This list of things to know before you go to Bali may help answer a few questions you may have about travelling to this tropical destination. Some basics are along the line of temples and forests being some of the island’s holiest spots, and that staying mindful and respectful of the local culture is a must.
It’s recommended that you familiarise yourself with useful contact numbers, climatic conditions, and special holidays to avoid experiencing classic travel mistakes. We’ve split them into categories so that you’ll be capable of scan through this page easily and quickly. These tips are quite easy to follow, but when added together, can make a huge difference to your first experience of Bali.
Getting to Bali
Nationals of 169 countries can visit Bali without a visa (for up to 30 days). Visa on Arrival applies for others for a fee (extendable once).
Wet season: October–April
Dry season: May–September
Best time to go: May–August
3. SPECIAL DAYS
Try not to visit Bali during Saka New Year, or Nyepi Day (specific dates are based on the Saka lunar calendar, but usually takes place in March).
Drive on the left lane.
An international drivers’ license is required to rent cars and motorbikes in Bali
Blue Bird Taxi (+62 (0)361 701 111) is a popular and reliable taxi company in Bali. All of their taxis are metered.
Traffic in Bali is notoriously congested, so allow plenty of time if you need to be somewhere at a specific time.
Bemos are public minivan taxis that mostly serve locals for short commutes. You can flag 1 down by the street in more rural areas like you would with a normal taxi. Rates are unfixed but cheaper than most transport options in Bali.
US$1 = Rp 14,000++ (rates may vary)
ATMs dispense Rp 50,000 or Rp 100,000 bills. If you’re using foreign bank cards, Visa or Mastercard, withdrawal fees can be quite high. Beware of skimmers and rigged units. Remember to take your money and ATM card after each transaction.
It’s best to change your money at a bank. If you have to use a standalone currency exchange booth, always check your notes before leaving. Even if the signage says ‘Authorized’, scams are quite frequent in Bali.
You can bargain at most stalls and art markets in Bali. Items sold at shopping malls and brand outlets usually have fixed prices, except during promotional sales.
Tipping isn’t mandatory since prices are subject to 10% government tax and up to 11% service charge. You can choose to tip 5 – 10% of the bill as a token of appreciation.
14. SIM CARDS
SIM cards are widely available at kiosks and convenience stores. Verify SIM and micro-SIM factors upon purchasing.
220 Volts, 50Hz. Electrical plugs are 2-pronged Europlug type.
Bali customs and etiquette
Temples are generally free to visit, though a donation box is available at the entrance. Must-wear on temple visits: a sarong (usually with a sash around your waist), which you can rent for about Rp 10,000. Always use your right hand for gesturing. Using your left hand or feet is considered rude.
Staying safe in Bali
Tap water is not drinkable in Bali. Ice served in drinks at established bars, hotels and restaurants are usually safe.
The penalty for using drugs is death.
Wear minimum accessories when visiting Bali’s monkey forests. Don’t feed or approach the wild monkeys as they can be rather unpredictable.
In case of emergencies, dial 110 for police and 118 for ambulance.