Bali Travel Tips: What to Know Before Traveling to Bali

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Bali, Indonesia Travel Tips Guide

Bali has easily become one of my favorite destinations! You might hear people say the vibes in Bali are unlike anywhere else, and it’s so true. It’s something about the culture and simple lifestyle that makes you never want to leave. So Before you make it to Bali, here are some Bali travel tips to know before you go!

The Rice Paddies in the city of Ubud, Bali should be on everyones bucket list
Ubud, Bali Rice Paddy Fields

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Bali Background

Before getting into these Bali travel tips, I wanted to give a very brief background on Bali. Bali is a providence of Indonesia and one of the only Hindu majority islands with over 80% Balinese Hinduism. Known for its lush Volcanic jungles and pristine beaches, Bali has been a huge tourist destination since the 1980s.

With a large ex-pat community, you will find many Balinese who can speak some English. After the well-known book and movie, Eat, Pray, Love, many tourists have come from all over the world to practice Yoga, meditation, and other spiritual retreats in the center of Bali, known as Ubud and one of our favorite places in Bali.

And while Bali has become an extremely popular tourist destination over the years, there are still many Bali hidden gems!

Ubud Palace Water Temple Bali Guide
Ubud Palace Water Temple Bali

Helpful Apps in Bali

  • Whatsapp: Easiest way to communicate with drivers and other locals.
  • Google Maps: Help navigate.
  • Grab Cab service, like Uber.
  • Google Translate app: Helps with language barriers
  • Agoda: Booking accommodation.
  • Currency exchange rate app

Transportation in Bali

Visas

Most countries (140) including the USA, can get a 30-day free entry stamp but cannot extend it. Passports should be valid for 6 months. Always double-check to make sure rules and regulations have not changed.

Flying to Bali

Most likely you will have to fly to Bali depending on where you are coming from. I find the best flight deals on Skyscanner and also learned it might be cheaper to fly into Singapore and then Bali, so check out that combo!

Cars & Scooters

So, Bali does not currently have any mass transportation. Therefore, scooters, taxis, and drivers are your best ways to get around! We found that hiring a driver to bring us on full-day excursions was the easiest, but also the most expensive ($50-$70 USD for the day). If you feel comfortable riding a scooter, this is the cheapest and best option you can do, however, the driving in Bali is crazy! Driving a scooter can be one of the most dangerous things to do in Bali.

Bali also has Grab (like Uber) but as an island, they are trying to ban Grab because it takes jobs away from the local taxi drivers. You can get one occasionally and they are much cheaper, however much harder to find.  For taxis, look for the bluebirds, which are known to be the more honest taxi drivers.

If you want a personal driver, let me know in the comments, or email me and I can give you our driver who was extremely friendly and helpful! If you do get a driver, ask them to pick you up a sim card for your phone when you meet them at the airport; It’s much cheaper! Don’t forget to bargain.

Scooters in Nusa Lembogan

Vaccinations When Traveling to Bali

Bali is still considered a developing country, so proper vaccinations should be practiced. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus are usually strongly recommended. Always check with your doctor or travel health care provider to find out exactly what you need before you go!

Safety in Bali

Bali is generally safe, but just like anywhere, can have some sketchy areas. We felt safe our entire trip in Bali and many ex-pats make Bali their home. Water, on the other hand, is not safe to drink. Similar to Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico, it’s not uncommon for people to get “Bali belly” from contaminated food or water. Make sure your food is fully cooked and looks fresh.

Tip: Since the water is unsafe to drink, bottled water can be found everywhere. Please note, however, one of Bali’s bigger issues is plastic waste. I would consider getting a reusable water bottle with a filter that has bacteria-killing capabilities such as Steripen Ultra or Lifestraw water bottle. This will not only help reduce waste and become more environmentally friendly but in the long run help you save money on buying water. Always double-check with the brand to make sure their filtering capabilities are sufficient for drinking contaminated water.

Animals: You will find lots of stray dogs and monkeys in Bali. As cute as they look, be careful and remember most are considered wild animals. They can bite and scratch, making you take an unwanted trip to the hospital.

 

Travel Health Insurance

Any time we are traveling out of the country, we always look to get travel health insurance. While in Thailand and Malaysia I had to seek medical care and it opened my eyes to how important it is to have it. We used Alliance and were happy with their services and how they resolved our claims. Thankfully we were never seriously injured, but it makes us feel much better knowing we have it. You can check Alliance out here. Not affiliated

Restrooms in Bali

Restroom situations are something I had to learn about the hard way. You might want to make sure you come with extra tissue. You will find most bathrooms have a hose with water instead of toilet paper. There are even quite a few squat toilets. This can be found all over Asia, so if you like to wipe, make sure to have extra tissues in your bag! It is also not uncommon to have to pay a small fee to use a public restroom, so carry small change with you.

Bali Currency

Bali’s currency is in IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) and mainly accepts USD, Euro, and AUS currencies everywhere. We found exchanging our money to IDR was easy.

We used it for shopping markets that didn’t accept credit cards. Plus, when converting your money, you can say you’re a millionaire in IDR!

On the topic of currencies, the cost of living in Bali can be very budget-friendly! You can find affordable hotels as low as $15 a day (maybe even less) and street food as low as $1-3 per meal. If you’re looking for luxury, you can easily get a 5-star hotel for $70-150 a night with many options available. Also, remember to bargain with everything as it is expected.

Tipping in Bali

In Bali, you are not expected to tip. In many cases, locals will feel extremely uncomfortable if you try to tip them. Instead, you can leave services and restaurants good reviews on trip advisor, google, etc, which will help them to continue to grow their business. They might even ask you to do so!

Views of the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Views of the Tegalalang Rice Terraces

Sunscreen/Bug Spray

In Asia, you might find it very hard to find sunscreen without whitening agents in it. It’s always best to bring your own sunscreen and I recommend using a coral safe brand. I’ve used both Blue Lizard Australian Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30 and Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer.

Make sure to bring bug spray with you. In Bali, it’s not uncommon to get Dengue fever. Like West Nile virus,  Dengue is a flu-like illness that can be transmitted by mosquitoes. As your healthcare provider how much DEET is recommended.

Weather in Bali

Bali has two main seasons, dry(meaning no rain) and rainy season. November-March is the rainy season. April-October is hot, humid with little rain. April, May, June, and September are usually cheaper times to visit Bali. July, August, and around Christmas break tend to be the busiest.

Where to Stay in Bali

Where you stay all depends on what you are most interested in. Bali is a really big island, so there are a lot of different cities that might spark your interest. I would highly recommend going to a few different areas of Bali to get the full experience of what Bali has to offer.

Ubud, Bali

If you are interested in temples, culture, jungle vibes, yoga and retreats, Ubud is where you want to be. You will find adorable cafes, rice patty terraces, and some of the most important temples in all of Bali. Ubud also has a huge ex-pat community, coffee plantations, waterfalls nearby and some of the best shopping! I personally loved staying in Ubud, but note just like any city, it’s full of traffic and people. Think Ubud is for you? We stayed right down the block from the Sacred Monkey Forest at Evitel. It was within walking distance to tons of amazing cafes and shops. If you are a moderate budget-friendly traveler, this hotel is perfect for you! 

Sacred Monkey Forest
Sacred Monkey Forest

Nusa Islands

Looking for more of a remote bungalow experience? Then the Nusa Islands are for you! Take a ferry boat (30 mins) from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan. We stayed at The Well House by Mushroom Beach. We had a pleasant stay and were in walking distance to Devils Tear and Dream Beach (top attractions). Exploring the Nusa Islands are best by scooter, but the roads are unpaved and rocky. If you opt-out on the scooter, you can find an open truck bed taxi, but note they tend to be more little pricy than the mainland. We also found you can rent your own bicycle.

Across from Nusa Lembongan is Nusa Ceningan. You can either take a taxi or scooter to the yellow bridge, but only scooters and people are allowed to cross (no cars). Nusa Ceningan is pretty small. You can actually walk the island in a day, which is what we did! Note: it was slightly exhausting in the heat. You will find Instagram favorites such as the Blue Lagoon, Secret Beach and Mahana Point. Nusa Ceningan is known for diving spots, but overall the tides were too strong for us to safely swim anywhere. I would recommend staying in Nusa Lembongan, with a day trip to Nusa Ceningan.

A little further is Nusa Penida, which is the least developed of the islands and the most Instagram famous. Top destinations include Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach, Angels Billabong and Crystal Bay Beach. We only went on a day trip, but if I were to do it over again, I would have liked to stay a full day or two. This island has a lot to offer including swimming with Manta Rays. So, do the Nusa Islands feel like your kind of trip? Check out my in-depth guide for exploring the Nusa Islands, Bali HERE!

Seminyak

Next, is a beach town paradise with lots of shops, food, and tourists alike. Welcome to Seminyak, where you will get more of a beach resort feel. Here you will find trendy food spots, beach clubs and “airport-like” security in most places you visit. If your main plan is to relax on the beach, drink and eat, this is where you want to be!

Again, we stayed at a more budget-friendly hotel, Tijili which we loved. It had an amazing breakfast, beautifully updated rooms and a funky cool layout. We were about a 7-minute walk from Double Six Beach. This beach is full of lounge and bean bag chairs, as well as, restaurants right on the beach! Although this beach is crowded, every night, we sat on our bean bag chairs, ordered a Bintang beer and watched the most epic sunsets we have ever seen! For a detailed guide of how to spend your time in Seminyak, Bali CLICK HERE!

Make sure you add a Seminyak sunset to your list of things to do
Sunset on Double Six Beach

How Many Days at Each Place in Bali

Overall, my recommendation (with time allowing) is to stay in Ubud 2-5 days, Nusa islands 2-4 days and Seminyak 2-4 days. If I could do it all over again, I would only stay in Seminyak for 3 days and then go to Uluwatu and Canggu. Uluwatu is known as a surfer town with beautiful beaches and cliffs and Canggu is becoming the new Seminyak without the crowds and has been getting a lot of light! If you are looking for a younger college crowd with clubs, I hear Kuta is where you should stay, but don’t quote me on that.

Bali Travel Tips Wrap-up

No matter where you stay, I am confident you will have the most amazing experience in Bali! For more detailed posts on Ubud, Nusa Islands, and Seminyak guide, click here!

 

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