It's known as Bali’s spiritual centre, a place where artists and yogis practice side-by-side, inspired by the swathes of jungle and cooler climes. But Ubud is also home to one of the island’s most surprising attractions – the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
An ecological reserve, the sanctuary houses three holy temples and is dedicated to the conservation of the Balinese long-tailed macaque, a cheeky breed of grey-haired primate. The monkeys – almost 1,000 of them – roam at will through the forest and across the park’s winding pathways. Visitors are free to explore at their own pace, however a word of warning – unlike the wide-eyed creatures displayed in the park’s advertising collateral, these monkeys are far from innocent.
They’re bawdy, bold and don’t hesitate to clamber onto the backs of unsuspecting tourists in search of tasty morsels. In the main they’re harmless, but a sign at each of the park’s three entrances outlines the rules of engagement and is well worth a read. Instructions such as avoiding eye contact and smiling – a sign of aggression – could spare you an unpleasant encounter.
Visitors are also advised not to feed the animals but can purchase bananas from vendors stationed along the paths. There are park attendants along the way that keep the cheeky monkeys in check.
As it’s a self-guided experience, no bookings are necessary at the Monkey Park with most visitors hiring a private driver for the day. Entrance fees are IDR40,000 per adult (approx. $AU4) and IDR30,000 per child (approx. $AU3).
Despite being a 90-minute drive from the popular areas of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, the Bali Safari and Marine Park in Gianyar is easily one of the island’s favourite family attractions… and for good reason.
Home to more than 60 species of animals from Indonesia, Africa and India, the 40-hectare park runs a number of in-house breeding programs and offers elephant rides, an aquarium, educational animal shows and exhibitions, an interactive safari and restaurants, including Tsavo, which looks into the lion compound.
While fun is top of the agenda for visitors, there’s a serious side to the park, which makes the welfare of the animals its number one priority. Its latest animal show, ‘Harimau – From Predator to Prey’, presents the compelling story of the world’s diminishing tiger population. It begins with a pageant depicting the role of the tiger in Balinese history and mythology then continues to reveal the way the big cats play, hunt, climb and swim.
“We hope that visitors attending ‘Harimau – From Predator to Prey’ will be both entertained and emotionally moved by the very real threat of extinction faced by the world’s tiger population,” said William Santoso, General Manager, Bali Safari and Marine Park.
“The message is clear: if all elements of society do not unite to protect tigers and their shrinking habitat the spectacular big cat show could, over time, become quite literally a vanishing act.”
The daily show is presented at 11.30am in front of the Ranthambore Fort – the park’s rare white tiger exhibit – and is free to park guests.
It's The Total Package!
Tripoadvisor ranks Waterbom Bali as the number one attraction on the island, making it a must-visit for families.
Located in the heart of Kuta, the park is home to more than 21 world-class waterslides and leisure facilities with new experiences always in the works. There’s the toddler-friendly aqua playground and lazy river, moderate rides like the Super Bowl, Constrictor and Python, and extreme experiences like The Pipeline, Climax and the Green Vipers.
The park takes safety seriously. All the rides are built to international standards, security within the grounds is a priority and Waterbom is certified as being environmentally friendly. For adults there’s also a swim-up bar and exceptional dining options, including the recently re-vamped Wantilan Food Court, The Shack (a Caribbean-inspired beach shack diner), the deli-style Bali Banana Café, a new Illy coffee shop and Thaitalian, serving Thai and Italian street food.
Arrive as the park opens at 9am and you’ll avoid queuing, or better still, invest in the new ‘Total Package’. Offering a 15 per cent discount, it’s priced at IDR880,000 per adult (approx. $AU88) and IDR750,000 per child (approx. $AU75) and includes many benefits such as a separate express entrance, a towel, locker, priority gazebo booking, lunch voucher, digital photos, welcome drink and choice of additional activity, such as a massage, manicure, pedicure and fish spa.
Baby Let's Cruise
Looking for picture-perfect white sandy beaches? You’ll find them on Bali’s Lembongan Island, an aquatic playground that has boomed in popularity among families looking for a quiet, cheap and outdoorsy Balinese experience.
While you can stay on the island, you can also visit casually with Bali Hai Cruises. Established in 1990, the Marine Tourism Company is one of Indonesia’s oldest and most trusted, running numerous adventures to Lembongan that range from romantic sunset and evening cruises to three-day explorations of the south coast of nearby Nusa Penida. The company also boasts beachfront accommodation on Lembongan at Hai Tide Beach Resort and the Bali Hai Beach Club.
Among the best tours for families is the Lembongan Island Reef Cruise. During this full-day package, the 64-foot catamaran Bali Hai moors alongside a pontoon located in the middle of Lembongan Bay. From here, guests can spend their time snorkelling, enjoying banana boat rides, a 35-metre waterslide, village excursions and underwater marine life viewing from the semi-submersible coral viewer. For an additional cost there’s also parasailing, Aquanauts submerged marine walks and diving. An international buffet lunch is served onboard in air-conditioned comfort.
Also worth checking out is the Lembongan Island Beach Club Cruise, a full-day package that sees visitors spending the day at the Bali Hai Beach Club. Here you’ll enjoy all the club facilities including a two-tiered lagoon swimming pool, barbecue lunch and water activities such as banana boating and snorkelling.
Shake, Rattle AND Roll
Travelling with younger children? Pop the Canggu Club on the itinerary. Located in the up-market area of Canggu, it boasts Splash Water Park, Bounce trampoline centre and Strike 10 pin bowling alongside its state-of-the-art club facilities including a lap pool, sports grounds, fitness centre, tennis centre, sports bar, spa and multiple restaurants.
While not as expansive as Waterbom Bali, Splash Water Park still offers enough twists and turns on its rides to keep even big kids entertained, including the five-storey high Giant Racer, the Super Bowl and Big Red. However, its toddler-friendly attractions are the highlight. Speed Racer is a pint-sized version of the Giant Racer, Splash Playground is a multi-layered aquatic playground and Lazy Creek bobs riders around a grotto-like river in safe, inflatable tubes. And good news for parents – entrance to Splash entitles guests access to the club’s complete range of facilities.
Located across the road, Bounce and Strike take bookings on the hour, every hour, offering plenty of fun in air-conditioned comfort for visitors aged three years and over. Splash is open from 9am to 7pm and entrance fees start from Rp18,000 (approx. $AU18) per child and Rp30,000 (approx. $AU30) per adult. Packages combining entrance to Bounce and Strike start from IDR400,000 per adult (approx. $AU40) and IDR280,000 (approx. $AU28) per child.