Travelling as a family to Bali for the first time

The July school holidays were fast approaching and my summer loving husband and I were keen to get some sun. We’d already been to Fiji and Bali kept being suggested to us. My husband and I had both been to Bali before, just not together and well over twelve years ago. Neither of us were particularly keen. His experience had only been staying in Nusa Dua – which he had found over priced and a bit bland. I had travelled to Bali quite a few times staying in all over the place, but wasn’t sure I was keen to go back again with young kids (7 and 9 years old).

My husband is also a keen surfer and quite a few mates had been telling him how great the surfing was in Bali, so he began to come around to the idea. A friend suggested we stay in a villa. I wasn’t sure – we’d only ever stayed with the kids overseas in a resort. Resorts being so easy because they usually have lots of easy options for food and entertainment, but the idea of the privacy a villa offered appealed. Once I started searching online and looking at the kinds of villas available I became pretty keen. Next up was the issue of which villa and where. Searching online yourself can be difficult, but the team at Bali Villa Escapes were fantastic at providing suggestions based on my feedback. The perfect villa was found and we were booked!

The flight over was a bit longer than I expected (and a slight delay didn’t help) but the kids managed well. The younger one is a bit of Uno addict, so that covered a few hours and the older one was happy with an electronic device and a book. Once we landed we whizzed through baggage claim and customs and stepped out in to the chaos of Bali. Having transport there to greet us was a great relief and it was nice to have a friendly driver to chat to on our way to the villa. The kids were amazed watching the motorbikes and cars racing around in totally organize chaos – both were glued to the window. It was about a half hour drive to the villa – we arrived early enough to miss the worst of the peak hour traffic. Arriving at the villa the staff were waiting at the door to greet us with big smiles. That was when I knew we’d made the right choice. We were welcomed in to the villa like we were coming home. The staff were eager to show us around the villa (which was truly stunning) and as we sipped on our welcome drinks (who isn’t excited by drinking out of a pineapple?!) the excitement was contagious and the kids were already stripping off and jumping in the pool.

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It was late afternoon by then but we were all tired and the idea of pulling ourselves together to find somewhere to go for dinner seemed a bit overwhelming. That’s where having staff there in the house with us was a huge bonus. Menus were produced for us to order take away food delivered to the house. Which, once it arrived was served to us at the beautifully set table. It was novel for all of us to have staff waiting on us, but it really made the whole experience so special.

The other benefit of having staff (apart from no house work, breakfast every morning, beautifully made beds…!) was the help with organizing taxis and suggestions on where to go and how long it would take to get there.

Having a villa as a base was a great experience. The space allowed us to truly relax and unwind in privacy. We were all able to spread out and feel comfortable, rather than either being stuck in rooms or sharing resort facilities.

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In the twelve years since I’ve been there, Bali had definitely changed. As someone described it to me “the Hipsters have found Bali” and it’s true. The restaurants and shops are so much more trendy and upmarket and everywhere is more developed. There was still enough of the Bali I remembered – the wonderful people, the bargaining at market stalls, paying to rent a beach chair on the beach and the small massage parlours.

We were staying in Canggu, and spent a great deal of time either there or in Seminyak. Both were really great and I personally preferred the quieter vibe of Canggu. It was close enough to Seminyak that we could head in for a meal but we could escape the people and traffic when we’d reached our limit.

We were only there for 5 days, so we ran out of time to explore further a field. The next time we go (yes, there will definitely be a next time!) I would love to take the kids to Ubud or head over to Lombok and the Gilli islands.

As a relaxing family holiday, our Bali trip ticked all the boxes and we would rate it as one of our best holidays ever. The food at the cafes and restaurants we went to was excellent. It was great to see my boys (who aren’t fussy eaters anyway), tucking in to huge servings of fresh tacos or a serve of Nasi Goreng. There was always an option of a burger and chips for the times they were after something simpler.

We didn’t have an action packed adventure holiday but we certainly did enough that the kids weren’t bored and we all relaxed and had fun. The huge pool in the villa was a probably the best part of the whole holiday – the kids were just as happy swimming around as they were going out and it gave me time to relax on the day bed reading my book whilst my husband was out surfing in the mornings.

We did head out on some site-seeing excursions – beaches, temples, shopping etc. We would simply request a driver and the staff would organize a car. The driver would wait for us and bring us back ­– so easy, and so affordable!! The kids loved the Canggu Splash Park, so it’s definitely a must if you have kids. There was a range of options for food, deck chair and seats to sit and watch the kids and the slides were great. Even though it was packed, the queues moved quickly and easily and there was plenty of options. If we stayed for longer then we more than likely would have come back to try the trampolining and bowling.

One thing I would recommend if you’re going to go to Bali with your family for the first time is do your research. The internet makes everything so easy these days  –  If you have a list of places to try then you’ve at least got somewhere to start.

There are all types of ways to experience Bali as a family. Staying in a villa was definitely a wonderful one for us.