Bali in Indonesia has long been a favourite travel destination for many families. Theres a good reason: Bali pretty much offers anything a family might want. The island is beautiful, the culture is fascinating and still evident despite years or tourism. It's cheap; from shopping to food to accommodation. And there's a style of holiday and a range of activities to suit all budgets and tastes - 5 star hotels with kids clubs or staying in a families compound amongst the rice fields, markets or shopping centres, busy tourist beaches packed with shops and western fast food or quiet villages where a slower pace of life can be explored. You also won't have to search long for a babysitter or someone to play with your kids while eating dinner - people all throughout Asia love children but it seems to be especially true in Bali.
If crowds and busy tourist spots aren't your thing but you still want a beach holiday, head to quieter Sanur. It's still touristy enough to have easy access to all the conviences you might want like a supermarket and restaurants with kid friendly menus, without having the same frantic energy of Kuta and Legian. Of course if you want to get away from it all then Amed is for you. The coastline is stunning and it's quiet. Travelling families aren't that common out this way so don't be surprised if your children are treated as superstars and soon find a group of local children their own age to run around with all day. After two visits to Bali our favourite destination is still Ubud, the cultural and craft centre of Bali. It's quickly growing, with shiny new stores opening all the time, but wherever you stay you are only ever a street or two away from quiet rice fields and dirt roads that are fascinating to explore. Ubud also has some of the best family friendly restaurants we've seen in Asia - large gardens filled with cats and fish ponds (that staff won't mind if your children climb into them to catch tadpoles), kid friendly menus and even day beds in some when the children just want to lay around colouring while waiting for their food.
Being a small island travel distances are also small so you won't have to worry about putting the kids through long driving days to see everything. And Bali holidays offer plenty to see. Here's our top ten things to do with kids in Bali.
There's a good reason we're starting this list with Waterbom. Bali's Waterbom waterslide park is a fantastic day out with kids. Theres seventeen different tall slides, from gentle twisting slides to 360-degree "I think I'm going to be sick" thrill experiences. For younger kids there's paddling pool filled with water canons and fountains, as well as four mini-slides.
Not only is there a great range of slides for every age group, it's one of the only waterslide parks we've been to that's flexible about it's height restrictions. Provided your littlies can demonstrate they can swim, even the smallest toddler is allowed to go on many of the bigger slides as long as they share a tube with a parent. A fact our independent daredevil 2 year old loved!
Waterbom gets pretty busy so go early and on a weekday if you can.
Bali Treetop Adventure Park is a fun family friendly adventure park located within the beautiful Bedugul botanical gardens. Swing and climb your way through the trees on six different courses made up of flying foxes, rope bridges, nets, balancing challenges and more the easiest curcuit is suitable for kids as young as four.
Learn to make traditional offerings
Those beautiful temple offerings you see all around Bali are usually handmade. You probably won't find anywhere offering lessons on how to make them, but if you ask the staff where you are staying you will find someone who loves kids and is more than happy to show your children how to make them and explain their significance. It's a wonderful cultural activity for the children and a lot of fun too.
Take an evening walk through the rice fields in Ubud
Ubud has a lot to offer families, but one of the best things is to take a walk down one of the quiet dirt roads through the rice fields in the early evening as bats start to come out. It's picturesque and the paths through the rice fields are a lot of fun to explore! For older children you may want to consider hiring bicyclyes and exploring further out.
Take a craft or music class
Pondok Pekak library in Ubud not only has a great children's book section, it also offers music and craft lessons with very patient teachers! Classes include learning to play traditional musical instruments such as the gamelon, carving, painting and batik. Lessons usually need to be arranged one day in advance.
The library is located behind the football field on Monkey Forest Road.
Get up close to Monkeys
The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud is lots of fun for the family. Monkeys sitting on the paths and swinging through the trees, short treks along shady paths to creeks, fantastical traditional carvings and ancient hindu temples. Thanks to the giant trees it's a nice place to go for a walk and escape the heat. Bananas to feed to the monkey's can be bought at the entrance.
Just a word of warning though - the monkey's here have been known to be agressive. We've visited a few times and never had any problems. The mother monkey's were even encouraging their babies to get closer to our 2 year old daughter. But other children have been bitten or scratched. Keep a close eye on your children and take your cue from the behaviour of the monkey's. It's also a good idea for one of the adults to hold onto any excess bananas, rather than your children, or skip feeding them and just observe from a distance.
Teach the kids to snorkel
The north eastern coast of Bali is not only easily accessible, it's a fantastic place to teach your children to snorkel. Many beaches in Amed have coral just off shore in the calm waters - the perfect place for even young children to start their search for nemo. Lipah perhaps offers the best snorkelling for children, with wonderful soft corals just offshore.
Tulamben, one of Bali's most famous dive sites, is also a fabulous snorkelling site as the waters are crystal clear thanks to it being a pebble beach rather than sand. There are friendly fish galore and a wreck site right at the waters edge to snorkel over. Children over the age of 8 can also begin to learn scuba diving. Do your research though as some of the dive operators are a little lax with their safety checks.
Explore the inside a volcano
Mt Batur, north of Ubud, is a active volcano topped with an immense caldera 13 km in diameter! It is edged by a cliff, part of which may be travelled with the car. Inside the caldera is the current Mt Batur, where you can see old lava flows still evident on the sides of the mountain, the stunning and sacred Lake Batur and several villages. You can stay overnight inside the volcano, but even just a day trip is worth it for the stunning views. Not to mention a day trip to Mt Batur is a geology homeschooling lesson in itself!
Eat dinner on the beach
One of the best things Sanur offers is dining right on the beach. Prices are higher than you'll pay in a restaurant one street back but sometimes it's worth paying more to be able to sit at a table on the sand having a quiet beer while the kids run and play.
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Whilst a little on the expensive side, the Bali Safari and Marine Parks is one of the best of it's type in South East Asia. The animal education shows are fantastic and the park certainly highlights the importance of animal conservation. The park is a full day activity and it's best to get there early as most of the animal feedings are on in the morning. Leave room at the end for the rides and put aside an hour or two for the pools and water-slides.