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10 Tips for Your First Family Holiday to Bali

Having just returned from my 6th trip to Bali, I was reminded of all the Balinese idiosyncrasies that are important to ensure you have a good first impression of this beautiful island. So often Bali is marred by the horrendous stories of drunken party goers and ill-mannered foreigners that it has deterred many from taking their families there. I can assure you however that it’s one of the best family holiday destinations and after your first visit, you will most definitely be back! So I thought to put together some tips and tricks that will help you ease into Balinese life so that you and your family can have an amazing trip:

Accommodation. If you are travelling with other families, I highly recommend getting a multi-room villa that comes equipped with a team of staff. Usually this would include a Villa Manager, butlers, chefs and security. A villa is also great if you are travelling with babies or kids with severe allergies as you’ll have a kitchen to prepare your own food if required. If you are travelling as a stand-alone family, you can select from a plethora of family friendly hotels and resorts.

Villa Manager. The best part of booking a villa is your access to a Villa Manager or the agency you had booked it through. Essentially, they are your personal concierge that you can use the minute you make the booking, not just when you arrive. So, I organise EVERYTHING with the Villa Manager. I would email him/her all my requirements such as organising airport transfers, booking activities, restaurant reservations and even stocking the fridge with some essentials! They usually respond quickly and are most helpful. Don’t bother doing anything on your own. This way they also have your itinerary at hand and they can assist if anything were to go awry.

Airport & Visa. Ngurah Rai is the new airport in Denpasar and it is a far cry from what it used to be! Now that most countries are exempt from having to get a tourist visa, the queues have significantly improved. Please note you are only permitted to stay for 30 days. Some passport holders may extend their stay by getting a visa extension at the immigration office for another 30 days whilst others are not able to. Those will have to leave the country and return if they want to stay longer. Please check your validity prior to departure.

Taxis. If you are catching a taxi from the airport, please note that they work on a fixed price list depending on your destination. You cannot get a metered taxi as it is a controlled environment.

Transfers. If you are planning a whole day out, instead of catching taxis everywhere you go, it may pay to get a driver with a car. They cost approximately $600,000 Rupiah for 8 hours and $100,000 Rupiah for every hour after that. They are usually a 7 seater car and very comfortable. This way you can come and go as you please with the added convenience of being able to leave things in the car or if the kids just need an extended rest or even a short nap.

Prams. Bali is NOT pram friendly. Roads are uneven, narrow and littered with potholes. You must have other means of carrying your babies and young toddlers.

Rabies. Under no circumstances should you touch stray dogs and cats that you’ll see everywhere on the streets nor should you even come close to the monkeys at the monkey forest. Rabies is a big problem in Bali and the last thing you want to happen is for the kids to get bitten.

Crowds. Bali is crowded. As it’s your first trip, you will most likely be going to the more popular places and this includes shopping areas, beaches and restaurants. The traffic is terrible and it’s not often you can travel any faster than 40km/h.

Heat. The heat during mid-morning and afternoon can be unbearable. I find that we have about 2 showers a day and as a result of that we change clothes quite often. So when packing my advice is that you pack for a change of clothes for at least twice a day. Laundry services are cheap in Bali so you can always do a round if you don’t want to over pack. Hats and sunglasses are a must.

Beaches and Ocean. If you are privileged to have beautiful beaches where you live like we do in Australia, you will no doubt find Bali beaches disappointing. Unless you’re heading out to more remote locations the main touristy beaches are not as pristine as what we are accustomed to. This is not to say they’re not great but I remember feeling a little underwhelmed.

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