Bali for Beginners

TMJ Loves
The Merge Journal

The beautiful pool at Sister Villas Canggu

by Liz

If you follow my Instagram you might have seen that my family has just spent almost six weeks in Bali, and while I am in no way a Bali expert I’ve had quite a few people ask for my tips – so I thought I’d put it all together in a post for The Merge Journal.

We absolutely love Bali. We went for the first time in October 2015 for just eight nights and it definitely wasn’t long enough! This time we arrived in late November and stayed until just after New Years – it was rainy season, but the November – mid December period is the low season in Bali so prices are cheaper and it’s slightly less crowded in the touristy areas. It rained, but usually there was just a big downpour and then the sun would come out. Occasionally we had a full day of rain but it wasn’t very often. I would have no hesitation going during the rainy season again.

Staying in Bali

We stayed in 2 different airbnb’s (neither of which I would recommend) in Seminyak for the first half of our trip and then Ubud for four days and the remainder of the trip in Canggu at Sister Villas (@sistervillas) which I can definitely recommend as a lovely family friendly villa. Next time I think we’ll spend the bulk of our time in Canggu – it’s not so crowded and has loads of beautiful cafes and restaurants and a lovely vibe.

Airbnb is definitely a great way to book a villa, just make sure you ask lots of questions, especially if you’re staying with children – many villas are not child friendly (we learnt this the hard way!) although they may claim to be. So ask, ask, ask before you book! We love staying in villas in Bali, it’s so convenient with children to have more than just a hotel room, and hiring a pool fence is easily done through your Airbnb host or villa manager.

Getting around

Bluebird taxi’s are cheap and easy to find throughout Seminyak – just insist they turn on the meter! There are also a ton of private drivers who will tell you a price for where you want to go (always barter them down!) but they’re always more expensive than Bluebird. When in Ubud and Canggu you usually won’t find a Bluebird and will have to go with a private driver if you want a car.

Scooter is the most common mode of transport on the island and by the time we moved to our villa in Canggu we had spent a good few weeks watching westerners zip around the island on them. Many western families with small children and babies use scooters too. The idea of getting on a scooter with my children horrified me on our first trip to Bali and I thought there was no way I’d ever do it. But after a few weeks of seeing families on scooters on our most recent trip, it became no big deal and we hired a scooter for our last week on the island. Scooter is the best way to get around Canggu but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it unless either yourself or your partner is experienced in riding one.


The best part! Ok let’s be honest, this post is mostly about where to eat because Bali is seriously foodie heaven. I am big into my food and I like to have a list of places I want to try before I get to my holiday destination (most of the time I’ve already scoured the menu online). Bali is literally bursting with amazing cafes and restaurants with beautiful fresh and ridiculously tasty food. No matter what your dietary requirements are, you’ll find numerous options. It’s super easy to eat well in Bali.

Bali - The Merge Journal

Breaky at Watercress – Seminyak

Some of my favourites …


• Cafe organic- yummy healthy and tasty breakfasts and lunch.

• Watercress – soooo yummy for breakfast lunch or dinner. Plus there’s a toy box and colouring for kids.

• Sisterfields – everything is good. Breaky, lunch and dinner. But be prepared to wait for a table at breakfast time.

• Sea circus – Everything is good!

• Motel Mexicola – the Mexican is average, but it’s worth going just for the amazing Mexican decor.

• Boss burger – they sure do make a tasty burger.

• La Lucciola – A little more up market, right on Seminyak beach, and has delicious food. When you arrive with kids they’ll tell you “kids are welcome but aren’t allowed to run around on the grass” so bring some pencils and paper to keep them entertained!

• Barbacoa –  Expect to spend a little more than average here. Delicious food and a beautiful space. My only beef is it’s so damn dark in there at night time!

• Revolver – apparently the best coffee on the island, not that I would know because coffee makes me cray cray. Good breakfast and lunch.

• Kim Soo – a lovely small menu serving breakfast, lunch and cake. Eat some cake and then buy the entire store next door at Kim Soo Home like I did.

• Mad pops – yummy vegan icypoles and icecream and they’ll also deliver icypoles to your villa.

• Monsieur Spoon – delicious French pastries. There’s also one in Canggu.


We were only in Ubud for four days and we ate quite a few meals at our villa restaurant, but here are the nice ones we did manage to try.

• Watercress – same ownership as the Seminyak restaurant so it’s a safe bet.

• Yellow flower café – be prepared to hike up some stairs to get here! This funny little organic cafe serves super tasty food. Don’t expect good service, but you kind of have to get used to that in Bali.

• Alchemy – Raw, organic, vegan and all that jazz. An impressive selection of raw chocolates and other treats, cold pressed juices, smoothies and a salad bar. There’s also a holistic clinic upstairs if you fancy a colonic irrigation.


•Veda – a delicious health foodie restaurant serving breaky, lunch and dinner, with an impressive selection of health shots and tonics. Even the non health foodies will like it.

•The shady shack – this is one of my faves. Fresh, vibrant vegetarian food and drinks and a gorgeous setting.

• Bettlenut café – there’s something for everyone and it’s always good.

• Gypsy kitchen – cute little cafe serving a nice breakfast, lunch and dinner.

•Quince – order the coconut crumpets. Seriously. Actually everything on the menu is so damn tasty, this place is foodie heaven!

• Milk & Madu – one of our faves. Always a good breaky, lunch or dinner and there’s a grassy garden area and toy box for the kids so you actually get to eat in peace while the kids run around making friends on the grass. Isla and Clover met so many nice little friends playing there.

• Ulekan – I was so sad that this place opened a day after we left the island so didn’t get to try it on this trip but I’m putting it on my list because I am positive that it’s beyond delicious. The same owners as Watercress and Milk & Madu and serving Indonesian cuisine. Try it out and let me know!

Kid friendly activities

Bali is super kid friendly no matter what you do so we didn’t really do a lot of child based activities while we were there, but here are some things we did that they loved.

• Canggu Club – we did Christmas Day at the Canggu Club and we all had a ball in the water park. There’s also a Bounce trampoline park and a bowling alley.

• The Garden Early Learning Centre Canggu – the sweetest area for children with a huge garden, chickens, rabbits, veggie patch and impressive indoor area. They do a school holiday program which I sent Isla to one day and she had an absolute ball. No need to book, just show up at 9am!

• Bali Equestrian Centre – we took Isla for a 30 minute pony ride which she loved. The centre is amazing and the horses are so well cared for. They have riding lessons and school holiday programs as well.

• Ubud Monkey Forest – we’ve been on both our Bali trips because those monkeys are just too damn cute! They are so entertaining to watch, just follow the rules and you’ll have a fun visit.

Other Bali tips 

– Take a bottle of activated charcoal capsules with you. At the first sign of Bali belly pop 5-8 caps. You can break open the capsules and mix into honey or water for children.*

– If you’re into homeopathics (or not) have a homeopath make up this Dengue Fever prevention remedy for you:*


Take 3 of the pillules together once a day (dissolve in your mouth) and children and babies take the same dose. I emailed Bali Healing in Canggu once I arrived in Bali and they made it up for me in a day for $5. There are zero side effects with homeopathy so it can’t hurt right?

– While you’re there, consider donating to one of the charities on the island. The Jodie O’Shea orphanage and Bali Streetkids Project are run solely on donations and would really appreciate your help. Or if you’re an animal lover, consider donating to one of the animal refuges on the island – Bali Animal Welfare Association, BARC bali dog refuge and Bali Street Dogs are inundated with animals and always need donations.

– If you’re a fan of interiors shopping like moi then consider buying extra luggage allowance for your return trip. You’ll need it!

– Watch out for dog poo! Seriously, I stood in a poo with bare feet on the beach, on my birthday. That’s good luck right?

Safe travels!

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*Disclaimer: For all medical advice please consult your own health care professional to discuss how you can prepare for overseas travel. 

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