Ten months in Bali. It’s still a little bit unbelievable that we spent ten months in Bali.
It can be confusing when I say we hardly moved away from Ubud - where we lived - during these ten months, but the reason is simple, we’ve been working a lot during this time.
András finished his first book (written and illustrated by him), an educational book for children, about the birdlife of the salt lakes of Hungary. Now, that was a lot of work.
It’s available in e-book format and only in Hungarian at the moment, but we are working on the printed and on the English version too. If you can read Hungarian, check it out here.
But let’s talk about some of the highlights of our ten months in Bali.
The biggest highlight
The people. That’s it. Actually, that’s all you need.
The Balinese are one of the friendliest people that I’ve had the privilege of meeting so far. And let’s not forget about our amazing friends from Java and Sumatra. It’s just insane. It’s not a secret that I had a hard time leaving Bali, mainly because of the people.
Where to sleep - Accommodation in Ubud
In Bali you will find plenty of accommodation, in all possible price tiers. What amazed me - coming from the hospitality sector myself - is the level of service in general. I've never visited a destination before with so many accommodations providing excellent service. And this seems to be true in all categories.
Here are some recommendations on where to sleep in Ubud. The third one is where we stayed for the long term. The first two? Never been guests there. Whaaaat?! Yes, you read that right. We have never been guests there. But we became friends with the owners and had the opportunity to be their guests in their other venues, regularly, for ten months.
I never recommend places I don’t have experience with. But the owners of these two places are in a different league. We could experience a level of service and hospitality where I can just simply forget about my rule. I would book any of these places anytime and recommend these for my best friends and family without a doubt.
Griya Bunga 2 - this is where we stayed, the other two places were OOB (out of budget, just in case… ). We couldn’t have wished for a better host than Budi, he made us feel very much at home, and this is exactly what you need in the long term, especially with children. I have no link for this one, but message me, and I can put you in contact with the owner.
Also worth to mention:
Green Bird Villa - spent one night here, all was good, would come back.
The Umari - spent a few days here. Not all the rooms were nice (maybe they have renovated in the meantime), but the staff was super friendly. They even made a pancake cake for my birthday! Good choice for a few nights.
Where to eat - Eating out with kids
The structure here will be:
Name of restaurant/café - why we love it. Maybe some extra blablabla.
Oasis Yoga & Café - everything
Kopi Desa - everything
Café Vespa - everything
Bali Buda - everything
Paddy Point - everything
Tulen Restaurant - exciting menu, good location, on the pricier side
Muse Café - great selection of healthy dishes, nice interior design
Roots - Korean amazingness!
Kafe - everything
Lazy Cats - great coffee and design, but I’ve never seen a child there
Pizza Bagus - great pizza and pasta
F.R.E.A.K. Coffee - coffee, cake and people watching
Outside of Ubud:
Genius Café Sanur - everything. In fact, this was our go-to place when we had to climb out of our shell and go to Denpasar. Fantastic food and drinks, friendly staff, supporting sustainability, conservation and healthy living. Nice and quiet area, on the beach, but away from the party madness. It was recommended to us by another travelling family, and what a great recommendation it was!
Just a little side note on Ubud:
One thing I have to point out is that it can sometimes be a pain to eat out with kids in Ubud. I’m sorry, I know that people, in general, like to read about nice things only.
Yeah, I know. I’m the one who always tells you the not-so-positive things that no one ever tells you because you just can’t be popular if you write about shitty things, and mentioning the negativities doesn’t do any good, and you should give a solution instead of complaining, blablabla. Yes, all true. But, like it or not, it is a fact that sometimes it’s hard to eat out with small children in Ubud.
The reason is simple. The majority of tourist and travellers come to Ubud to meditate, practice yoga, and again meditate, and practice some more yoga, which is great. I love yoga and meditation too. Unfortunately, many of these visitors think about Ubud as a nice big meditation retreat out of the book/movie Eat Pray Love, instead of realising that it is a real settlement, with real people and a big tourism industry.
I know, I’m not going to be popular for this. Fortunately, the last time it was important for me to be popular, was in high-school, a few years ago. Ok, two decades ago.
So the above restaurants and cafés are on the list because 1. we found these awesome, and 2. because we found that these places had a very mixed audience, and were child-friendly. I’ll give you an example. Oasis Yoga ＆Café is first on the list above. There were regular yoga lessons above the restaurant, still it was an absolutely child-friendly place, one of our massive favourites.
By the way, the local staff is super friendly with kids everywhere in Ubud. There was only one place where the staff was rolling eyeballs just like the guests, although the food was excellent, it’s not on the list.
What to do - Activities for/with kids:
Activities in Ubud:
If you base yourself in Ubud, there won’t be as many possibilities as in any of the popular beachside settlements. Simply because it’s not at the beach, there’s not enough place for the kids to run around and get rid of the excess energy. Except maybe Campuhan Ridge. That’s a nice walk, we all loved it.
There are basically no playgrounds, I know of one tiny community playground in Sayan (next to Blue Bear). Ubud is pretty crowded most of the time, even on small roads that lead in between the rice fields, there’s always traffic. Sure, a lot of accommodations have a pool. But what if you cannot or will not swim in chlorine water?
The following places are great to release some energy:
Tokei Climbing Gym - nice place to start your climbing experience, or to practice your bouldering skills while on holiday in Ubud. They even have kids’ beginner classes. The prices are very reasonable compared to other places that cater to western visitors. My monkey loved it. Whether you want to train by yourself, or make a program for the whole family, this place is perfect.
Blue Bear Bali - a skatepark, a café, a playroom, regular programs for kids and live concerts for the whole family. I love the concept. Your kids can learn a lot of different skills here while you can enjoy a coffee, or some food and drink, immerse yourself in art, socialise, or who knows, maybe even get some work done. It’s a place for the whole family. Also, they have great initiatives for a more sustainable future. You can use the skatepark in exchange for the rubbish you collect. Or exchange pre-owned clothes on one of their clothes swaps. We took skateboard lessons here - it was amazing.
Outside of Ubud:
I can’t tell you about the activities for kids in Canggu, Kuta or Sanur. I’m sure there are plenty, but we never tried them. There was only one place we visited regularly in Sanur, a restaurant on the beach, see the Eat out section of this post.
Our main base with the kids (outside of Ubud) was the Kebun Raya Botanic Garden in Bedugul. We are birders - and you have good chances of spotting a few species there - and the kids can run around, discover, learn, get some fresh air. It’s around 1500 metres above sea level - a nice escape when it’s hot and sweaty in Ubud. We went by motorbike, had to pay for entrance and parking, the price was reasonable.
To sum up
These were some of the highlights of our 10-months-stay in Ubud, Bali, regarding where to sleep, where to eat and what to do there with kids. I wrote “some of” intentionally, there was so much more, especially experiences with the Balinese people and their different celebrations, these could fill entire long-form posts. And they probably will someday. Until then, have a look at some of our previous posts in English here, or in Hungarian here. Also, if you missed the gallery page, click here.
You are welcome to share your own experiences, highlights and favourite places in and around Ubud. Just drop them in the comments below.