Bali life can be a bit of a culture shock for first timers; it’s busy, overwhelming, loud and you will get hassled.
But if you relax into your first few days, be friendly and let it all sink in, Bali can be a wonderful place to shop, dine, sightsee and soak in the local culture. There are many more amazing things to do in Bali
Here are nine rules every tourist should know before they visit, from why you should BYO bags, to which cab companies to use.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Bali is a land of beauty and contrasts, and as such, there’s plenty to see and experience.
From the hustle and bustle of beachside Kuta and Seminyak, to the laid-back vibes of Canggu and Nusa Dua and the cooler mountainous regions of Ubud and Kintamani, Bali is really like a choose your own adventure when it comes to deciding what kind of holiday experience you’re after.
There are a few basic things you need to know when planning your Balinese escape.
Like all international destinations, Indonesia requires a minimum six months’ validity on your passport from your entry date into Bali. If travelling on an Australian passport, you can get a free visa on arrival into Indonesia, unless you plan on staying for 31 to 60 days. If you are, buy the $US35 visa on arrival at the immigration counter in Bali Airport in Denpasar. Departure tax is included.
There are numerous Facebook groups offering advice for first timers to Bali about everything from where to get the coldest Bintangs and best value nasi goreng to how much to pay for souvenirs, clothes, bags and shoes, but be choosy as some have questionable standards when it comes to the ethical treatment of animals in Bali. If you do want to have a wildlife encounter, be informed about which animal attractions are ethical and offer sustainable, cruelty-free activities. The TripAdvisor and World Animal Protection websites have the latest information on animal tourism.
BRING YOUR OWN BAG
Shopping is an Olympic sport in Bali, so make sure you’ve got some staying power — and a good sense of humour. You can buy anything from T-shirts and drink holders to jewellery and penis-shaped bottle openers. The Balinese love to haggle. And hassle. You’ll be catcalled and followed with offers of lower prices and better value, but it’s all in good fun.
It’s not a bad idea to bring your own reusable shopping bags on an outing too. Not only is it good for the planet but you’ll avoid being “labelled”; if you do happen to get ripped off, some shop owners will place your goods in a certain coloured plastic bag, which means you are an easy target for inflated prices. Just remember, haggling is supposed to be fun, and often you’ll be squabbling over a few dollars. Sometimes it’s better to give in and move on. There is also a rise in the number of fixed price shops in major shopping areas, so you can avoid haggling altogether.
ONLY USE BLUE BIRD TAXIS
Bali can be chaotic when you first land at Denpasar International Airport, so arrange a pick-up before you leave home and avoid the craziness. Make sure you get an airconditioned van or car as the Bali heat can be stifling.
Travel charges around the island vary immensely. If you’re using taxis, only use metered Blue Bird Taxis. You can download the Blue Bird Taxi app and order a ride, just as you would with Uber. You can also hail one on the street, but be careful it’s not a Blue Biro Taxi, or Blue Bire Taxi … some drivers go to great lengths to make their taxis like an official Blue Bird.
Traffic is horrendous, so allow plenty of time on top of the “expected arrival time”. Hiring a scooter to get around is quicker and more economical, but it can be hair raising if you’re not experienced. Also, no insurance company will cover you for vehicle, scooter or motorcycle accidents unless you have a valid Australian licence for that vehicle as well as an Indonesian licence, so a local driver may be the best option for longer sightseeing trips. The going rate for a reputable driver is $50 per day, up to about eight hours of sightseeing. If you’re after supplies, you can download and use the Gojek app to have just about anything delivered to your hotel door.