7 things to do in Bali…

Bali is an incredible place with beautiful landscapes from lush, green rice fields, to blissful beaches, volcanoes and waterfalls. The Indonesian island is nestled in between Lombok and Java. Bali is easily reached, Singapore and Kula Lumpur being the most popular places to connect from. From London I flew to Kuala Lumpur with British Airways and jumped on another flight to Bali with Air Asia. This took around 3 hours, once in Bali we had a pre booked taxi waiting for us. I was blown away by Bali’s natural beauty, staying in three different areas over two weeks gave us a varied experience of this stunning island. I must admit I was surprised by how touristy parts of it felt which I will mention in more detail below but it is easy to escape to quieter spots even in busier areas.  In Sanur we stayed in the most gorgeous villa hidden down some tiny alleyways, wafts of burning incense and birds singing was pretty much all we were (nicely) disturbed by. Yet a 15 minute stroll along the narrow lanes past warungs and locals houses with offerings to the gods outside and we were on the bustling streets in the centre of Sanur.
Read on for seven not to be missed Balinese experiences…

 

See a temple
Temples are a part of everyday life for many living in Bali. Hinduism is the main religion and as I mentioned above outside most houses are offerings to the Gods. Delicate trays made from leaves are placed on the ground throughout the day and are filled with amongst other things, flowers, food and holy water. Named after the holy spring water found within its grounds, Tirta Empul is an important temple to the Balinese. The temple has pools of holy water for bathing which is only meant for Hindus. Spend a while wondering amongst the holy water and admire the intricate architecture, I loved the beautiful doorways. There is a small entrance fee to visit and remember to dress respectfully; shoulders and knees should be covered. Sarongs can be borrowed at the entrance if needed; and ladies if it’s the time of the month you are not permitted to enter.

 

 

Go glamping in Ubud
For a completely different adventure, glamping in Ubud is a unique experience. I spent a night in a safari tent nestled amongst jungle and rice terraces at Sandat Glamping Tents. Our tent was beautifully furnished and came with its own private plunge pool. Sandat has a restaurant located under a huge bamboo structure with gorgeous food; breakfast delivered to our tent was just perfect. I loved the secluded location and the little touches such as a musical instrument to call for room service. Being able to stroll out to the rice fields was an unforgettable thing to do. Located in a peaceful area away from the busy streets of Ubud it was a stay like no other. I blogged all about my dreamy stay here: The Ultimate Glamping Retreat in Bali…

 

 

Explore Tegalalang rice terraces
Visiting rice terraces is a must when in Bali. Tegalalang is beautiful, the setting surprised me a little as it felt a lot more touristy than I had expected. Apart from that it is an absolutely stunning place. Cafes and restaurants are dotted around the edge, great for a cooling coconut water or beer in the heat of the day. There are spots all along the roadside to get fantastic photos looking down onto the terraces. You can also go down into them. I didn’t get a chance to do this as Emily was only one at the time and very hot so we chose a lovely shady spot to cool down with fresh coconut water.

 

 

Hang out in Canggu
Canggu is a really cool spot on Bali’s west coast. Cute coffee shops, brunch spots and beaches perfect for surfing make Canggu a popular area. We stayed at Villa Berawa, in a private villa with its own pool. It was an awesome treat and not as expensive as you might think. With only a short walk to the beach and Finns Beach Club, (If you like a pool party this is the place to head to.) plus a local bakery and warung along the road made the stay even more perfect. I wouldn’t say it’s the best spot for families as the roads were quite busy and there were no pavements. We also struggled to find nappies, but fear not we did find a pharmacy that stocked them! We adapted just fine in the end as you do when travelling with kids and found the nicest spot: Cinta Cafe with a mini play park at the front and open views of rice fields at the back. Great spot for parents wanting a beer while the kids play!

 

 

See the monkeys at Monkey Forest, Ubud
In the heart of Ubud Monkey Forest is a popular tourist spot. I have to say this wasn’t my favourite place as I felt a bit on edge around the monkeys. The monkeys roam freely amongst the trees and temples here and it does make for a really nice stroll. I felt like I had to do it to tick it off my Bali list but I’m not sure I would visit it again. Don’t be put off visiting though, I got some great photos of the monkeys and it’s a really cool location.

 

 

Admire Tegnungan Waterfall
Around 20 minutes drive from Ubud this beauty spot is a must see, it can get very busy so go early to avoid the crowds. Steps lead up above the waterfall so you can admire the falls from different viewpoints. The entrance fee is 15,000 IDR, there’s a small extra fee to pay to climb higher up above the falls but it’s well worth it for the views. The markets nearby are nice for browsing and there are a few cafes for food and drink stops.

 

 

Chill on the beach in Sanur
Sanur had to make it onto my list of things to do as I spent the majority of my stay there. The beach is easily accessible with a long paved boardwalk winding for three miles along the beachfront. It’s really child friendly, many of the beach restaurants cater for kids even if they don’t have a children’s menu, just ask. A few also have toys and play parks right on the sand so you can enjoy your lunch and a beer while your little ones have fun. The town is just behind the beach and has tons of bars, shops and restaurants. For more on travelling to Bali with little ones click here: Bali with a baby…
There’s so much to explore in Bali it’s a destination that has everything, incredible sightseeing and stunning beaches. These suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg of activities and adventures to be had in this wonderful part of the world. Just writing it has made me want to go back!
Have you been to Bali? What did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comments below…

 

Bali with a baby…

Emily and I on the beach at sunset in Canggu.
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
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.

 

Ubud
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…

 

Canggu
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.

 

Baby essentials:
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.)

 

Jetleg:
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.

 

We made the decision before we had Emily that we weren’t going to stop travelling when she came along.  Trips and holidays have changed slightly, I guess we have had to slow down a bit and perhaps not see and do as much as we used to.   We also have to incorporate Emily’s nap into a day, great for an hour or two relaxing by the pool or as I mentioned above a stroll along the beach and a quick beer!  Bali is a fantastic place to take children, if you are planning a family trip to Bali I’d love to hear where you are staying or if you’ve been already what were your favourite bits?

The ultimate glamping retreat in Bali…

If you are a follower of my blog then you’ll know that I love nothing more than a spot of glamping.  From a beach hut to a bus I’ve glamped in some pretty cool places, so when I was invited to stay at Sandat Glamping Resort I jumped at the chance to experience a night in a safari tent.  The tents at Sandat are hidden away among rice paddies and jungle on the outskirts of Ubud in Bali.  Having been staying in the beach town of Sanur I was looking forward to staying somewhere a bit more remote.  Leaving the bustling streets of Ubud behind it was like nothing I had experienced before.  I often mention that the journey is all part of the adventure and this journey was no exception.  We drove along a tiny winding track with nothing but rice paddies either side, lush and green the landscape was in complete contrast to the beach scene we’d become so familiar with. Arriving at Sandat we were greeted by friendly faces and escorted to our ‘room’ past the incredible looking restaurant and along a tiny path with jungle foliage either side.  Ylang Ylang was to be our own little piece of paradise for the night.  Just before the entrance we were shown the bell that staff ring before entering, a lovely idea for in-tent privacy.  When we turned the corner I gasped in excitement at the gorgeous plunge pool and equally gorgeous safari tent, fully decked out with everything you could ever need for a very unique glamping experience.  A huge and very comfy circular bed in the centre of the tent, tea and coffee-making facilities, water and mini bar.  There are no TVs in the tents, it is glamping after all.  WIFI is however available so you don’t feel completely cut off. The bathroom had the coolest sink, a fabulous shower with hot water and of course a toilet with what has to be the best view of nothing but jungle!! The interior of the tent was just perfect, cosy lighting, gorgeous mosquito nets draped over the bed and rustic furniture.  I should mention one of my favourite bits, there are no phones in the tents so to call for room service or anything else you may need each tent has its own instrument with unique sound so staff recognise which tent is calling.  I found this whole idea such a novelty and it works!  After scouring the fantastic drinks and cocktail menu I stepped outside the tent and made ‘the call’, ordering two Mimosas, such fun!  Ylang Ylang was just far enough to feel completely secluded but only a few steps from the restaurant and bar, the dreamy plunge pool was very private and surrounded by nothing but tropical forest; perfect for a late night skinny dip!  At night we lay in bed listening to the sounds of the jungle as it came alive with the hum of crickets and frogs, with just canvas between us and the outside it was a wonderful way to fall asleep.

Sandat is a small, intimate resort with only five tents and three Lumbung barns, traditional two storey thatched rice barns with a shared pool.  Italian owners, Emanuela and Federico have created luxurious interiors throughout the resort, oozing style and sophistication  The main restaurant and bar area is a huge bamboo structure with an elegant dining space and cosy corner with sofa and candles, the perfect place to enjoy an after dinner drink.  I loved the wall of mirrors adding to the gorgeous boutique feel of the stunning eco-friendly structure.
To top it all off the food at Sandat is to die for!  Dinner was exceptional, I chose a tuna dish and banana fritters for dessert paired with an Indonesian white wine.  It was all so good, I didn’t want it to end!  Choose to eat breakfast in the restaurant or have it delivered to your tent, we chose the latter option and weren’t disappointed, homemade granola, fruit and yogurt, traditional Indonesian pastries, freshly squeezed juice and warm bread all went down a treat.
Sandat Glamping is kitsch, cool and totally back to nature, topped off with attentive staff and amazing food, this is the place to head for a completely different experience in Bali.  It is also Bali’s only glamping resort and a must for anyone who is looking for a luxurious retreat among the rice fields of Ubud.
A huge thank you to Emanuela and Federico for having us at Sandat, my stay was complimentary in exchange for this review but as ever views and opinions are all my own.