Bali is an island with lush jungles, rice terraces, tropical beaches, coral reef, bustling towns bursting with character and the most sincere people. Modes of transport are easy on the pocket making it all the more accessible to experience the variety of surroundings. We went to Bali with a baby, when our daughter Esmé was nine-months old and had the most amazing trip. Since then, we have been day-dreaming about living there and hoping to make it a reality one day soon.
We initially stayed in Jimbaran before moving onto Leigan, Ubud and finally Nusa Lembongan Island. There are many other places in Bali that we have not yet explored and looking forward to doing so in the future! In this article, I cover info on each area we visited. I also cover visas and where to find the ‘all important’ baby products! For info about the travel insurance policy we use, click here.
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Bali with a baby
We kicked off at Jimbaran , a short journey from the airport, particularly helpful if you’ve had a long flight. We arrived in the evening and made our way to the beach for dinner. It was dark by the time we got there but the entire beach was glowing with candles on the hundreds of dining tables perched in the sand. Dining on the beach with chill-out tunes and a beer puts you into that automatic holiday mode! It’s all fairly mellow so felt okay to be in that atmosphere with a baby. There are a number of restaurants to choose from, seafood seeming to be most popular.
There are also a number of mobile stalls cooking street food on the beach, my personal favourite was the bbq’d corn on the cob. You can smell the cooking aromas a mile away making you feel hungrier by the second! Like everywhere in Bali, food and drinks are extremely reasonable. Average price for a main course is £2 GBP. I was definitely feeling nervous about what Esmé would eat, particularly after hearing the saying ‘Bali belly’ and the fact the food is quite different. The Balinese were extremely accommodating wherever we went, clean fresh fruit was readily available and she was surprisingly willing to try non-spicy local cuisine. I am happy to report none of us got Bali belly.
On day two of our trip, we hooked up with my brother in-law who treated us to a luxury stay at the incredible Padma Resort. Not a bad gift for Travel Mad Dad’s 30th birthday! It’s one of those places you find it hard to leave rather than exploring the local area. From the moment we rocked into reception, we were treated like royalty! Fresh cold face-cloths to cool us down and a fancy mocktail juice. The rooms are SUPER luxury! There are several swimming pools and a bar that faces the beach. It is a family-friendly resort and they were more than accommodating with our little one.
Leigan is in the same area as the notorious Kuta beach, most popular amongst the surfers by day and the partiers by night. I had a lot of pre-empted ideas about Kuta, but actually it was quite pleasant being on the beach. I wouldn’t spend a great deal of time there as it’s probably the most destroyed place in Bali in terms of mass tourism. However if you are after surf lessons it is a good place to start. Surf board rental costs £3 for the entire day and are found anywhere along the beach.
There are plenty of spots on the beach you can grab some shade for little ones. Waves weren’t too dumpy in the shallows so all good for baby to have a dip. The sunset is amazing on Kuta beach! Look out for the baby bats that can be easily mistaken for swallows that litter the sky at dusk.
Ubud, Bali with a baby
We spent four days in Ubud, central Bali. I absolutely loved everything about it! Its quite a busy little town surrounded by jungle and the most beautiful rice terraces, making it easy to escape from the craziness. We stayed off the main road in Uma Sari cottages. Such a cute little place and in a great location which has a few more quiet small restaurants and other accommodation options along that road. We found an incredible hotel called Bisma 8. The infinity pool dropping off into the jungle was out of this world. We spent a day or two hanging out there.
When we first arrived in Ubud, we thought four nights might be too much but every day we discovered something new and amazing. Ubud attracts lots of yogis because of the many retreats that take place there. Subsequently there are lots of lovely little cafes and juice bars selling health shakes, raw foods with many vegan and veggie options.
Things to do in Ubud
Ubud has tens of hundreds of spa and massage parlours. Again very reasonably priced. I think it’s safe to say most places wouldn’t like you to bring a baby with you. However, we found if you go out in the morning, when there are not many other customers, they were happy to have us. We had cheeky foot massages for a half an hour while bubba had her morning nap.
You haven’t been to Ubud until you’ve visited monkey forest! This place is absolutely beautiful but I am not sure you can take it all in at the time for fear of being jumped on by one of the monkeys. They are literally everywhere running around, some making the next generation of monkeys whilst others having a punch-up. You can take bananas with you to feed them but there are some quite strict rules that make you paranoid to move.
From what I could see the monkeys were only jumping on those with bananas so I got baby out of the buggy to have a look. I really wasn’t expecting to have one with his boy bits on her face a few minutes later. I was desperately trying to remember the rules I read on the way in – “don’t look him in the eye… Don’t bloody move or panic if one jumps on you”. You just gotta laugh at these situations!
There are several different walks through the rice terraces behind the bustling streets of Ubud. The best one starting from the furthest north easterly point of the main road. There are many huts along the track selling food, drinks, art and crafts. It is such a chilled and tranquil place with only the odd person passing through once in a while. The track is narrow and uneven, like much of Ubud so you definitely want your baby carrier rather than a buggy.
For the last few days of our trip to Bali with a baby, we jumped across to Nusa Lembongon, a small island 45 minutes by fast boat from the mainland. The pace of life is much slower than Bali. I would say it is the perfect place for young families. We stayed at the Bay Shore Huts. Although a little bit of a drive from the main area, the huts were out of this world. They had a giant bed with a net hanging from the roof draped around it. The porch at the foot of the bed had a deck and views of the sea. The private outdoor bathroom was at the back of the hut. Seriously, we were in heaven. Our little girl loved it just as much as we did.
One issue with Lembongan is there were no proper roads on the island. All of the tourists got around by scooter as there were no cars on the island and yes I’ve seen many scoot around with their baby. There is another option, to hire a golf cart which is probably the safest option with little ones. Many of the restaurants offer a pick-up service if you book a table for dinner or lunch.
Mushroom bay is a really beautiful place to hang out. The water is crystal clear and there are some nice bars and restaurants along the beach. Hai restaurant being our favourite! The sunset is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth a visit. Most people visit Lembongon island for its renowned surfing, diving and snorkelling.
There are many chartered trips you can do but this wouldn’t fit in with a baby and they are also a Iittle expensive. We found a guy with a nice boat on the beach to take us to a good snorkelling spot. He brought all of the equipment for us and was willing to give us as much time as possible. It was perfect having it to ourselves so we could control when we returned. My husand and I took turns snorkelling whilst the other was on baby duties. She was happy enough playing with a bucket and spade on board. I later learnt where we snorkelled is part of the ‘coral triangle’ which has over 500 species of sea life. We were both quite impressed with what we saw.
The Balinese people are extremely friendly and absolutely love children. We often felt like celebrities walking down the street. They were always waving at Esme and trying to get her attention. It seems they just want to help. Every time we were in a restaurant the staff wanted to take her for a walk around allowing us a little time to eat once she was finished. This was definitely a welcomed break. Otherwise you sometimes have to wolf your food down and go which isn’t that enjoyable. On countless occasions they came and just rocked her to sleep.
We didn’t utilise any babysitting services but I feel I could have trusted them. Don’t be offended if you have a little girl and they refer to her as a boy. We had that regularly, even when she was wearing a dress. I came to the understanding later they pierce little girls ears quite early to identify their sex.
There are mini-markets almost everywhere. In all of them you can find nappies and wipes. There are two large supermarket chains on mainland Bali, Hypermarket and Carrefour. They have a lot more nappy options. They equally have baby specific foods. I did not see much more than the glass jars of Heinz food and rice crackers. So if you intend to use something different it may be worth bringing it with you.
Denpasar airport, Bali with a baby
Many travellers now have to buy a visa on arrival ( New Zealand passport holders remain free). It can be paid by card but I got the impression they prefer cash. The cost is 35USD for all age groups.
If you check in a buggy, expect for it to take a while to show up. They wheel oversized baggage through little by little from the plane on a trolley and its a big enough airport! If you bring baby food with you expect it to take longer to get through the goods to declare exit.
There are plenty of taxi drivers outside. They will try you for a fairly high price, don’t be afraid to barter. For example a fare to Ubud should be no more than 300,000rp and Jimbaran 50,000rp. Beware of porters trying to wheel your luggage as you exit the arrivals, they will expect payment and are a little careless. We learnt that when our empty car seat toppled onto the road and in perfect position for a bus about to back up over it!
Our favourite places to eat in Bali with a baby
Kafe Ubud– really good for cold juices, coffees and shakes.
Matta restaurant, Ubud– extremely affordable good food. Must try- Pad Thai.
Kunti sushi bar,Legian – probably the nicest sushi I’ve ever had!
Hai bar, Nusa Lembongon– perch here for the evening sunset with a drink. The food is amazing, still affordable but slightly posher shall we say.
Warung 99, Nusa Lembongon– THEE BEST MEE GORENG by far! It’s right by the ferry port so you can have a bite before you head back to the mainland.
Have you been to Bali with a baby? Sharer your tips in the comment box below. I love hearing from you!