We arrived in Ubud Sunday afternoon via taxi. On the journey over it became apparent the driver didn’t know where he was headed. Luckily in my bag I had a little map, the full address and phone number of our next hotel which I gave to driver. After a few circles round and him telling me to “look, look” for the hotel he rang the reception a number of times and a few heated discussions later we arrived!
Our hotel is about a 10 minute drive from the centre. Most things seem to be in and around Monkey Forest Street. We were greeted with cocktails, a shoulder rub and a complimentary upgrade. They’ve given us the honeymoon suite here which is fab and is huge, 2 floors so we can have a floor each! Not sure if they realised I was coming with a 7 year old!
Ubud is forest, rivers and rice fields as its central to the island. It’s a completely new feel for Faye as she’s usually been used to more beach-based vacations.
The weather is Ubud is different to Seminyak it can shower at any time, so useful to have an umbrella with you! It’s a consistent 28 degrees which is nice, even when round the pool and it’s raining it’s nice and warm! In the evening’s it cools a few degrees as there’s a gentle breeze through the mountains (not enough to need a jumper) but it’s nice that you can turn your air con off in the rooms. I find a/c gives me a sore throat after a while!
Traffic in Ubud equally as awful as Seminyak but the hotel shuttle driver seems to know lots of back routes to get round the bulk of it. Again probably the best way to get around is via moped but I’m just not brave enough to do it!!
The people in Ubud also seem to be a different crowd, Seminyak was prodominatly Australian tourists whereas Ubud has a much wider span of ages and nationalities. A lot of French speaking. This will be down to the fact you don’t come to Ubud to party it is very chilled.
Within the first 48 hours of arriving in Ubud I was hit was an awful sickness bug so we didn’t get a lot done, but thankfully for wifi Faye did lots of FaceTime’s to friends and family back home to occupy her whilst I was ill and the staff from the restaurant were great at bringing me toast!
We spent just under a week in Seminyak. It’s only 20 minutes from the airport. We stayed in a Balinese villa at a resort called The Citta about 2km from the centre of Seminyak Square. This was a very small place of only 5 villas round a communal pool. We had unknowingly booked in at the same time as a Balinese car insurance festival so a number of the villas were used for that and we were the only guests. Faye was a little disappointed there were no other children round the pool but they did upgrade our villa so we were at the opposite end of the complex.
The villa was on stilts with water all around, full of fish. It was gorgeous! The staff spoke very little English but were so attentive. We were served breakfast in our room every morning and every evening they came into the villa and dealt with all the mosquitoes of which there were plenty!! They also gave us lifts into Seminyak whenever we needed free of charge. Whilst the hotel was great as we weren’t there very long I would of preferred to be closer to Seminyak Square. Although it was only a 2km walk the roads really weren’t suitable to walk along with all the traffic.
The roads are always full of cars but the worst part is the mopeds. It’s crazy with all the beeping. It seems the way to drive in Bali is almost like playing chicken and to hold your nerve and hope the other person ducks out the way before you crash. The mopeds will drive at cars, go through all the red lights and it’s seems they just cause mayhem. Not sure what the rules are for mopeds but it would seem you can fit a family of 4 on one, you can text, someone was eating a burger on the back of one and all the while no one wears a helmet! One evening a guy from our hotel was dropping us into town and the roads were gridlocked so he said ‘we go back roads okay?’ I did know what he meant so said ‘yes okay!’ Well it was awful! Felt sick by the time we arrived for dinner, we definitely didn’t drive down roads they were like back alley pavements some not wide enough for the car so it nearly slipped into a rice field at one point!
If you’re a foodie then Seminyak is definitely worth a visit. The restaurants are endless and a whole variety of it. There’s definitely a lot of nightlife going on. There’s also loads of shopping to be done. Kuta, the next down south is full of the tourist tat whereas Seminyak has a bit more about it. Loads of lovely clothes boutiques including kids ones and there was also many homeware stores selling mostly hand made furniture.
Faye’s highlight of Seminyak – loosing her tooth on a corn on the cob at Potato Head and then finding out their is a Balinese tooth fairy!
We had our money’s worth on Thursday and spent the day and most of the evening at Potato Head in Seminyak. Before coming to Bali I spent some time researching the best beach clubs for children and pretty much all of them are child friendly, in fact almost everything here caters for children as well as adults. I picked a couple of the beach clubs based on Tripadvisor reviews, one of which was Potato Head. Finns, Cocoon and Double Six all seemed viable but we only had a feed days to fit a couple in. Beach clubs are a great day out for us because Faye loves to swim and they always have lovely pools and it’s a chance for Faye to make some friends for the day. She’s at an age and swimming ability where I can trust her to swim alone which gives me the chance to lay by the poolside!
Potato Head I think appeals to all ages and they were great with kids, sometimes these places can be a little pretentious but none we’ve visited so far have been. They’ve been super relaxed about everything. I just wouldn’t recommend if you want a quiet day as there is music playing throughout the day. Potato Head is free to get in but you need to get there early, doors open at 10am and unfortunately you cannot book in advance. You have to turn up prior to it opening (from 8.50am) to reserve a bed then come back at 10am to get in. We got there just before 9am, earlier than I intended but I had no idea how long the traffic would take (traffic is a nightmare in Seminyak). This did pay off though because we managed to get a lounger right next to the pool. In exchange for the lounger you have to spend a minimum of 500,000 IDR (£28). We didn’t spent much more than that all day on food and drinks all of which was lovely and served straight to the sun bed!! The quietest time was in the morning when the pool was virtually empty and the place got busier throughout the day as there are a couple of restaurants there which people come to. The sun came down around 6pm so we walked down to the steps onto the beach to watch it and it was dark soon after so Faye took one more night time swim, we played a game of Skip-Bo and made a swift exit as by this time there was a fair few lairy Australians parading round in ‘I Love Bali’ speedo’s!
The following day we visited another recommended beach club called Ku De Ta similar set up to Potato but on a smaller scale and you can’t go down to the beach. We made our way over there in the afternoon and just had a late lunch in one of their restaurants overlooking the beach and took a dip in the pool. It’s advised to make reservations at both the Ku De Ta restaurants as they are busy every day of the week. If you want to start tabs at any of the beach clubs you need ID as well as the credit card.
Both nights after leaving the beach clubs getting a taxi home was a little tricky. It seems a good place for unlicensed cabs to hover to rip off tourists. You are advised to only use Blue Bird taxis which are blue cars with a bird on top. But there are looky likey cars that look almost identical. Blue Birds are almost meant to always be on a meter starting at 7,000 IDR. I learnt the hard way and got in a fake one by mistake and my journey was almost 3 x as much! Shortly we are moving on to Ubud and I have prebooked a Blue Bird through their app which is just like Uber! Let’s hope it turns up!
For the first leg of our trip we are in Seminyak, only for 5 days because I wasn’t overly sure it’d be the right fit for us, high end shopping boutiques and lots of nightlife, but there was a few places I wanted to check out.
We have visited a number of W hotels over the last few years and always enjoyed them so I made a reservation before we came out to eat in one of their restaurants. I chose not to stay at the hotel because I’ve tried to use more traditional Balinese accommodations to get a better experience (plus they’re a LOT cheaper).
W in Seminyak has a number of restaurant’s but I chose Woobar based on it’s relaxed atmosphere and the chance to view a lovely sunset! We had a reservation for 5pm, arrived a little early to wander around the grounds. In hindsight probably didn’t need to book in advance, but it does get quite busy around sunset (6pm) as the hotel guests are out the pool and onto Happy Hour cocktails. It was so casual and laid back, we had some lovely armchairs on the outdoor decking looking out to sea. The waitress was even kind enough to give my daughter a wristband so she could sneak off for a dip in the hotel guests’ pool which made her night!
I had a couple of Tapas dishes, pretty averagely priced around £7.50 a dish, but super fresh and tasty. Faye had a Spag Bol, really being adventurous I know, but I let her off as it was our first night and neither of us had more than 5 hours sleep in the previous 2 days. Kids meals were around £4, cheaper than England and it was lovely, fresh, homemade Spag Bol which she wolfed down.
Point to note as more days go by here, a lot of the restaurants/bars/beachclubs do have dress codes, not necessarily smart, but things like no sport branded clothes which i’ve subsequently seen a couple of guys been asked to change and come back.
We watched the sunset whilst we had our dinner which was fantastic and it was pretty much dark but 6.30pm so we played a few rounds of cards and jumped in a Taxi home!