Exploring the island of Bali in Indonesia was a whirlwind. Many of my expectations were immediately thrown out the window and I learned so much about this new culture in the short time I stayed there. Here are some travel tips for your next trip to Bali!
Getting In and Out of Indonesia
1) Arriving to Indonesia internationally, be prepared to pay a $35 USD visa fee at the airport.
2) Leaving from Indonesia internationally, you’ll pay 150,000 Rupiah as an exit fee.
3) This is CASH ONLY and in the currency listed.
4) Always take a metered taxi that has the traditional “Taksi” light on the top of the car. You shouldn’t have to negotiate a price to get somewhere. The meter price will always be cheaper than the negotiated price.
5) Keep your passport, jewelry, any money you won’t use that day, and other valuables in your hotel safe.
6) Keep your bags and pockets closed. Watch out for your using your phone in public. Someone may come up and snatch it.
7) Always tell your hotel where you’re going just in case something happens to you. It’s good to be a little paranoid sometimes.
8) It’s normal for taxis to honk at you. They’re trying to get your attention so they can see if you need a ride.
9) Praying during business hours is normal. Don’t interrupt them!
10) You’ll find baskets and bowls in the streets filled with flowers, cigarettes, food, and sometimes money. These are offerings that the locals use for praying. Don’t take them and avoid stepping on them if you can.
11) Indonesians bargain on a lot of products in tourist destinations. If it’s not a fixed price, you can negotiate it down to where you’re comfortable paying.
12) Shop workers will constantly try to sell you things you don’t need, want, or show any interest in. “Hair braiding, massage, manicure, pedicure, headphones, sarong….”
13) The locals drive very fast, swerve around slower drivers, and honk their horns incessantly. I thought I would have a heart attack when we started driving into oncoming traffic! They also drive on the left side.
14) Some motorists wear helmets and some don’t. You can expect to see very young kids on motorbikes and sometimes families of 4 all squeezed onto one.
15) Cash is accepted everywhere and is the most easy form of transaction. Some places don’t take cards at all or they have a minimum spending limit on paying with a card. The spending limit will be more than the amount on your check.
16) You need to ask for the check when eating out. They won’t automatically bring it to your table.
17) Most places have free wi-fi.
18) You can’t drink the tap water. Only drink bottled water to avoid getting Bali Belly.
19) Many Indonesians will speak a few words of English. If they have trouble understanding, they may ask another local to translate.
20) When you line up to the bathroom, it’s not single file. You pick your stall and form a line in front of it. The bathroom will have several lines of people for the variety of toilets. Bring your own wipes just in case they run out of toilet paper.
21) The tours you book will only include the cost for the car, driver, and gasoline. Expect to pay all of your own entrance fees, parking, tickets, and refreshments….in cash.
22) Don’t ever leave your items unattended. It may seem obvious, but leaving your bag alone for even a minute could mean coming back to a lighter load.
23) Tipping in Indonesia is usually an extra little something that is not expected. If you’re going to tip, it’s at your discretion. Otherwise, I let the occasionally included service charge do the talking.
24) If you’re going to tip, give it directly to the person and say “Thank you. This is for you.” If you leave it in the check or on the table, they’ll come running after you to return it.
25) Temples – If you’re going to the temples, bring a sarong with you. It’s the equivalent of a very large scarf to wrap around your bottom half like a skirt. You must wear the sarong if you’re going on the temple grounds. It’s required for both males and females. You’re fine wearing your regular clothes if you are just looking at it from afar.
26) City Dress – Around the city, people wore regular clothes like shorts, skirts, tank tops, and jeans. Bring some sunglasses and a hat so you don’t bake in the sun. There are many religious populations in Indonesia so try to stay covered if you can. You shouldn’t be walking around with your tush hanging out no matter where you’re vacationing.
27) If it’s the wet season, bring a change of clothes and an umbrella. It can down pour unexpectedly and a change of clothes will be worth the lugging around.
Greetings/thanks you etc.
28) It is polite to say hello when entering a store and thank you as you leave. The locals will usually put their hands together in a prayer position and perform a small bow in thanks or goodbyes.