Hi everyone! I’ve also filmed a video on this topic and if you’d prefer watching the video on Youtube, click here. I’ve put together a list of tips for you if you’re planning on traveling to beautiful Bali, the island of the Gods in wonderful Indonesia. This is not a list of things to see or activities to do so if that’s what you’re looking for then this post isn’t for you. These are just some tips that I’ve put together to help you travel here smoothly and also some things to watch out for.
The currency used here in Bali is called Indonesian Rupiah and you can pretty much exchange it anywhere here in Bali as long as you have a major world currency with you. We prefer traveling with US Dollars and particularly in USD100 bills because we noticed that many money exchange shops give better rates to those with USD100 bills than USD1 bills. You can find money exchange counters just about anywhere but be careful in making sure to choose an authorised money exchange counter because if a rates they are offering you that day seems too good to be true then it probably is! There are money scams out there so be careful.
At restaurants, hotels and bars, the food and drinks prices listed are exclusive of government tax and service charge, depending on the establishment, you can pay up to 25% extra on your bill from the tax and service charge.
2. Sim Cards
Oh how we all need to stay connected! Although wifi is generally free and very common in places like restaurants, bars, hotels and even convenience stores, I would recommend getting a local sim card when you arrive. Last year I bought a sim card at the airport at the arrivals from a little kiosk but then I realised that I was charged almost triple the price of a sim card which you can easily find at cell phone stores all over. This year I decided to wait and bought my sim card at a little shop in Kuta but unfortunately I didn’t know that at the end of last year, the Indonesian government changed its regulations and required everyone who bought sim cards to register their sim card with the service provider. Now over 2 weeks in, my sim card is blocked so I will have to buy another sim card and this time register it with my passport.
3. Street vendors, tourist information and taxis
This is something I’ve observed amongst foreigners which I would like to point out. If you didn’t already know, Bali is growing in tourist numbers every single year and a lot of people and families out here rely on the tourism industry for a living. Which means they put food on the table and school their kids with the money they earn from the tourism industry. I know a lot of tourists are also very wary about street vendors and constantly being asked if they require a taxi or certain services, but please be mindful of them and have the respect to decline politely if you don’t need their services, don’t outright ignore them! That’s just rude. Give them the same courtesy as you would to your own because after all they are welcoming you into their country and their culture.
Regarding street vendors, of course when you want to purchase goods they will give you a high price at first, they expect you to haggle and if haggling isn’t your thing then perhaps you should go to a souvenir shop where the price is set. Otherwise haggling is rather fun and not only do you get to walk away with a bargain but you have also supported a local and small business.
High season in Bali is from June to September and that’s because it is also the dry season. Low season is from December to April but that’s also the rainy season. June through to September, you can expect a lot of foreign tourists and from December to February you can expect a lot of local tourists, particularly those that live in major cities in Indonesia and looking for a local getaway. Although we were lucky when it came to rain, April is still the end of the rainy season but fear not because the rain comes quickly and leaves equally quickly.
5. Food and water
I know some people have gotten sick here in Bali which is why I wanted to share some of our own tips with you. Firstly you cannot drink the water from the taps but every hotel and resort offer complimentary drinking water daily anyways and if you’re not staying at a hotel, drinking water is cheap and very accessible. Secondly, we have not gotten food poisoning since coming here to Bali and we have eaten a variety of meats as well as seafood. We are generally very careful when it comes to these things anyways and to make sure we always eat at a restaurant that seems busy because then we know there is a faster turnover of food and secondly when in doubt, always ask the staff for the popular items on the menu or just order local food. You can never go wrong with nasi goreng or mie goreng (friend rice and fried noodles).
Getting around is relatively cheap and easy. You can either get around in the more popular areas like Kuta and Seminyak by hailing a cab (make sure they switch on their meter) or you can also hire your own driver for a full day. Hiring your own driver gives you the flexibility to go anywhere you want and depending on how you negotiate, the rates is generally around USD50 for 8-10 hours.
You can also rent a scooter and there are daily rates for this, the longer you rent a scooter for, the lower the rates. Most hotels and resorts can organise you a scooter upon your request and they generally don’t ask you for an international license, although I would recommend getting one before you come to Bali. If the police decides to stop you, at least you’ll be abiding the law in a foreign country. Also I would suggest you wear your helmets although many of the locals don’t. Just know that the traffic is really bad in Bali especially in Kuta and Seminyak so unless you’re a frequent rider, I wouldn’t recommend attempting to ride there.
I have to commend the Balinese people when it comes to service, whether you’re staying in a 3 star hotel or a 5 star hotel, the service is absolutely outstanding. Their hospitality is unparalleled and they provide you the great service without expect tip. Although you should if you feel that they deserve it. The indonesians are kind, patient and friendly people and they also work very hard for their money so come with an open mind and an open heart.
We absolutely love Ubud! In Ubud you can expect the jungle and slightly cooler because it is in the mountains. It is an area with lots of vegan restaurants, yoga studios, temples and everything is truly embraced in the Balinese culture and traditions. We hired a scooter here and rode around everywhere because the roads are less busy so it was safer for us. Metered taxis are definitely less common here because the roads are very narrow so if you wish to go exploring for the day, I would recommend hiring a driver and let them know where you want to go because the further you go, the rates may be higher.
9. Kuta and Seminyak
These two are separate areas but I decided to group them together. I love and hate Kuta and Seminyak at the same time. I love the restaurants and the shops that they have to offer but it is just too busy for my liking. There isn’t just terrible traffic within the area but also getting in and out takes long because of the traffic. Also expect very touristy prices here and you can pretty much find any cuisine here. The beaches here are also not ideal, they are dirty and crowded, same goes with the streets, so if you’re looking for a place to party then you’ve found the right place.
10. Nusa Dua
Full disclosure – I may be biased towards Nusa Dua because it is where we got married. Read my wedding planning post here.
Nusa Dua is a coastal area and it is a lot less crowded than Kuta and Seminyak. The roads and beaches are also a lot cleaner and more looked after. Here you can find all the major hotels lined up around the beaches and they definitely don’t come cheap. It’s still not far off from where the action is though, it takes about 30min in a taxi to Kuta and Seminyak so we prefer staying here because during the day you can enjoy clean and less crowded beaches and night time you can go into town for dinner and drinks.
We stayed in Sanur for one night purely by chance because I had miscalculated the dates when I booked the hotels and I had left out one day. It was a blessing in disguise because I ended up booking a night at one of the resorts in Sanur, which is also a coastal area. It is very quiet in Sanur, probably even quieter than Nusa Dua because they say that it is very suitable for honeymooners and retired people and they’re not wrong. We probably saw a handful of people our age at the resort and the rest and not younger than 50! LOL! The beaches in Sanur are beautiful, clean and serene. You can also find shops and restaurants on the main strip where all the hotels are.
12. Climbing Mount Batur
I’ve actually written about climbing Mount Batur in a previous post, click here to read.
Hope you all enjoyed my tips and pictures!
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