“Bali is for young people” is what my mother-in-law said after her first trip to Bali, Indonesia. After we’ve raved about Bali for years, we had the opportunity to bring her to one of our favorite Indonesian islands and spent a week here.
So that is the big question – Is Bali, Indonesia a suitable destination for older people?
Bali is a fantastic vacation spot choice for older adults and travelers of all ages. The top reasons include gorgeous scenery, endless relaxing options, and tons of beautiful places to visit, so there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to enjoy themselves.
Yet, there are a few things to consider and challenges to think about when planning a trip to Bali with older people. We want your trip to go as smoothly as possible.
While my mother-in-law is in her 60s and can walk short distances, there were some difficulties during the trip.
In this post, we’re sharing important travel tips when traveling to Bali with older travelers or parents. Since we planned the trip on our own, we’ll share our first-hand knowledge and experiences and what not to do when traveling with older parents and family members.
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Consider the older travelers’ current lifestyle and travel expectations before organizing the trip.
This is an important aspect to consider as everyone is different with health conditions, mobility, and interest.
If you’re planning the trip, you’ll need to communicate expectations ahead of time, such as the pacing of activities, what everyone wants to do, dietary food restrictions, etc.
It’ll be less stressful as everyone is on the same page with the travel schedule.
At Bali International Airport Immigration, go to the line for those over 60+ years.
Once you land in Bali, you may need to get a visa on arrival (VOA). The visa on arrival is for travelers from 90+ countries, including the U.S. Visas are valid for 30 days and extendable for another 30 days. The cost of the visa is 500,000 IDR ($35 USD).
Afterward, you’ll go through Immigration. For travelers over 60+ years old and those with young children, there is a separate line.
If anyone in your group qualifies, then everyone in the group can enter the line. This line is shorter so it goes faster than the regular Immigration line. Therefore, older travelers/parents do not need to stand as long and can get through faster.
Stay in quieter areas in Bali.
Bali has a variety of areas to stay overnight depending on your travel group’s interest.
Here are the more popular areas, but they’re crowded and may be noisy for older people.
- Kuta is a touristy area closest to the international airport and has beaches, shopping, and tons of surfing opportunities. It’s not the cleanest area due to the crowds so it’s best to just visit for a day.
- Seminyak is an upscale beach area with beaches, beach clubs, boutique shops, and lots of cafes. There are cheaper accommodations and places to eat as well.
- Canggu is a laid-back area north of Kuta and Seminyak with beaches and tons of cafes. It’s catered to digital nomads living and working in the area. Read more on Canggu cafes to check out here.
- Ubud is not close to the beach as it’s located inland. It’s surrounded by greenery and jungles so it’s a peaceful area to hang out, go on yoga retreats, see rice fields and waterfalls, and relax.
Here are recommended areas that are known to be quieter:
- Nusa Dua, located south of the island, has tons of luxury hotels and resorts which are perfect for older travelers and families who want to just relax and hang out. The area is isolated so you’ll need to arrange transportation to visit attractions.
- Sanur is a laid-back, quiet area with nice beachfront accommodations. Many expats and families stay in this area.
Choose accommodations with rooms on the ground floor or with elevator access.
Bali has many smaller guesthouses and homestays so you get the opportunity to stay at a locals’ house. Unfortunately, they do not have an elevator and only stairs to reach the second floor and higher.
If older travelers have difficulties climbing stairs, then it will be a challenge going up and down. Plus, carrying luggage will not be easy.
The best way to handle this is to find places to stay with rooms on the lower ground level. Or, you can stay at higher-end, modern hotels (ie: Marriott and Hyatt) that will have an elevator.
Stay at accommodations that do not have bathtubs.
Most of the accommodations that we’ve stayed at in Bali have a walk-in shower, but you may want to avoid places that have a shower/bathtub combo. Walking in and out of a tab can be challenging for older people.
Travel around Bali by car or taxi.
Many travelers and locals travel around the island by motorbikes as Bali’s public transportation infrastructure is extremely limited. There is a Kura-Kura public shuttle bus that takes visitors around to popular sites.
Driving a motorbike may not be feasible for older travelers unless they’re already used to motorbiking in their home country.
Taking a car or taxi is a safer way to travel around Bali.
Hiring a private driver is highly recommended. It’s an ideal option if you want to travel outside of your main accommodation area for day trips and excursions. The overall cost will be higher for the day, but you won’t need to worry about transportation.
We always hire a driver even when traveling as a couple. It’s not as stressful compared to navigating the roads ourselves. The positives of having a car include the air-conditioning which is needed for hot and humid days and shelter whenever a random rainstorm appears. And yes, we can also sleep during the car ride.
If hiring a private driver is not an option, then take a metered taxi such as Bluebird or a ride-hailing car such as Grab or GoJek. Using Grab or GoJek is the same as Uber, so download these apps on your phone in advance before booking the car.
Read More: How to Visit Bali on a Budget
Create an itinerary with limited walking and visit no more than 2 places per day.
How much walking can everyone do in your group? Is there anyone in a wheelchair?
If the older traveler has limited mobility, then it will be challenging to visit many sites that require walking and stair climbing. But don’t worry, we’ll provide suggestions on sites that have flatter walking paths.
It’s recommended to have a bucket list of places to visit and visit 1-2 attractions per day. It’ll be a slower pace yet more relaxing for the overall schedule.
Here are some ideas on what to do each day, but edit the schedule as much as possible to fit your group’s interests and mobility.
One of the mistakes that we did when traveling with my mother-in-law was visiting too many places per day and walking a lot.
We didn’t want my mother-in-law to feel FOMO (fear of missing out) by missing the local attractions.
But visiting 3-4 places per day, the long drive, humid weather, and the amount of walking were too intense for her. Anything over 0.5 miles (.80 kilometers) of walking was already more than usual for her, so a 3 to 5+ mile (4.8 to 8+ kilometers) day was pushing beyond her limits.
Choose attractions that have limited stair climbing and have a flat walking path.
One thing that we didn’t notice until traveling with my mother-in-law is that most of Bali’s attractions, such as temples and waterfalls, have stairs or uneven paths.
Some of our favorite spots visiting Besakih Temple, Lempuyang Temple, Sekumpul Waterfall, Taman Ujung, and Lahangan Sweet, may need to be skipped as there are lots of stair climbing or walking on dirt paths.
Tip: If you decide to visit these places, then the older traveler can wait in the car or on a bench on the lower level of the attraction.
Since waiting around isn’t a fun experience, here are recommended places for older travelers to visit in Bali:
- Visit any beach area, such as Seminyak or Kuta to see the beautiful sunset. Jimbaran Beach, located in the southern part of Bali, is also a famous spot to enjoy a grilled seafood dinner.
- Any shopping centers
- Uluwatu Temple – This temple is 70 meters (230 feet) on a cliffside. You can also walk on the path to see the sunset. You can also watch the traditional Kecak dance show around sunset time.
- Tanah Lot – This temple is 300 meters from the mainland and you can walk up to the temple during low tide. Otherwise, there is a flat walking path on the outer area of the temple.
- Tirta Gangga Water Palace – This small yet beautiful water palace has a stone path to walk on top of a pond. You can also feed the giant koi here.
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple – Here is another picture-worthy temple that is on Lake Beratan. The only way to get close to the temple is to ride a kayak or walk along the sidewalk on the mainland.
- In Ubud, Kajeng rice fields, Ubud Palace, Ubud markets, Campuhan Ridge Walk, and possibly Tegallalang rice terraces (if just viewing from the sidewalk or a warung (a small local restaurant))
These places would be okay for travelers who use a wheelchair but exhibit caution everywhere.
Watch out for uneven and narrow sidewalks.
The sidewalks in Bali are not in the best condition as they’re uneven or have a hole in the middle of the walkway. They are not wheelchair friendly.
Ubud’s sidewalks are notorious for the large random holes with deep drops to the underground water drainage.
Bali’s sidewalks are also slanted on the side for motorbikes to drive up so that is another area to watch out for.
The sidewalks are also crowded, especially at nighttime, so the walking path can be narrow.
If this is a concern, please watch parents and older travelers when they walk as much as possible.
My mother-in-law slipped and fell on 2 separate occasions and we didn’t pay attention to her for just a minute each time. One was on a slanted sidewalk in front of a restaurant in Seminyak and another time was on a wet sidewalk.
For those who use a wheelchair, it’s best to hire transportation to get to the destination. Therefore, they can avoid using the sidewalks and the streets.
Take constant breaks from the heat and humidity.
After living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for over 5 years, we’re used to Southeast Asia’s heat and humidity. Yet, my mother-in-law who lives in California, U.S. wasn’t used to the weather and was tired during most of the trip.
Bali’s weather is hot and humid all year round at 29-30℃ (84-87℉). The rainy season makes the weather slightly cooler but it’s still humid.
We incorporated rest breaks every day by stopping by a cafe with a fan, having lunch and dinner, sitting in the car with air conditioning, or returning to the hotel for a quick nap.
Incorporating days without any things to do for the day was also needed.
Tip: Remind everyone in your group to drink water and stay hydrated constantly. Dehydration and heat stroke are very likely during the trip.
Figure out dietary restrictions and restaurant options in advance.
Bali has a variety of food options from local Indonesian and Balinese flavors to Western food. There are also lots of vegetarian and vegan restaurants on the island.
Check out our post on top restaurants to try in Bali for ideas.
It’s recommended to know any dietary restrictions from your group in advance and to research restaurants in the area of your accommodation. You don’t want to find places to eat when someone is hangry!
As a heads up, Indonesian food tends to be spicy. There is usually a side of sambal (spicy chili sauce). It’s delicious as everyone has their own sambal recipe, but it may not be suitable for your group.
My mother-in-law cannot handle spicy food so she asked the servers for non-spicy food options.
Create good memories and have fun.
You’re on vacation so make the best of the time spent with family and older parents. Whether your trip is just lounging on the beach or at the resort, you’ll create awesome memories together.
Unexpected things will happen, but you can prepare as much as you can in advance for the Bali trip to go smoothly.
We hope you feel more comfortable traveling to Bali with older people and parents. With some preparation, the Bali trip will go a lot smoother.
If you’ve traveled to Bali with older travelers or relatives, what was your experience like? Are there any additional tips that you would like to add to this post? Let us know in the comments below.
Have an amazing time in Bali!
Featured photo credit: carlesrgm via Depositphotos.com