If you want to introduce your young children to Asia, I reckon Bali makes a good choice. Singapore would be the best in terms of cleanliness and orderliness, but you won’t get the most bang for your buck like you would in Bali 🙂
I found Bali to be the most relaxed and easiest Asian holiday destinations for less than $150 a day (depending on your accommodation, obviously). Since it is basically an extension of Australia, you will be able to find most everyday things that you need there. Plus, with the strength of our dollar, you will get luxury for a lot less. There are heaps of cheap flights to Bali, and though there are also articles trying to persuade readers to ditch Bali, I reckon it will still be one of the most popular places to visit.
So, here are my tips for travelling to Bali with young children – based on my experience travelling with a 10 month old (not yet walking) baby and a 3 year old boy.
Things that you definitely should stock up before you leave because they’re expensive AF:
- Sunscreen – I saw the Australian Cancer Council orange tube bottle going for almost $20! Eeek.
- Imodium – these are anti-diarrheoa pills. I didn’t think about bringing some and paid $30 for a strip when Mr E got sick 😦
Tips to avoid getting the Bali Belly:
- I recommend taking Probiotics such as Yakult, they are everywhere (if not concerned about sugar)*. I wouldn’t fall for the pill form as the good bacteria has to be kept cold to be effective.
- Antibacterial gel – normally I am super against them but most food street vendors don’t have a sink for you to wash your hands at, so having the antibacterial gel is a must. For Lady V, whose thumb is permanently in her mouth, I made sure I wiped her hands before she ate.
- Travelan – Mr E took one prior to eating anything. They work for him while we travelled through China (eating local food) as well as our previous Asian trips (including regional Indonesia).
- Avoid ice cubes – though Bali is essentially another Oz city, and most restaurants/big hotels do make their ice with mineral water, I really wouldn’t chance it. Though, I have to admit I was slack towards the end and gave the children some, but they have inherited my tummy strength, so they were fine.
- Freshly cooked food – I reckon most people would be fine eating at more-local food joints (ie. Warung) if you make sure you order freshly cooked meals. Things like fried noodles/rice/satay are normally cooked to order. You don’t have to stick with “western friendly” restaurants.
- Take a lesson from Mr E and not have fresh sashimi, even when eaten at a super duper fancy restaurant aimed at Caucasian tourists. He was fine with the local food until the sashimi. Doh!
- Bottled water is everywhere, but to save money and of course, reduce plastic waste, you can buy giant bottles from the supermarket and refill each day. Bintang supermarket in Seminyak is pretty good, but I’d go to Carrefour in Sunset Road Kuta instead. It has a lot more options and cleaner 🙂 Think of it as Coles mashed with Big W.
- Talking about supermarket, I would only bring enough nappy for the flight and one extra day. Then on your first day in Bali, go get more at the supermarket. Don’t expect them to be way cheaper though, it costs about the same as home brand ones (but better quality). If your baby is okay with UHT milk, there are heaps around too. Fresh pasteurised cows milk not so much, so keep this in mind if your baby isn’t into UHT. If in doubt, I’d bring my own formula.
- I was worried about mosquitos, as I have had dengue fever in the past and didn’t want the kids to get them (or Mr E). For some reason, the more upmarket hotels don’t seem to have mozzies, but the villas (AirBnB) will, as they all have open-plan lounge area to the pool. Mozzies love water! You can get anti-mozzies ointment (either from here or get them from the supermarket there), but like I said, Lady V has her thumb constantly in her mouth, and I really didn’t want her digesting the chemical. So, I opted for the incense anti-repellant coil thingies. I would imagine inhaling it is as bad as digesting the rub, but I grew up with the coils, so….. 🙂
- If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing (who wouldn’t?), hire a driver for a day. There are heaps around, most offer free bottled water and is air-conditioned. They will try to sell you activities and trips, as they get commission, so you may have to be firm if you aren’t interested and make it clear from the start 🙂 I paid about $50 a day (12 hours) and he took me to a good FX place to trade my $$$ #win Let me know if you want his details 🙂
- If you just want a quick trip around, use a taxi: make sure it’s BLUE BIRD taxi though. They are the only regulated, non-franchised taxi company. You will pay by the meter and don’t have to worry about safety. A word of warning, all taxis will look like Blue Bird taxis as the others know people will look for them, so they’re tricking you. Be careful!
- Bring your baby carrier, but keep in mind, it is HOT! We brought a cheapy umbrella stroller which was useful for nap times, but with those strollers, the umbrella isn’t all that good ie. not much sun cover. My little lady didn’t have good naps at all while in it, as she had sun in her eyes. I couldn’t cover her with a cloth as I normally would when in Australia as it was too hot, so towards the end, I just carried her, then when she’s fully asleep, I put her down.
I think this topic deserves a separate post, so I’ll work on that 🙂
Hope these help some of you, let me know if you have any other questions I can answer. Little E loves Bali, after our trip, he was more receptive and interested to learning about different cultures, languages and countries. It is a great destination to expose small children to “Asia” with the comfort of knowing that all things Australian can be found there 🙂
* If your kids are like mine, when in super hot/humid climate, they lost their appetite a bit. So a bit of sugar in a fortnight isn’t something I cared much about.