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10 Tips For Your Bali TripHat

The Secret Traveller

Bali Beach


By The Secret Traveller

Before exploring the beauty of Bali, be sure to check out these handy hints.  

1. Book A Transfer

Airport Transfer

You’ve just arrived in a new country you know nothing about. The flight was long, you’re tired, and there’s a manic scrum of touts and drivers in the arrivals hall, all yelling for your custom. You don’t know how much a cab should cost. You don’t have any local currency. You’re not even sure how far away your hotel is. Sound like fun? Not really. Best way to avoid this type of welcome when you arrive in Bali is by pre-booking a transfer to your hotel. You’ll be able to choose from an array of drivers, car types, and price levels. With transfers coming in around $11 from Denpasar airport to Seminyak, spending a little bit of time before you go to research companies and book in advance is a great way to make sure your holiday is starting out on a positive and relaxed note.

2. Choose Your Location Carefully 

Indonesian Map With Map Pin In It

What are you looking for on this holiday in Bali? A nice secluded beach and a local village? Then Kuta is not the place to be. Maybe you want to party until the wee hours? Don’t go to Ubud. Perhaps you just want space to relax and get away from it all? Don’t go to Seminyak. There are many sides to Bali, and the trick to enjoying your holiday there is to pick the one that suits you best. If you’re looking to visit a few different areas during your trip make sure you’re considering the most efficient routes and how you’re planning on getting from A to B. Check out our guides to the best beach clubs in Bali for the partiers, and the best retreats for the health fanatics. Ultimately Bali is what you make of it so spend some time developing your itinerary to have the best trip you can. 

3. Wear A Helmet

Two Tourists On Scooter With Helmets Taking A Selfie

You’re probably going to want to hire a scooter at some point. It’s a Bali trip staple experience. After all, they’re cheap, they’re fun, and they’re the way most of the locals get around, but driving in Bali is not for the faint of heart. So go for it, but take a tip from us: wear a helmet. Not only is it safer, but it will also help you avoid unnecessary run-ins with the police. If you want to make sure your travel insurance will cover you, you have to be wearing a helmet, and hold an Australian scooter or motorbike licence. Read our top tips for renting a scooter in Bali to see what else you need to consider before hitting the roads.  

4. Be Wary Of Police

Indonesian Policeman

Here’s the thing about Bali, and many other developing countries: the police aren’t always your friend. Sometimes they are, sure. But police corruption is unfortunately rife in Bali, which means you may get pulled over and issued an “on the spot fine” at any point and there’s very little you can do but play along. Best approach with Balinese police: try not to have any interaction with them at all. This means you need to be aware and wary of local laws and regulations. Things like wearing your helmet, having your IDL and paperwork ready while riding a scooter, driving like a local, being respectful of locals and street vendors and respecting the authority of the police are very important in Bali. 

5. Don't Use Money Changers

Money Being Counted At Money Changer's Desk

In this day of international banking there’s little need to engage the services of a money-changer, which is handy, because in Bali you never really know what you’re getting. Pretty much anyone can slap the word “official” on their exchange office and charge whatever exchange rates they feel like. It’s likely they’ll add hidden fees and commissions at the last minute also, so even if the exchange rate seems ok, it may not be in reality. Some have even been known to shortchange customers or hand over counterfeit notes and as a lot of these are not official or regulated businesses you’ll have little recourse if this happens. Either check the official rates before you use these businesses, or even better, just avoid them and use the ATMs at well-known banks.

6. Ask Before You Shoot

Tourist Taking A Photo

It’s tempting to try to snap the classic photos of an old Balinese woman at a market, men out in the fields, or of local people carrying baskets of produce into town. But before you shoot: ask. Some people don’t like having their photos taken by random strangers. Bali’s culture is much different to Australia and while we might not take much notice of tourists snapping pics around the city, that doesn't mean Balinese people feel the same. There are also some who will demand money after you’ve taken the photo. Do the right thing and ask people permission first.

7. Eat From The Streets

Tourist Eating From A Street Stall In Bali

That’s right: you should eat from the streets. Balinese street food is some of the best fare around, even with the threat of “Bali belly” ever present. Just ensure you choose busy markets, and go to the vendors with the longest queues of locals. The tourists might not have a clue what they’re doing, but the locals know exactly where to eat to stay healthy. Use your common sense too, choose stalls where food looks piping hot, prep areas look clean and raw meat is being stored in a sanitary manner. Staying away from uncooked food is also a great idea as the cooking process will likely kill a lot of the bacteria you need to worry about. We all want to avoid Bali belly but the street food in Bali is an integral part of the cultural experience of being in Bali. 

8. Say No To Commissions 

Gold Jewellery

It won’t take long on your trip to Bali before a taxi driver tries to force you into visiting a jeweller, or a souvenir store, or a myriad of other shops that you really don’t want to go into but that your driver will gain a commission from if you decide to buy something there. This ‘kickback’ system is pretty common in Bali as it financially benefits both the store owners and the taxi driver. When you get to these destinations you may feel pressured to buy even if you don’t want to and the store seems sketchy. Be polite, but be firm: you don’t want to go. The easiest way to deal with these situations is to avoid getting into them so don’t be afraid to set firm but polite boundaries. 

9. Go Easy On The Arak

Shot Glass Of Arak

You can see the appeal in drinking arak, the fiery Balinese spirit: it’s cheap, it’s potent, and it makes you feel like you’re having a cultural experience just by trying it. But beware. Some of the arak sold in Bali has been mixed by unscrupulous vendors with methylated spirits, or other dodgy ingredients, to make it last a little longer. You’ll see arak for sale at local markets, bars, restaurants and you may even be left a bottle of it at your Airbnb. If you’re going to try arak, make sure it comes from a trusted source, or buy whole sealed bottles. If you’re buying shots of arak from a bar keep an eye on the bottle it's coming from and make sure it’s a recognisable brand. 

10. Smile


Remember: you’re on holidays, and not everyone in Bali is out to get you. Not all the taxi drivers are dodgy; not all the policemen are crooked; not all the street vendors are unsafe. Smile. It will not only help you relax, but it will also be a great way of interacting with locals in a country in which it’s bad form to be visibly irritated or upset. Bali has a lot of challenges as a holiday destination, but it is still a holiday after all, so keep your wits about you, yes, but make sure you enjoy everything Bali has to offer. 

Read More In 1Cover's Bali Survival Guide

Buddhist Statue In Bali

Want to know more before you embark on your trip to beautiful Bali? Check out 1Cover's comprehensive Bali Survival Guide.


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Further Reading

Bali Guide

Have a fun, safe & enjoyable holiday with our guide to staying safe in Bali. 


UK Guide

1Cover’s UK Survival Guide is packed full handy hints, tips and tricks from those in the know. 

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