It's cold here today, icy. I have on layer upon layer and my toes are still cold in my boots.
It seems like the perfect time to scroll through photos of tropical holidays, as I sit here with a knitted blanket on my lap!
My recent trip was only my very third time to Bali, and the first time with smalls.
The first was an amazing time with four couples, a few nights and no kids.
The second was a girls long weekend for a bestie's 30th birthday.
This year was our family of five, and Daniel's parents.
I am no way near an expert but this is a quick guide to what I love.
I found accommodation difficult to book, purely because there is too much choice!
The hotel we stayed in previously was amazing, but has been completely demolished since!
This time, we stayed at Kuta Central Park Hotel which was a great budget special through Agoda, but I wouldn't stay there again purely because of it's location.
There are so many gorgeous places to stay in Bali, but for this holiday, we should have been more central to Kuta or Seminyak, which is where we spent most of our time - and we spent a lot all-up on taxis back and forth. Friends have stayed and loved Bali Garden and Febri's, and villas are also a great option if you're travelling with a larger family/group.
You can completely plan a holiday to suit your own family.
We didn't spent any time at the beach, because we live right by one at home.
Waterbom Park was amazing, and we went twice. The kids absolutely had the best time there, it was brilliant. Western prices though, and if you think you might go more than once, you'll save a lot if you buy a package. There is a great area for little ones, and our bigger two were able to go on almost all the slides with us (and it was perfect having Nannie to look after the littlest while we went off to play).
Our favourite cafe is Sea Circus. Not just because it is incredibly gorgeously styled and pretty, but their food is great, and they are well priced. Our hotel breakfast was seriously lacking, so we went to Sea Circus a few mornings instead. Delish!
Seminyak is amazing for shopping also, but don't expect to pick up anything for much cheaper than you would at home - it's trendy and boutiquey. Next door to Sea Circus is Bali Boat Shed which stocks gorgeous clothing and leather goods, and if you continue to wander up and around that lane way you'll find Motel Mexicola (a feast for the eyes and the tummy!), a Samantha Robinson store and some gorgeous little shops and cafes along the way.
Oberoi street (not far from this little lane way) will keep you shopping all day, and you'll find Cafe Bali here too. We also loved Revolver Espresso for a good coffee, and yummy brownies. Western Prices here too, and very western style (but super cute little spot!).
If you are up for a day trip to Ubud my kiddos loved the monkey forest where you can buy a super expensive bunch of bananas to feed the monkeys with. This didn't freak me out at all. At. All...
Kuta Square has a cute little shop called Stroberi which my girls loved, and the best Italian Restaurant called Little Italy who's staff are lovely, and the owner is Italian - be sure to check out the gallery of famous people he's met and had photos with! I had the absolute best mozzarella bruschetta I have ever tasted. And the 'Smart' spa near Kuta Square is my favourite for foot massages and manicures, although you can find cheaper elsewhere.
And if you want to get inked, I can personally vouch for Bali Ink - and have friends who have also had tattoos done there, roughly half the price of what you'd be charged in Australia.
Mostly, it's just fun exploring and discovering new places.
Taxi drivers are generally pretty good and know where all the main attractions and hotels are without needing an address. They'll take you to groceries (a big Carfour will have all the groceries you need, and there is a grocery store below Kuta Square, too) or restaurants or whatever you need. Balinese people are generally lovely, and kind and very helpful.
There are so many restaurants and markets and day spas, that this has barely touched the surface - these are just a few of my favourites.
Make sure to wander through Kuta or Legian at night, the place comes alive with pubs and clubs and restaurants and live music - and there is just something about the balmy air, wearing sandals and dresses... aaah, can I go back now?
A couple of other things to note:
* Let your bank know you are travelling there before you go, or their fraud squad will put a stop on your bank account.
* Don't change your money in any of the money changers on the streets. They will rip you off. Exchange money before you leave, or use your hotel, or pull out money from ATMs (we found Commonwealth ATMs the best, and only charge a small fee)
* Take US$25 dollars with you for your Visa, for entry into the country (per person).
I hope this helps any of you who are planning a trip to that lovely little island in the future.
A few more photos from last years trip here.