Note: This is a guest post by Amilia Anderson
Fear of the unknown is rife in people who have never travelled to Bali before. An equal number of good stories and bad stories continually circulate about this magnificent island. Below is a list of travel tips for anyone who has never travelled to Bali before. They will assist you in being prepared and making sure you have a fantastic holiday on this magnificent island.
Pack a decent pair of walking shoes
The footpaths in Bali are not exactly structurally sound. Although wearing trainers can be quite warm in the humid environment your feet will be thanking you.
Don’t change money before you go.
Although I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of being ripped off by money changers on the street if you follow a few simple rules this will not happen. You will get a better rate changing money in Bali than you will in your home country.
It’s better to take cash than use your credit cards. Depending on what bank you are with, you will generally be charge a fee every time you use your credit card in Bali. This is normally a percentage of what you have spent and can add up to an awful lot over the course of your holiday. The maximum withdrawal from any ATM is IDR 1.5 million (nearly AU0) and most banks charge around in fees per withdrawal. For both credit card charges and ATM withdrawals the exchange rate is usually much worse than if you were to change money on the streets. If you really aren’t comfortable taking cash make sure you check with your bank before you leave to know how much the fees are.
Be careful of drivers.
If you find a driver who offers you a too cheap price for full day transport be careful. Drivers make little money on driving you around for the day once expenses are taken out. The main income earner for them is receiving commissions from what you eat and what you buy from the places they take you.
Although this is the way they make their living you may find yourself being ripped off with the places the driver takes you to. The other problem is you may not end up where you wanted to go as the driver will have his own agenda and take you to the place he gets the highest commission from. Just be wary and try and go with a driver recommend by someone else not just the one who offers you the cheapest price.
Bargain at the markets
Bali’s clothing is extremely cheap and whether you like shopping or not guaranteed your suitcase will be a lot heavier coming back. Toiletries etc. can be bought at the 24 hour Mini Marts and Circle K’s for a fraction of the price.
Everyone knows this but I just thought I’d mention it. If they won’t come down to the price you are willing to pay just walk away and if they follow you know your price is reasonable. Just remember this is how the Balinese make a living so a great thing to do is bargain them down to the lowest price and once you have agreed give them a bit extra. That extra bit is nothing to us but everything to them. This will make them realise you are not a pushover and they will be extremely thankful.
If you don’t want to get hassled by people trying to sell you things I recommend you visit eastern coast of Bali which is very popular for kayak fishing adventure, you can hire fishing kayak at unbeatable prices. If you are a fishing lover you can enjoy kayak trips at Kuta beach.
It is not like this everywhere and if you keep away from the markets and the main tourists hotspots you shouldn’t have a problem. If you are getting hassled rather than be rude just so ‘no thank you’ and keep on walking. I find politeness like this works the best. The Balinese are excellent at remembering faces so after a few time of ‘no thankyous’ they probably won’t hassle you anymore.
Be careful of the taxes
in the majority of restaurants the taxes are not added onto the price. You will see down the bottom of the menu ‘price is subject to an additional 21% service and government tax’. This is worth mentioning to anyone who hasn’t travelled to Bali before and likes to watch their spending as an additional 21% tax can add up to a reasonable amount.
Don’t eat all your meals at your hotel restaurant. Although this can be convenient at times generally you pay a lot more eating at your hotel than you would if venturing out to the millions of restaurants available on the street. Generally a free breakfast is included with the price of your room but I would recommend eating outside of your hotel for lunch and dinner.
Don’t be afraid of Bali Belly
Everyone has a story to tell on how they got Bali Belly. When showering make sure you don’t swallow and use bottled water even when rinsing your mouth out after brushing. Also just use common sense when choosing a place to eat – make sure the kitchen and surrounding areas are clean. If you do get struck with Bali Belly red cordial is said to help and the Balinese believe the local snake fruit is also a great cure.
Even though the prices in the designer shops are already a lot lower than what we are used to it is still a good idea to shop around. Many places will be having sales of up to 50% and you can get yourself an even better bargain with a bit of looking around.
Until you become familiar with the prices taxis charge, make sure you get in one with a meter. Once you are comfortable with knowing the price you should get charged catching a taxi without a meter is fine – just make sure you negotiate the price before you jump in.
When departing Bali you are required to pay IDR150 000 per person in departure tax. Many new travelers to Bali are unaware of this. Also it is worthwhile to mention that once you check in for your departure it is very difficult to get back out of the airport. Guards stand at the doors and will only allow you to exit if you need to use the ATM.
In my opinion Bali is the ultimate holiday destination. No matter what kind of holiday you would like Bali has something to offer for everyone. I hope the above tips will make you feel more comfortable in choosing Bali as your next holiday destination.
Amilia Anderson is a 26-year-old girl from Tacoma who shares her ideas and knowledge in her blog 10exposed.com
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