The magical island of Bali has so much to offer, from rice fields, to volcanoes, to waterfalls, to beautiful beaches, to temples, and amazing restaurants and bars.
Traveling to Bali for the first time, requires some proper planning, tips and tricks to make your Bali holiday a safe, secure and fun experience.
Here is a useful list of things you should know before you go compiled by several travellers who wished they had it on their first trip.
From how to say thank you in Indonesian, what sort of electrical adaptor you’ll need, to packing extra sunscreen (it can be quite $$$), and much more.
1. So the fist tip that we have is get your head around the current visa situation – In early 2016, Indonesia waived its standard 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival (VOA) system for 169 countries; visitors from most other nations (including Australians) must purchase the VOA.
While extending a 30-day visa is possible, it can be a tricky business. Speak to a reputable visa agent on the ground, or contact your nearest Indonesian consulate prior to departure.
At the time of publication, 60-day visas could be arranged in advance, but not in-country. Know more about Visa on Arrival (VoA).
2. Respect religious customs – Religion rules the roost in Bali. Don’t get your knickers in a knot when a street is blocked off for a ceremony or your driver pulls over mid-trip to make a blessing – this is all part of the magic of the island.
Plan accordingly if your travel dates fall on Nyepi when everything in Bali (even the airport) shuts down for the day, and always dress modestly (covering the shoulders and knees) and conduct yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites.
3. Play by the rules – The Indonesian legal system may seem confusing and contradictory, but it’s best not argue with police if you are accused of an infringement that may feel unjust, and pay ‘fines’ with good grace.
Do not expect any special treatment for being a foreigner, and it goes without saying that having anything to do with drugs is a very bad idea.
4. Respect the ocean – Even if you’re an avid beach-goer and surf worshipper, Bali’s powerful waves, strong currents and exposed rocks can be treacherous, so take care, and don’t swim alone unless you are completely confident in doing so.
Show equal respect for the beach by not leaving any garbage (including cigarette butts) behind – when the tide comes in, it’ll be sucked into the ocean at great cost to the marine ecosystem.
5. Be Aware of Added Tax in Bar or Restaurant – By law, all bars and restaurants must charge an additional 21% on their food and drink prices.
Whilst some add this in to the menu price, others will include small print stating it will be added to the bill.
This is completely legit, however, it’s definitely something to be aware of as will add a hearty chunk on to your bill at the end of the meal!.
6. Dress for the occasion – Beachwear doesn’t always cut it in Bali – many higher-end bars, restaurants and clubs enforce a dress code.
If you’re unsure, call ahead to save the potential embarrassment of being turned away.
7. Currency & how to avoid money exchange scams in Bali – The main currency in Bali is Indonesian Rupees (IDR) and it’s best to always have cash with you because lots of places don’t accept credit cards (mainly in the markets).
Make sure to exchange your money only in “authorized” money exchanges that have cameras installed inside, because there are loads of unauthorized places that can scam you right in from of your eyes.
The exchanges all look similar, but authorized ones have cameras and will always give you a receipt. Another option is to use one of the many ATM machines available in all the main areas on the island.
8. On temple visits – cover up, if you don’t already have a sarong to cover your legs, there is often somewhere you can borrow or hire one from.
Also make sure your shoulders are covered too, wearing a sleeved t-shirt is often the best option.
9. Charging your devices – 220 Volts, 50Hz. Electrical plugs are two-pronged ‘Europlug’ type.
10. Get an international driver’s license – If you intend to hire a car in Bali, this is a must. Always carry your insurance and registration papers with you for the hired car, when driving.