What to know before traveling to Bali – Top 10 tips.
Welcome bitchachos to the top must know tips before traveling to Bali. I’ll just dive right in. Bali is a beautiful place on earth, almost too beautiful to be true. What contributes to Bali’s beauty is most probably its people, and how authentic they are. It’s jungle vibes and incredible beaches help too! However, with every beautiful thing, there’s always some things that one should be cautious with. Here are ten what to know things before visiting Bali, including Nusa Penida!
One: Bali Belly
First thing on the ‘what to know’ list is Bali Belly. I have mentioned in other posts that Bali is a foodies heaven on earth destination. With an abundance of places to dine at, flourished with authentic and organic produce, one can not be dissatisfied while dining out in Bali. Here (coming soon) are a few restaurant options that are ‘Vamos Bitchachos’ approved. However, be that as it may, there is this little thing called getting getting a case of “Bali Belly”. If you haven’t guessed it already, Bali Belly refers to an upset stomach caused from ingesting something that well, your stomach can’t handle. Although Bali is as beautiful as it is, it does come with its fair share of downsides with cleanliness in terms of water and what not. This means that you need to be extra careful with what you consume.
I would stay away from tap water, ice and food from non safe looking restaurants (e.g. sketchy looking food stands). I don’t mean to upset anyone or bad mouth any food stand owners, but I would think twice before eating something that has been sitting out for too long. If you end up with a case of “Bali Belly”, take some precautions with you. I.e. food poisoning medicine, electrolytes and anything else you would think you would need.
So here’s an important ‘what to know’ thing I learnt the hard way! Not all Western medicine is available in pharmacies in Bali. Although Bali has crazy tourism from all over the world, as well as having its fair share of pharmacies, things that you would buy over the counter at Boots or Duane Read aren’t available in pharmacies in Bali. If you’re like me and are taking any supplements such as well, let’s say Cranberry tablets or Melatonin what have you, I suggest you take those with you. If in case you need such supplements, you must know that you’ll have a hard time finding them.
First things first is that people drive on the left side of the road, like the UK, Australia and Japan, unlike the States.
Getting from point A to point B in Bali is super easy. Most tourists rent bikes to get around, which is non arguably a convenient and cheap way to do so. There’s so much traffic in Bali, that a bike will definitely help you get to places faster. However, there’s a down side when it comes to safety. I have witnessed more accidents than I can remember, where tourists either clashed together, fell off their bikes, and even a circumstance where one bike crashed into another and had a huge knock-on effect on other bikes and they all just caused a huge debacle in the middle of the road. Therefore, I would suggest being extra cautious with renting a bike, and always wearing your helmet.
In addition, another option would be renting a car. Although that is harder to do as the regulations make it harder for tourists to rent cars.
C. Tour guide:
We went with the smartest option of hiring a tour guide, Komang. He is literally the best person we have met in Bali and that says a lot. He was super duper helpful with anything we needed, knew the best routes and also made suggestions to us that really made the trip worth while! Hiring a tour guide for the day/days is the easiest choice since you can follow a plan and you’ll have someone taking you from point A to point B with no hustle at all. The prices aren’t as cheap as renting a bike, but is surely makes up for it with all the convenience you gain by having someone drive and show you around whenever you need. For his details, please contact me – he is amazing!
Seminyak vs Ubud.
If you’re staying in both places, I should mention that there is a difference between Seminyak and Ubud taxis.
The former taxis are called “blue bird” taxis, which are your conventional government owned taxis. You’ll say a lot of them around, flashing the ‘TAXI’ light when available. One tip: although all taxis have their taxi meter, not all of them use them, which is illegal. If in case you experience one of these drivers, you should either negotiate on a price before going to the designated place, or ask them to switch on their meter. If they decline, then hop off and find another one that will, there are so many you’ll bound to find one in minutes.
Now Ubud taxis are different. This means that they aren’t your government ‘TAXIS’ with their signs flashing on top of their cars. These taxis are normal looking cars/vans and might be a little harder to find. If you are staying at a hotel (or if you’re at a restaurant), just request a taxi at reception. Otherwise, you can find one by walking around the Ubud square!
Traffic in Bali is a b*tch. It really is, especially during peek hours such as 6PM or 12PM. If you’re planning on going out and about exploring areas, keep in mind that although distances are not that far away, you’ll need your fair share of time to get to places as you’ll most likely find yourself being stuck in traffic. Do devote some time in your plans to account for that, so that you won’t miss out on opportunities and sight-seeing. Renting a bike can aid in getting to places faster, but be cautious! Tourists on bikes cause almost all accidents in Bali!
Here’s something that made quite the impression on me! Bali is a little backwards comparing it with a Western civilisation. However, its technology improvements and customer *satisfaction* is on point! First thing you need to do is purchase a Balinese Sim Card so you can have unlimited Internet anywhere, anytime. For a mere price of 15$, you get unlimited internet (18 GB) and calls (which I haven’t used thanks to WhatsApp) that can last you up to a month! I purchased SimPati from the airport as I was leaving. Apparently, it is more expensive than buying it from a shopping square, but I felt like it was worth the extra bucks. In case you run out of data, however, you can always purchase more in markets. It’s super easy to find a seller!
Obviously coming from abroad you’ll need to exchange some money. There’s plenty of paces that do just that. However, we were informed to visit exchange places with the huge “NO COMMISSION” written on the top of the store. We were also informed that not all places are safe, so it’s best if you keep a look out and exchange your money at these places.
The good thing is that literally any place accepts cards – I haven’t found one that didn’t, so you can get by in emergency cases. Furthermore, some places accept US dollars too. Last but not least, something that I always use on my travels is the Revolut card. This card enables you to pay in almost any currency with no exchange fees. However, the downside to using the card in Bali is that there’s no IDR available on Revolut. However, you can still pay in US dollars which the exchange rate isn’t bad at all.
Like any other place, you’ll need a VISA to get there. However, if you’re visiting Bali for less than 30 days, this can be sorted at the airport. You won’t be needed to do anything – just show your return ticket to passport control and you’ll enter Bali VISA-less. However, if you’re planning on staying longer than 30 days (which if it is the case then I’m jealous and good for you), you’ll need to pay a small amount.
I found out the hard way that sunsets in Bali don’t end when the sun literally sets. The aftermath of the sunset causes this spectacular colours to paint the sky 50 shades of purple. If you’re planning on going to a beach/bar to watch this, please don’t leave until the sky gets dark. You’ll thank me later.
The Balinese people are truly the best people I’ve met in my life! They are all so helpful and kind and want to genuinely help you out. The thing is that it is common courtesy to tip them. Although being in a foreign country with a confusing currency, you can always tip them in US dollars or Euros – they will accept anything and will be thankful for it. I suggest always leaving a tip, since even something as small as a dollar can make a difference to someone!
Ten: Nusa Penisa
Being in Bali, we felt like we had to visit the Instagram phenomenon; Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida is an island near Bali that you get to by boat. There’s a lot what to know things before getting there.
En route to Nusa Penida
The ride to Nusa Penida isn’t the easiest ride I have taken. That is to get on the boat, you’ll need to enter knee deep in water and pray that you find a good spot to sit in. If you also have a lot of luggage with you, I suggest you don’t take all of that. Just take the bare necessities as “boat porters” carry your luggage on the boat (while they get knees deep in water too). I got full on paranoid that my luggage would go missing (by accident) or it would fall flat into the water, so I was happy that I only took a carry on with me.
A must know on Nusa Penida is that getting from point A to point B is truly harder than you would think. This is because the roads are truly very underdeveloped. Now, being on Nusa Penida, you’ll definitely want to visit Instagram hotspots such as Broken beach and Kelingling view point. Getting there is a b*tch, so I feel like you should be warned. I mentioned that I thought the term “get ready for a bumpy ride” was coined there, and I’m not even kidding. The roads are in dire need of fixing, they are so destroyed that it’s really a wonder how people get to these places. I have seen many tourists riding on motorcycles and looked like they feared for their life. I truly recommend getting a car/driver to get you there. If you get car nauseous, I don’t think Nusa Penida is the place for you.
There will be a lot of people just like you on Nusa Penida. And by you, I mean tourists who want to experience the amazing cliff point views first hand. So a fair warning is that wherever you go, you won’t be alone. You will probably be with hundreds of other tourists. A must know tip that I accidentally found out is: if you go to these places as late as possible, probabilities are that you’ll find less people. This is because most tourists visit Nusa Penida for the day. Day tours from Bali and other islands offer one day tours, and thus visit these places during the peak hours of the AM.
A more detailed Nusa Penida post is coming out soon.
That’s all folks! Thank you for reading this what to know blog post! I hope it has helped you with planning your trip to Bali!
Read about my other Bali blog posts, ‘What to do in Bali’ (coming soon) and ‘What to do in Seminyak‘!
Thinking about visiting Cuba? Read my ‘What to know before visiting Cuba‘ here!