After two and a half months of more fast paced travel, we started to feel run down. As much as we love travelling and experiencing new places, we also know when it is time to hit the brakes. For that reason, we decided to spend the best part of a month in Bali, starting in the tourist hub of Ubud.
A lot of people label Ubud as ‘very touristy’, which it is. Everything is catered to the mass number of tourists that visit here each year and yet there is so much about Ubud that is rich in culture and Balinese tradition. Ubud is such an easy place to stay in for a while, because there is such a vast amount of cheap accommodation and food choice, as well as there being such a huge amount to do, making it the perfect place to set down roots for a while.
Where we stayed in Ubud with young children:
Mid range budget – Swahita Ubud
For our first week in Ubud we decided to spend a bit more than we usually do on accommodation and stayed at Swahita Ubud. The room was extremely spacious, the view from our balcony was just incredible, the staff were absolutely brilliant with the children and the pool was perfectly catered for families. The pool was split into two parts, with a deeper area and a shallow area. The shallow area was perfect for young children and even my two year old could stand up in it.
On a budget – Dewa House Bisma
For our second week in Ubud we cut back on our accommodation budget in order to have more to spend on excursions. We found a great hotel called Dewa House Bisma, where the rooms were comfortable and the pool was great for an afternoon dip when the temperatures started to soar. Our room even had a bathtub, which was incredibly welcomed after such a long time without one. The staff were just incredible at Dewa House Bisma and they were brilliant with the children. Monkey wanted to help with the watering the plants and the staff went out of their way to include him in what they were doing.
Where to eat in Ubud with young children:
When staying in Ubud travellers really are spoiled for choice when it comes to food. There are so many restaurants offering both Indonesian and western food on a very small budget, making it really easy to find some good food. A lot of the restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan meals, with some also offering gluten free choices as well. With so many great places to eat, I had a hard time narrowing down the options, so I’ve written a full foodie blog post where you can check out our favourite places to eat in Ubud with kids.
What to do in Ubud with young children:
From the stunning scenery to the spiritual temples, there is so much for children to see and do in Ubud, making it a great place to explore with young children.
Tegallalang rice terraces:
Tegallalang rice terraces are usually high up on the list of things to do while in Ubud and for good reason. They are relatively easy to get to, are truly beautiful and they have been made into a tourist attraction which means they are easy to walk through, the surrounding area has a lot of restaurants overlooking the rice terraces and there are added attractions such as the ‘Bali Swing’. The Tegallalng rice terraces are definitely worth a visit, but aim to get there very early in the day as by mid afternoon, the area is teaming with tourists trying to get the best instagram shot.
Bukit Jambul rice terraces:
The Bukit Jamul rice terraces are a little tricker to get to because they are further away from the centre of Ubud. During our time in Ubud we hired a car and carseats, then spent a few days exploring things a little out of the centre. Having a car meant that we could venture a little further from the centre and so we made our way to the Bukit Jambul rice terraces. The Bukit Jambul rice terraces make for some truly beautiful scenery and because they are more difficult to get to, aren’t teaming with tourists.
A traditional Balinese show:
Seeing a traditional Balinese show was one of our absolute favourite things to do with the boys. There are a number of different shows throughout Ubud on varying days and on the weekend there are often people selling tickets in the street. During our time in Ubud we saw a kecak fire and trance dance show, where we watched dancers craft the story of Ramayana through movements, while a chorus of men sand and chimed together. After the dance, a basket full of coconut shells was then set on fire before a man walked through the burning embers in bare feet. It was such an incredible show and Bear in particular was completely mesmerised by it. This is definitely something to make time for when visiting Ubud with kids in tow.
Pura Ulun Beratan Temple:
Pure Ulun Beratan Temple features on a few different tours, but we noticed it generally appeared later on in the itineraries, so we decided to make our way there first thing in the morning. Our logic seemed to work and the crowds hadn’t yet descended when we arrived, giving us a lot of time to explore and take in the beautiful temple. Beratan temple is a hindu water temple that sits on Lake Bratan, has a backdrop of beautiful mountains and is surrounded by colourful manicured gardens. The boys loved counting the levels to the thatched towers of the temple and looking at the colour statues situated at the entrance.
Ubud Water Palace:
This is one of the most accessible temples to visit in Ubud as it is centrally located and tucked away behind Starbucks. There is a pathway leading to the temple that is lined with statues that cuts through a pond full of lily pads and fish. The boys loved counting the statues and looking for fish in the pond.
We love visiting markets while on our travels through South East Asia and find that each one is unique and special in its own way. Ubud’s market is full of souvenirs and quirky jewellery, but hidden away in a corner on a lower level is an area selling different foods. It is a great place for little ones to explore and we found some great little bits and bobs while looking around the stalls.
What to do in Ubud without young children:
Mount Batur Sunrise Trek:
Between 300 to 700 people make the 1.5 hour trek up Mount Batur each day to see one of the most spectacular sunrises in Bali. The trek begins at 2:30 am and includes a simple breakfast, as well as an insight into why this area holds such spiritual and religious value to the people of Bali. The trek itself is hard work with a lot of the trail being loose, rough rocks. However, even though the trek is a little tricky, once at the top travellers can take in the spectacular views as the sun crests over the mountain ridge.
Tirta Empul is a very spiritual temple about 45 minutes from Ubud. Water from a local spring sources the water to the baths, pools and fish ponds. The baths are lined with statues that spout water into the spring and each spout represents something different. Personally I would recommend doing this with a guide who can fully explain the ritual and the etiquette as it is a little daunting. We took the children with us to Tirta Empul, but to be honest it meant we couldn’t fully immerse ourselves in the experience as the children found the water too cold and the end result was that we couldn’t fully appreciate the ritual. That said, we would love to visit Tirta Empul again when the children are a bit older and with a guide, so we can experience such a wonderful, spiritual ritual and be able to completely immerse ourselves in the experience.
Visit a spa:
There are so many spas in Ubud offering a range of treatments for an incredibly cheap price. During our time in Ubud I fell ill, so Mr. C went and bought me a spa package at Balinese Lily, which included a 60 minute full body massage, a 60 minute facial, a hair treatment and a 60 minute foot massage for the equivalent of £15. I felt so much better after an afternoon of pampering.
Finding a yoga class is relatively easy in Ubud and there is a lot of choice as to what style of yoga people want to do. There is also the opportunity to take part in yoga retreats and training course, that enable people to become yoga instructors themselves. Most establishment emailed back incredibly quickly with their class schedules when I enquired online, but most classes I found were first come first serve, so it is worth getting there early to secure yourself a place.
Things to avoid in Ubud with young children:
Monkey Forest tends to appear on most travel guides, but we didn’t particularly enjoy our time there. Tourists tend to buy bananas to feed to the Monkeys, which not only means the Monkeys get an unbalanced diet, but it also means the Monkey’s behaviour has been altered. The Monkeys jump on tourists, steal things from their bags and can become quite aggressive. There are a number of signs around the complex encouraging people not to feed the Monkeys, informing them not to look the monkeys in the eyes and to not to pet the babies as this causes the mothers to get defensive over their young. We saw a few people ignoring these signs and petting the babies, which resulted in one girl getting bitten all because she wanted her ‘Instagram shot’. If you do decide to visit Monkey Forest during your time in Ubud, I recommend not taking food in your bag (in fact avoid taking a bag at all if you can) and avoid purchasing bananas while in the complex.
Adventure Travel Family have a great in depth post about ‘attractions’ to avoid in Bali, which I recommend reading if you are thinking of visiting Bali.
Giving back in Ubud:
If you have had your rabies vaccinations and have at least 5 days spare while in Ubud, then I recommend looking into volunteering at Bawa (Bali Animal Welfare Association). Here you can contribute to making the life of Bali’s dogs happier and healthier. I would advise planning your volunteering before you arrive as there are a number of forms to complete and sign. It took such a long time for me to complete the paperwork, that I ended up running out time and was unable to volunteer in the end. You don’t need to volunteer to contribute to such a great cause though, there are a number of shops situated around Ubud, where you can purchase items or donate monkey to help keep this organisation running.
Top tips for visiting Ubud:
- While there is an element of trying to get tourists to book tours and taxis, there is no pestering on the streets like a lot of other countries in South East Asia. If you don’t require any services just politely decline and you will be greeted with a smile and left to your own devices. Indonesian people are incredibly kind and warming, so there is no need to be rude.
- Although the weather is very warm in Bali, make sure to pack some clothes that cover knees and shoulders. Respectable clothing must be worn if wanting to enter temples and travellers won’t be allowed to enter the temple without adhering to this rule.
- It is worth noting that blood is seen as unclean in Bali, including when a woman is on her period and for that reason women are not permitted to enter any temples while on their period.
- There is a 10% government tax and often a service charge when eating in restaurants. To be honest it doesn’t add a lot onto the bill and we regularly fed a family of four, with smoothies, mains and deserts for less than £20 a day.
- If you are planning to visit Bali pack bamboo straws, tupperware boxes and a refillable water bottle. We’ve felt incredibly wasteful while on our travels and have been unable to source some of these products while on our travels. In hindsight these small items wouldn’t take up a lot of room in our packs and would save on a lot of unnecessary waste… something we are making a note of for our future travels.
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