You can be a first time traveller or someone who has travelled to n number of countries, however, travelling mindfully and responsibly not only makes way for great memories but also helps you make sure of your safety while exploring locally. In a place like Bali, you maybe a solo traveller, traveling with family, with a packaged tour group or are are there for work and there are few important things that we wish somebody had told us before hand and are grateful for the ones we were made aware of. This saved us money and time a multiple times and most importantly saved us from getting duped.
TOP 5 Things to keep in mind before travelling to Bali
Do not buy SIM CARDS at the airport
In our case we needed data at all times for work even though there was workable wifi (more in terms of enough to get by) at the hotels we were staying at, we had set our minds on buying one at the airport. However, as expected it was exorbitantly priced and nothing they offered was less than a 5GB data package. Not convinced that there wouldn’t be any other pre paid options we asked around and finally our taxi driver showed us the shops where we were required to pay a minimum of 10,000 IDR (got ripped off by 5000 IDR there) for the sim card and top up as we needed.
Make sure to buy sim cards only at local stores or super markets for more flexible data packages. You can buy sim cards at convenience stores like Alfamart, Indomart and Circle K with cellular service providers like Telkomsel (Simpati), Indosat and XL. For short term travel ask for the pay-as-you-go or pre paid sim cards which actually costs no more that 5000 IDR and can be topped up as required.
Haul metered TAXIS
With the increasing number of tourists every year, there’s been an increase in the number of fraudulent services as well. Many cars that are “company taxis” and look alike roam the roads to pick up customers and after the journey is completed, these drivers claim that their meters don’t work and charge an exorbitant price for that distance.
Avoid private cabs as much as you can and if that isn’t possible be sure and ask around about how much a taxi should charge to take you to your destination. We had to get in a private taxi at the airport and luckily for us there were boards at the airport stating how much a cab drive to our destination should cost and we were able to bargain with the driver. In our case he turned out to be a nice chap who shared his details if we needed to tour the Bali.
We highly recommend Blue bird taxis as they are more reliable and don’t rip you off. Check with the drivers about their working meters before your hop in and, also make sure they are the original blue bird taxis as many private cars (fake blue bird taxis) painted blue claim they belong to the company.
Uber is prevalent in Bali and they tend to be a little cheaper than normal taxis, however, are not allowed or banned in most places by the locals thus, using their services can be unsafe in the popular tourist spots. In our case, the uber driver cancelled our request multiple times in Seminyak and Ubud.
Avoid shady FOREIGN EXCHANGE rates
Bali of all the places by now are know to rip off tourists of their money. You will be surprised at the number of money exchange spots in the city and I have heard more stories of friends and forum writers being ripped of hundreds of dollars at shady exchanges.
THE SCAM: A shady looking shop lure you in by offering an unbelievable exchange rate that is way more than than the market price. Once you offer your currency against theirs, they count the money and hand it over to you. While you are counting they ask for the money back and count again or keep touching the money while you are counting. During this time they slip in and pull out few heavy notes or sneakily lets 100,000 IDR notes fall behind the counter while handing them over without you noticing. And, while you are confident of your counting and don’t want to keep the queue behind you waiting, you take the money and walk out. At this point or later after counting once again you will notice there’s now less than what your had calculated inside the store. Unfortunately, they do not agree to the mistake or fraud and claim that you have misplaced the cash. In some cases the make shift store is nowhere to be found the next day or within the next hour. Also, the fact that their Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) are in large numbers (millions) makes it even more tasking to count the currency against your own.
THE SOLUTION: Look for a authorised store dedicated to change money that looks permanent or a bank to exchange money. Compare rates to the on going market price and it shouldn’t look too good to be true. Look for reputable names or the ones with multiple branches around Bali. Bewray of self titled “authorised” money exchange shops. Always go online and compare the original rates versus the advertised rates to be on the safer side.
BARGAIN hard while shopping
If you are shopping in Bali, whenever and wherever possible give a shot at bringing the price of the product down against the price for it originally claimed by the shopkeeper. With persistent bargaining skills there are high chances that you will end up paying 50% less for everything than the said price of the product.
While shopping in Bali I have noticed few trends:
One particular trend is that it is easier to bargain with the shopkeepers in the morning as they love to make a first sale of the day as soon as possible. Tip: ask the salesman/woman for the “morning price”.
Seminyak and Kuta seemed to be more touristy with less shops, thus, anything sold there are a little more expensive than the same things sold in the north or in Ubud markets.
Never shop at places you are taken to by tour operators. These tour operators collaborate with larger shops to get customers thus, receive a small commission of the sale made and you end up paying more for things that are otherwise a lot cheaper elsewhere.
Keep few of these things in mind while shopping in Bali and get more for your money!
Beware of aggressive MONKEYS
If you type Bali Monkeys on google search there will be topics and shaken experiences discussing the aggressive monkeys of Bali. One of the top places in Bali where there is the high possibilities of encountering such monkeys is the Monkey Forest and the Uluwatu temple. Though they look cute and adorable from a distance or within their own space, however, at these spots frequented by tourists the monkeys don’t shy away from invading your space and attacking if they don’t like you. They can steal from you or bite which is extremely unsafe as these monkeys might have rabies. And, if you carry any form of food or water, all hell breaks loose!
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you still want to experience being amongst these monkeys:
Do not approach or get too close to a them, especially a bigger one. Walk around the forest and temple calmly.
Do not carry any form of food or drink with you in your hands, pockets or bags as they somehow manage to figure out that you got something edible and they will fight with you or steal your things like camera, sunglasses, hats or slippers for it. Not even a chewing gum or water.
There maybe salespeople outside these temples trying to sell you bananas for these monkeys. Do not buy them or carry them inside as it only makes the matter worse and the monkeys wont settle for one will get aggressive trying to get them from you all at once.
Don’t try to get them to climb on you for a picture as it is not always that you will get a calm monkey and chances of you getting scratched or bit by them through this is high. Even if they climb on you without you wanting it, do not panic or try to run, that’ll just make them more violent. Be calm and call for help.