Bali is an amazing place. It is truly a unique travel destination and has a lot to offer those looking to experience Indonesian culture and be immersed in the kindness of its local people.
My wife and I recently spent 7 days in Bali and as a first-time visitor to the island, it was certainly an experience to remember and one that opened my eyes to the local way of life.
We were fortunate to be in Bali for Nyepi New Year. Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence”. A Hindu celebration, it is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation for the Balinese. Nyepi ran over two days from March 7 to 8th. While there were activities on at the hotel we stayed at, we chose to relax for the day and spend it inside our hotel room relaxing. As it turned out the weather had turned rather nasty for the day and made staying inside that bit easier.
While we did do some shopping and eating out at local restaurants and cafe’s, there were a few highlights of the trip - These include trips to; The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, the Bali Swing and rice fields, Omnia Dayclub, Pura Tirta Empul, The Plantation Grill and La Plancha.
For our accomodation, we chose to stay at the Anantara Resort at Seminyak. This resort is high class in every way. Great location, terrific food, fantastic staff, and great facilities.
During our stay in Bali, there were a few things that stood out as a first-timer to the region so I thought I would share them here.
My top ten suggestions when traveling to Bali.
#1 Exchange your local currency on arrival at Bali airport
There was a significant difference in the exchange rate between the money exchange at the airport in Sydney compared to Bali airport — a 20% difference. Thanks to the advice of Shane from the Virgin Transit Lounge, we received considerably more in our pocket after cashing out in Bali airport. Check ahead and watch the exchange rates leading up to your trip to know what’s a good deal.
#2 Buy an umbrella (or poncho) when it’s sunny
It will most likely rain at some stage on your trip to Bali. When is does you will wish you had an umbrella. When it does, umbrellas and ponchos will cost more so you will need to bargain a little harder. Save yourself the hassle and buy protection from the rain as soon as you get there before you need it.
#3 Smile and be nice
After a while walking the streets of the main tourist locations you may soon start to feel a bit put off or annoyed with the constant ‘pestering’ to purchase something from the street shops. After the second day, I had enough of being called “boss” and being followed down the street by street-side shop owners wanting me to buy something. However, it’s easy to forget they are struggling business owners just trying to make a living. Respect this and simply smile and say no thanks and keep walking.
#4 Buy big bottles of water to top up your refillable bottle
In Bali you should not drink water that does not come in a sealed bottle. If you’re like me and drink a couple of litres of water a day, it pays to buy larger 2 litre bottles and just top up your travel bottle. Otherwise, you will be constantly buying water. While water is readily available, it just works out more economical to buy in bulk or larger bottles. Also, don’t wash your drinking bottle with tap water. The ice in Bali is said to be safe as the island’s ice supply is quality-controlled by the local government.
#5 Take a power adapter
Seems obvious but it is something that can be easily overlooked. Throw in a power board multi-adaptor with USB slots to be sure you can charge your gadgets and batteries when you get there. Consider taking a portable power pack also for power on the go.
#6 Separate your cash into small amounts so not to give away how much cash you have
With an exchange rate of about IDR$10,000.00 to AUD$1.00 (at the time of our travels), you will soon find yourself carrying a lot of notes in your pocket. Take some elastic bands and separate your cash into smaller, easier to carry amounts. Take small amounts out of your pocket to pay for items otherwise, you may spend more time in the shop then you planned.
#7 Invest in a driver if you can afford it
Before we set off on our trip we were given the contact details for a driver some friends of ours had used who came highly regarded — Gede Rukiana.
Trusting our friends we canceled the transport we had arranged via the hotel we were staying at and contacted Gede immediately. After a few messages on WhatsApp we had arranged for him to pick us up from the airport to take us to the hotel. As it turned out, this was one of the best decisions we made. On the drive to the hotel we got to know Gede and with his help, booked out the next two days activities and his time to take us to the various destinations. There is no shortage of taxi’s to jump into in Bali. Some you can trust, others you shouldn’t. The price we paid Gede for his time, knowledge and assistance was well worth it and it greatly enhanced our stay in Bali.
Contact Gede via WhatsApp to arrange an airport pickup or day tour. Say Justin recommended him!
#8 Take a credit card out with you
Don’t rely on being able to tap— tap your mobile phone, smartwatch or device. Places that accept credit cards do not offer the option to tap (or at least we could not find one), only swipe. This caught me out on our second day. Take a prepaid visa card if your security conscious and carry cash at all times.
#9 Talk to strangers — make friends
I think I am a friendly person, I can talk to pretty much anyone. A trait I think I inherited from my dad. During our trip, I would often ask the person next to me where they’re from and if this was their first time in Bali. It is amazing what can happen by asking such a simple question. We ended up spending time during our trip with people from Greece, Germany and of course, Australia (Sydney and Melbourne). Added a lot of value to our stay.
#10 Day Clubs are the new big thing
There seem to be day clubs shooting up everywhere and they are very popular, particularly with tourists. Depending on the type of experience you’re after and your purpose for visiting Bali, day clubs, while an awesome experience, can be expensive.
We spent our second day at Omnia Dayclub. With an entry fee for a day bed for 2 people of IDR$2,400,000.00 including taxes (about AUD$240) you get a poolside double day bed and access to the entire club, pool, and bar. With a DJ cranking the tunes out all day, horizon pools on the edge of the ocean and great food, you need to make the most of your time here, which is pretty easy to do.
Some Instagram shots of the trip
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This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of tips, rather just ten of my personal observations I wanted to share.
If you’re traveling to Bali I would suggest doing your own research and also seek medical advice from your doctor regarding medications to take with you and injections you may need.
Have your own tips for traveling to Bali? Drop them on the comments below.