Bali travel tips
Remember ceremonies are serious occasions, and should be treated as such. Always wear a sarong and sash (scarf around the waist). Do not walk in front of people or take photos when they are praying. Never sit higher than the priest. Women are not allowed to enter a temple during menstruation.
Anyone not accustomed to the difference in cleanliness and bacteria here in Bali should check the ‘looks’ of a restaurant carefully before sitting down. However, even clean places can give you a problem, and little street side carts might be fine! Sometimes Bali Belly just cannot be avoided. If you do have a problem many pharmacies (called Apotik) can provide medicine to help. Be sure to visit a doctor if the problems continue for more than 3 days, or if there is blood in the toilet.
Surf and under-currents are very dangerous. Swim between the yellow with red flags only. Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach. Bali is a pretty safe place, but don’t make it too easy for pickpockets.
This is the local’s basic transportation by (mini)bus. Cheap but crowded and noisy. The driver waits until the bus is full unless you want to pay him extra to leave earlier. Try to find out the correct price from local passengers. Unfortunately bemo’s or other types of public transport do not come to Ombak Bagus homestay. There are several bemo stations which serve different areas of Bali. Note that travel outside of Kuta/Denpasar after about 6 p.m. by public bemo can be difficult or impossible because the public ones stop operating about this time.
Cycling can be a cheap and enjoyable way to get around (when you avoid crowded places like Kuta), although you must remember you do NOT have the right of way in any situation. You can hire a bicycle (push bike) at Ombak Bagus homestay. In the Canggu area there are quiet roads where you can cycle safely.
Bali is a perfect destination for families with kids. In the Balinese culture, children are kings and queens and the people of Bali love spending time with them. As a family you will feel that your kids are welcome everywhere by locals. There are plenty of activities to do with your kids. At Ombak Bagus we can give you advice where to go to have a fun and special time with the little ones. There are many western style department stores where you can find almost everything you need for your baby and kids, so don’t bring too much stuff.
The majority of the Balinese people are Hindu. Their religion is a very important part of their daily life. Offerings are placed everyday, in their house temple, in front of the gate, in the middle of the street etc. Try not to step on offerings in the street. Walk around them. Don’t touch people’s heads – it is very offensive to Hindus. Don’t beep your horn when you come across a religious procession. Have patience and wait. It’s worth it to watch these colorful processions.
Many people rent cars for their holiday, but you can also rent a car with driver, or a motorbike. Remember to drive left, have a valid (international) drivers license, and that in case of an accident it will always be your fault!
Indonesia has strict laws and harsh penalties for drugs offences. Some people selling drugs may not be who they appear to be (undercover police). Always keep an eye on your luggage on the airport. It is also possible to seal your suitcase or bag on the airport.
The currency used in Indonesia is called Rupiah (Rp). The exchange rates are roughly as follows:
- 1 Euro 12.000 Indonesian Rupiah
- 1 USD 8.500 Indonesian Rupiah
- 1 Aus Dollar 9.000 Indonesian Rupiah
Go to our currency converter on the left side of the website for an accurate calculation.
There are many places where you can use the internet. Many restaurants offer Wifi free of charge when you order a drink or meal. There are also many internet shops where you can use the computer if you don’t have a laptop. They charge you around Rp. 5.000 per hour (€ 0,40). Ombak Bagus also offers Wifi.
Some airlines require that you reconfirm your flight 24 to 72 hours prior to flying. So always check your booking. When you leave the airport of Bali, the Indonesian government will charge airport tax for every flight passenger:
Domestic airport tax is Rp. 50.000 per person
International airport tax is Rp. 150.000 per person
There are several western standard clinics in the Kuta area: BIMC (Bali International Medical Center), tel. +62(0)361 761263 and SOS Medika (International SOS Clinic), tel. +62(0)361 755768. In case of emergency it’s quicker to get a taxi instead of calling an ambulance.
Be very careful when changing your money. Use if you can an official moneychanger (check for the certificate on the wall). Always check the rate of exchange and commission (if any) the money changer is taking. Most importantly, always count your money before you leave the premises and if you can, bring your own calculator. Count your money before presenting to them. Calculate the rate in your own calculator and compare with them. Always count your money when you leave the shop. Not only when the moneychanger asks you to, they have a bunch of tricks up their sleeve!
Bali is considered malaria free, but dengue fever is a problem. Guard against mosquitoes, using mosquito repellent with DEET, mosquito nets, and cover up at dusk.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia, and you must have proof of onward passage (either return or through tickets). If you cannot fulfill both of these requirements, you may not be allowed to enter the country.
Public transport is cheap but not very well organized; there are no schedules available and not all areas are covered. The buses stop everywhere on the road, so it can take a long time to get somewhere. Animals are sometimes also allowed to join the ride, like chickens and pigs. Therefore tourists don’t use it very often and choose to have their own means of transportation or a taxi. But you have to at least try a ride on a local bus and experience the real Bali life.
If you are not interested in buying, don’t look and don’t touch. Always bargain. Start with less than half of the asking price. More and more shops however have fixed prices.
Don’t ruin your holiday with sunburn. Wear plenty of sunscreen and put more on after swimming. Don’t spend long periods in the sun. Remember that the sun here is much stronger than for example in Europe. You can even get burnt in the shade! Also wear a hat to avoid sun stroke.
Temporary tattoos can be dangerous as many use a chemical textile dye that is not for human use. Henna tattoos are problem free. Chemical dyes are very black, while henna is not so black. Chemical dyes can cause permanent welting in the shape of the tattoo design.
The airport taxi service covers most areas and the prices are fixed. Pay the cashier at the desk in the airport and give the coupon to the driver. You can also contact Ombak Bagus and we will arrange transport for you. If you come with an airport taxi or your own transportation, please print out the description how to get to our homestay (many drivers have difficulty finding our place) and please call before you come. Because we don’t have staff.
Outside the airport we advice you to take meter taxi’s (for example Blue Bird). Make sure the driver re-sets the meter before you start off. Warn the driver if he is driving dangerously. There are also many people with minibuses and cars that act as private taxi, but you need to negotiate the price.
We advice you to buy a local sim card for your mobile phone. It’s a prepaid system. Credit (pulsa) is very cheap to buy and easy to get. This way you make local calls or send text messages at interesting rates. Even international calls can be fairly cheap when you use a special number prior to the phone number you want to dial (check your provider cause every provider uses a different number). Make sure they install the sim card for you in the shop, don’t do it yourself unless your Indonesian is very good!
There is no hard rule for tipping, but anything between 5 and 10 % will be appreciated, if the service is good. Some hotels and restaurants charge tax and service tax amounting to 21% on top of all bills.
The traffic on Bali is legendary. Observe locals before venturing forth. Cross streets with cautious confidence. When there is a sensible break in the traffic, walk steadily without rushing and proceed as a group across the street. Get eye contact with drivers as you cross. Hold up your hand to tell drivers to stop. Balinese drivers respond surprisingly well to this signal.
Most nationalities can get a visa-upon-arrival at the airport. However some nationalities have to arrange their visa at the Indonesian embassy in their country before departing to Indonesia. This may take up to 3 weeks. Please contact your local Indonesian embassy in time to find out the exact regulations for your nationality.
Don’t drink the tap water! Drink only bottled water and drinks, and make sure you drink lots of it! Especially when you have stomach problems like diarrhea. Don’t worry too much about the ice – most ice is considered safe, as the government controls the majority of bars and restaurants.