Since I visited Bali last summer with two active boys in tow, I can recommend lots of places kids will love on this beautiful Indonesian island. I’ve already posted about the Bali Bird Park, and the TreeTop Adventure rope courses, and about kid-friendly hotels you’ll love in Bali.
Another not-to-be-missed visit is to the fabulous Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, more commonly called the monkey Jungle. This is a favorite with adults and children alike.
The monkeys here are the long-tailed macaques (macaca fascicuiaris). This species live all throughout Southeast Asia, often in proximity of humans. The monkey population has increased since the sanctuary opened in the mid-1980s. Now there are over 600 monkeys living within the sanctuary.
Within the Hindu religion – the predominant religion of Bali – monkeys embody both positive and negative forces.
Therefore, they are both disliked and revered. However, they are seen to be worthy guardians of holy sites – such as the temples located within the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary – and are believed to be able to guard the temples against evil spirits.
Watching the monkeys lounging around outside of the beautiful, carved temples and playing on the carved monkey stone statues that guard the temples, I couldn’t help but agree.
There are 115 species of trees within this Monkey jungle. It is not only the temples that are sacred, but the entire jungle. There are pretty paths down to the riverside temples, a good point to watch the monkeys swinging from the trees and lounging around the temples.
They were especially fond of the moss-covered monkey statues, and it was fun to see them hanging out with their stone friends.
Not surprisingly, my kids had a great time. Women outside the gate sell bananas, but they won’t last long. The monkeys begin crowding around you the second you have them in your hands, so you’ll be forced to distribute them rather quickly.
You’re asked to take off sunglasses and not to carry any food with you, since monkeys will grab anything shiny, and they will find food wherever you have it.
My son learned this lesson. He wore cargo shorts that day and the monkeys were constantly surrounding him to peek into his pockets. At first, he was scared. But he quickly learned to stay still and submit to the search for hidden bananas.
I was surprised how many people encouraged the monkeys to climb on top of them for photos – then acted surprise when they wound up getting scratched or hurt. The locals working there constantly remind visitors that the monkeys are wild animals.
My kids most enjoyed watching the monkeys playing in their pool. They made some pretty impressive dives from the surrounding trees, and they had lots of fun chasing one another around and fighting – much like my sons do. Maybe this is why they related to them so well.
So when you’re in Ubud, don’t miss out on the monkey jungle (open daily, small admission fee). The forest and temples are beautiful, and watching the monkeys is fun for both kids and kids-at-heart.