I’ve been to Bali so many times that my friends think I live here. The Island of God offers so many things that keep me coming back time and again and I never get tired of this beautiful Island. The beach, the food, the diving, the nightlife, the ambience, and so much more. I am, and forever will be, fascinated by Bali! Plus there’s always something new to discover… sometimes good and sometimes bad. Sometimes it happens to me and sometimes I see it happening to other travelers visiting Bali. And whenever it happens, I always think and say in my heart, “Damn, I wish I’d known that before” or “Ooh… they should have known that”.
So I made this list of things a traveler needs to know before visiting Bali.
1) Use BlueBird taxis when visiting Bali
Airport or hotel taxis and any other transport options at the airport cost double (sometimes triple) what a regular Blue Bird taxi costs. I know I’ve mentioned Blue Bird taxis a lot in my posts but this is because it has a great reputation in Indonesia. Anyway, if you travel in a group or are carrying a heavy suitcase, then perhaps the airport taxis or hotel cars would be a suitable choice. But if you travel with backpack or on tight budget plus stay in Kuta/Legian/Seminyak/Sanur area, you can walk to the gate next to the motorbike parking or the airport entrance gate. Then take a Blue Bird taxi or online motorbike taxi (Gojek, Grabbike).
In my experience, Airport to Kuta (Legian street) costs Rp100k by hotel car, Rp75k-100k by airport taxi, Rp55k-65k by Blue Bird taxi and Rp15k by online motorbike.
Beware of BlueBird-wanna-be Taxis! Since Blue Bird taxis are the first (and only) preferred taxi company, you will find many taxi cars that 99% look like Blue Bird. I only found this to be the case in Bali and got fooled once because it was dark. But I just bargain for the same cost as Blue Bird before taking it. If the driver doesn’t want it, then he will leave you alone.
2) Online transport restrictions
Online taxi/motorbike taxis are not allowed in some areas in Bali. I usually use online motorbike taxis around Kuta, Legian and Sanur. I also use online taxis from a mall or restaurant situated on a big road (such as Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds in Sanur, along Sunset Road). According to the info I have, online taxi/motorbike taxi is only allowed in residential areas.
3) Rental cars and motorbikes for Bali Tours
You can also rent a car when visiting Bali, plus a driver and gasoline for 10 hours and it costs only Rp500k ($35) for a standard route (Kuta, Ubud, Tanah Lot, Jimbaran, Sanur, Nusa Dua) and Rp600k ($42) to see the northern part such as Karangasem (Amed, Tulamben), Singaraja, Lovina, Menjangan.
As for motorbikes, it costs Rp50k per day. It can go down to about Rp40k if you rent it for more than 1 week. Sometimes they ask for your original passport. I would advise to give the copy instead.
4) Bali Belly
Indonesian food is so delicious its one of the best things about visiting Bali! Avoiding eating traditional Balinese dishes on your trip for fear of getting Bali Belly would be a tragedy! But I have to admit that it might happen to us travelers, when visiting a new place, it’s common for new food to make your stomach upset. So the best thing to do is not to forget to bring your own diarrhea meds or do what the locals do. We drink hot sweet tea or mixing 1 tbs sugar and ½ tsp salt in a glass of hot water or take Yakult. Not promoting a brand here, but that is what we do.
5) Drink alcohol only from a sealed bottle
In Bali there’s a lot of clubs where you can get mixed drinks or odd colored cocktails for a really good price. But it gets you drunk easily and sometimes makes you spend the rest of your evening near the toilet seat. I read some cases that it makes you sick. So I would advise to stick to the sealed bottle of drinks.
6) Getting greeted by random guys in Bali
As a tourist in Bali, I feel happy when a friendly face says hi to me out of the blue. But then, they offer you to go to their store or tell you that you would be able to make big money! Of course, these are scams or a marketing approach to sell something. There is also a time when they offer you other thing… like what happen to me and my Japanese friend, they approached us to offer ‘male escort service’ hahaha.
7) Carry your handbag/purse away from the street
A few years ago, I almost got robbed when walking back to my hotel in Kuta. I was carrying my purse with my left hand which was just next to the street traffic. Then suddenly I felt someone snatch it and yep, a guy in a motorbike tried to steal my bag. Luckily it was strapped firmly to my hand so I didn’t lose it. I heard it was not the first time this has happened in Bali. So make sure you don’t carry your bag near the street. Consider using a sling bag/messenger bag.
8) Do not leave your valuables unattended on the beach.
Enough said right 😉
9) The culture and religion of the Balinese should always be respected
I learnt a few things about this that you need to be careful with when traveling to Bali;
- You need to wear a long sarong/clothing that covers your waist and legs when entering any temple area.
- Women on their period are not allowed to be in the temple area, no matter how small the temple is.
- The tree that has sarong/cloth on it (eg. wrapped with a checkered cloth) is a sacred tree. So do not throw anything or even pee on/near it. It will be considered disrespectful. The local belief is that something bad will happen to any person that doesn’t respect these trees.
- Do not step on their offerings to God which you can find placed in front of their stores, restaurants and houses.
- Do not use a flash when taking a picture of their ceremony.
- Use your right hand when pointing to something.
- Touching a Balinese person’s head is considered impolite.
- When you need to ask for directions, get off your vehicle and turn off the engine. Then approach the person directly. Otherwise, it’s considered impolite.
10) Know what to expect from the different areas of Bali
Other things I wish I’d known before visiting Bali are which areas to explore. Through all my many trips I’ve got to know Bali pretty well. Here’s a run down of what you can expect from each area in Bali so you can plan your trip accordingly;
Kuta: The craziest touristy part of Bali, but the beach has a good sunset view. Most backpackers or teenagers are seen in this area.
Seminyak: For the sophisticated and affluent travelers with many nice restaurants, cafes, and clubs.
Ubud: A nice place to relax and enjoy the lush green rice paddy fields. This is a great place for art lovers and digital nomads.
Sanur: The expat and dive center area. You can watch the sunrise from Sanur beach but Amed is the best spot for snorkeling.
Tulamben: For divers! This is a great place to try scuba diving as there’s a wide variety of fish around here.
Menjangan Island: Visit this island for the colorful corals. Both places are good spots for snorkeling too.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida: Laid-back islands to relax and both offer amazing views above and under the water. A very different vibe than Bali for sure.
Well, this list has become a long one. I hope it will be useful for you! Let me know in the comments if there’s any other important (or fun) things to know before you visit Bali.
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