I’ve been traveling for 10 months around South Asia and I have to admit it: “I’m totally in love with Bali!“. You might say “Of course you are, who isn’t?”. But it’s not that simple. I ended up loving Bali in a month, it was not that straight forward. Whenever I think of this island I think about the love-hate contrast. Because that’s my final conclusion, you either love it or hate it. Well not really hate it because that’s impossible, but just not being impressed by it.
So let’s dig in the 10 Things To Know Before Going To Bali.
1. Traffic is crazy
You probably already heard about this, but I’m just making sure you really got the idea. “Crazy” is actually a nice word to describe it. I could easily add “horrible”, “unbelievable”, “annoying”, “stressful”.
Overall, I could say that between driving in India and driving in Bali is only one difference: in Bali, people don’t honk.
I assume there’s no need to say that it’s absolutely mandatory to wear a helmet and to be very careful.
2. Watch out for your phone while driving
Fortunately, this kind of incident didn’t happen to me, but it happens every day to many. Every time we were driving somewhere, I used to keep the Maps application open so we won’t get lost. And like me most foreigners. There are some thieves on scooters who simply smuggle your phone from your hand while driving and it’s almost impossible to catch them.
Tip: Place or hold your phone in between your legs or even tie it to your neck with that old-school thing we used to wear when we were kids.
3. Most touristy places are only for the gram
There are so many beautiful places to see in Bali, but most of them are popular only because of Instagram. Basically, it’s almost impossible to visit something and not be surrounded by hundreds of people. I’ve seen comments about tourists who went to a certain place at 7 am and there were queues so big that they had to wait for 2 hours to take a photo.
Do your research in advance to know exactly what you’re going to visit and especially if it’s worth it.
Tip: Simply rent a scooter and drive around, get lost, explore the island. You’ll find unknown beautiful temples, flower fields, and less known waterfalls.
4. Be careful with ATMs
Another very discussed issue on the Bali Facebook Groups is the case of fraud. Apparently there are many “fake” ATMs around the island where you can have your card cloned. Again, we were lucky and it didn’t happen to us, but you have no idea how many people were scammed this way. You’ll see that in Bali there are ATMs every few hundreds of meters. Some of them are in the middle of nothing, while others are on one side of the bank.
Tip: Try to always use the ATMs attached to banks, instead of the ones placed around. In case there isn’t any bank around and you have to use an ATM, take a closer look to see if there are any drill marks or something suspicious about it.
4. The beaches are not always what you might expect
The beach itself is ok, very crowded, but ok. The problem is in the water, or better said, under the water. There are few areas where you can enjoy smooth sand under your feet while being in the water. The usual case is that you might hit your toes against many rocks.
5. Use Grab, Gojek or BlueBird for transportation
Before arriving, the host from our Airbnb sent us a message with information about transportation. He said the price from the airport to Canggu should be around IDR 200-250k (€12.7-16) with a regular taxi. We used the Wi-Fi at the airport and booked a Gojek. Guess how much we paid? IDR 96k (€6)!
Another option in case you don’t have internet connection is to look for a BlueBird taxi. They’re blue and have the name of the company written on. Be careful, some drivers paint their cars the same color as the BlueBird taxi to cheat on tourists and overcharge them.
Tip: In case you’re a solo traveler, you also have the option to book a scooter with a driver, which is cheaper than a car. Also, food can be ordered through these apps.
7. Bali is a cheap destination, but you can make it very expensive.
Probably this is the case with a lot of locations, but here the contrast is very obvious. A lot of people are asking if Bali is cheap, and the answer is YES, BUT depending on your choices.
All those fancy accommodations you see on Instagram with infinity pools and view over the mountains are probably going to cost you the same as a room in any European city.
There’s the same situation with food, especially in Canggu, where’s food paradise. There are a lot of very nice and modern places to eat, most of them with Western food, but the price will also be (almost) Western.
Tip: If you want to save some money, book a nice place to stay without thinking about the photos and eat local. After all, you can eat that burger at home, you don’t have to come all the way to Bali for that.
8. The sad truth behind the most expensive coffee in the world
Coffee lover, checked!
Watched “The Bucket List” movie, checked!
Wanted to try the most expensive coffee that Morgan Freeman had in the movie? Of course.
You might have done some research and found out that the kopi luwak is so special because is made out of the coffee cherries eaten, digested and defecated by the Asian Plum Civet.
What’s actually sad is that these animals don’t even live in the wild, but they spend their whole lives in small cages.
9. You can become a Trash Hero
There are various groups that arrange beach clean-ups, but there is one that does it every Sunday, mostly around Canggu. You can like their Facebook Page and keep track of the next clean-up locations. There’s no fee, you simply have to show up.
10. There are some amazing Fashion Outlets.
I’m telling you, it’s crazy how many great things I found at super cheap prices. All outlets are located in Denpasar, but you have to search on Maps. So if you’re in the mood for shopping, (and if your luggage can afford it) you can find Rip Curl, Havaianas, Quicksilver, Roxy, Adidas, Nike and much more than I don’t remember.
Keep in touch,
Don’t forget to check also the 6 Things to Know Before Going To Nusa Penida.
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