Tanah Lot Temple, Bali. Photographed by Sister Bear.
We first visited Bali in Year 2004, when Brother Bear was still a little baby. We decided to revisit this place after hearing so much from friends and family members that Bali had changed quite a bit. We also wanted to revisit all places we had been with Brother Bear in Bali, showing the girls our footsteps and telling them some stories from our last trip. So I proceeded to search for cheap flight tickets. I was lucky to be able to grab a good promo deal from Malaysia Airlines for all 5 of us during the March school break.
Here's our 7 days 6 nights itinerary for your reference. We had spent 3 nights each at Hard Rock Bali at Kuta and Yoma Villa Bali at Canggu. We love both places. I'll write full reviews for both accommodations when I have time. I hope it won't take me too long to do that! :)
Update: Read our review of Hard Rock Hotel Bali here.
Day 1: We arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar, Bali. We were greeted by the representative of Hard Rock Hotel who led us to meet our driver who would send us to the hotel. HRH offered free one way airport transfer for a minimum of 3 nights stay. The airport itself is very uniquely Bali. Immediately we felt that we were on holidays! Kids were excited that "wow, we are in another country in just 3 hours!". We checked into the hotel and hit the awesome pool within the hour itself. :)
The slides which first caught our attention. :)
This is just one of the pool sessions in Hard Rock. :)
Day 2: We walked over to Kuta Beach after a good breakfast in the hotel. Kuta Beach is good for surfing. It's not the cleanest beach in Bali, but was said to be one of the safest spot for surfing,especially for beginners. Sister Bear and I had our hair plaited and Papa Bear had his full body massage for a cheap price. It was low season in Bali and the beach wasn't crowded. We walked back to our hotel for lunch and kids continued to swim after lunch. They enjoyed the pools and playing with their international new friends very much.
I love my new hairdo. :)
Kuta Beach was full with surfers, mostly beginners like us. :)
You could enjoy a massage session or have your hair plaited while waiting for your loved ones.
Day 3: Full day at Hard Rock Hotel. We rented a cabana. There are lots to do in the hotel itself. Poolside games organised by the crew, cooking classes, and so much more.
Our comfortable cabana. Book early to get the best units which are detached from other units, as sometimes your 'neighbours' could get too excited and they would party and smoke almost all-day-long.
They enjoyed the sand very much. :)
Day 4: We hit the beach again, as kids wanted to do more surfing. We checked out during noon time and the driver from Yoma Villa Bali was already at the lobby waiting to pick us up. We enjoyed seeing the local village setting of Seminyak and Canggu very much. The 40 minutes journey was interesting, to our city kids especially.
We arrived at the villa and were greeted warmly by the owner and his great team. All of us were happy with our villa. Papa Bear and I were thrilled to be back to tranquility after a few days of Rockin' Hard Rock! LOL We enjoyed our private pool in the villa. We called for a cab to bring us to the nearby Tanah Lot Temple in the evening. We wanted to view the sunset. We brought Brother Bear here too in year 2004. :)
Villa 1 of Yoma Villa Bali. It has 3 bedrooms which is just nice for our family of 5.
It's a real creature 'spotted' at Tanah Lot Temple.
We had our dinner at a restaurant near Tanah Lot to watch the sunset.
Day 5: All of us had a good sleep. We woke up feeling fresh and we decided to walk around our villa, which was surrounded by green paddy fields. We took some pictures and enjoyed the little conversations with the cows and the geckos. LOL It was a serene place. The cleaners came to clean the villa round 8.30am and they cooked our breakfast in the villa itself. We were so pampered and well fed. We had a good swim, laugh and play in our private pool in the villa. Life was so good! Towards the evening, the villa manager helped us to arrange for a driver to bring us to Taman Ayun Temple and the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which we had visited back in year 2004 with Brother Bear. We then had our awesome BBQ Seafood Dinner at one of the restaurants on Echo Beach.
The paddy fields near our villa.
We enjoyed the private pool which was clean and generously sized. :)
Taman Ayun Temple.
It was Melasti Day, the prayer day before the big Nyepi Day. Bali was filled with beautiful colours and sights of Balinese in their traditional outfit.
Day 6: We had a full day tour to Ubud and Kintamani today. We visited the Elephant Cave Temple, Kopi Luwak Farm, Kintamani, Holy Spring Water Temple and Ubud Art Centre. We supposed to visit Tegalalang Rice Terrace. But the week of our visit was a holy week in Bali which everyone was busy with Nyepi prayer. Hence traffic was congested everywhere. We had to skip this place. We were a little disappointed, but it was ok, as we would then have something to look forward to on our next visit.
Visitors must wear a scarf or with maxi skirt/dress. Male and Female alike. :D
The cacao fruit. This is the one that used to produce dark chocolates. :)
Coffee tasting at the Luwak Coffee Farm.
The view of Kintamani from the restaurant we patronised.
Picture taken at Holy Spring Water Temple. There are shops just outside of the temple offering great bargains as well.
Day 7: It's the day to go home. We had a relaxing morning in the villa, enjoying our breakfast and private pool. We decided to leave for the airport earlier, as we did not want to risk missing our flight, due to road closure at many areas for the Nyepi prayer. We had lunch and good coffee break in the airport before boarding our flight home. The airport houses many eateries and boutiques, which you can easily pass time. :)
Baby Bear helped to tidy up the floats before we left. :)
Some extra tips you may want to know when planning for a trip to Bali:
1) Hiring a driver: It's not difficult to get a good driver in Bali, as generally Balinese are very friendly, and their charges are more or less the same. But it's not easy I guess to get a good driver who provides a safety car seat for baby or toddler. I have one to recommend. His name is Ketut. He is a father of 2, he drives a Toyota Innova and he has car seat for baby and toddler. Here's the link of his website. His website has a few half day/full day tour itineraries for you to choose from and he is flexible on changes. I'll highly recommend him to travellers with young children.
Here's the picture of Ketut, our friendly driver.
2) Travelling in March: We did not know about Nyepi at time of flight booking, as we just booked according to our availability, which was during school break. We were however lucky that Nyepi fell on 21 March, one day after we left Bali. Nyepi is a "Day of Silence, Fasting and Meditation" for the Balinese. It's a day of self-reflection, that on this day, there is no traveling, no entertainment, no working, and for some, no talking or eating too. Even tourists are not exempted, no one would be allowed on the beach or in the pool. The airport is closed. We were lucky that Nyepi didn't fall on one of the days we were in Bali. So do Google upfront on the date if you plan to travel in March. Another 'inconvenience' about travelling during the few days before Nyepi was the traffic congestion, as there will be a few other prayer ceremonies like Melasti before the Nyepi day. We cancelled a few of our plans because of the traffic congestion caused by some road closures.
Nyepi is a very important day in Bali, it's a good experience for us and the kids to get to learn more about this special day.
3) Shopping: If possible, try to shop in the morning, you get better bargains, if you are lucky to be their first customer of the day. Papa Bear and I had bought some beautiful full leather bags at really great bargains!
We bought 2 handbags from this shop, outside of the Elephant Cave Temple at really good bargains, as we were the first customer of the day. :)
We are sure we will be back to Bali again some day. We pray that Bali will be more developed by then and its people will live a better life. We love people in Bali, even though they were very persuasive and a little aggressive in trying to sell their stuffs to us, but we know they have to do that for a living. May God bless the beautiful people of Bali.