I’m not gonna lie, travelling with a baby is like travelling with a ticking time bomb…one false move and all hell can break loose! A 13 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur followed by another 3 hour flight to Bali is never going to be one hundred percent fun or plain sailing, as a tiny person is sometimes very scary to travel with. But don’t let that put you off, it’s most definitely (in my opinion) worth it and arriving in Bali we knew we had made the right decision. Especially as Matt and I went with the lowest expectations of our flight with Emily to be greeted with something a lot better than we could have imagined. Choosing a night flight is my main recommendation, along with books, new toys, an iPad for entertainment and plenty of food and snacks. For more tips on flying with a baby take a look at my blog all about it: Flying with a baby…
First off the people in Bali absolutely adore children so be prepared for your little one to be whisked off in restaurants, waved at and cuddled pretty much wherever you go. Emily received cookies and fruit in bars and restaurants when we were out and absolutely loved all the attention, waving and saying hi to anyone that looked her way. Bali is very child friendly with plenty for families to enjoy, beaches, villas with private pools, day trips to some very cool places and gorgeous food that kids will love. We spent 17 days in Indonesia and Malaysia and I’m excited to share all my family travel tips and recommendations with you..
Staying in Bali:
Sanur is such a gorgeous place, located on the south-east of the island about 45 minutes drive from the airport, it’s a bustling town with lovely beaches making it the perfect place for families. The pavements along the main street in town were slightly dodgy with a pushchair but nothing we couldn’t handle! The footpath stretching for around 2.5 miles along the beachfront dotted with bars, restaurants, markets, hotels and fishing boats was a lovely place to explore. It was great for a stroll while Emily was napping in her buggy and meant we got to fit in a sneaky beer stop too. The shallow, calm waters here make it a gorgeous beach for children with much of it protected by reef.
We stayed at Villa Kamboja, three bedrooms, a private pool and an outdoor living concept made it the perfect place for relaxing. Emily had a lovely cot with mosquito net too. We felt throughly looked after and split by Kadek our lovely housekeeper who came in daily to cook breakfast, do any laundry and clean. The villa was a 10 minute walk to Sanur town centre and the main street Jalan Danau Tamblingan; accessed via tiny winding streets that were often filled with incense and plenty of friendly locals working in their Warungs.
Our favourite beach front bar and restaurants in Sanur:
Segara: Full of laid back beach vibes, playing reggae music and the best children’s play area right on the sand. Emily had such a lovely time playing while Matt and I got enjoy a beer and snacks. They also had highchairs.
La playa: A bit of a stroll past the Hyatt Hotel but worth it for the delicious food, friendly staff and high chairs. I had the best seared tuna starter and salad and loved the glorious views of the turquoise ocean. Emily got spoiled by our waitress and was given complimentary melon.
Nelayan: We visited this place a lot, the staff were lovely, they had highchairs and pulled out toys for Emily. Matt and I loved sitting on the comfy bean bags right on the sand. They were also really good about providing smaller portions for Emily even though they didn’t have a children’s menu.
Great for a day trip, kids will love the Scared Monkey Forest, although the monkeys made me feel a little bit uncomfortable it was nice to stroll around the forest area and easy if you have a pushchair as it was all paved. The entrance fee is £4.20 for adults and £3.15 for children. Don’t take anything valuable with you and leave bags behind as the monkeys take a keen interest in human things. You can feed them bananas but I preferred just to watch them and take photos. There are also some interesting temples in the forest too.
I loved visiting Tegalalang Rice Terraces, although a little more touristy than I expected the views were just stunning. We stopped in a lovely café overlooking the terraces to escape the heat and ordered a fresh coconut water; it’s now Emily’s new favourite drink. We hired a driver for the day trip to Ubud, Emily had a few naps in the car and although it was a long day I’m so pleased we did it as we got to tick a lot off our must see list.
If you fancy an escape head to Sandat Glamping on the outskirts of Ubud. We stayed in Bali for a big part of the time with Matt’s parents who very kindly looked after Emily while we escaped for the night. We had our own luxurious safari tent with our own private plunge pool, surround by jungle and rice paddies. No TVs or phones meant total relaxation, we enjoyed a wonderful meal surrounded by candlelight in Sandat’s amazing bamboo structure and fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle. It was the perfect jungle retreat. For more on our dreamy stay check out my blog post all about it: The Ultimate Glamping Retreat in Bali…
Whilst it’s not the most baby friendly place to visit in Bali, there were no pavements and beach access wasn’t easy with a pushchair, there are family friendly places to stay and visit. It wasn’t that easy to find baby essentials, but we did stumble across a pharmacy selling nappies and baby wipes. The in-house restaurant at the villa complex we stayed at provided us with milk so we actually got by just fine.
Matt, Emily and I stayed at Villa Berawa in Canggu, we had a two bedroom villa with its own pool, kitchen and open lounge/dining area which looked directly onto the pool. Emily had a cot with mosquito net and I loved the stylish rooms. The only downside was that our villa was right on the main road so at times it was quite noisy. Villa Berawa do make you aware of this before you book so it wasn’t a complete surprise. On arrival we were greeted with a welcome drink and escorted to our villa. The staff were amazing and so attentive, we had breakfast delivered to our villa every morning, dinner was also bought directly to us and set up at our table overlooking the pool. For us this was the perfect compromise, with Emily tucked up in bed we felt like we were dining out. The food was so delicious and reasonably priced too, as was the wine. I became hooked on Palga Sauvignon Blanc, produced in Bali and very quaffable!
We struggled to find somewhere we felt comfortable taking Emily to for food but did come across Cinta Cafe. It had a nice kids menu and small play park at the front plus gorgeous open views of paddy fields at the back. Healthy smoothies and breakfasts, plus prosecco, beer, cider and snacks for a late afternoon or early evening stop off. Legong Keraton Beach Hotel was another favourite for lunch, highchairs, a kids menu and gorgeous beach views.
Essentials such as nappies, wipes, milk, baby food and snacks can be purchased in Bali from supermarkets such as Hardy’s and some of the small Warungs often had milk. As I mentioned we struggled in Canggu as there were no supermarkets near us, but found a pharmacy selling wipes and nappies and got milk from the restaurant at Villa Berawa.
If you eat out and there’s not a children’s menu, ask for a kids portion. We often asked for things like plain chicken and rice and most restaurants were really accommodating with this.
The style of our trips away have of course changed since having Emily, we can’t go out for late night drinks or romantic meals by ourselves so having the option of takeaway deliveries from local restaurants to the villa in Sanur was a fantastic option. We were also very lucky to be staying with Matt’s parents for part of the trip and they very kindly babysat for a few nights for us so we could go out for dinner. If you don’t have that option and don’t want to hire a babysitter then if local restaurants deliver it’s a big bonus.
Pool fencing: If you are staying in a villa with a private pool find out about safety fences. Villa Kamboja in Sanur had this as an optional extra, it was well worth the extra cost as it allowed us to relax knowing that Emily was safe.
We took our car seat with us as we weren’t too sure if all taxis companies would provide one and what standard they would be. It certainly isn’t the norm in Bali after seeing families of four on a scooter and our house keeper Kadek at Villa Kamboja was completely amazed by ours! We checked our car seat it into the hold, with British Airways strollers and car seats can be checked in for free. For the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali with Air Asia baby equipment is included in the luggage allowance. This meant we decided to purchase extra kgs when booking our tickets and is definitely something to bear in mind when planning your trip.
Matt and I spent a bit of time scouting out restaurants and beach bars with highchairs, most had them but we packed a travel highchair which was perfect for using on the go. (See mini hacking list below for link.)
Jet lag, can be a bit of killer, especially with a little one. We broke up our journey by staying in Kuala Lumpur, which definitely helped. I really recommend Sama Sama Hotel located in the main terminal at Kula Lumpur airport. It is connected via a walkway from the terminal, check-in is at baggage reclaim and you can jump on a buggy for a lift with your bags to the hotel. Emily LOVED the ride. Sama Sama has very comfy rooms, with black-out blinds, cots, good breakfast, plus great room service and an awesome pool with views of the air traffic control tower. After the flight from London Emily was awake for most of the night so Matt and I were up at midnight having a cuppa and a biscuit….I guess the one thing we realised is that you need to go with the flow when you are travelling with a baby. Matt and I chatted about this a lot and we both pointed out that we were the ones changing Emily’s time zone, so we just had to go with it. With this relaxed attitude in around 4 to 5 days she was back in a normal sleep pattern.
Mini packing list:
Here’s just a few things I have found really useful to have with me for Emily on trips away…
– Giant muslin: Bought as a gift for us from Jo Jo Maman Bebe, this has been so useful in multiple situations. Shading Emily from the sun and keeping her warm on an aircraft, it’s brilliant.
– Foutala towels are perfect to use as beach towels. Lightweight and quick drying, plus they come in really lovely designs and are so much easier to pack than the normal types of thick beach towel.
– High chair: A lot of cafes and restaurants we visited had highchairs but not all so if you’ve got room in your luggage it’s potentially a good idea to take your own. This one by Mountain Buggy clamps onto tables and is compact for travelling, it was a lifesaver at lunchtimes at beach cafes.
– Push chair: We absolutely love the Mothercare XSS stroller, it folds down into a bag and is small enough to fit in an aircraft overhead locker. Although since Mothercare shut down it is not as easy to find, we bought ours from eBay for £50.
– Sunglasses: I bought Emily some sunglasses from Boots, she loves wearing them!
– Car seat bag: We took our own car seat and bought a car seat bag for checking it in with our hold luggage.
– Pack plenty of snacks and food for your long haul flight. You can take baby food, milk and water in a beaker through airport security, just pop them in a small liquids bag along with your other liquids.