Useful Tips for Bali First-timer
Know where you should stay in Bali
- The most wonderful thing about Bali is that it offers a wide range of lifestyle and experiences depending on where you stay. If you want to party, the Kuta area of southern Bali is for you. Want something more upscale? Try Legian, Seminyak and Canggu.
- If it’s spirituality and wellness you’re after, you’ll want to head toward Ubud.
- Seeking serenity away from the beach crowds and the best snorkeling and diving spot? The north and east coast of Bali is perfect for you. Check out the best hotel in east Bali here: http://bit.ly/2hAdl36
- Traveling with family and safety your primary concern? The top-security resorts of Nusa Dua is your spot.
Best Time to Visit
- Be mindful of Bali’s rainy season (October to April) when planning your trip. Discounts can be great, but if you end up spending your holiday cooped up indoors, you may be left wondering if making the trip was worth it. Fortunately, the rains are often limited to brief afternoon downpours, so your holiday isn't likely to be a total write-off.
Pretty Much Non-Existent Public Transportation
Keep in mind that public transportation is pretty much non-existent here. Unless you plan on staying in the taxi-frequented areas of southern Bali, the best method of getting around is to rent a car or hire a car with a driver. To drive yourself, you’ll need a valid International Driver’s License, which you can easily pick up from your home country before you get here.
Sweating Like There Is No Tomorrow
- Forget your jeans, or that heavy jacket; Bali is hot year-round with an average temperature of 32 degrees. Pack cotton fabrics, kaftans and open-toe shoes. You will live in your swimmers. May to July is considered the best time to visit Bali. You may even be able to walk down the street without leaving a puddle of sweat – but then again, don't count on it.
The cheapest means of exchanging money while traveling is to withdraw money straight from your debit card while abroad. If you’re looking to exchange money in Bali, use only authorized money changers with proper offices and always ask for a receipt. Our recommendation is PT Central Kuta and they have several outlets where you can exchange money – the rates are often better than at formal banks.
Outside the highly touristy regions of Kuta-Legian-Seminyak, you might find yourself frequenting more local-type restrooms, which usually don’t supply toilet paper. Bring toilet wipes with you! Also, small restrooms out in the middle of nowhere don’t typically provide hand soap. Hand sanitizers are fantastic on-the-go soap replacements. Opt for an anti-bacterial, alcohol-based one and use it religiously. There’s no need to pack either of these – you can pick both up from the shops and supermarkets around Bali.
Mind Your Manners
Nobody wants to be purposely rude, but in a foreign country where you’re unfamiliar with local customs and beliefs, it’s surprisingly easy to give offense without intending to. Take these precautions to make sure you don’t come off as a jerk while in Bali:
- Don’t touch or give anything with your left hand. The Balinese traditionally don’t use toilet paper, using water to wash up instead. The left hand usually does the washing up and thus is considered “polluted” and should never be use to touch other people or give someone something.
- Don’t point. This is usually considered rude in a lot of countries so many of you are already used to not doing this. If you need to beckon to someone, it’s best to use your whole hand.
- Don’t intentionally step on offerings in the street. The Balinese put out canang sari every morning as an offering to the Creator. These little packages of woven palm leaves and filled with flowers, herbs, snacks and incense are everywhere. You’ll probably step in a few by mistake, but never purposely walk over one – it can be deeply offensive to any Balinese who witnesses it.
- Don’t touch heads. The Balinese believe the soul resides in the head – making it off limits for people to touch.
- Respect religious processions. This one is a no-brainer and sometimes requires patience, especially if you’re visiting Bali during high holy days like Nyepi. If you’re stuck behind a religious procession, take a deep breath and prepare to wait for it to pass – honking your horn or shouting for people to move is a very big no-no.
- Temple Manners
Avoid Bali Belly
Many travelers experience an upset stomach at some point in their travels – not just in Bali – and this is generally from the changes in diet and activities. It’ll usually pass without much discomfort.
- Do NOT drink tap water. Go with bottled water only and avoid drinks with ice. Note: It’s important to stay hydrated in a tropical place like Bali so always make sure you have bottled water with you.
- Brush your teeth with bottled water to be on the safe side.
- Always clean hands before meals – use a hand sanitizer if the water in the bathrooms seems suspect.
Getting Around Persistent Touts
Even more than Bali Belly, the potential dangers of Bali’s beaches, or the crowded roads, the number one most-cited annoyance of travelers to Bali are the incessantly persistent street hawkers and touts around the tourist centers of the island. The good news is that this is usually only a problem in the heavily touristy areas like the southern parts of the island and central Ubud. If you’re staying in one of these areas and struggling with very persistent touts, the best way to keep it from ruining your vacation is to be polite but firm and carry on doing whatever you were doing. Avoid the handshake – they’ll offer their hand and you might feel rude declining a handshake, but once you accept their offer of a handshake, you’re not going to get away easily – and definitely do not ask how much anything is. The touts can be terribly annoying, but remember that they are people just trying to make a living any way they can and give them a brief smile and a firm “NO” and then busily continue on your way. Another helpful phrase is “Tidak, terima kasih” (No, thank you).
Beware of the Timeshares
- Timeshare scams are commonplace in Bali. You might be approached by a friendly street canvasser or even cold-called at your hotel – even if the caller knows your name and nationality, just remember that they were probably tipped-off by someone who saw your data and politely decline their offer for a “prize” or a “holiday you’ve won.” If you go along with them, you’ll be subjected to a very long, high-pressure sales presentation and if you actually buy the “holiday club” product – just know that timeshare is a completely unregulated industry in Indonesia.
Be Traffic Cautios
- When people think of the dangers in visiting Bali, the first thing that comes to most minds is terrorism. Yet, the sad fact is that Bali’s roads are statistically far more dangerous than bombs. The traffic can be bad in touristy parts of Bali where foot traffic and street traffic commingle in a constant, hectic dance. There are hardly walkable sidewalks around the highly foot-trafficked areas of Kuta beach in southern Bali and combined with the lack of road rules, the chance of accidents is high.
Last thing for sure, You will be back
- Once Bali gets under your skin, don't be surprised to find yourself returning again and again. Some people holiday there annually: others never come back home. There's something magical, ethereal and beautiful about Bali. Be sure to get out beyond your hotel and find it.