Bali Travel Tips
BALI TRAVEL TIPS
Essential Bali Information, Traveling Around Bali Tips &
A Packing List for Bali (updated October 2022)
This is a detailed list of many of the things you need to know about traveling in Bali. I have been coming to Bali for 12 years, living in Bali for 3 years, and I have led 4 retreats here over the years. So as you can imagine, I've had so many clients and friends ask me for suggestions about traveling in Bali.These are just my humble suggestions, take 'em or leave 'em. :) And enjoy your travels!
In Our New Covid-19 World ~ Planning your trip to Bali : I suggest taking a look at this government website for current rules and regulations around travel and visa requirements : https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/coronavirus
I suggest joining the Facebook group #BaliCovid-19Update for the most up to date information on visa requirements and travel to Bali. Just read the most recent post by Jackie Pomeroy and scroll down to the "Travel Bits" section. She posts an update daily, so it is an easy place to stay updated if any changes happen.
Essential Bali Info.
If you are coming from the USA, flights to Bali from SFO or LAX can range from $750 - $1500 roundtrip. I personally often buy tickets on Expedia.com. I have purchased flights with EVA, Japan Airlines, China Airlines, Qatar Airlines and many more to and from Bali.
- There is only one airport in Bali— in the city of Denpasar (DPS).
During the pandemic: As of October 2022, you need to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccine card (2 shots of any regular vaccine, or just 1 shot of J & J vaccine), no boosters have been required... Or you need to have proof a taking a PCR test within 24 hours of your flight departure. Please check the Indonesian government website for the current rules/regulations, because they often change.
An Important Note on Flying to Bali:
You will not be allowed to board a plane from the USA to Bali unless you have already purchased an outbound flight. Do not buy one-way tickets to Bali. And... Under no circumstances should you bring any CBD or hemp products (or any drugs for that matter) to Bali. If you are found with any products that contain CBD or hemp, you will be thrown in jail. Bali is not messing around on this issue.
Visas to Bali:
Visas on Arrival are available again! They usually run about $40 USD and you pay for them once you arrive in Bali. Get ready for some long lines after you arrive.
Weather in Bali:
Bali is pretty much the same temperature year round. The temperature is usually warm and humid (80-88 degrees), but not too hot. It can rain anytime, but usually the monsoon-like rains don't last too long. The rainy season is typically from December to late February. During June and July it tends to be slightly cooler and less wet. My favorite time of year is March to May, it is not too hot, a little rainy and super lovely. For more information on weather visit: www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294226-s208/Bali:Indonesia:Weather.
Money & ATM’s in Bali:
I like to bring some US dollars to Bali (bring 100's-- you get a better rate) and use my ATM card to get additional cash. I also have a US credit card that lets me spend money outside the USA without any additional bank fees. I suggest getting a credit card like this if you can. Most restaurants and stores here allow you to use a credit card (unless it is a smaller mom & pop joint). I also have a US debit card that allows me to use the ATM's here in Bali without being charged extra fees in the USA (many credit unions allow for this). (Pro-tip: when using your credit card in Bali, if they ask you if you want to be billed in IDR or USD, always choose IDR, it ends up being a little cheaper).
If you bring cash, I find it helpful to change a little money at the airport. You will see banks on the right and left after customs. This cash helps you pay for the taxi to your location. The Indonesian currency is called Rupiah (IDR). The exchange rate is about 14,000 IDR to $1 USD. Some bank cards do not allow you to use the Indonesian ATM's, so it is helpful to bring a few different cards and cash in case one of your cards doesn't work. There are numerous ATM’s and places to change USD into IDR, but I like to use the ATM's that are inside of/or connected to Banks-- they are less likely to have cameras hidden that steal your information.
I suggest you contact your banks and credit cards to let them know you will be in Bali so that fraud prevention does not freeze your cards. Once in Bali, you may need to contact them again to remind them you are in Indonesia.
Budgeting for Bali:
Meals are about $4-$10, not including alcohol. Massages are about $6-$10/hour. Lodging can range from $15-$150/night. If you are planning to rent a motorbike or scooter, they are about $5-$7/day. Taxis around town can be about $5-$35/day.
Tipping in Bali:
Tipping is great! I like to tip about 10-20% when I hire drivers, get massages, hire a GoJek, go to restaurants, or receive any service I am grateful for. And, it makes their day. During the pandemic, these tips literally are helping people feed their families. A little goes a long way here. Make sure to look at your restaurant and hotel bill, some places add a 10% government tax and 5% service charge automatically to your bill. And I generally like to tip a little bit over that 5% service charge (an extra 10,000 - 30,000 IDR or so).
Hiring Drivers in Bali:
If you have a driver picking you up at the airport, take your time looking at all the name signs after you exit customs. Your driver is there. If you are heading to Ubud from the airport, consider hiring my friend Uma to pick you up (he speaks great English, has a nice car and is a wonderful guy): his WhatsApp is +62 821 4689 6334. Make sure to have the name of your hotel/Airbnb and a phone number (in case the driver needs to call them for directions).
Cars in Bali:
If you have never been in Indonesia before, the driving here might feel a little crazy to you. Drivers navigate the swarm of scooters, dogs, chickens and usually see stop lights and stop signs as an invitation to slow down. I strongly suggest that you not rent a car unless you have driven extensively in Indonesia.
Motorbikes in Bali:
I love riding a motorbike around Ubud, Canggu and Uluwatu. It is an easy way to get around. You can rent a bike for about Rp. 50,000 – 100,000 IDR a day or 800,00- 1500,000 IDR a month. Make sure to take a good look at your bike, make sure the breaks work, the lights turn on, and it is in good shape. Riding a bike can be very dangerous, so drive slowly and always wear a helmet.
If you have never driven a bike before, make sure to have a friend help you learn (or hire a Balinese driver to help you). In Bali, the law is that you not only need to wear a helmet, but you also need to have a mask on when you drive. You will get a ticket if you don't and cops target foreigners (called"Bule"). I always carry my AAA International drivers license with me. You might consider getting one of these before heading to Bali, or if you plan to stay in Bali longterm, get an Indonesian drivers license. Please drive SLOW and safe, and remember, they drive on the left side of the road in Indonesia. If you find yourself in a challenging situation with the cops, some extra cash on hand can be helpful (wink, wink). ;)
Places to Stay:
If you are looking for accommodation, I suggest looking on Airbnb.com for a villa, or joining a Bali Facebook group like #UbudCommunity #CangguCommunity or #Ubud Housing & Rentals to look at villas or to make a post about what you are looking for. You can also book a hotel on Booking.com. I often think it is best to book a place on Airbnb for only a few days and then if you like it, negotiate with the owner to stay longer. Many places look great in the photos, but when you arrive, they can be quite moldy. So I suggest you don't book longterm on Airbnb until you have actually seen the place.
When shopping, use your bargaining skills in Bali (unless you are in a store and an item is clearly marked with a price).
Don't drink the tap water. And, when brushing your teeth, do not run your toothbrush under the water. Most restaurants wash their veggies and use ice that is from filtered and clean water. If you ask for water in a restaurant it will either be bottled water or purified (if it comes in a glass). Please fill up your water bottles in your Airbnb or at restaurants, and please do not buy any plastic. There is a huge plastic problem in Bali, so please do your part to avoid buying any plastic ever (you will notice that you cannot get plastic bags in grocery stores--a good step!)
Vaccines for Bali (non-covid-19 vax info):
You may want to contact your doctor about the most up to date information on vaccines/shots for Bali. What we know is that Bali has an extremely low incidence of Malaria. As a result, the CDC and most doctors do not usually recommend people take malaria medication while in Bali (this is not the case in other parts of Indonesia). You can visit the CDC website for information on Indonesia here:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. Some people get Hep A, Tetanus, Diptheria and Polio if they are going to Bali. Some doctors recommend that you do not need Hep B unless you are staying for over 4 weeks. Please consult your doctor regarding all of this to make the best choices for you.
Crime & Safety:
The Balinese are the friendliest people on the planet. And they highly value having a good standing in their community. Therefore, the Balinese rarely steal. However, there have been instances of theft. As you would while traveling in any country, lock your doors, keep your valuables in a lock boxes (if they are available), and be smart with your belongings. In Ubud, we rarely lock our helmets to our scooters, but if you are in Canggu or other touristy places in Bali, I highly suggest locking your helmet or bringing it with you into restaurants, etc. Always put your purse or bag underneath the seat of your motorbike. It is rare, but occasionally women have been pushed off motorbikes and their purses stolen.
Living in Bali:
If you are considering moving to Bali for 2 months or more, here are some other helpful tips:
1) Buy closet dehumidifiers (you can find "Serapair" at any supermarket like Bintang, Delta Dewata, Coco Mart, etc.). They are super cheap and help keep the mold out of your closet. You can also buy the replacement Serapair pellets and replace them every month to keep the humidifiers working beautifully (just pour out the liquid into the garden and add new pellets).
2) Don't be afraid of the geckos and tokay (the big ones), they are your friends! They eat the ants, mosquitos and keep your home bug free-ish. You want them to live in your home.
3) Mold & Dust Mites: Wash your pillows, sheets and blankets every few weeks to keep the mold and dust mites under control. You can also place these items in the hot sun for a few hours to help keep things mold free.
4) Download Whatsapp & Skype to your phone. Almost all restaurants, Gojek, Grab, taxi drivers, etc. use Whatsapp in Bali. It is an easy way to communicate, place food orders, and share your location, etc. If I need to call a number in the USA, I also have the Skype app on my phone to call my bank, apple tech support, etc. It makes calling the USA super cheap if I need to.
5) Internet: Rumor is that Indihome isn't always the most reliable internet service in Bali, if you can, stay at a place that has Biznet or another internet server. We have 100 mbps at our house, and many places these days have 50-75 mbps which is a good speed. If you work from home, you don't want less than 20 mbps.
6) Check out ACE Hardware just south of Ubud. If you need good air-purifiers, electric dehumidifiers, good fans, toaster ovens, etc. then ACE is your place!
7) Health Insurance: I know many people who have IMG Global / Good Neighbor (GNI) Health Insurance, which covers them in the USA for a max. of 6 months, and covers them abroad as well. I also have friends who just buy health insurance while in Bali-- they use IMG Global as well (the Patriot International Plan).
8) iHerb.com: If you want to order good supplements from the USA, use iHerb. They ship to Indonesia and it usually takes 2-3 weeks. If you only order 4 or 5 items, you can choose free shipping with JNE (I find that method most reliable). iHerb is a game changer!
Favorite Travel Spots in Bali
1. Uluwatu, Bali
I often look for Airbnb’s located within walking distance to Bingan Beach. I have also stayed a Mu Bali—a small French owned resort and I have stayed at numerous Airbnb’s on the cliff above Bingan, but watch out for the monkeys if you are staying on the cliff. Also, Bingan and many of the beaches in Uluwatu, require that you walk down several steep steps to get to the beach. I have also stayed at Airbnb’s near Thomas Beach or Padang Padang Beach. All are great beaches in Uluwatu.
Things to do in Uluwatu include eating at Ours Restaurant, Suka Expresso, Mana, or Drifters. I would recommend visiting Istana in the mornings or after 5:30pm for their sauna, steam, & hot/cold soak on the cliffs of Uluwatu (200,000 IDR per person) I love going for sunset. Nyang Nyang beach is also a fun day trip excursion. Surfing at Padang Padang Beach is great, just watch out for the strong rip tide on the left side of the beach. Go to "Sunset Point" to watch the sunset and have a drink at the end of the day (you can find it on google maps).
2. Canggu, Bali
I have often booked Airbnb’s in the Canggu area. It is known for great restaurants, bars, music venues and has a good beach (a black sand beach). Canggu is known as one of the "hip places" in Bali. Crime has increased there too since Covid, so it is wise to put bags and purses under your motorbike seat.
Favorite restaurants in Canggu are Shady Shack (great breakfast), Yema, Nude (delicious chicken salad), Cafe Vida, Dahana Sushi, and Peloton (delicious vegan). I have liked my massages at Lotus Massage Therapy and I love to get my haircut at Gardenza. I enjoy shopping in Canggu, there are so many great stores with gorgeous, fun clothes.
3. Ubud, Bali
I have lived for several years in Ubud and really love it here. Ubud is the heart and soul of Bali. It is surrounded by rice paddies, it has a deeply spiritual feeling to it, with great places to eat, and it has the Yoga Barn for great yoga and ecstatic dance.
There are many great Airbnb's in the Penestanan area (one of my favorite area to stay in Ubud). If you are coming for a few days or a week, Villa Lebah has an epic view and is a beautiful place to stay within walking distance to downtown Ubud. We got to stay here for several months during the pandemic and loved it.
If you want a driver to pick you up at the airport to take you to Ubud, I recommend the great services of these 3 AMAZING drivers: Uma, Nyoman or Agung. Here is Uma's Whatsapp Number: +62 821 4689 6334. And here is the email address for Nyoman firstname.lastname@example.org and Agung: email@example.com
Want to rent a great motorbike in Ubud? My dear friend Nyoman will bring it to your villa. Here is his WhatsApp Number: +62 819-3728-3671
Favorite Restaurants in Ubud: Tygr Sushi (good sushi), Bella (vegan Italian, great GF pizza and lasagna), Batubara (Argentinian grill, upscale & delicious), Elephant (delicious breakfast, vegetarian with a great view), Sayuri’s (hip work spot, evening music, & great vegan food!), Kebun (great fish, burgers and pizza), Alchemy Cafe (great vegan food, juices and salads), Kafe (delicious everything!), Zest (vegan and SO darn good! Try the jackfruit sushi, vegan burgers & the cocoa ceremony drink). Wayan's Juice (best juices in town and they deliver), Moksha (fancy vegan).
Favorite things to do in & Around Ubud: Champuan Ridge walk (do the walk at sunrise or sunset), Ecstatic dance on Friday evening and Sunday morning (book online at the Yoga Barn website for tickets or a megatix.co.id), working out at Titibatu fitness facility, dance classes or a movie at Paradiso, walking through the Monkey Forest, hiring a taxi to take you to the Water Temple in Tampaksiring (about 35 min drive) and getting a massage at Putri Spa or Karsa Spa.
4. The Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are east of Bali (a 1-2 hour boat ride) and are stunning islands for snorkeling, relaxing and swimming in blue tropical waters. I have been to Gili Meno (and enjoyed snorkeling with the turtles there) but after Covid, there are only 2 restaurants open on the whole island. So, I might recommend looking on Airbnb.com or Booking.com for places to stay on Gili Air. Gili Air has some great restaurants (like Rowies Restaurant) and is a little more active. I've also stayed at Kuno villas on Gili Tarwangan, which is a stunning place to stay.
If you are heading the the Gili's you will need to get a negative covid test within 24 hours of departure. You can get it at the harbor (arrive 45 min early) or at a hospital (for around 200,000 IDR). I recommend buying your boat tickets with this boat (it is the biggest, safest and fastest boat): https://ekajayafastboat.com/
5. Mt. Batur Area
Do an early morning (5am) hike up Mt. Batur to view the crater. This is a beautiful hike. You can stay at little guest houses below Mt. Batur. Try to find the ones with hot springs (hot tubs).
6. Sidemen Village
This is such a precious little village with rice paddies all around it. I love staying at Surya Shanti Villas, a small french owned resort that is STUNNING. We have also heard that Samanvaya Resort is an epic and fancy place to stay.
Ahmed is a small fishing village on the East Coast of Bali. It has black sand beaches and great scuba diving (with scuba diving to a famous sunken ship). I recommend checking out booking.com or Airbnb.com for the best places to stay here. If you are heading to Ahmed, stop off at the famous Tirta Empul temple. It is stunning!
Packing List for Bali
Here are some packing ideas as you begin to prepare for your trip. Remember, pack lightly! There are amazing clothes to buy in Bali. You will find that you will need very little from home. Leave room in your bags for gifts. There are so many gorgeous hand carved statues, silks and other gifts here in Bali. And remember, if you forget to bring something, there is a high probability you can find it in Bali.
Lightweight cotton, airy clothing (shorts, dresses, skirts, lightweight pants & tops)
Lightweight raincoat (and you can purchase waterproof rain "ponchos" at a convenience store)
Tampons (for women-- they are expensive in Bali)
Water bottle (to fill up with clean water at restaurants or your Airbnb, please don't buy plastic!)
Passport (don't leave this one at home!)
US Dollars or your Home Currency. (We find it easier and sometimes cheaper overall to bring US Dollars and have them changed in Bali. My bank charges a high fee to use ATM's and credit cards in Bali. When you arrive at the airport, change at least $100 USD there, and you can wait until you get to your destination to change more).
AAA International Drivers License (If you plan to rent a motorbike, doing this can give you some peace of mind in case you were pulled over by the Balinese police). It costs about $20. All you do is go to AAA, take a photo and sign a piece of paper- easy! Good for one year. Remember to always wear a helmet.
Vitamins, prescriptions meds, etc. (they do have some vitamins here, but the quality is low)
Mosquito Repellent (there are also great natural versions here in the health food stores).
Bring bandaids and Neosporin (or a mini first aid kit). If you get a little cut or scrape, it is smart to clean it right away to mitigate potential infections. Infections grow easily in this warm, humid environment.
Electrical Plug Outlet Adaptors (to be able to use and charge your US devices in Bali. You can find these at any travel stores or purchase online). You can find them here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Indonesia-Grounded-Adapter-Plug
Walking shoes & Sandals
Bathing suit or bikini
Lightweight towel for the beach (or you can buy sarongs in Bali)
Small bag or backpack for day trips and excursions
Ziplock plastic bags to store any food items. Bugs are sneaky in Bali and try to get into anything.
Snacks for the airplane
Earplugs! There are loud bugs and roosters all over Bali.
GSE (grape fruit seed extract) this is handy to have in case you get a mild bout of “Bali belly”— just put 10-20 drops in a glass of water. It tastes terrible but kills the bacteria in your gut.
The Balinese people are extremely kind, genuine and friendly... this is an incredible culture! A smile goes a long way in Bali.
Hope you enjoy your trip ;)