Wesley and Kasha Smith, their two daughters Berkley (age 3) and Parrish (age 1), and Kasha’s parents Ken and Sue Krupansky.
We stayed in Bali, Indonesia over the Chinese New Year holiday (February 9-17), flying from Beijing via Kuala Lumpur. We arranged our flights through our travel agent, Vanessa Han (email@example.com). We found activity ideas in brochures at the airport, which the villa staff then helped arrange for us. We booked the villa online (baliasihvilla.com). We received a 50 percent discount through our timeshare company (Royal Resorts), because they have an agreement with Karma Resorts, which Bali Asih Villa is part of.
Flights cost RMB 41,000 for four adults and one child (Parrish flew for free). Accommodations cost RMB 7,000 for eight nights in a three-bedroom villa with a private pool and transport to and from the airport. We also rented a car as needed for RMB 20 an hour. The dolphins, waterfalls, and hot springs tour cost RMB 300 per person, as did the snorkeling, islands, and temple tour. Admission to the Bird and Reptile Park was RMB 50 per person. Bicycle rentals cost RMB 60 per day.
We didn’t do much shopping, but prices in Bali were comparable to Beijing’s (a bit cheaper if you avoid touristy areas). For example, most clothing was under RMB 50 and a full body massage cost RMB 50 for one hour; RMB 300 would get you a new wardrobe and enough gifts for people back home. In total, we spent about RMB 53,000 for the entire vacation.
The Best Part
Having a private pool was perfect. With two toddlers, it’s always difficult to travel to the beach or in the car for too long. The kids could nap and we could still lounge by the pool. There was a shallow end in which our 3-year-old could touch the bottom. The pool was also surrounded by grass, which was a luxury after living in Beijing for six years. The yard was big enough to run around in and the kids had a great time!
The Worst Part
The worst part was driving anywhere. Traffic in Malaysia is slow. We could make it to the beach on our bicycles in 20 minutes, but it took 35 minutes by car. Also, there tend to be many peddlers on the more popular beaches. When we were at Kuta Beach, sellers approached us every two minutes. Seminyak Beach and Legion Beach were nicer.
An Unexpected Moment
The bird park was hands-on, so our 3-year-old let birds to sit on her arm and was able to pick up lizards and iguanas.
Our villa was off the beaten path, so we were surrounded by cows, chickens, and rice fields. Our daughters enjoyed feeding the cows each day. Staff members arranged drivers with a big car to accommodate all six of us. The villa was also equipped with a kitchen, two portable cots with mosquito nets attached (there were barely any mosquitoes though), and two high chairs.
The Bird Park was wonderful; the restaurant there had a play area for children. We didn’t visit other attractions for children, but we also saw a zoo, safari, and indoor playground while we were there. We found a great ayi to babysit a few times so that we could enjoy a meal or go to the beach without dragging the toddlers out!
One of the villa’s staff members, Nyoman, cooked a BBQ dinner for us one night. The staff also cooked breakfast and brought it to our villa every morning; we could order what we wanted, complete with fresh juice!
February is rainy season, but we only saw one hour of rain during our entire stay. It was around 30°C the whole time; it never got cool even at night, but it wasn’t muggy or unpleasant. Pack light clothing.
The visa on arrival could be paid in cash or credit card. They cost USD 25 per person.
Don’t drink the tap water. The kids were caught up on their vaccines, so we didn’t have to take any special precautions for the trip.
Get together with another family and rent out a villa. We have done it twice now and it’s the way to travel with children. It also ends up being cheaper than most hotels because you are sharing the cost.
We got all our laundry done the day before leaving Bali, so we packed only clean, fresh-smelling clothes into our suitcases. It made the unpacking a little less stressful when we got back to Beijing.
There is a fee to leave the airport, so keep some money aside! We didn’t know this and had to exchange money at the airport. It costs IDR 150,000 or about RMB 96 per person (we didn’t have to pay for Parrish).
photo courtesy of the smith family