Practical tips for traveling in Bali

Are you planning to go to Bali soon? I have put a number of useful tips for you together, which will make your visit to Bali even more fun.

Curious about nice itineraries for Bali? Take a look here. And here you will find my Bali travel guide full of nice restaurants, hotels and activities.


Travel and transport

Scooter/bike

In the small villages, you usually travel by scooters (or bicycles). Everywhere you will find scooters to rent, which costs about 4 euros per day (including helmet). Do you need gasoline? Along the side of the road, you see small stalls where petrol is sold in glass bottles. Important to know, officially you will need a motorcycle license and international driving license to drive a scooter on Bali. This is not really so much needed to rent the scooter, but when you end up in an accident, you won’t be insured without a motorcycle license.

Taxi / van

Longer distances, between different destinations, are usually done by car with a driver. We often arranged this at our hotel. The prices are usually pretty good. The same applies to transport from and to the airport. We can really advice against using Uber and Grab on Bali. In many places, these services are prohibited and we also had a bad experience with a Uber driver at the airport. If you want to order a taxi, use the Blue Birds, an official taxi company. Talk a fixed price in advance (one drives on the meter, but one is not wrong) and beware of ‘fake’ Blue Birds.

Boat

Also the boat trips to the Gili’s * and Nusa Lembongan, we arranged at our hotels. We always immediately booked the transport from and to the port. The boats usually depart from Sanur or Amed towards the Gili’s or Nusa Lembongan / Penida. If you go to the Gili islands, take into account a rougher crossing, the sea can sometimes be quite wild here. I bought pills against seasickness in a pharmacy beforehand. These worked fine, what do I say, they were like horse tranquillizers.


Money

Cash is king on Bali. You can also pay with credit card sometimes, but in most shops, restaurants and hotels you just have to pay in cash. Fortunately, there are many ATM’s on the island.

Currencies

In Indonesia, the currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). At the moment 1 euro is just under 17,000 IDR (August 2018). In the case of foreign cash withdrawals, always take into account the costs that the bank charges extra for this. This applies both to your own bank and to the local bank where you have withdrawn cash.

Price levels

Bali is very cheap, but due to the increase in tourism, it is not as cheap as it used to be. For a simple Balinese meal, you pay approximately € 2- € 4. For a cheap overnight stay, you pay around € 10 euros. A can of cola costs € 0.60 just like a bottle of water and a Bintang (beer) costs € 1.5. In Bali you can also dine more luxurious, the prices are between € 15-30 euros. As far as luxury accommodation is concerned, here is the sky the limit. We slept in beautiful hotels for € 50, but it is also possible to pay the 5-fold. Just what you want.

ATM’s

In the villages in Bali, you will find many ATM’s. When you go to Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan or one of the Gili Islands, no worries, there are also several banks. You can only whit drawl a limited amount here, so if you plan to make large expenses, go through several cash machines. Keep an eye on your credit card or bank debits in the weeks after your visit to Bali. There is a lot of skimming going on, and that can amount to a few hundred euros! We have had this ourselves a few times, not very pleasant.


Accommodations and Activities

There are a huge number of hotels and hostels in Bali. Airbnb is also strongly represented on the island. The first time Bali we booked all our nights far in advance, but the next times we didn’t do this anymore. It is absolutely not necessary and because there is so much supply, there is more than enough choice. If you have a particular hotel on the eye where you want to stay and you travel in high season, booking ahead can be wise.

Also, activities such as climbing Mount Batur, visiting temples or diving trips do not have to be booked far ahead. We booked our activities, just like transport, usually at our hotel. This may be slightly more expensive, but for us, the convenience definitely weighed up against the higher costs.

Wifi and SIM cards

Wi-Fi is offered almost everywhere in Bali. Wi-Fi works really well in most hotels and restaurants. If you go further inland, or you end up in less touristy spots, this can be a bit less. If you want to be assured of the internet, consider buying a local SIM card.

We have bought a SIM card upon arrival at the airport. I’m not sure which provider anymore, but I think it was Indosat. You pay both for the SIM card (which is valid for 30 days), as well as for the credit on it. The SIM card itself cost about 50,000 IDR and I have put 10GB for +/- 120,000 IDR on it. So in total, it cost € 10. Are your data finished or do you want to top up credit (this is called Pulsa), then visit one of the many small convenience stores such as Circle-K or M-mart, where it is sold. Here you can read more tips for staying cheap online abroad.


Religion

Bali is almost entirely Hindu with 90% of the population, in contrast to the rest of Indonesia, which is mainly Islamic. The Gili Islands, which officially belong to Lombok, are also Islamic.

You see Hinduism everywhere in Bali, in the form of many beautiful temples, small colourful offerings and special ceremonies. But we also really noticed Hinduism in how the people act. They are incredibly sweet, hospitable and with a lot of attention for nature. Coming out of your hotel room in the morning, often you will find a small colourful basket with incense, a few coins or some biscuits. A small and beautiful offering.

Holidays

Various holidays are celebrated in Bali, but one of the most important holiday for Balinese is Nyepi, a day of purification equal to New Year according to the Saka calendar (the Hindu calendar). This day often takes place in March or April, and on this day it’s completely silent and extinct on Bali. The day before, evil spirits are chased away with music, fireworks and parades, but on New Year’s Day, everybody stays indoors to keep the evil spirits out. Even tourists are expected to stay inside. Try to avoid travelling on Nyepi. Another important day is Independence Day on 17 August. This is celebrated with large parades throughout Indonesia.


Climate and travel period

Bali has a tropical rainforest climate with two seasons: the dry season from April to September, and the rainy season from October to April. The temperature is about the same every season. In the rainy season, take into account a daily downpour. We went to Bali twice in December, in the middle of the rainy season. The first time we did not have a single shower, the second time a bit more often, but that also went wrong.

High season

High season is in the months of July, August, and December. It is busier on the island. Prices are higher, especially with Christmas and O & N, when many ‘Aussies’ come over.

Shoulder season

Shoulder season is in the months of May, June, and in September. These are great months, especially for diving. The weather is also good in these months.

Low season

Low season is from January to April, October and November. The prices are a lot lower. There is a little more rain, but this is usually not extreme.

Clothing

Take a lot of light clothes with you. Only when you climb Mount Batur (one of the three active volcanoes) is it convenient to wear gym or mountain shoes and multiple layers of clothing. On top of the volcano, it can be cold. Keep in mind when you enter a temple, to cover your shoulders and legs.

Visa

Upon arrival in Bali, you will receive a free Visa on Arrival, which is valid for 30 days. If you want to stay longer, you can request a grant from the Indonesian embassy in advance. This is also possible in Indonesia, but this is a complicated process and you have to indicate this on arrival in the country. With this grant, you can stay for up to 60 days. Longer than this is not possible for tourists. However, you can temporarily leave the country, and come back again, a visa run. If you stay illegally longer than your visa is valid, you have to pay for it when you leave the country. Not recommended because it seems to be a very unpleasant process that makes it very difficult to do.

* Please note that the Gili Islands are currently not accessible due to the earthquakes of August 2018.


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