Help plan our Asia trip.
May 10, 2010 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Bali or Malaysia (or the neighborhood) for a week in June with a toddler. Ideas?

I already asked a vague version of this question in January. Now I have more specifics though.

- Last week of June
- We'll be flying in and out of Singapore
- We like doing "stuff" but we also like relaxing
- We're pretty set in terms of clothes and gear for the heat and rain
- Bali is top of the list, but we're open to anywhere that is close to Singapore

I'm hoping that AskMe can make my life easier with specific hotel recommendations, stuff to do recommendations, travel from Singapore recommendations, websites to look at... Bombard me please!
posted by k8t to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I spent the 6th through 8th years of my life in Kuching, Malaysia, and end up recommending it to anyone travelling to the area... perhaps your toddler would enjoy a visit to the Kuching Cat Museum?

At the very least you should try the Laksa while you're in the region. (Anthony Bourdain visits Kuching for some in this episode of No Reservations, I believe)
posted by jrb223 at 9:39 AM on May 10, 2010

I'd recommend either Perenthian Islands or Tioman Island on East side of Malaysian peninsula. Both should be rather easy & fast to get from Singapore and very relaxing.
posted by zeikka at 10:12 AM on May 10, 2010

I love Malaysia but if this is your first time... Bali.

No matter where you stay, the service is going to be head and shoulders above anywhere else.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: I haven't been to Malaysia yet (though I hope to fix that), but I have been to Bali 3 times, and I can't wait to go back. It's a fantastically beautiful place, and the people I've encountered there have been unbelievably warm and friendly. I realize that to an extent, part of that equation is that I'm a tourist with money to spend, and the people I'm talking to would like to be the people who get that money. Aside from that, though, there's a warmth that I've encountered in Bali that I haven't in interactions (as a tourist) in Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, or Taiwan. Some places in China, maybe, but not nearly as widespread.

I don't have children, but I've seen many, many tourists in Bali with kids of all ages, and people in restaurants and hotels seem to be very accomodating to parents with small children. Food will likely not be a problem. Bali is essentially Australia's Tijuana, or Ibiza, and so there are enough young Australians on holiday that you can find western food at most places, though Balinese food is amazing (a little spicy, though).

For places to stay, I highly recommend Ubud. It's in the mountains, so there's no beach to go to, but it's beautiful, and it's very easy to do sightseeing in the area. The restaurants are fabulous, and if you're in Bali, you really need to go to Ibu Oka (as seen on No Reservations) for the absolute best pork you'll ever have. Aside from that, Indus and Babi Bengal (I think. In English, it's called the Dirty Duck) are fantastic restaurants in Ubud. There's also a central market (haggling is important. Start at 1/3, work your way up to 1/2, and know you'll find the same thing, cheaper, two stalls down) and the art is not cheap, but it is beautiful. There are temples and amazing sights all around Ubud.

If you're after the beach, well, Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak are where the beach, and the majority of the Tijuana-esque tourists are. You can see the differences in the restaurants and shops pretty keenly. In Kuta, nearly every restaurant has the same menu, since it's what's popular with young Australians, and if something sells well at one store, then all the other stores will find out and start selling it too. Still, Kuta is pretty good for tours to see other places, and the beach isn't bad. If you go to Kuta, make sure to have dinner at Poppies, which is a beautiful restaurant. It's essentially in a courtyard, and the tables are separated by stands of trees. They serve delicious Balinese food, and at night, the restaurant is gorgeous.

Other things to do: See Ulu Watu, one of Bali's main temples situated on a cliff over the ocean. Spend a morning and take a cooking class at Casa Luna in Ubud (the class menu changes everyday, but if you ask nicely, they might give you the recipe books for the other days). And get a massage. Like, everyday. An hour long massage can cost as little as $5 in Kuta. Absolutely heavenly. Ubud is filled with spas as well, though with a child along, perhaps you could trade off spa mornings?

I'm sure Malaysia is nice, but to me, from the first moment of the first time I went to Bali, I felt like I was home, like I could easily live there for the rest of my life. It's that good.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:01 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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