Escape Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and, in our opinion, it’s not to be missed. The perfect place for families looking for the traditional Balinese experience.
There is wonder and excitement for little ones. And for weary parents, spa is a daily ritual. Rejuvenating therapies are everywhere and can be tried at the drop of a hat. No booking require. After an hour or so in a taxi from Denpasar Nagurah Rai Airport (please use an official metered cab/cost around 100,000Rp) you can be enjoying a glimpse of Balinese village life.
Ubud - as pretty as a picture...
They say there is no word in Balinese for: artist, dancer, musician or craftsmen as most of the Ubud locals are naturally gifted. Evidence of this is on show everywhere here.In this lush, tropical village you will be made to feel most welcome. Your children’s names will be called out as you pass by once the street vendors and café owners have introduced themselves. And the girls will be given frangipani to wear in their hair.Little girls will love the daily parade of very pretty Balinese ladies dressed in colourful silks with towering offerings balanced on their heads. Little boys will love spotting the bright vehicles zipping around (reminiscent of Richard Scarry's drawings of Busy Town).
Tiny Tip: The centre of Ubud is not pushchair friendly with its dodgy curb stones and busy streets. Baby carriers are the order of the day here. There are plenty of relaxing walks in and around the village. There is water everywhere here, including many ponds where little ones can stop and gaze at the fish. Reins may be the best solution to stop your toddlers taking a dive.
Whilst being a small village there is so much for the family to uncover and discover: The sacred monkey forest sanctuary in the centre of the village is a fun place for children to enjoy a walk. This forest of huge Banyan trees is perfect for a game of hide and seek. Artists and craftsmen have their workshops hidden deep in this forest. You can stumble across a very pretty studio and spend time with a wood carver or help out a sculpter. Pass through paddy fields alive with dragonflies and engage the comical monkeys in conversation… but beware, never let them see your food, they can get violent over half a banana!
Tiny Tip: Monkey Forest Road and the Ubud market is alive with activity, remember to barter! Pick up great local handicrafts for a dime, toys to keep the kids happy for hours.
Magical temples and family cafes galore...
One great example is Pura Taman Saraswati with its lotus pond, stepping-stones and ornate carvings. Looking out onto it is one of many wonderful shady Cafes - Cafe Lotus serves up scrummy child-friendly treats.Carved wooden doors hide shrines with holy relics stored inside. The village streets are lined with distinctive roofed gateways into family compounds, where the women of the household weave and sell cloth under the eaves. Nosey little ones will love to take a peek.You can enjoy some of the most creative cuisine on offer in Bali. We have never had a bad meal. Eating out here can be a lot of fun with the children.Dishes are imaginative: banana leaves used instead of plates and flower garlands adorn your food. Sit on wicker mats at low tables bedecked with colourful cushions. If you should be there in monsoon season it can be fun being escorted to your tables under brightly coloured Balinese parasols and listening to the cooling shower from your dining area, your own thatched bale.
Which Family Pod? Energetic explorers
Babies, a constant joy, will be waited on hand and foot.
Even the Warung (local eateries) have wonderful tales to tell. Take the Fair Warung Bale (just one example of many), tucked away in the centre of Ubud. They not only serve healthy and yummy food in a pretty venue (aren’t they all in Ubud?), but to top it all off they are also part of the Fair Future Foundation - see their website. This wonderful foundation gives local children access to health clinics.
At night the atmosphere changes from sleepy village to theatrical wonderland.
This place comes alive at night with an assortment of shadow puppet shows, fire or Lebong dances. These are all suitable for children, although some performances can be very long and tiring so choose a show with an appropriate length. Or, pick one close to where you're staying so you can always leave early if the children get tired.I had originally thought these performances might be slightly tacky. However, these cultural dances, set in the centre of a courtyard of a beautiful Balinese temple or at the Ancak Saji Ubud Palace courtyard (a real live, lived in palace), can be truly captivating. Little girls will see dancing princesses (wink wink) bedecked in gold and jewels. And boys will be excited by the crazy Kecak fire dance.
Tiny Tip: We would suggest staying in one of the coastal locations and taking day trips out to Ubud. A trip to Bali is not complete without a visit or two to this memorable village.
Other things to do in or around Ubud
Cooking course with your children - already tried and tested by us...Bumbu Bali Great Balinese street food and easy to make traditional Indo kitchen food (littlies more than welcome).Kitchen myths and Balinese feasts at Casa Luna, listed as 'amongst the worlds best cooking schools' (over 8yrs only).
Mask making, batik making and wood carving are on offer at Arma Museum.
Yellow Coco Creative Nest - you've seen the shows now learn the dance. Bright art space for 2-12 years, specialising in shadow puppetry, dance, music and holistic arts. 20 minutess from Ubud, call 0818 0556 9099.
Bali Bird Park - Guyu Guyu Corner for kids, our littlies like to sing along with these snooty and sometimes surprising tropical birds...
The Bamboo Chocolate Factory - SE Asia's first bean to bar chocolate factory made from Bamboo. Yummy wonder chocolate, what's not to like?! Email for a peek.
Jalan Elephant Park, Taro – A wonderful place to see happy Elephants! Set in 3.5 hectares of pristine tropical parklands and unspoilt national forest. Sit at the park’s wonderful restaurant and watch the elephants at play across the lake. Take the kids to the onsite museum which includes a 15,000 year old mammoth skeleton – this will definitely make their jaws drop! 20 minutes North of Ubud.
Too much to mention! Ubud and its surrounds is a haven for littlies activities, simply take a stroll through the centre of Ubud and you will see hastily constructed signs offering daily treats and creative activities on offer.See also our lil' local section for updates on what's on and what's hot in the area.
Which Family Pod? Toddling around ; Energetic explorers