the temples. Although Bali has predominantly a Hindu population, its quite different from the Hinduism we know of in India. Its amazing to see how the belief in gods, spirits, ancestors, demons are important to the Balinese people. To observe them making small artistic offerings of items like rice, flowers, fruits to them. To sense the calmness in the villages. To see the proud women working in the rice terraces. To see Bali’s holy mountain, Gunung Agung in its glory.
The more you experience this island, the more you get addicted to it.
On top of all that, Bali provides a very safe and secure environment for all who visit.
Small artistic Offerings like this are made every morning and can be found everywhere in Bali
Bali has an even tropical climate all year round since it is so close to the equator. It’s fairly hot with temperature averaging around 30o C, with high levels of humidity. The wet season is from October to April and this time Bali receives a considerable amount of rainfall so there are hardly any tourists around.
Best Time to Visit Bali
The tourist season starts right after the wet season ends so its pretty crowded from May to September. The best time to visit is just before and after the peak season to avoid the heavy influx of tourists. July and August are the heavy tourist seasons. But if surfing is your main priority then it’s from March to November at Kuta beach and from November to March at Sanur beach.
Getting to Bali
About 140 Nationals do not need a Visa when entering Bali for a stay of max 30 days. India being one of them. However you do need a passport with at least 6 months validity which is stamped for 30 days visa exemption upon entry.
Denpasar the capital of Bali is well-connected to all major cities of the world via its Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). The low cost airlines catering to Bali from India are Air Asia, Malindo Air and Garuda-Indonesia. We found that Air Asia offers the cheapest fares without meals and baggage. Other airlines which operate to Bali from India are Jet Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air India.
Pro Tip 1: You should plan early and book the flights first but not later than 8 weeks before the flight departure date although we booked our flights during an Air Asia flash sale some 8 months prior the flight departure date. Everything else such as airport transfers, hotel bookings, car rentals, sightseeing options, sim cards, etc. can be taken care of later once the flights are booked.
These low cost airlines however have an additional charge for the cabin baggage which needs to be booked after you finalize the flights. However, you have the option to book the baggage for any one passenger only. So basically you need to estimate the baggage required for the trip and pay only for what you need to carry.
Pro Tip 2: You should keep a lookout for flash sales and book your return airfare to Bali as soon as you get it under INR 20,000 per person from Delhi, including excess baggage. To keep it cost effective, try choosing flights which have a lay over (Kuala Lumpur for Air Asia & Malindo) and a total duration of between 10 to 12 hours. Also, it is possible that in the absence of flash sales, the flights with a layover may be available for around INR 22000 per person.
Direct flights to Bali are presently operated by Garuda-Indonesia only and that too only from Mumbai. Although it is faster (about 7h 35m) however they tend to be costlier at around INR 28000-30000 per person.
Read also: How to Book Cheap Flights – 7 Insights
In Bali public transport is non-existent but taxis are readily available. You can book airport transfers yourself via Klook for a reasonable and hassle free ride. The guy diligently awaits you at the arrival area with a sign board.
Bali is one place where you do not need a tour operator to plan your sightseeing. You can plan your own itinerary and then just rent a car to do all the activities as per your plan. You can even pre-book a ride at very competitive prices here.
It’s always a better idea to have a local number to stay connected in a new country. Sim cards are cheap and you can book it here with delivery immediately upon your arrival at the airport. In fact the minute we exited the airport the Klook delivery guy who was waiting for us with a sign board in the arrival area delivered our card.
My LO with a traditional Dancer
Things to do in Bali
Visit the Temples in the land of a thousand Puras
Bali is the Island of Gods so religion is major part of Balinese culture. There are many temples in Bali each one is worth visiting for its exquisite architecture. I have listed the major ones here but feel free to list more in the comments section below.
Pro Tip 3: It is mandatory to dress decently when visiting the temples. A sarong is usually available at the ticket counter or at temple entrance for visitors to use which needs to be returned back while exiting. So to enter the temples, you don’t need to buy the sarong from the pestering local shops outside the temples, unless you actually want to keep them.
- Tanah Lot
- Luhur Uluwatu
- Goa Gajah
- Tirta Empul
- Gunung Kawi
- Luhur Lempuyang
- Taman Ayun
- Ulun Danu Batur
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
This iconic temple is on a rock just near the shore of the Indian ocean. It gets surrounded by the sea during high tide. Sunset at Tanah Lot is one of the main tourist attractions in Bali and is mainly known for the picturesque view of this monument with the backdrop of the setting sun. It’s around 30-40 minutes drive from Seminyak.
Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu
At Uluwatu Temple
Ulu means head and Watu is rock. This temple is on a cliff top open to the vast expanse of the ocean. The temple lies 70 meters above the roaring sea which is famous among the surfers. Its takes 1.5 hours to reach this place from Seminyak but the sunset view is worth the time taken. Many monkeys who inhabit this place are believed to guard the temple. Visitors are not allowed inside the main temple but the courtyard is free to roam around.
Sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave Temple is an ancient temple but do not get fooled by the name. There are no elephants here but the temple is dedicated to elephant headed Hindu God Ganesha. This temple dates back to the 11th century. It consists of a cave whose doorway is the open mouth of a menacing giant. a Buddhist temple is also present in the same premise. There is a pool also with beautiful stone carvings on the spouts.
The Cave Entrance at Goa Gajah
This holy water temple has great importance in the Balinese culture. There is a holy water spring which is then distributed to many outlets in a pool where people can bathe in for the purification process. After the purification process the devotees have to pray to Lord Indra in the inner courtyard. This temple complex overlooks a contemporary mansion which houses the president itself.
The Holy Bath area at Tirta Empul
Pura Basakih is Bali’s Mother Temple and is the most important one. It’s on the slopes of the active volcano Mount Agung and is also hit but the volcano many times. The temple premise comprises of 80 small temples. It’s at a height of 1000 meters and is surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful landscapes.
The Open Gateway Style Architecture is common to all traditional Buildings in Bali
Pro Tip 4: This temple has many ancient legends attached to it so its advisable to hire a local guide to explain them.
Gunung Kawi Temple
This stone cut out temple belongs to the 11th century and is said to be the oldest temple, but is still used for daily rituals. Apart from carvings of deities Gunung Kawi is also said to have the remains of its ancient king and his wives. To reach the temple one needs to descend 370 steps overlooking lush green landscapes. It is pretty easy to climb down the stairs to reach the temple but climbing back up takes an effort especially in the sweltering heat. This temple might be ancient but the stone carvings still look majestic. This temple is 20 km from Ubud village.
The Ancient Stone Carvings
Pro Tip 5: This temple is just 2 km from Tirta Empul so you can club both.
Pura Luhur Lempuyang
This temple is one of the most difficult temples to get to. It’s on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang and consists of 1700 steps to reach the top. The ascend requires a fair amount of physical strength and is a mix of religion and adventure. The view from the top is worth the climb had shows a side of Bali in complete contrast to the south.
Pura Luhur Lempuyang
Pro Tip 6: In case you are not willing to trek to the top there is Pura Penataran Agung temple at the foot of the mountain with intricately carved dragons sculptures.
Pura Taman Ayun
This temple stands out because of its unique traditional architecture. The temple consists of towering tiers as a tribute to their ancestors. The temple compound has 4 sections one considered higher than the other, with a small garden and a beautiful fountain.
Pro Tip 7: This temple can be visited on the way to Tanah Lot temple as its midway from Ubud Village.
Ulun Danu Batur
This Water temple is dedicated to the Goddess of lakes and rivers. Water is considered sacred by Balinese so this temple is built to worship water. This temple ground has 9 smaller temples with around 300 tributes to other god and goddesses of Balinese culture. This temple is located in Batur Village at the foothills of Mount Batur.
Pura Ulun Danu
Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK)
Garuda Wisnu Kencana, a 120 meters gigantic statue dedicated to Lord Vishnu riding a garuda bird, is all set to become the second tallest statue in the world. It will be officially inaugurated this August and it surpasses the Statue Of Liberty in height. This area is built as a cultural park with many attractions like cultural shows, souvenir shops, restaurants, villas etc. This statue is made of brass and copper and consists of 24 segments. This statue stands tall atop a hill overlooking the island. The 60 hectare cultural park encompassing the statue can accommodate around 70000 at one time.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana
Bust of Lord Vishnu
Surfing is a major attraction for people visiting Bali. It boasts of many surfing spots that are suitable for beginners as well as seasoned surfers alike. The High performance waves are found in Padang Paadang, Uluwatu and Canggu. Mellow beach breaks are seen in Kuta and Seminyak region.
For tourists there are surfing packages available all over Bali that provide surfing boards on rent as well as provide local knowledge on the weather and beach conditions plus these packages come with transfers which makes it more convenient. There are also surfing lessons provided for beginners.
Party like no other
Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak
Multiple clubs with laser lights and pumping music with DJs from around the world Bali has it all. Watering holes with stunning beach facing neon lit infinity pools is a perfect place to unwind. Kuta, Legian and Seminyak in the south of Bali is the hub of Bali’s nightlife. The nightlife come alive as soon as the sun sets and lasts till early morning.
Pro Tip 8: If you want to party along with kids, Seminyak is a better option and not Kuta which is a more hippy kind of atmosphere. Potato Head Beach Club is a must visit even with kids.
If you are the adventurous type then no trip to Bali is complete without hiking to one of the volcano peaks. The most popular one is trekking the 1700 m high Mount Batur. It last erupted in 2000 and the trek is not very difficult and takes about 2 hours. Its best to reach the peak early as the view of the sunrise from here is breathtaking.
Mount and Lake Batur
Pro Tip 9: If trekking is not your cup of tea then too you can enjoy this majestic Mt. Batur. Kintamani is a place where you can enjoy lunch amidst the backdrop of Mount Batur with Lake Batur at its side.
Visit the Rice Terraces
A visit to the rice terrace can easily fill your memory card with countless pictures of its beautiful landscape. The myriad shades of green on the undulated scope is an experience to cherish forever. The Tegalalang rice terrace is an amazing place to visit. You can even watch the local farmers carrying out their daily chores of rice cultivation. There are many cafes dotting the area giving you the opportunity to enjoy a drink with a view.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Proud women processing the Harvest in the rice terraces
Experience Balinese Culture
Bali culture and Traditions are fascinating with many people visiting Bali just to experience this. The Dances, their ceremonies, rituals even the daily offering they make is so intriguing that you cannot resist to be a part of it. There are many shows like Devdan Show, Fire and Kecak dance and Agung Show that showcase the traditional dances of Indonesia and worth every dime.
Kecak and Fire Dance at Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Fire and Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple
Pro Tip 10: Uluwatu Temple also has a special dance performance called Fire and Kecak Dance in the evenings at an additional cost of IDR 100,000 per person. Since it is generally overcrowded here, you can give it a miss. You can get the same or even better experiences at Ubud Palace or at the Devdan Show where the performances are more elegant and are not so crowded.
Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theatre
The Devdan show is a 90 Minutes musical extravaganza that shows a glimpse of all the traditional dances of not just Bali but all of Indonesia. The performances include allusions, artificial rain, fire balls, giant puppets, aerial silk dances, pyrotechnic lasers that make it a treat for the eyes.
A Glimpse of Devdan Show
A Woodcarving at Ubud Village
This traditional village in Sukawati is the place to be to see wood carvers and stone carvers create amazing pieces of art. This village also has cultural dance performances everyday.
Heron bird watching at Petulu Village
Heron bird watching at Petulu Village
You can see hundreds of heron birds returning from the rice fields every evening around 5PM at the Petulu village. It is a remarkable sight to see the white herons flying in. They all settle in the big trees along the road and stay there throughout the night If you enjoy bird watching or photography, this is the place for you.
Heron bird watching at Petulu village
Balinese Dress Up
Playing dress up is a favorite fun activity for women of all age groups and its more fun when this dress up is dipped in rich tradition. Balinese clothes are colorful and extravagant with exquisite headgear and jewelry. This dress up was part of the kids club activity in our resort and my LO absolutely loved it.
Our little one in Balinese Dress up at Ayodya Palace Hotel
Indulge yourself in the local cuisine
Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
Like the other things in Bali even the local cuisine is rich in culture and tradition. Balinese food is varied and diverse and no visit should be complete without experiencing their local cuisine. We loved the Nasi Goreng – their take on the fried rice which is served with chicken satay, shrimp crackers, fresh veggies, pickles and topped with a sunny side up. Jimbaran Bay is the place from where the islands seafood supply comes from. This place is dotted with restaurants facing the rather menacing looking sea and is a heaven for the sea food lovers.
Pro Tip 11: Jimbaran Bay is on the way from Uluwatu to Kuta area so you can watch the sunset at Uluwatu and stop at Jimbaran for dinner.
The Sunset at Seminyak
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Bali Safari and Marine Park is one fun day activity your kids will never stop thanking you for. This is one place where you can literally eat and sleep with wildlife. The Bali safari houses over 100 species and including the rare komodo dragon. Elephant rides, animal feeding, safari ride, animal encounter shows. restaurants facing the animal exhibits will keep the kids entertained for a whole day. But if they crave for more you can also stay in the resort facing the lion enclosure. Imagine waking up to the lion’s roar. Still not satisfied there is even a water park to beat the heat. Make sure you catch the Agung show in the amphitheater to get the glimpse of the traditional dances of Bali.
White Tiger at Bali Safari and Marine Park
Pro Tip 12: Safari Packages are available depending on the type of activities you want to do. You can choose the package accordingly.
Ubud Monkey Forests
Ubud Monkey Forest or Mandala Suci Wenara Wana is a monkey conservation and education center that houses around 700 Balinese macaques. This rain forest with around 200 different species of trees is located just 3 kms away from Ubud market. There are 3 temples on these grounds are considered sacred along with these monkeys.
At Ubud Monkey Forest
Black Sand Beach
Beaches for me has always been blue waters and pristine white sand so the idea of seeing a black beach intrigued me. The Keramas Beach in Ubud is a black sand beach not grey but jet black. Its black due to the black volcanic ash. This beach is popular among the locals for purification so you can see them offering prayers.
A local offering his prayers
Bali is a treasure trove of handicrafts. You can find amazing paintings, wood and stone carving and also cute little sling bags which I could not resist buying. Its a haven for pretty little trinkets and souvenirs.
Handicrafts at Ubud Market
Handicrafts at Ubud Market
Bali is a treasure-house of happy gurgling waterfalls cascading down stony mountains covered in lush green foliage. It’s a paradise for nature lovers. Many of the waterfalls are close to the city and a short ride away. Normally the water is strongest in the wet season but during the dry season too its worth a visit. Do not forget to pack your swimsuit to enjoy a dip here. We visited the Tegenungan Waterfall. It was close to the Bali Safari and Marine park so we clubbed it on the same day.
Bali Luwak Coffee
You must have heard about Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world. These coffee beans are the digested coffee cherries of Luwak or the Asian palm civet found in Bali. After fermenting in the digestive track, the coffee beans found in the fecal remains of this animal are collected, processed and then sold around $700 per kg. There are coffee plantations around Ubud that house these civet and you can sample and buy coffee from them.
Luwak (Used to make Kopi Luwak)
Kopi Luwak (Luwak Coffee)
Places to Stay in Bali
In Bali, there are plenty types of accommodation to choose from such as hotels, resorts, boutique hotels, rental apartments however, the Balinese Villa stands out completely from the rest. There are plenty of Balinese Villas to choose from depending on your needs, location and budget.
Stay in a Private Balinese Villa with your own swimming pool
Once you have experienced staying in a Balinese Villa, you will find that it makes complete sense to stay in a Villa rather than a luxury hotel.
- Well, first of all, it costs mush less that a luxury hotel without any compromises.
- The best part of a tropical holiday is lazing around in a pool all day. Now imagine doing so in your own private swimming pool. This is an experience you have got to try. Now which hotel is going to give you a private swimming pool experience.
- A luxury hotel will give you a room with the same repetitive expected amenities. However, a Balinese villa typically is very spacious; much more than you are ever going to use. Its definitely more private and luxurious than a hotel room.
- A hotel takes you far away from experiencing the local culture and traditions of the place. It is very likely to feel secluded and forget the outside world in the lap of luxury. However, in a villa you can experience the local way of life.
- And if that is not enough, then you also get a personalized service which no hotel will ever provide you. You can get the breakfast served in your room or get your choice of dish prepared by the cook.
A Balinese Villa offer you the best experience and relaxed stay in Bali. These Villas are perfect for honeymooners too for the solace they offer. It is a blessing for families with kids as they will be happily splashing around all day and happy kids make happy holidays. In fact this private villa was the best part of my LO’s Bali holiday.
Our own Balinese Villa with Private swimming pool
We stayed at The Awan Villas at Seminyak and it was perfect for us. It came with a pool, a complete functional kitchen area, living area, dining area, bedroom and a Balinese style open bath. The best part was that it was just 5 minutes walk from the beach and 10 minute drive from Seminyak Square with free Shuttle services available.
We prefer to stay near the main hub to experience the nightlife of the place. The Ubud Village Hotel is located near the market and we could try a new restaurant everyday for our meals. This place has two pools and two restaurants. It’s walking distance from popular tourist attractions like Ubud Palace and Ubud monkey forest.
One of the two Pools of the Hotel
Nusa Dua is an all-inclusive type of beach resort destination. It consists of the best hotel chains of the world with pristine clear beaches and up market shopping complexes. This was an experience in itself. We stayed at Ayodya Resort. This beach front resort suited our motto of a laid back holiday as we could literally spend a week lounging here. The rooms, the lake with its flock of ducks, infinity pool, many multi-cuisine restaurants, spa and cultural shows in their very own amphi theater made it one of the best resorts we stayed at. The Kids club was a hit with my daughter.
Ayodya Resort Foyer
View from Ayodya Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali
Book Your Stay
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Hope you find this Bali Family Holidays Guide of use to you. Do let us know about your stay in Bali or if we are missing something, please contact us or comment below and I will update this blog soon. Your comments and/or feedback are welcome.