Travel Tips for Bali

Introduction

Our comprehensive guide on Bali travel tips provides essential advice for travellers. Learn how to navigate local customs, make the most of transportation options, ensure your safety and health, and savour the unique local cuisine. Whether it’s the year-round appeal, the culturally rich experiences, or practical travel tips on getting around, this guide will help you have an unforgettable Bali adventure.

Key Takeaways

  1. Year-Round Destination: Bali can be visited any time of the year, with the monsoon season bringing brief, pleasant rain showers.
  2. Rich Culture: Bali stands out with its unique blend of Hinduism and traditional beliefs, making it a culturally rich destination.
  3. Transportation: Utilize airport transfers, online taxi apps, private car drivers, motorbike rentals, and trusted taxi services like Blue Bird.
  4. Money and Connectivity: Use legitimate money changers, purchase a local SIM card, and use essential apps like WhatsApp and GOJEK.
  5. Safety Tips: Be vigilant about your belongings, always lock your doors, and respect local customs and laws.
  6. Health Precautions: Use mosquito repellent, carry remedies for Bali Belly, apply high SPF sunscreen, and consider recommended vaccinations.
  7. Local Cuisine: Enjoy Balinese and Indonesian dishes such as Nasi Campur, Babi Guling, and traditional drinks like Jamu.
  8. Embrace Rainy Season: The rainy season offers lush scenery, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
  9. Dress Code: Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  10. Support Local: Eat, drink, stay, and shop locally to contribute to the economy and experience authentic Bali.

Overview of Bali

Bali has been a sought-after destination since the 1980s tourism boom. Despite challenges such as drug-related crimes and two terrorist bombings in the mid-2000s, Bali has rebounded and remains a top choice for tourists worldwide. The island is celebrated for its wellness retreats, spiritual healing centres, picturesque beaches, and lush natural beauty. Due to the increase in remote working opportunities, it’s also a popular hub for digital nomads.

Bali is part of Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, but stands out with 83% of its population practicing Hinduism. One of Bali’s famous local dishes is Babi Guling, a spit-roasted pig served with Nasi Campur (mixed rice). Balinese Hinduism is unique, blending core Hindu beliefs from India with Bali’s traditional practices.

Best Time to Visit Bali

Bali is an all-year-round destination. The monsoon season (mid-December to March) brings occasional rain, but it’s typically brief, making the weather more pleasant for exploring. Recent volcanic activity at Mount Agung has caused some flight cancellations but has not led to serious consequences, as the volcano is far from residential and tourist areas. Earthquakes from the neighbouring island of Lombok have also had minimal impact on Bali.

Public Holidays and Important Dates in Bali

Bali celebrates several Hindu holidays. The most notable is Nyepi, the Day of Silence, marking the new year according to the Saka calendar. Nyepi involves a day of silence, fasting, and meditation, with tourists required to stay indoors. Other important holidays include Galungan and Kuningan, which celebrate the victory of dharma (good) over adharma (evil).

Getting Around Bali

From the Airport:

  • Pre-book Airport Transfers Online: The best and most economical option.
  • Online Taxi Apps: GOJEK and Grab are permitted at the airport.
  • Ngurah Rai Taxi: The official taxi operator at the airport.
  • Negotiating with Normal Taxi Drivers: Suitable for those who enjoy bargaining.

Transportation Options:

  • Private Car Driver: Hire a private car with a driver from approximately $33/day.
  • Rent a Motorbike: A popular choice among locals and expats, costing around Rp 70,000 a day or Rp 700,000 a month.
  • Call a Motorbike with GOJEK or Grab: Available even in areas where car services are restricted.
  • Blue Bird Taxi App: The most trusted taxi operator in Bali.

Practical Bali Travel Tips

Money and Connectivity:

  • Money Changer: Use legitimate money changers, such as those inside banks or convenience stores.
  • Data SIM: Pre-purchase a 4G XL SIM Card for around $7.
  • WhatsApp: Essential for communication.
  • GOJEK App: For transport and food delivery services.

Safety and Cultural Norms:

  • Watch Your Belongings: Be cautious of bag snatchers.
  • Always Lock Your Doors: Even when inside your accommodations.
  • Tipping: Not mandatory, but appreciated.
  • No Plastic Bags: Bring a reusable shopping bag, as single-use plastic bags are banned.

Health Precautions:

  • Mosquito Repellent: Use products like Autan.
  • Bali Belly Remedies: Activated charcoal tablets and Tolak Angin.
  • Sunscreen: Use at least SPF 50.
  • Vaccinations: Hepatitis A, typhoid, and tetanus are often recommended. Rabies vaccination is also worth considering due to its presence in Indonesia.
  • Bring a Reusable Bottle: Bali’s tap water is not safe to drink. Stick to bottled water or use a bottle with a built-in water filtering membrane.

Local Food and Drinks

Balinese Cuisine:

  • Nasi Campur: Mixed rice with various side dishes.
  • Babi Guling: Spit-roasted pig served with rice.
  • Tipat Cantok: Boiled veggies, rice cake, and tofu in peanut sauce.

Indonesian Cuisine:

  • Bakso: Meatball noodle dish.
  • Nasi Goreng: Fried rice.
  • Mie Goreng: Fried noodles.
  • Satay: Grilled meat skewers with peanut sauce.
  • Soto Ayam: Shredded chicken soup with rice or vermicelli.

Beverages:

  • Avocado Juice: Smoothie-like with condensed milk and chocolate sauce.
  • Jamu: Traditional herbal drink.
  • Loloh Cemcem: Balinese herbal concoction.

Additional Bali Travel Tips

Embrace the Rainy Season

Bali’s rainy season from October to April features short showers, lower prices, lush scenery, warm weather, and fewer crowds.

Buy Some Bug Spray

Mosquito repellent is essential, especially during the rainy season. Locally made products are more effective and cost-efficient.

Avoid Travelling During Peak Times

Traffic can be heavy, especially in Denpasar and Kuta. Peak times are 6 am to 8 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. Allow extra time for travel.

Dress Appropriately

While skimpy swimwear is fine for the beach, modest clothing is required for religious sites. A light cotton scarf can double as a sarong for temple visits.

Respect Local Customs

Avoid drugs, dress appropriately at religious sites, always wear a helmet when riding a motorbike, and treat locals with respect.

Seek Local Knowledge

Hotel staff are great resources for local recommendations. Balinese people are proud of their island and happy to share their favourite spots.

Support Local Businesses

Support local businesses by dining at family-run restaurants and opting for local brands. This helps the local economy and provides a more authentic experience.

Carry Some Loose Change

While many businesses accept cards, smaller shops and services may only take cash. Keep some change handy for these occasions.

Get Around by Bali Scooter

Scooters are the cheapest and most convenient way to travel. Prices are lower for scooter journeys compared to cars. Always check driver reviews and wear a helmet.

Beach Etiquette

Respect local customs at the beach, avoid topless sunbathing, and be mindful of your surroundings.

Local Markets

Visit local markets such as Ubud Market for unique souvenirs and an authentic shopping experience.

Eco-Friendly Travel

Reduce plastic use by carrying a reusable water bottle and shopping bag. Participate in beach clean-ups if possible.

Cultural Etiquette

Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple. Avoid touching people’s heads as it is considered disrespectful.

Temples and Offerings

When visiting temples, dress modestly and be respectful of the religious practices. Do not step over or disturb offerings (Canang Sari) found on sidewalks.

Bargaining Tips

Bargaining is common in markets and small shops. Start with a lower price and negotiate politely.

Language

Learning a few basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia can be helpful and appreciated by locals.

Respect Wildlife

Avoid feeding or disturbing animals, including the monkeys at popular spots like Ubud Monkey Forest.

Driving in Bali

If renting a scooter or car, ensure you have an international driving permit. Be cautious of traffic and local driving habits.

Emergency Contacts

Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local hospitals, your country’s embassy, and the local police.

Final Thoughts

Bali is a diverse and enchanting destination with something for everyone. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, these Bali travel tips will help you make the most of your trip.