Save yourself some time and money

It will take you probably 10 minutes to run through this short list. But it will save you valuable time, money and hassle. Bali is a beautiful island, but it’s not a tourism destination that is designed by tourism managers like the Maldives or Bahamas, where everything is streamlined and predictable. And, that’s essentially a good thing.

It’s a vibrant and dynamic island that is home to more than four million Indonesians who live and work here, and millions international and local tourist come here every year. Like for any tourism destination in the world of that popularity, also for Bali it’s extremely helpful to know some does and donts. And this will make will make things easier for you 🙂

  • Due to the pandemic a lot of visa and travel regulations have changed. Make sure you are well informed and up-to-date, particularly if you want to stay longer than 30 and 60 days. Visa Regulations & Travel Regulations
  • Your passport must be valid for 6 months when arriving, particularly if you need a Visa on Arrival (VoA) or B211A Visa. Otherwise you won’t be allowed to enter Bali (happens to quite a few)! There are NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • One page of the passport must be empty for the visa stamp
  • Keep your boarding pass when you arrive, you MIGHT have to show it to the immigration officer
  • You might have to show your return ticket
  • Immigration officers might ask for a return ticket. They are not really strict with this, but it could happen.
  • Most prices are subject to tax (11%) and service charge (6-11%) for hotels and restaurants. Check the menu in the restaurant if the prices are included or added later to the bill.
  • If the restaurant or hotel etc charges service charge it is not common nor expected to leave a tip. But it is still highly appreciated of course.
  • Value for money is incredible in Bali overall. Whatever you decide to purchase or experience,  from street-food to fine dining. Homestay or Luxury Hotel, prices are very reasonable for what you get. 
  • One can still stay for 10-15USD per night in homestays or bunk-bed rooms
  • New budget hotels offer clean rooms with AC for 25+USD
  • Price for hotel room in 4 star hotel or resort 70-120USD
  • Private, serviced Villas are a great alternative offering amazing value for money and range from 150USD to …. several thousand.
  • For 3-7USD one can have a decent meal in most restaurants. Streetfood and a fresh meal in a Warung can be as low as USD 1 – 1.50
  • Imported Wine and liquor are rather expensive compared to the “rest” (due to import taxes)
  • Room Payment: Even if prices might be quoted in USD online, the bill will be converted into IDR first. The Indonesian Rupiah is the currency for everything here, you cannot pay in other currencies directly.
  • Ice cubes in restaurants are generally safe and controlled by the government
  • Vegetarian and healthy food options are on the rise, epicenter Ubud & Canggu. Try the detox smoothies.
  • Roof Top bars and Beach Clubs are getting more popular, for good reasons. Canggu is the place to be.
  • Bali has one of the most incredible variety of choices when it comes to eating out. You can find everything.
  • Good cheeses and Dairy products in general are hard to get and if so, quite expensive (everything needs to imported)
  • The Go-Jek App, has the option to let you order food and get it delivered to you (GoFood)
  • Don’t trust the name of a place. Always check the map or the details. The “Kuta Hotel” might not be exactly in Kuta, a Suite might not be a Suite and The Beach Hotel might be further away from the beach than you imagine.
  • Location, Location, Location. Look at the map closely for several reasons. Check the walking distance and time it takes to get from A to B. For example, a hotel near the coastline could still mean you need to walk quite a bit to the beach, due to a lack of proper roads or access.
  • Every Destination is very different in Bali. Better get to know the areas first, before booking rooms.
  • If you wish to choose one of the cheaper hotels or homestays then nowadays we advise you to book via one of the booking websites (e.g. our partner booking.com) because some properties have been hit hard by the pandemic and open their doors in bad condition, and the booking sites have good consumer protection  terms.

The Main Bali Destinations

  • Kuta is still wild at night and attracts many youngsters from Australia.
  • Canggu is the new place to be. Beach Clubs something for everyone.
  • Seminyak has most clubs and is a bit more upscale and upbeat than Kuta.
  • Ubud is more laid back, art, small shops, great food, healthy life style, yoga. Busy during the day due to day-tourism.
  • Lembongan and Ceningan Island is easy to get to and like Bali 30 years ago – just with more comfort. Paradise
  • Sanur is more quiet, a bit upper class in general, calm beaches, great restaurants at the beach side (pantai sindhu). Lots of live music.
  • Nusa Dua, 5 star resort area, large properties directly at the white sandy beach, lush gardens.
  • Jimbaran – seafood restaurants and BBQ directly on the beach, every night (busy, fresh seafood, tasty)
  • The western and southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula in the south of Bali (Ungasan, Uluwatu, Pecatu). Surfer’s paradise and still a little bit off the beaten track, white sandy beaches, steep cliffs: Padang Padang Beach, Bingin Beach, Dreamland, Balangan…. Some of the most amazing and hotels villas can be found here.
  • Amed is the place where most scuba divers stay and where you can dive around the famous Japanese shipwreck
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  • Visa and Master Card are most accepted.
  • Credit Card payment in hotels, most restaurants and shops is possible these days. But the more remote, the less likely.
  • A surcharge of 2 – 4% is applied when using credit cards in small shps and restaurants, because the card companies deduct up to 3% off the bill from the vendor, which can be a lot for small businesses .
  • Street vendors: only cash and best in IDR
  • You can pull money from ATM easily (in remote areas like Lembongan, you might not find a working machine).
  • The main currencies such as US$, AUS$, EUR, GBP, YEN, NZD, SGD will be accepted and changed almost anywhere.
  • Make sure to go to official money changers. DON’T USE HOLES -IN-THE-WALL money changers. Many of them are great tricksters. If the place looks small and dodgy, it most certainly is dodgy
  • Payment is done in IDR (Indonesian Rupiah).
  • Bring some cash, your credit card and a normal bank card.
  • Max amount you can withdraw in one go at an ATM is either 1.250.000 – 1.500.000 (machine with a 50.000 sticker) or 2.500.000 – 3.000.000 (machines with a 100.000 sticker).
  • Pulling from an ATM you will be charged a fee between 2 and 5 US$ depending on the bank. But exchange rates are good, which makes it roughly the same, as if you bring your cash and change it here at a money changer
  • Traveler cheques are a memory of the distant past
  • Bargaining with street vendors who don’t display prices is a must. But it’s also nice to respect and value their work, effort, and services, and to pay fair prices. Live and let live!
  • Left-hand traffic in Bali – kind of ;-). Call it creative driving. More IMPORTANT Tips on handling traffic can be found here.
  • Scooter rental costs 5-15US$ per day. Always put safety and reliability first. Never compromise rather pay more than too little. Never hire run down scooters to save a buck.
  • Keep the mobile no. of the motor bike rental shop with you. You might need it.
  • Proper scooters and motor bikes with insurance and 24/7 service can be found here
  • Car with driver for 8-10 hours costs 40-70US$ per day. Always check drivers and car’s condition. Make sure they have a driver’s license and the permission to be a driver (izin, insurance issues).
  • To self-drive you need an international driving license, also for a motor scooter (car license is enough for 125-150cc bikes) Forgot your IDP? No problems you can get an international driving permit  online within minutes
  • Yes, there is something like Uber: GoJEK and Grab (Apps), best option to get around if you can’t rent a scooter by yourself. But in some areas drivers are afraid to go because the local communities are against it and will harass the drivers.
More about Transportation, Driving Safely and Renting a Bike
  • Get a tourism SIMCard for 30 days in one of the mobile shops for your smart phone (ca. 10-30USD) depending on the internet package
  • Most, most, most restaurants (and shops) have free wifi
  • Hardly anybody is using phones in hotel rooms anymore, Of course, Whatsapp, Skype, and Facetime are the best and cheapest ways to stay in touch with your loved ones at home.
  • Hotels offer free wifi usually in all areas, not just the rooms.
  • Plenty of co-working spaces and digital nomad friendly restaurants and cafes.
  • Mobile phone internet connections are usually ok, even in some remote areas.
  • When driving, better be connected with your phone, you need google maps or waze for sure.
More about SIMCARDS
  • Bali (Menjangan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan) is scuba paradise. More than 100 dive centers and great dive spots
  • Bali has probably he highest spa density in the world.
  • Full body massage starts 7US$ per hour, but can go up to 60+US$/h in 5 star hotels
  • Nail & Hair Salons, Massage parlours of any quality and even cosmedical centres of the highest standards are available
  • Surfing for beginners at Kuta, Legian and Seminyak Beach. More advanced in Canggu, pros in Uluwatu
  • Bali has a wave for everyone, all year around. Many surf spots with easy access
  • Top Temples: Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Besakih, Tirta Empul
  • So many things to do: Climbing a volcano, Canyoning, downhill cycling, or a hike through traditional villages will get you closer to nature and Balinese culture
  • Ubud should be part of your tour program. It’s indeed special.
  • Bali is a Shopping Paradise; art work, handicrafts, oils and essence, clothes, shoes, furniture, accessories
  • Day of Silence, Nyepi, no check-in or check-out from hotel. Entire island incl. airport is shut down!
  • Manta Rays and Mola Mola fish around Nusa Penida and Lembongan
  • Getting married on Bali is a real thing; wedding organisers offer full service.
  • Don’t smile at the monkey in the monkey forest or temples, showing teeth is a sign of aggression for them
  • Water sport activities can be found at Benoa (jet ski, para gliding, water ski etc).
  • Worth a visit for 2-4 days: Neighboring Islands Lembongan, Ceningan and Nusa Penida less than 45min by boat from Sanur. PARADISE.
  • When it’s raining the sidewalks can be extremely slippery
    Sidewalks can have large and deep holes, that can’t be seen at night.
  • Driving a scooter, the best thing to do in Bali, but also the most dangerous. Never go too fast – 40km/h is sufficient.
  • Fatal traffic accidents happen very often. Yes, VERY often. Main Reasons: drinking, drugs, overestimating one’s own skills, stupidity, lack of practice, lack of understanding of the traffic, recklessness.
  • Loose chippings are everywhere on the road.
  • Expect cats, dogs, chicken…anything can cross your way while driving anytime. And any vehicle can come towards you from any direction, anytime.
  • Never drink and drive, if you want to leave Bali in one piece.
  • Currents in the sea can be dangerous at times, and they can change depending on the weather and wind conditions; also good swimmers have drowned in Bali.
  • Night swimming… no no no (particularly under the influence of alcohol and drugs) even if seems like fun, but it will most likely lead to Bali being your last destination.
  • The ocean is unpredictable. Watch rip currents, undertows, and big waves in general. Watch your kids at all times.
  • Don’t do drugs – it’s not worth it, when you get caught. really nor worth it. Yes, many do it, but the police is getting stricter.
  • There is crime and scam in Bali, although not much compared to many other destinations), but stay alert with your belongings. Use your common sense.
  • Prostitution is illegal on Bali
  • HIV is rather widespread among prostitutes
  • Kuta and Legian Clubs and Bars can get rough at times. Some security guys here might not be as calm and objective as you expect at times. Don’t trust the security guys blindly. They are often part of the problem and not part of the solution in these “nightlife districts”.
  • For ladies Topless on the beach is not allowed and not well appreciated in hotels.
  • When walking on the street and around “town” don*t wear your string bikinis and were a t-short or something. Balinese are open-minded but they don’t like it at all
  • When drinking people do the weirdest stuff, using their streets as toilets, disrespectful and loud behavior, fighting.
  • Don’t touch the head of a Balinese.
  • Dudes, please wear a t-shirt in shops and restaurants!
  • Use mosquito net and repellent when possible. Dengue fever is a real thing here.
  • The red light district and night life areas attract criminals of all sorts – like in any other place in the world, so always stay alert and don’t drink too much, stay with friends if you can
  • ATM machines: always put your hand above the keypad when typing your code. ALWAYS! And check if it looks dodgy.
  • General rule – like in any other place in the world. If a place looks dodgy and you can avoid it and go somewhere else, do so
  • Bali is a fragile island. Trash, Water and Traffic are big problems, like in any other part of the developing world. Help the Balinese, by being a conscious consumer and visitor.
  • Try to take short showers and avoid wasting water.
  • Everything you throw away stays in Bali or will be washed into the sea. Effective rubbish management in this part of the world is not really existing. Landfills are their best options, and this is of course a problem.
  • Plastic and trash from packaging all our consumables is problem no. 1. Avoid plastic bottles, straws, plastic bags when shopping at least.
  • Most workers you will meet have a salary of around 150 to 250US$ per month and work hard for their money, travel long distances and share their income with other family members.
  • Balinese are super friendly and welcoming. They are also proud and are happy if you respect their customs and island.
  • Being angry and shouting is not appreciated. If you have a complaint, be polite, calm and insist on a solution in a friendly manner if you wish to get any result.
  • Indonesian Glove cigarettes are called Kretek and are smoked everywhere
  • TROPICAL CLIMATE
  • Rainy season, October to February, Dry season March to September
  • Best time to come here: Apr – Jun & Sep, Oct.
Weather Guide