Things To Know Before You Go To Bali

Bali, Indonesia

G’day Travelers! Revisiting some of the destinations I’ve visited in the past, I thought I would put together a handy list of things to know before you go to Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been lucky enough get over to Bali a couple of times so here’s a list of things I think would be handy to know for a first time traveler to Bali.

Arriving At The Airport

The first thing you need to know about arriving in Bali is paying for your Visa On Arrival. I’ve heard different things about the price of the Visa changing, but at the time of writing this post the Visa on arrival charge was $35 USD payable in either US Dollars or Indonesia Rupiah. You will need to make sure that you have some US Dollars or Indonesia Rupiah (preferably both) on you before you leave your home country. I noticed on my last trip they had added some options to pay with Credit Cards or with Australian Dollars. However these took much longer and had many more issues to paying straight up with US Dollars.

Another thing to watch out for at the airport is porters grabbing your bags. In the new airport terminal that opened in 2014 the issue seems to have been reduced, but be wary of porters grabbing your bags for you. They are looking to make some quick money out of tourists by holding your bags hostage till you pay them what ever they ask. It’s just better to grab your own bags and be responsible for them yourself. Saves you any hassle later.

Getting From The Airport

The best thing to do is arrange a driver in advance to pick you up at the airport and drop you off at your accommodation. Drivers are reasonably priced and will normally be more reliable than taxi drivers. If you’ve had a friend or family member who has been to Bali before, ask them who they used as a driver and get in touch with them prior to leaving.

If you can’t organise a driver in advance, then you’ll need to take a Taxi. Walk past the “taxi drivers” haggling for your business at the exit to the airport and walk straight over to the Taxi rank. Look for a Bluebird Taxi and ask the driver to use the meter. Bluebird are the only authorised and reputable Taxi company on the island of Bali and all their Taxi’s are fitted with working meters. Drivers will try to haggle a price first (usually double the meter cost) or tell you the meter is broken. Insist on the meter as it’s always cheaper, if they wont go to the next Taxi that will.

Getting Around

For the brave or foolish (possibly both), the best way to get around in Bali is to rent a scooter. They are the most convenient way to get around Bali at your own pace. However I’ve seen plenty of accidents in Bali and if you’re not 100% confident with your riding skills then it’s best not to risk it.

What I do is organise a driver, I’ve got a driver I was introduced to on my first trip to Bali and he always charges reasonable prices and is really easy to deal with. But if you’ve never been to Bali before you’ll no doubt be able to find a few drivers in most of the tourist areas offering their services and tours. From my last trip to Bali you’ll be looking at about 50,000 to 60,000 Rupiah for a driver and car for the day. Most cars will hold up to 5 people easily so splitting the cost amongst a group of people makes it a really cheap way to get around.

Where To Find Food

It doesn’t matter where you are you’ll find all sorts of food options around Bali. The resorts and touristy areas have a huge selection of restaurants to cater for all sorts of tastes and budgets. If you are looking for something a little more local, and much much cheaper then get outside of the tourist areas to find the local food vendors where you can pick up Gado Gado or Nasi Goreng and Satay all over the island.

Where To Stay

First timers to Bali might want to look at stay in either Kuta or Seminyak. It’s where most of the tourist flock to (at least initially) when they head to Bali and are well catered to for tourism with an abundance of hotels and resorts.

It you are looking to have a second destination on your first trip to Bali then I’d highly recommend heading to the mountains of Ubud. While Ubud has become more touristy in recent years, the hotels and resorts nestled amongst the rice terraces offer a much quieter and completely different view of life on the island of Bali. A good contrast from the beaches of Kuta and Seminyak.

Keeping Healthy

First up, don’t drink the water. Buy yourself sealed bottles of water from any of the numerous convenience stores and supermarkets around. Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Another tip I have for keeping healthy in Bali is take some probiotic and vitamins before you go, something that will build up you immune system before you get there. Bali Belly will knock you around for a few days, but is easily avoidable.

Keeping Safe

Bali is great but they don’t have the same safety precautions that most developed nations take for granted. So you just need to be extra careful about basic things like watching out for scooters, on the road and footpaths. Watching where you step, and where you place your hands so you don’t accidentally fall in a hole, find something sharp or exposed electrical wires. Simple things but people don’t think of them straight away.

Be on the look out for scammers, they aren’t usually dangerous, they are more looking to make easy money off naive tourists. Although people offering drugs and other questionable items should be avoided, chances are they are working with the police and you’ll end up in a world of issues.

Be careful with cheap drinks, often drinks that are ridiculously cheap contain cheaper locally produced alcohol alternatives that are likely arak or methanol. Neither of these are much good for you, and can put you in hospital or worse. If it looks too cheap try something else or go to another venue.

Departing Bali At The Airport

There is a Departure Tax that is payable in Indonesia Rupiah upon passing through migration at the airport. Make sure you keep some Indonesia Rupiah handy as you’ll need to pay a departure tax before you go. At the time of writing this post the departure tax was 200,000 IDR but when I was there last it was 150,000 IDR. It’s worth checking to see what the price is closer to your departure.

Sunset over Bali in 2014

If you’d like to see some suggestions of things to do while in Bali, check out my Top 10 things to do in Bali blog post.

Have you been to the Bali before? Feel something else should have been on the list? Let me know comment below so I can check them out for next time.

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About the Author: Rhys Vandersyde

Traveler, Photographer, Content Creator. I've spent the last 10 years exploring all over the world, but there is still plenty more to see.

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