You’ve booked that ticket to Bali, now all that remains is to be prepared so you can get the most out of your trip! Here we’ve compiled the best useful tips you need to know before traveling to Bali, Indonesia.
1. Rent a scooter
Renting a scooter is the cheapest way to explore Bali. Not only that, you also get the freedom to choose less touristy areas. Rental costs 35,000 – 50,000 IDR ($3-6) per day. Full-tank gas costs about 35,000 IDR ($3). So prepare about $10 or less a day.
Here are a few things you need to know about renting a scooter:
- The scooters are automatic and easy to use. Moreover, since there are solar in gas stations it is possible to rent an electric scooter too.
- Wear your helmet and follow traffic rules. Bali isn’t as strict when it comes to traffic laws, but it’s stupid to not wear protective gear in case you get into an accident.
- Bring your license. A lot of tourists get away with not bringing a license since local traffic enforcers usually accept bribe, but it’s not something I can recommend as it may cause problems in the future. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Use Grab for cheap fares
In our experience, Grab offers cheaper rates compared to regular taxis so we recommend using this booking app in Bali.
Take note that you have to be careful in using Grab in Ubud. Grab and the local taxi drivers are competing with passengers, and the local government supports the taxi drivers who are threatened by the cheap fares offered by Grab. As such, Grab drivers may be reluctant to do pickups in Ubud. If you absolutely need to use this booking app, you may need to walk away from main roads and book discreetly. Elsewhere, Grab is fine.
3. Respect the culture
The majority of the population (90%) in Bali practices Balinese Hinduism.
- When visiting temples, dress appropriately at all times and wear covered clothing or sarong. Temple caretakers often rent out cover wraps if you don’t have any, for a minimal fee (5000 IDR / P20 / $0.5). If you don’t want to pay extra every time, you can bring your own sarong as long as it reaches past the knee. Also, don’t enter restricted areas that are meant for worship.
- When walking around Bali, avoid stepping on canang sari (daily offerings on the road).
4. Wear comfy clothing
It is hot and humid in Bali. When preparing your luggage, leave your jackets and long jeans at home. Instead, bring comfortable clothing such as cotton tees and dresses. Open-toe shoes and sandals are preferable as well.
5. Stay hydrated
Make sure to stay hydrated under the sun and bring your own reusable water bottle. Forget plastic ones to be more sustainable.
Also, take note that tap water isn’t drinkable in Bali and will cause upset stomach, hence the term Bali belly.
6. Expect traffic and leave early
Traffic jams are common. The roads in Bali aren’t built for tourism traffic, and even a few kilometers can take much longer than expected. There are lots of scooters, cars and mini-buses on the roads. Don’t be surprised if your taxi is late for pickup.
Ask locals for alternate routes. Leave early and adjust your schedule for a bit of leeway. Lastly, if you don’t want to experience traffic in Bali, avoid the southern area in particular.
7. Book a local homestay
If you want a more authentic experience, look for a guest house-style accommodation where you can wake up to a morning prayer followed by a traditional breakfast of pancakes and fruits. Take note though that some of these homestays cost more than budget hotels.
8. Learn to haggle when shopping
In Bali, haggling is the way of life. You’re expected to haggle down, which is why vendors will initially quote you a price that’s about 50% higher than the actual tag price of the item. Learn to negotiate and don’t feel about it, but don’t be too stingy either. Remember that these people need money to pay for things too.
If you want to avoid haggling, you can find shops with fixed price tags.
9. Use Whatsapp
Whatsapp is a chat messaging app. Everyone in Bali uses it, and it’s especially useful for contacting your tour guide or driver.
10. Join Bali Life group
If you want more tips for planning your trip to Bali, I suggest joining the Bali Life facebook group. You will find a wealth of information there from expats and repeat visitors to Bali.
11. Keep you street sense
Bali is relatively safe, but don’t forget to use your street sense. Don’t leave your things unattended and avoid walking alone in the middle of the night especially if you’re a woman. Also, take note of areas with high incidence of theft, such as Canggu.
In case of any emergency, you can dial 112 which is the main emergency number.
12. Choose registered money changers
How to exchange money to local currency safely is a useful thing you have to know because unfortunately money exchange scams are rampant.
Bring a small amount of indonesian rupiah (IDR) on your trip or bring USD and exchange small bills at the airport. Better rates can be found in money changers outside. To be safe, only do transactions in registered money changers such as Money Exchange (EY EX). Don’t fall for rates that seem to good to be true because chances are they are.
13. To Tip or Not to Tip
Tipping isn’t required, but I recommend giving a tip especially if you have received good service. A lot of Balinese people aren’t paid much, so even a small amount can go a long way.
That goes our list of useful things you have to know before traveling in Bali, Indonesia! Do you have more local tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below!
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