Culture, scenic beauty, gastronomic delights, equatorial heat, adventure activities, and killer nightlife – Bali has it all. It’s not easy to decide how to spend your 10 days in Bali with kids when there are so many things to do there, but we figured out a pretty sweet itinerary.
Bali’s been on my radar since I backpacked SE Asia in 2001 and 2002, when Maya Bay in Thailand and Boracay Island in the Philippines were still pristine (yes, they were both spectacular). Seventeen years later, I arrived with my backpack again, this time with a husband and my six and four years olds in tow.
I recommend you leave two of your 10 days in Bali to relax and enjoy your hotel, villa, or accommodations and the nearby restaurants, perhaps even an in-room massage. Below I’ve provided my top eight things to do in Bali with kids – one per day after factoring in your two chill days. Some can easily be made into two days (especially #1 or #4) and some that are close in proximity could be combined into one day (such as #3 and #8 or #6 and #7).
What you should know before your 10 days in Bali
I’m just going to say it: Bali traffic can be horrendous. It’s an extremely popular place year-round, and the roads were not built to accommodate the volume of people it now draws in. We were there over New Year’s, so it was worse than usual. But I asked our driver Ali if there are any months of the year that Bali isn’t busy and the traffic isn’t so bad, and promptly received a laugh then, “No, busy every month. Traffic bad every month.” Ok then.
There’s generally less traffic if you leave before 9 or 10 a.m. Most tourist attractions are very busy. So if you haven’t booked a flight yet and don’t like busy, touristy places, pick a new destination. Or stay in a quiet area of Bali such as Lovina on the North Coast or Amed on the East Coast, and don’t venture much into the concentrated areas in the South (basically anywhere South of Ubud).
Traffic and tourists aside, we enjoyed Bali’s uniqueness and charm – the religious processions that surprise you when you least expect them, excellent restaurants, beautiful temples, friendly people, and the fact that there is no shortage of things to see and do. For a rather small island, it packs a BIG, traffic-y punch!
1. Exploring Ubud and area – monkeys, culture, and shopping
Ubud and its surrounding areas were my favourite part of Bali. There is so much to see there, so you may want to dedicate two of your 10 days in Bali to the Ubud area. We only did one day because of the traffic (Google said it would take 45 minutes from Umalas, which was 27 km away, and it took nearly two hours each way).
First we visited the Sacred Monkey Forest – a must do with kids. It’s a lovely walk around this lush forest with monkeys everywhere. Don’t carry water or snacks, as the monkeys can be aggressive, but we had no problems. As our driver Ali said, “Monkeys here – nice monkeys; monkeys at Uluwatu temple – naughty monkeys!”
We spent the afternoon in Ubud, starting with lunch at Ibu Rai, which had nice nasi goreng, mie goreng, and pizza for the kids. There is fabulous shopping in Ubud, especially if you’re looking for clothing or jewellery. If you want cheap, souvenir-type items, visit the craft market. Ubud also has multiple temples in and around it. We only scratched Ubud’s surface and if we weren’t doing a home exchange for our whole time in Bali, we would’ve stayed in the area for a few nights.
Next we drove 30 minutes North of Ubud to the Tegalalang rice terrace – meant to be one of the most picturesque in Bali. It was cool, but to me it seemed overgrown and not quite what I was expecting (see the photo below). You can also harness into a giant swing and fling yourself over the rice terrace for kicks.
2. Visit a temple or two
Religion is a huge part of life for most Balinese, and there are thousands of Hindu temples in Bali. It would be wrong to not check out a couple. We visited Pura Puseh Desa Batuan (Batuan Temple) halfway between Denpasar and Ubud, and Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple) at the very southern tip of Bali.
Wear a sarong and admire the intricate architecture and turtle/fish pond at the Batuan temple before getting some photo opps with the fam. The Uluwatu temple is a larger complex, with gorgeous clifftop ocean views and “naughty” monkeys who may try to steal your hat, sunglasses, or mobile phone, or jump on the roof of your car. The temple itself is just a part of the experience. You can also watch a Balinese Kecak dance there every evening at 6 p.m. (see #6).
Other temples you may want to check out are Pura Tanah Lot, Pura Besakih (the mother temple) and Pura Lempugang, the “gates of heaven,” that instragrammers are obsessed with.
3. Waterbom or Splash Waterpark Bali
We chose Splash Waterpark Bali due to our kids’ ages (six and four), because they were too small to go on most of the big/scary water slides at Waterbom Bali. If you have older, more adventurous kids, Waterbom is likely the winner. It features water slides not for the faint of heart. But Splash Waterpark can be enjoyed by all ages.
It was $83 USD for our family of four to go to Splash. There are plenty of nice sun loungers AND you can buy booze there. Drinks were expensive, but water slides in North America don’t sell booze (or do they? which ones? leave me a comment!) so of course hubby and I indulged in the novelty and had a couple.
There are five or six easy water slides that both my kids went on no problem. There are also two “scary” water slides that no one went on. If another adult dared me, I would’ve gone on them. There’s also a lazy river than you can float in inner tubes on, a big splash park with spray cannons and buckets shooting water everywhere, and a large pool with a rope swing. Fun times!
4. Bali Bird Park or one of the many wildlife viewing parks
No 10 days in Bali with kids would be complete without visiting a wildlife park. This could easily take up two or three days of your itinerary. We did the Bali Bird Park and Bali Zoo, but would’ve preferred the Bali Treetop Adventure Park over the zoo, had it not been so far away in North Bali. There is also the Mason Elephant Park and Lodge, which looks cool, though I wasn’t convinced the elephants are treated well (I had read both good and bad – see this article for more on Elephants in Bali: the ethics). For this reason we opted out.
There’s also the Bali Safari and Marine Park and let’s not forget the Bali Butterfly Park and Bali Reptile Park, which are in the same location but separate entry fees. These places are expensive, so pick your top one or two.
The Bali Bird Park was $73 USD for the four of us. It was very cool and featured exotic, colourful birds walking and flying around freely. The kids had photos taken with birds perched on their little shoulders. We also watched a bird show – they’ve certainly been trained to perform.
The Bali Zoo was quite good and costed $84 USD for our family. It’s not among the world’s top zoos by any means, but has entertaining monkeys, pacing tigers, and Sumatran elephants. Animal encounters like “Elephant Mud Fun” and “Breakfast with the Orangutans” are available for an exorbitant $100 USD per person. There’s also a splash park for the kiddies to cool off in.
5. Hanging with the cool kids in Canggu
My research and visit to Canggu convinced me it’s one of the coolest places to hang out in Bali. Hipsters, backpackers, yogis, and families are visiting in hordes to get there while it’s still hip. We spent a full day there checking out the beaches, restaurants, and shopping.
We started at Echo beach and Batu Bolong beach, which were a bit disappointing. They had gray/brown water, dark sand that isn’t all that clean, and big waves that surfers would love, but are unfriendly for kids to swim in. The beaches I saw along the Jimbaran-Kuta-Seminyak-Legian-Canggu stretch of Bali weren’t impressive, especially if you’ve frequented beaches in places like the Caribbean, Australia, the South Pacific, or other parts of Southeast Asia.
Canggu has awesome shopping and restaurants, from trendy beach wear boutiques and Havaianas shops, to vegan cafes and beach bars with massive bean bag seats and exotic cocktails. We parked ourselves at Backyards Pool Bar and BBQ, and enjoyed the upbeat music and funky vibe. The nasi goreng was delicious and there was a nice pool and billiards table. If you’re looking for super lively spot, Old Man’s is for you. Check out this article on the best cafes in Canggu for more great options.
I would’ve loved to do a yoga class in Canggu or Ubud, but it wasn’t in the cards those days. I hear The Practice is a great place for yoga in Canggu, and here is a detailed post about the 10 Best Yoga Retreats in Bali.
6. See a Balinese Dance
My research led to me believe that a Barong or Kecak dance might be the most interesting of the Balinese dances. The Uluwatu temple has a Kecak dance at sunset every night, so we headed to see the temple and dance after our beach club day (see #7). Ubud is also a great place to catch a dance.
The Kecak dance is a Balinese Hindu dance featuring 70 men chanting around battle scenes from the Ramayana. Our kids thought it was funny and weird, but aren’t old enough to appreciate its meaning. Hubby and I enjoyed it, and the sun setting over the ocean in the background made it a cool experience. I can still hear the “k ch ch k ch ch k ch” (how does one explain it?!) chanting over and over in my head.
The dance starts at 6 p.m. but the arena gets packed like sardines so arrive at 5:30 or earlier.
7. Spend a day at a beach club
After a fast-paced 10 days in Vietnam with hardly any beach time and our disappointment with the beaches around Canggu, we were on a mission to find a beautiful beach to hang out at before going back to snowy Canada. We had spent a couple of hours at Finn’s Beach Club by Canggu, but didn’t find the beach appealing and there were no other families there.
After a bit of googling, we decided on Sundays Beach Club at the Ungasan Clifftop Resort in Uluwatu. YES, we had found a beautiful beach to end our 10 days in Bali! The catch is that you have to pay to enter – it was $70 USD for our family. Access is only by a short and fun funicular ride. The cost included huge comfy bean bag beach chairs and the use of kayaks and stand up paddle boards.
Sundays Beach Club has a great vibe and is family friendly, yet still cool. We spent the day playing in the sand, swimming and body surfing, trolling the beach for shells and corals, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, eating and drinking. The food and drinks were delicious, but quite expensive ($15 USD for a cocktail). If you’re looking for a great beach experience in Bali and don’t mind spending some moula, definitely head to Sundays.
If you want to compare a few of Bali’s other beach clubs before you decide on one, check out this article on the Top 5 Must-Visit Bali Beach Clubs and Infinity Pools.
8. Bounce Bali
This is a quick and fun activity if you want to get out of the heat and humidity, or if your kids need to expel energy. Bounce Bali is one of those places with a million trampolines all in one space. Our son saw it in a brochure and was determined to go.
Quite honestly, I didn’t want to spend precious Bali time here, but the good thing is, you only need an hour and you’ll be tuckered out (they sell tickets in hour increments). It will make your kids happy, but won’t have you spending a whole day doing something kid-friendly but lame.
If you’ve got a long drive, you can combine Bounce Bali with Splash Waterpark, as they’re walking distance apart. There is also a 10-pin bowling alley in the same building as Bounce.
10 days in Bali: final thoughts
It’s easy to fill your 10 days in Bali – a safe, family friendly destination with options galore. I didn’t even touch on adventure activities such as snorkelling or hiking. Sadly, Bali has a problem with plastic and garbage floating in the ocean in certain areas, so we were a bit turned off snorkelling and didn’t make time to venture to the best snorkelling and diving spots. Consider a day trip to one of the Nusa islands or a few days in the Gili Islands to dive or snorkel. If you have more time and are thinking of also visiting neighbouring islands, Lombok, check out this Lombok itinerary from Miles Less Traveled.
Although I feel Bali is past its prime as a tourist destination and needs to be cleaned up, you can’t beat the reliable weather and endless options of exciting cultural and outdoor delights in Bali.
Looking for more on Southeast Asia? Check out my post on Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam.