Sometimes, travel can mean trouble. From the not-so-connecting flights and lost passports to awkward mistranslations and dubious foodstuffs. But most of the time, avoiding a nasty concoction of travel blunders is easy – just add a dash more research and a lot more common sense to your suitcase.
Because we like you, and because we love Bali, we’ve taken the time to put together a list of the top traveller mistakes in Bali made by the unaware traveller when paying a visit to Indonesia’s most idyllic island.
So forget paying double for that unmetered taxi, or winding up with Bali Belly for two days (of your mere ten day holiday). Etch this list on the back of your guidebook and get exploring without the stress.
1. Being ignorant
Ignorance is never good, especially when travelling to a foreign country with foreign customs and a foreign language. We aren’t recommending you do enough research to warrant a thesis paper on Indonesia’s minority religions, just make sure you know the bare basics like the name of the country’s capital city. Please.
After all, no one wants to be “that tourist” who thinks Bali is its own country and not a province of Indonesia (true story).
2. Arriving with empty pockets
You stumble off your overnight flight and into the arrival terminal at Denpasar Airport. You’re sweaty, a little tired, but super excited to begin this long awaited vacation. You stand in line with hundreds of other foreign tourists, watching the ‘local’ line move at lightning speed while you shuffle your bags along at a snail’s pace.
You finally make it to the front, hand over your passport with confidence, and are met with an outstretched hand. Is this a Balinese welcome gesture? No.
You need to pay cash on arrival, and depending on your nationality it sits around the USD$30 mark. Hardly petty change that you’re guaranteed to have in your wallet. Make sure you board your flight with easy access to your visa money to ensure a hassle-free entry into the country.
Firstly, you are going to Bali. You are probably going to find yourself purchasing every member of your extended family a Batik sarong from the lovely Bagus in Nusa Lembongan. So leave those extra t-shirts at home to save wrapping yourself in 28 Batiks for the flight home.
Secondly, when dreaming of a Balinese holiday most people imagine warm days by the pool and palm-lined beaches. You really don’t need much of a wardrobe to fulfil that fantasy.
Pack as little as possible, buy as much as you want, and avoid luggage costs on your return flight.
4. Not checking the currency exchange
Come on, you’re killing us. This one is a huge no-no and it can be so easily avoided.
- Step one, identify your home currency.
- Step two, identify your destination currency.
- Step three, identify the exchange rate. This will be a blessing for both your mental math and your pocket.
Being fluent in the exchange rate means you are less likely to be overcharged and will feel extra confident when getting your barter on.
5. Hiring a scooter
What? You cry. No scooter? No reckless, half naked, unlicensed scooter fun? No risk of injury, costly insurance and harassed local scooter escapades? No drunken, late night, high-speed chance of death?
Nope. Sorry kids.
While scooters and moto’s are easily hired and are a truly enjoyable way to get around the island, if you don’t already have the skills then forget it. Hire a driver for next to nothing and enjoy being a passenger, simply there to relax and take in the sights.
It’s also a little publicized fact that in Bali you are supposed to have a valid (and endorsed by the local police) international drivers license. Go without and you run the risk of a fine.
6. Pointing fingers, touching heads and baring shoulders
What every tourist would do well to remember is that the party-party culture of Kuta Beach is actually quite far removed from the traditional, highly conservative Balinese way of life.
With a host of local manners and customs, it bodes well for every conscious traveller to act respectfully. This includes dressing modestly when away from the water, only using your right hand when interacting with locals, and never stepping on the scattered flower offerings on the pavements.
7. Not eating the street food
While the rest of these tips may be interpreted as warnings against silly behavior, this is the opposite.
Eat all the Balinese local food you want, eat it all, and then go back for seconds.
The traditional cuisine across Bali is mouthwatering and super fresh. You are more likely to find yourself with food poisoning after eating at a refrigerated restaurant than in the shack down the road.
So, sidle up to the local nasi goreng stall and chow down that bowl of delicious, hot and spicy goodness.
8. Drinking the water
When visiting Bali, bottled water is your best friend and it’s readily available.
For most people this is old news. However, it’s not unheard of for the odd tourist to briefly forget the water rule by sticking their toothbrush head under the faucet. No tap water means exactly that – no tap water. Ever.
Keep a drink bottle beside the sink as a reminder and save yourself that midnight rush to the bathroom.
9. Failing to research the hot spots
Bali is a truly magical place. From its white sand beaches to its volcanic peaks, lush rainforest and peaceful rice paddies, there is a destination to suit every type of traveller. That said, if you’re after relaxation and the occasional yoga class you are probably not going to enjoy the incessant nightlife of Kuta.
In reverse, if you want a lively bar and good dancing, you aren’t going to find that on Nusa Penida. Make sure you read up on the differing vibes and activities available at each town before jumping in a two-hour taxi.
So fellow adventurers, to avoid being plagued by trivial travel mishaps, treat this list as a piece of friendly, albeit cautionary, advice.
After all, Bali is meant to relax and rejuvenate, not stress and traumatize.
And in case have a look at Top tips for Bali first timers.