Bali is considered by many as paradise on Earth and it is definitely an interesting place to visit. Here are my top 7 tips so that you go well prepared and know what to expect.
- Sim Card – if you intend to explore the island a sim card with data plan can be really handy. The easiest way to get one is at the airport, as soon as you exit the luggage and immigration clearance. To get the best offer head to extreme right corner where the price is the most convenient (IDR 150.000 with 9GB of traffic included vs 400.00 IDR with 12 GB offered by the counter on the right handside).
- Money Exchange – exchanging money at the airport is never convenient and Ngurah Rai is not an exception. There are a couple of counters inside the arrivals area with ATMs where you can get your first rupiah. For the best rates it is better to explore the places where you are going to stay but beware of scams. On my first day I saw small “authorized” kiosks with rates way better than the official ones. After a quick research on Google I found out how the scam works, you can read the full story here. Also check out this article about the legitimate money changers in Bali.
- Taxis – the Balinese airport has an official taxi counter inside the arrivals area, with all the destinations on the island and the relative fares that are fixed and not negotiable. This is the theory. Here is the reality. A couple of days before NYE I went to the airport to pick up the sweetest one. I used Uber and was charged 69.000 IDR. While I was waiting for him (the sweetest one) I approached the counter and saw that for the way back the taxi would cost me between 115.000-175.000 IDR. I asked the guy for confirmation and guess what? – he told me that now is high season so the price would be 400.000 IDR!!! Ubers and other similar services are not allowed to operate outside Kuta and Seminiyak so there are not many other choices. At the end we left with a taxi driver I had met at the departures floor and we were charged 200.000 IDR.
- Moving around – Bali is a big island and moving from one point to the other requires something more than your beautiful legs. Public transport doesn’t exist so the options are either a scooter or a scooter. Car is not recommended unless you love to be stuck in the traffic (it took us 2 hours from the airport to Seminyak – total distance 10.5 km). Renting the two wheel vehicle costs around 50.000-60.000 IDR per day, while a liter of fuel is around 8000 – 10.000 IDR.
- The beaches – Bali is not synonym of life-by-the-beach. There are many spots for surfers but if you were expecting to be relaxing on your inflatable pink flamingo, slowly moving with the gentle ocean waves, then this is not the right place for you. Bali is actually an awesome place to witness the power of nature and the waves violently smashing against the shore. Of course, there are some calmer places during the low tide but they are quite the exception and you have to do a deep research to find them (tip: try Sanur or Nusa Dua).6. The trash beaches – it is not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to cleanliness. I know, Bali is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth but it also boasts the dirtiest beaches I have ever seen and with dirty I mean mountains of trash amassed on the sand where I thought I would be happily lounging. It turned out that there is not just rainy season and dry season in this tropical island but also a litter season. From December to March the strong wind and the powerful current send waves of garbage from the nearby Java onto the west coast beaches, with Kuta being the most affected.
7. Sun Screen – I know that I should be extra careful when I am in the Tropics but I hadn’t imagined that I could get sunburnt with SPF 30 and my dress was sheer, yes, but not transparent. Even the sweetest one, whose second name is The Lizard, got a sunstroke with 40+ C of fever. So, unless you want to spend your holiday roasted like a chicken bring the highest available sun block and minimize the time spent in the sun.
If you have any other tips please feel free to comment and I will add them in the post.
*If you are looking for an awesome place to stay for an even more awesome price check my friend Liz’s AirBNB in Seminyak, we stayed there for a few days and enjoyed the relaxing vibe and the pool quite a lot. Also it was walking distance to anything you would ever need – ATM, food, supermarket, scooter rental and the main street/party zone.