Indonesia is the 3rd largest Democracy on the planet, after India and the USA.
Bali is one of 17508 islands that make up Indonesia.
Indonesia is a Muslim country, but Bali is 92% Hindu.
Bali is located east of the main island of Java at 8-9 degrees south of the equator.
Bali is 95 miles wide west to east and 69 miles long north to south.
Bali’s capital city is Denpasar, thus the airport abbreviation DPS
Although the airport descriptor is DPS it is located in Kuta. It was ranked 3rd in the world in 2015.
The airport is located at the southern end of the island at the top of a peninsula called the Bukit. This area has some of the most beautiful unique beaches on the island, including Balangan, Bingin, Padang Padang, Dreamland and Uluwatu and of course Jimbaran itself.
Bali has approximately 4 million permanent residents.
Bali is surrounded by other beautiful sparsely populated islands that are an easy day or overnight trip
These islands include Lombok, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and 3 Gili islands.
Although Bali is tropical it has elevations from sea level to 10000 feet.
It offers climate types from arid to tropical rain forests.
Bali has a volcano that hadn’t erupted since the 60’s, but decided to pop off in 2017, harming no one. But that didn’t stop the international press from making a much bigger deal about it than anyone actually living here.
Bali’s raining season varies in intensity by area, but is only 3-4 month in general.
The mountain areas tend to get more rain and be cooler than the beach areas by 10 degrees or more.
Most of Bali slopes gently down to the sea, with white and black sand or rock beaches.
There are only 3 major areas that offer high cliffs to the sea, Bukit, Candidasa/Seraya and Singaraja.
Bali is always in the top five island destination worldwide, almost always topping Hawaii.
Unlike many tourist destinations Bali would rank VERY inexpensive in comparison.
Everything from lodging to food can be had at a very low cost; however attractions tend to be on par with other tourist areas.
Bali is best known for its welcoming and hospitable people, best reflected by a quote from the CEO of the Ritz Carlton, “When we go to a new country, we have to train people in hospitality, in Bali we could only screw it up”! We offer these Bali Tips & Facts in that tradition.
BALI TIPS/ IMPORTANT TO READ BEFORE YOU VISIT
Let me start by saying Bali is one of the most beautiful, warm and friendly places you may ever visit. But like anywhere, there are things to be aware of and watch out for. Bali has changed so much in the last 8-9 years. Petrol has almost doubled. new roads, new airport, new malls and a plethora of new accommodations. We offer these helpful Bali Tips & Facts to help you enjoy our beautiful island. The good news is, there is so much more to Bali than the tourist traps. Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Ubud are tourist rich. But do yourself a favor and explore all Bali has to offer.
If you have not been to Bali before or even if you have. Here are some helpful Bali Facts & Tips we learned over 10 years of visits and then 14 years of living here. We would like to share these with you. To make your stay here even better. Take note, these are tips more for tourists, not for Senior Residence clients, but are still informative.
SMILE: You are about to experience a place like no other. This island has a marked shortage of angry people. Just smile and everyone will do likewise and greet you with open arms. Leave your anger at home and come to Bali with an open mind and heart and it will reward you in kind. There is no road rage here. Unless of course it’s a tourist. Crime is almost nonexistent. It is said that if you are a victim of a crime in Bali, it was probably at the hands of a foreigner.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME: It would be a good idea to call your credit card companies. Let them know where and how long you will be traveling outside your country. Too many folks have gotten here and had their ATM and credit cards turned off by their bank’s security departments. It is obviously a hassle to deal with from here.
VISA ON ARRIVAL NEW RULES: Passport holders of Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailandand Vietnam . If you wish to enter Indonesia for the purpose of governmental duties, education, socio-culture, tourism, business, journalistic or transit. You may do so without visa through all air, sea or land crossing points. However, nationals of Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico,Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Russia, Qatar, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States, and Australia, can enter Indonesia with a visa on arrival for tourism purposes only. And must do so through the following port of entries: Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya for a $35 visa on arrival fee.
LOCAL CELL PHONE SERVICE: Cell phone service here is so inexpensive. No matter what kind of deal you have, it is foolish not to get one for less than $10 for calling, data and internet. There are many GSM providers here, but I recommend XL. Your typical cost per minute with a sim card from a foreign country is $3 to 5 Euros. Before you come to Bali call your local provider and see if your smartphone is unlocked. If not, ask if they will unlock it. Think you won’t need a phone here? Oh contraire!! You can call home in an emergency for about .35 cents a minute. Call your hired driver to tell him to come and get you. Use GRAB (like Uber but better). Notify your next hotel when you may arrive, and wait for it, get a 6GB data package which gives you GPS and internet for less than 5 Euros for a month. Packages change all the time but this is an example of XL. Other providers like Telkomsel will charge you more. Compare that to a local outdated map for $8. For what you’d spend for a two minute call, you could have GPS (Google Maps). A local sim card and a little calling time plus data for free international calls on WhatsApp. Think oh, there is WIFI everywhere??. Isn’t it worth 5 Euros not to have to worry about it. And NO Wi-Fi isn’t everywhere, especially when you are on the move.
EXCHANGING MONEY: DO NOT get much at the airport if any. But NEVER get rupiah in your country. Their rates are not remotely competitive with local exchanges. Once you get to wherever you are going to stay on the island find a storefront money changer with posted rates. Make sure it says no commission. If you feel you prefer, use an ATM. It’s not as good as changing cash with the added fees, but it is reliable and safe.
Always double check someone else’s figures. US $’s you bring to exchange must be new and pristine and I mean pristine. If it has folds or ink marks or bent corners or is old, they may not take it. Even if it is slightly less than pristine they may offer you less for it. 100’s and 50’s bring top rates. Smaller US bills exchange at lower rates. Beware of seemingly better rates offered as they may not be true rates and are not net of commissions. If someone says taxes, run, they are crooks. Count your money carefully. Don’t let them touch it after you count what they have given you. Do it before you leave their counter. Money exchanges with street store fronts are safer than somewhere down an alley. And almost always more competitive than banks. Denominations are pretty simple rounding down, 1000 is about a dime, 5000, 50 cents, 10,000 about a dollar, 50,000 is about $5 and their largest bill 100,000 is about $10 Australian. Current USD & Euro rates are more than 10,000 to 1 at the moment, but it is a good rule of thumb and easy to calculate. You should also check xe.com and plug in your currency compared to the Indonesian Rupiah. This gives you a handle on what you should be getting for an exchange. Don’t expect to get internet rates, as money changers have to make money too. Using foreign currency vs. rupiah leaves you at someone else’s mercy for an exchange rate. Like in stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. Use local money or a credit card for all your purchases, but rupiah is king. Most banks have international fees on top of making money on the exchange and interest. ATM Debit cards are the best for getting local cash, if you don’t have your currency to exchange. If you have the option apply well in advance for a Capital One credit card. They are one of the only US credit card companies that don’t charge a fee for foreign transactions. Usually, most other banks add 3% on top of your purchase.
DRIVING IN BALI: DON’T!!! Police will recognize international driving licenses here. You know those paper ones with your photo stapled to it. Not the one from your country. It’s a must have, so make the time to get one if you want to rent a scooter or car here. Although anyone will rent you a car or scooter, and tell you that is OK, it’s not. There are ways around this and it is not the end of the world if you want to rent a scooter without an international license. Talk to me about it when you arrive. The police will fine you for not having an international license. They might make you jump through lots of hoops if you balk at paying them. not to mention, God forbid, if you have an accident. It just isn’t worth it when you can find a car and a driver here for 400-700,000rp. (Depending on how far you are going, but you shouldn’t pay more than that) per 9-10 hour day. This includes driver and gas, and many speak fairly good English. You’re talking about $10-$20 a day difference between driving yourself and being driven. Then factor in gas, map reading, getting lost, missing the scenery, parking, etc. Is it really worth your time on vacation to save $10 a day? Not to mention, giving some guy a job?? Also Now we have GRAB (it’s an app). It has become my favorite as they don’t increase fares at peak demand like UBER does but both are restricted to certain areas. Taxis are usually double these apps and start at 7000 (.70 cents) on the meter (DO NOT USE A TAXI WITHOUT A METER). The best taxi’s to use are Blue Bird, or Bali Taxi. (Baby blue) They are safe and always have meters. If it is off, demand they use the meter or get out. That being said it is almost always cheaper for any trip of distance to just hire a car for the day. Even with GRAB and UBER Example: A taxi from Jimbaran to Ubud would run between 300,000-350,000rp for an hour drive. For an extra $10 you can have a driver all day and go where ever you want. (within reason) Public transportation is relatively nonexistent, so do not expect to find a bus, easily, it’s not worth the inconvenience. They are out there, but not so convenient when it comes to hauling your luggage around. The new bus system was really not designed for tourists. The flip side of all this is scooters.. IF you’re a brave soul and know how to ride a motorcycle (well) you can get anywhere faster than a car and really cheap. These rent for $5-$10 a day, plus gas. With these you MUST wear a helmet! Be sure the bike paperwork is in the bike, original, not a copy, and that international driver’s license. You can invest in a cheap rain coat or just know you will dry out sooner than later. Remember to ask me about options on the international license. Don’t expect to pay what you have in the past for a car and driver. Gas prices have almost doubled since the old days.
TAP WATER: DON’T DRINK IT, but don’t freak out about it either. It is fine for brushing your teeth and washing out your mouth, or bathing, or washing dishes, just don’t swallow. Bottled water is very cheap to buy here. But is least expensive in super markets, not Circle K, or glass front coolers.
TIPS: It is not customary for locals to tip. But it is sort of expected (and appreciated) from foreigners. 10,000-50,000 is a good enough tip for just about anything from dinner to a massage, if the service is ordinary and as expected. Some Restaurants and hotels have a service fee built-in, and this is why many do not tip. It is already included, but again 10,000 is less than $1. So as there is no standard, tip according to value added. If you feel the service was extraordinary, be generous, your average service employee takes home $80-100 a month.
AIRPORT PORTERS: Negotiate a price before you take a step with these guys. 40,000 per bag is fair and they should take it right to the counter or your waiting vehicle or taxi. Be sure you negotiate a firm price BEFORE they take your bags. As nice as these fellows are, some will to try to overcharge foreigners.
BUYING STUFF: In Bali most things are negotiable. As a foreigner you are considered rich. If you don’t negotiate you’re an idiot in their eyes. Store owners all expect to negotiate and price their items accordingly. If an item has a price on it, it is less likely to be negotiable But it never hurts to ask. For stuff on the street consider offering ¼ of the asking price. Now you have a negotiating position, but be prepared to walk away. More than likely they will come after you. On the street you should never pay more than ½ their first price. This is not to say that is a good buy or not, it’s more about what it is worth to you. It never hurt to ask if there is a discount ANYWHERE. If there is not, they will say fixed price and you can make the call if you want to buy or not.
PACKING FOR BALI: Don’t over pack, everything is pretty cheap here. Especially clothes and toiletries, and there is seldom the need to go formal as Bali is 99% casual. Carrefour is a large superstore that has everything from groceries to clothes at reasonable prices. There are 2 ways to come to Bali. Both start with bringing as little as possible. You can pack everything you need in a carry on and forget luggage. You can find really cheap bags here to buy to take home stuff you may want to buy. Because art, clothes and home décor stuff are REALLY cheap and fabulous here. The other option is to bring your 2 bag limit, empty and fill them up with all the must have goodies you will find here. Shopping in Bali is a blast and almost everyone just loves it.
MONKEYS: Bali has lots of monkeys and people think they can be fun to feed or just watch. However, there are some issues with this you need to be aware of. Some monkeys can be VERY aggressive especially if you have food. They are thieves by nature and will steal anything from you they can So you will need to bribe them with food to get it back. We have regularly seen them take glasses right off people’s faces and even take flip flops right off feet. Jewelry and earrings are also a favorite target, ouch! The best way to avoid this is not to have anything on you they can get at. Stay with a large group if possible. Monkeys will usually not bother groups, or people who do not make direct eye contact with them.
TOILET PAPER: Bali in particular and Indonesia in general is not a toilet paper oriented culture. Many public rest rooms will have limited if any toilet paper. So it is a good idea to carry tissue or wet wipes with you. In better places you will find sprayers on the wall or built into the toilet seats. So you can wash off and then pat dry with your tissue. Bali in particular has no sewer system, only septic tanks. Locals do not use toilet paper and if they do, usually put it in a trash can, not down the toilet.
LEAVING BALI: Some changes here. It use to be 200,000rp each as exit tax. But if you purchased your tickets after February 2015, it should now be included in your ticket.
AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION: Talk to us about this, we can help you make arrangements.
EATING AT JIMBARAN BAY: The cost of eating at Jimbaran Beach can vary dramatically. Here is the catch; NEVER, EVER order off the menu. They make up these platters on the menu and charge crazy money for those. Tourists that don’t want to get up and pick out their own fish will pay a premium for platers. Go to where they have the fresh fish on ice and in glass cases and pick out your own. You are buying by the kilo or gram. They then cook it for you and serve it with rice and vegetables. It is cheaper to pick out your own, the quality and taste is the same. Not as cheap as it use to be, but most will find it a bargain.
BOOKING ACTIVITIES ONLINE: Hotels are one thing, but you will almost never get a better deal online for any activity or transport. Negotiate here in Bali. It is rare that you have to pre-book anything more than a few days in advance, even in high season. So don’t get sucked into online specials for transport or activities. It is almost always cheaper once you are here. A special beware to French tourists. If you want a French speaking driver/guide be prepared to pay double or more for them vs an English speaker. Don’t fall for that driver/guide differential as most professional drivers are guides anyway. We’ve seen French speaking drivers charge up to 70 Euros a day when local rates start around 27 Euros. We are happy to help with anything we can and don’t worry we never up charge or take commissions on anything we book for you.