The last time I went to Bali I was 19. It was 20 years ago. Prior to that was in 1980 when I was 4. It had never really been on my list to travel there as a family. I felt it wasn’t different enough, was too heavily touristed by Australians and too westernised. Particular areas have a bad reputation due to Australian tourists and I hadn’t considered it an option for our family until I found that Airasia were opening up direct flights from Melbourne so I booked. I am now owning my flight obsession issues!
The direct 6.5 hour flight really attracted us and it was the kids first direct flight overseas. We have always flown to KL then onward with them. I also liked the idea of a more relaxing holiday after our adventures to both Laos in April and Penang in September.
We spent 9 days in Bali and our verdict was: We loved it!
Bali is a place where you can do as much or as little as you like. You could be awake at 5am and get to bed at midnight or you can sit by a pool all day. You can interact with locals or interact with tourists. You can stay in villages or stay in a resort. The thing about a holiday in Bali is that you can choose your own adventure. It is what you make it and what you want it to be, there is no right or wrong way to how you adventure in Bali.
We decided to split our time between the hills in Ubud and the beach in Sanur. It was a perfect mix of nature and a more rustic feel and the beach and access to busy tourist spots.
A word on Bali Airport:
On arrival at Bali airport in Denpasar we had a long walk to Immigration. Coopers wheelchair was not at the plane door so we used an airport chair which was adult size which was okay for Cooper but if you have to have your own chair for support etc just triple check with airline crew to radio down for “own chair” as it was a bit lost in translation with us this time. We have mostly had great success with Coopers own chair being at the door on arrival.
Visas for Australians are currently 30 days for $55 AUD each or $35 USD. Payable in cash. There are ATMS before Immigration. As of 2017 It is Visa Free for Australians.
Immigration was smooth.
Customs xray all your bags before you walk out into the arrival hall and the heat of Bali!
Ubud is around a 2 hour drive from Denpasar airport. The drive through the city and the villages is just beautiful. We had prearranged transfers through our accommodation. Transport is way to come by at the airport for around $40 AUD.
In Ubud we stayed in an area called Penestanen which was about a 20 minute walk out of Ubud main town. It was a small area with a main street and many magical little alleyways leading to homes and stores. Backing onto rice paddies we would fall asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs. The house we stayed in was called Whitney Bungalow which we found through vrbo.
We loved having a pool as the weather was really hot in November. The kids would swim most of the day with little outings in-between. When its really hot the younger kids ( 7 & 4) preferred to stay close to home, exploring in the garden, wandering the little street out the front or looking at the men working in the rice paddy next door. It was the perfect place to just relax.
The Bungalow is managed by Made and her family who live close by.( Her Husband Jessie, 2 sons, Brother, SIL and two nephews and her Father) Made made the most beautiful meals for us and was always very welcoming and friendly to our whole family. The kids learnt so much from Made about Bali culture and about her Hindu religion as she blessed the garden and house.
If you want to explore from Ubud there is so much to see and do. You just had to walk a few meters and someone would help organise transport for you or head to the main road and there are lots of drivers around.
From Ubud we explored the Tegalang rice fields just Cooper and I which was a lovely afternoon out. It is very touristed but a great spot for afternoon tea. You can explore the rice fields by walking across and along them but there was no way we could safely do that using a wheelchair.
Ubud town was a great little town to wander around in. There is the main street filled with restaurants, temples, souvenir shops and massage places. We explored the Ubud Palace one night before a beautiful dinner. There are plenty of places to choose for meals with a variety of cuisines available. We chose Bogasari Ubud as we loved the idea of sitting at a restaurant incorporated in a temple and house. It was the best value and best tasting meal we had in Ubud. For our whole family it was around $30AUD.
Ubud is hilly! very hilly in some spots. Motor cycles rule the roads and footpaths so it was always easier to walk Coopers wheelchair on the road. Footpaths are in disrepair but there is obviously lots of work being done to fix these, it just takes time.
There are steps everywhere up and down into every shop, temple, house, restaurants culturally to keep spirits from entering and making life very tricky for us! Cooper had an extra wheel attachment on his manual chair called the Freewheel which made getting about so much easier than our past experiences in SE Asia. It meant we could go and up and down gutters without Cooper spilling onto the road. Its is doable just not easy!
There were some ramps to different things but extremely steep and it doesn’t seem as though any thought to access for people with mobility issues is ever planned for building and street wise.
There are companies available in Bali to support people with disabilities and accommodation available too it would just be near impossible to travel independently through Bali using a wheelchair. Just something to keep in mind.
We did not see any wheelchair friendly public toilets on our travels either.
We loved Ubud and connecting with nature. It was a lovely spot to wander through the alley ways and meet local people and witness day to day life amongst the rice paddies. It was a great start to our Bali adventure.
Sunscreen and hats.
Drink Bottled water.
Chemists are available in town.
Now we explore Sanur. Sanur is on the beach in Bali on the opposite side of areas like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak. We chose this area for a quite beach adventure and a calm protected beach for families. It is the area that was first established as a beach resort and attracts many expats and families.
There is a huge variety of accommodation available in this beach area. From home-stays to 5 star hotels. We stayed in an amazing villa called Palm Garden, which was around a 15 minute walk to the beach through delightful little laneways. We got to walk past local homes and little shops and loved exploring the many beautiful doorways to hidden places.
The villa was perfect for our family. Nario who manages the property was very professional and always able to be contacted. He welcomed us to the villa and had left supplies for breakfast in the fridge which meant we could relax in the evening without having to race around trying to find a supermarket. He had organised a list of the best local restaurants, some of which home delivered and information on the many tours that were available. Our stay here really was amazing that none of us wanted to leave!
Apart from the one step at the entrance and one down to the pool the house was all on one level which was great for kids and wheelchair users. The pool was perfect and equipped with floats and pool toys, and we used the pool multiple times a day.
Our villa also referred us to a great driver called Komang who allowed us to the explore more of Bali and taught us so much along the way.
In Sanur there is a big supermarket called Hardys which was great for us to bring back supplies to our villa which had a kitchen and prepare a few meals. Hardy’s has clothes and appliances and the food part at the back. We found it great for breakfast cereal and UHT milk and noticed there was a big supply and variety of nappies, wipes, toiletries too.
We loved the mix of hills and beach which gave us a fantastic insight into the Balinese culture.