Things To Know Before You Go To Bali

Bali, Indonesia

I’ve been lucky enough get over to Bali a couple of times and I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks in my time over there. So I thought I’d put together a list of things that I think would be handy to know for a first-time traveller to the beautiful Indonesia island.

Arriving at Ngurah Rai International Airport

The first thing you need to know about arriving in Bali is that some nationalities will need to pay for a Visa On Arrival. In the past, it was $35 USD for Australians. But on my last visit, I found out that Aussies no longer need a visa for stays less than 30 days.

That said, on my three different trips to Bali, the visa rules have changed three different times so it’s always best to check with your local Indonesian embassy to make sure. For up to date information for Australian travellers head to – https://www.kbri-canberra.go.id/en/menu-visa-service/free-visa-for-short-visit

Another thing to watch out for at the airport is porters grabbing your bags. Since the introduction of the new airport terminal in 2014, it really seems to be less of an issue, but it still pays to be wary of porters grabbing your bags for you. All they trying to do is make some quick money out of naive tourists and offering to help you organise taxis at exorbitant rates. It’s just better to grab your own bags and be responsible for them yourself. Saves you any hassle later.

Getting From The Airport To Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu

In my experience, the best thing to do is to have a driver organised in advance to pick you up from the airport and drop you at your accommodation.

I’ve got one that I use every time I go to Bali, but you no doubt if you’ve got a friend or family member who has been to Bali before they’ll be able to recommend one as well and put you in touch before you head on over.

That said drivers might have other customers already booked in or you can’t organise a driver in advance, then you’ll need to take a Taxi. In that instance 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 Taxi’s are the only official 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 almost always cheaper.

Savvy travellers can negotiate with the other taxi drivers if they feel up to the task. I would recommend that you try to avoid this if it is your first time travelling to Bali. That said the going rate for a Taxi to the Kuta/Seminyak area is about 120,000 to 150,000IDR. To get to Canggu is usually between 250,000 and 300,000IDR depending on your negotiation skills (and if they use the shortcut).

Getting Around Bali

For the brave or foolish (possibly both), the best way to get around in Bali is to rent a scooter. They are the definitely 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.

Ridesharing is available in Bali. Uber, Grab and GoJek are all ride-sharing services available in Bali, that said some of the locals haven’t embarrassed technology and you’ll find lots of signs against those services.

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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