Visiting Ubud with Kids
As a mom, one of my favorite qualities about the island of Bali in Indonesia, is how unbelievably family friendly it is! There are so many kid-friendly activities, the Balinese people love children, child care is very inexpensive, and you can rent pretty much any baby item that you don’t want to travel with or may have forgotten at home.
We visited Bali for the first time with our children in August of 2017 for a week. We spent 4 nights in Ubud and 3 nights by the beach in Jimbaran Bay. Now they say you can’t travel to Bali without visiting what many consider to be the heart of the island, and I would have to agree. With its lush vegetation, picturesque rice terraces, and its laid-back yogi-esque vibe, Ubud is a must, so we headed there first. We stayed at the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan, which is just dreamy! See the separate review for the resort here.
We landed in Denpasar and had arranged for the hotel to pick us up for the 45-minute drive to Ubud. We requested car seats for the 3 children, which the hotel provided. However, keep in mind that the Balinese people are not accustomed to using car seats, so they had no idea how to install them in the car. If you request the car seats, expect to put them in yourself upon arrival. After almost 24 hours of travel, and another 20 minutes of figuring out the car seat situation, we were on our way to Ubud. The driver provided lemongrass scented cold towels and water for our drive, which was just perfect.
Family-friendly Activities in Ubud
Now the variety of activities available in Ubud is endless. One can easily spend weeks exploring the area. During our time in Ubud, we visited the Bali Zoo, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Bali Pulina coffee plantation, the Monkey Forest, and Tirta Empul Temple.
1. The Monkey Forest
The only one that I think we could have done without was the Monkey Forest. The monkeys can be very aggressive if you have any food. My husband purchased some bananas at the ticket counter so that the kids could watch us feed the monkeys. Unfortunately, the monkeys were much too forceful, tearing at my husband’s clothes and trying to climb him to grab the bananas. He ended up just putting the bananas down so they wouldn’t rip his pants, and our kids were grabbing on to me nervously and asking to leave. This was a major fail in the I have since done some research and found that others have had similar experiences at the Monkey Forest, so if you’re visiting with little ones and you absolutely want to see the monkeys here, DO NOT bring or buy food of any kind.
2. Bali Zoo
The Bali zoo was a blast, and probably the highlight of Ubud for the children. We fed and rode elephants (I still have mixed feelings about having ridden them!), and they had their very first pony ride! They also enjoyed a miniature train that does a loop through the zoo. There was a myriad of animal exhibits and more that were in the works when we were there.
The zoo has a variety of up-close encounters with the animals, and you can even book a breakfast with the orangutans. There are two restaurants that serve up delicious dishes, with both Indonesian and Western cuisine. Nothing like the usual hot dogs and hamburgers you find at zoos in the US! And if your kiddos still have more energy after visiting the zoo or if you’ve had enough of the heat and need to cool off, their is a small water park just outside of the zoo. You can rent a cabana, relax, and cool off!.
3. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
The Tegalalang rice terraces are every bit as beautiful in person as they are in the pictures, if not more. It is one of the most famously photographed locations in Bali. Remember to go early to beat the heat and the throngs of tourists. Also, keep in mind that there are many steps, some of them very steep and with no guard rail. If you’re traveling with small children and would like to explore the rice terraces, look for the more child-friendly routes or just sit at one of the cafes and take in the view with a fresh-squeezed juice in hand.
4. Kopi Luwak Plantation
The Bali Pulina coffee plantation is only a few minutes from the Tegalalang rice terraces, and a fun stop for the whole family, especially when the parents are coffee lovers like us. Entry is free, and you start with a brief but informative tour of how kopi luwak is made. Kids loved seeing the civets, the animals that eat and digest the coffee beans, and at the end of the tour you can sample the coffee and have a snack at their café, which overlooks beautiful rice terraces as well. The staff was wonderful with the children throughout the tour, showing them different plants and flowers and keeping then entertained.
5. Tirta Empul Temple
The Tirta Empul Temple is a water temple where the Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. It was built in 926 A.D. and dedicated to the Vishnu, the Hindu God of water. It is considered one of the most important temples in Bali. There is an area where a spring gives out fresh water, which they consider to be holy, and people go in for a purifying bath. The temple is large, with many areas to explore with children, including a large koi pond. A sarong is required to enter, and you can rent one at the temple if you don’t have one. If your kids aren’t particulary fond of visiting temples, but you would like to experience one, this would be the one. Tirta Empul is awe-inspiring for the entire family!