Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to Bali, the mesmerizing Island of the Gods? From navigating the crowds to immersing yourself in the local customs, there are a few tricks to ensure you make the most of your trip. We’ve gathered 16 top tips to help you create lasting memories during your visit to this tropical paradise.
1. Embrace the Crowds
Bali, as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, may not always offer untouched solitude. However, don’t let that discourage you. Beyond the primary tourist centers of southern Bali and Ubud, the island hides countless secluded corners waiting to be explored. Venture to the central mountains or Bali’s serene north and west coasts for a taste of tranquility.
2. Choose Your Base Wisely
To fully enjoy your Bali experience, carefully consider your base. Chaotic traffic and hot weather often limit exploration on foot or in stuffy taxis. If you’re seeking relaxation, Kuta may not be your best choice. For avid shoppers and food enthusiasts, a week in Nusa Lembongan might leave you craving more. Consult Lonely Planet’s ‘first time Bali’ guide to find your perfect spot.
3. No Worries About “Bali Belly”
Gone are the days when strict dietary habits were necessary to avoid stomach issues in Bali. Hygiene standards have significantly improved across the island, and many establishments now offer high-quality organic produce. While it’s wise to exercise caution with certain street food and the infamous local liquor called arak, staying hydrated and taking basic precautions should keep “Bali belly” at bay.
4. Dress to Impress
While beachwear is the go-to attire in many destinations, it won’t always cut it in Bali. Higher-end bars, restaurants, and clubs often enforce dress codes. To avoid potential embarrassment, call ahead to ensure your outfit meets the establishment’s requirements.
5. Respect the Island’s Spirituality
Religion plays a central role in Balinese culture. Embrace the sacredness of the island by respecting religious customs. Don’t be alarmed if a street is temporarily blocked for a ceremony or your driver pauses to perform a blessing – it’s all part of the island’s enchantment. If your travel dates coincide with Nyepi, a day when Bali shuts down entirely, plan your activities accordingly. Remember to dress modestly and behave respectfully when visiting temples and holy sites.
6. Prepare for a Diversity of Price Tags
Bali caters to a range of budgets. While it’s still possible to enjoy the island on a shoestring by opting for guesthouses, warung dining, and local markets, you can also indulge in luxurious experiences that rival those in Australia, the UK, and the US. Keep an eye out for online discounts and happy hour deals to strike a balance that keeps your bank account happy without compromising your enjoyment.
7. Proceed with Caution Around Wildlife
Wild and stray animals in Bali may appear adorable, but they can pose health risks. Rabies and other diseases are prevalent, and monkeys are notorious for their thieving tendencies. Bali’s stray dogs often suffer and are in need of help. Consider making a donation to organizations like the Bali Dog Refuge, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating these pups.
8. Say No to Plastic Water Bottles
Staying hydrated is essential in Bali’s heat and humidity, but be mindful of the environment. Bali’s beaches are often littered with plastic waste, with authorities removing up to 60 tons per day during the monsoon season. Reduce your impact by investing in a reusable stainless steel bottle. Most cafes and restaurants provide filtered water free of charge or for a small fee.
9. Connect with the Locals Through Language
Immerse yourself in the local culture by learning a few basic words of Bahasa Indonesia. Greet locals with a cheerful “selamat pagi” (good morning), say “please” with “tolong,” and show gratitude by saying “terima kasih” (thank you). A little effort goes a long way in fostering connections with the warm-hearted Balinese people.
10. Timing is Everything
Be aware of Bali’s rainy season, which occurs from January to April and October to November. Lower tourist numbers during this time often result in enticing discounts. However, keep in mind that heavy rainfall may limit your outdoor activities. Don’t worry though – the rains are typically short-lived afternoon showers, allowing you to make the most of your vacation.
11. Stay Informed About Visa Requirements
While the visa system for entering Indonesia is continually evolving, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest requirements. Check with your nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate for the most recent information regarding your nationality before you travel.
12. Respect Mother Nature
Bali’s breathtaking volcanoes can occasionally disrupt flights, hotel stays, and travel plans. Stay informed about the country’s travel advisories, and exercise caution during periods of volcanic activity.
13. Observe Local Regulations
The Indonesian legal system may appear complex and contradictory at times. If you find yourself accused of an infringement that seems unjust, it’s best not to argue with the authorities. Pay any fines with good grace, and remember that being a foreigner doesn’t entitle you to special treatment. Above all, avoid any involvement with drugs; this is a serious offense that can have severe consequences.
14. Bargain with Respect
Bargaining is a common practice in Bali, but it’s essential to do so respectfully. Maintain a friendly demeanor and a smile on your face. When the vendor reaches their limit, it’s time to gracefully accept the offer or move on. If they don’t show further interest, it means they are not willing to lower the price any further.
15. Show Reverence for the Ocean
Bali’s coastline boasts powerful waves, strong currents, and exposed rocks that can be treacherous. Exercise caution while swimming, and avoid going alone unless you are confident in your abilities. Additionally, respect the beach and marine ecosystem by leaving no garbage behind. Cigarette butts and other waste can harm the vibrant underwater world.
16. Stay Mindful, Stay Safe
Bali, like any other destination, has experienced its share of challenges, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters. With millions of tourists visiting each year, it’s important to take precautions for a safe vacation. Party responsibly, wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, be respectful toward the local culture, and remember to exercise the same judgment you would in your home country. By doing so, you’ll set the stage for the vacation of a lifetime.
Remember, the secrets of Bali await your discovery. Book your journey to this enchanting island today and uncover the wonders that lie within!
You might also like:
- First Time Bali: Where to Eat, Stay, and Play
- Top 9 Free Things to Do in Bali
- A Guide to Bali’s Best Spas and Chill-Out Spots
This article was first published in July 2009 and last updated in January 2021. Stay informed and enjoy your adventure to Bali!