In September 2017, Dom and I travelled to Bali and stayed in Legian for 1 week. If you are planning on travelling to Bali soon, this post will give you an overview of useful things to know before you arrive:
As soon as you exit the airport, you will be hit by a wave of eager taxi drivers. They will be shouting “transport?” and doing steering wheel motions to get your attention. This can be quite overwhelming at first and some drivers will take advantage and rip you off. Prior to your arrival, search online for an estimated taxi fare from the airport to your accommodation. If a taxi driver tries to charge more, say you’ve been quoted x amount online and they will soon bring their prices down.
The main streets of Bali are no different, except motorbikes are thrown into the mix. The streets are incredibly hectic and its difficult to determine what the actual rules of the road are. This makes the streets a little more dangerous so I wouldn’t recommend hiring a motorbike or car unless you are comfortable.
Uber is available in Bali and is more likely to guarantee a fair price for transport. However, many locals make their living driving the local taxis so are not very accepting of this modern service. Drivers will often ask you not to mention that you are getting in an Uber to avoid upsetting the local taxi drivers.
The currency in Bali is IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) and can be very difficult to get your head around. For example 200,000 IDR is the equivalent of just under 15 USD. Make sure you count you money twice, as some local businesses will not correct you if you accidentally hand over a 100,000 note instead of 10,000. To give you an idea of IDR in different currencies, 80,000 IDR (the average price of a Balinese meal) is approximately:
– $6 USD
– $7.50 AUD
– £4.50 GDP
As you can see, Bali is super cheap – clothes, food, transport you name it. You can always barter the price down even further too so don’t be afraid to ask. Balinese/Asian food is considerably cheaper than Western food, but even so, a steak will still usually cost you less than $20.
3. What to pack
With only 7kg of carry-on luggage, packing light for me was a necessity. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I packed for 1 week:
– Shoes: Trainers for hiking (wore on plane) plus sandals and thongs.
– Clothes: A lightweight jacket and scarf (wore on plane), 3 x swimwear, 3-4 day outfits, 3-4 evening outfits (light clothes that could roll up in my backpack).
– Toiletries: Toothbrush, roll-on deodorant, small amount of make-up, hair brush, small perfume, face wipes.
– Extras: Sunglasses, beach towel, book, iPad, chargers, camera, headphones etc.
Things to leave at home:
– Towel – check with your accommodation but towels were provided at the hotel so this was an unnecessary addition to my weight.
– Extra clothes – I wish I left more outfits at home as there are so many stalls selling great little dresses and playsuits for less than $5. I only ended up being able to buy 1 as I didn’t have the room for any more!
Things to buy when you get there:
– Toiletries – sunscreen, insect repellent, toothpaste, hairspray etc (shampoos, conditioners, body wash were all provided by the hotel).
– Snacks – crisps, sweets, chocolates, alcohol – a variety available and so cheap!
4. Tours vs DIY
Dom and I didn’t book any tours prior to arriving in Bali. There are hundreds of stalls where people are selling tours and again you can usually barter the price down. The only organised tour we did was Mount Batur (see next blog post for more info). We actually booked online and received transport to and from the volcano, a private tour guide and a visit to the natural springs afterwards.
Other than that, we ordered Uber’s to other villages and thought we would just walk around and sight-see on foot. Tip: this didn’t work for us in Uluwatu. We thought we could walk along the beach to each place we wanted to visit. This was not the case and it was too hot/far to walk anywhere. We did however walk from our hotel in Legian to Seminyak Square and then onto Canguu (via the beach in this case) which was a fairly long walk but definitely doable.
I would also recommend accepting if taxi drivers offer to drive you around for the day for a set fee. For 500,000 IDR, our Mount Batur driver Kadek picked us up later on in the week at 8am and drove us North to Ubud, dropping us off at 4 different locations (covered in another blog post). We arrived back at our hotel at 5pm – for less than $40 USD, this was definitely worth it!