Things to know when travelling to Bali
HOW TO NOT GET BALI BELLY
I researched this subject lots before we went as I wanted to eat street food and at markets. Read more about it on my 'how to prevent food poisoning' when travelling page HERE.
iNTERNATIONAL LICENCE & RENTING A SCOOTER
We brought an international car licence before we went away for $20 from the AA, and although Aary doesn't have his motorbike licence, apparently an international licence is licence enough if you get pulled over by the police when riding a scooter. You can get a $50 fine for no licence so it was worth the $20 investment. I can't report if having this international car licence theory was true, as we never got pulled over and were never once asked to see our licence, but we kept it in under the seat of the scooter in the storage area with our rain ponchos. NOTE: You will NOT be covered by travel insurance if you do not have a motorbike licence as all of the Bali scooters are over 50CC, so that is a risk you have to weigh up. We wore our helmets (couldn't believe the number of tourists who didn't!) and Aary was a sensible driver. There are no road rules so just take your time until you get used to the Bali way of doing things. A 30-minute car ride can take you only 12-15mins by scooter (it is SO congested in a car in Bali, the traffic is horrendous) so I can't recommend scooters enough.
You will not be asked to show a licence when hiring a scooter (there are 9-year-olds riding scooters in Bali!), and a scooter rental will cost you around $7 a day including helmets depending on how many days you hire for...cheaper if longer. There are places that deliver the scooter to your accommodation for you, and collect it when you leave - so just do a little searching on TripAdvisor for contacts. Petrol is usually around $1 a bottle and is found on the side of the road in old plastic and alcohol bottles in the little shops. They will fill you up using a plastic funnel - it's such a hard case! We also fuelled up one early morning on our way to the rice terraces at a petrol station before these shops opened and it was much cheaper. But it's nice to support the smaller shops on the side of the road rather than a big company.
Hire a driver for long-distance travels
A personal driver in an air-conditioned car will cost you around $55 for the entire day, depending on where you are travelling to. We hired a driver to take us from Seminyak to Ubud and we stopped in Canggu along the way and this was the rate we paid for our trip. We asked our driver to take us to one of his favourite warungs for lunch (we paid for his meal with us too), and it was so great to have inside local knowledge of an authentically Balinese place to eat. If you have anything else you specifically wanted to see and didn't know where to find it, or see something interesting, like roadside food stalls along the way, you can ask your driver to take you there or pull over. We tipped our driver an extra $20 (NZD) as he didn't make that much money on the $55 fare. The distance we travelled and places we stopped at...we kept thinking how much a taxi back home would have cost for the same thing! To find a driver, just type 'Bali driver' into TripAdvisor to read some great reviews.
Getting a BALI SIM CARD for your phone
It is so cheap to buy data in Bali, a great way to stay connected when away for those social media posts, and we would also video called the kids every day via messenger. I chose a $15 package and it was WAY more data than I could use for the 9 days we were there - and I was uploading, downloading and streaming things too. When you go into the sim card/cell phone shops you can choose the package you want and there are much cheaper ones available too. You can also do this at the airport, just look for the blue Telkomsel booth after custom and ask the seller to set everything up for you. I found a little cell phone shop close to our villa in Seminyak on our first morning there...they are not hard to find.
do not exchange all your money at the airport
The airport money exchange counters have a much lower exchange rate than in town. Wait until you are in town to exchange large amounts and the rates will be higher - meaning you will get more money for your holiday! When you arrive at the airport, get just enough to pay for your car ride to your hotel, a meal and maybe a sim card etc. I wouldn't exchange any more than $150 (NZD). I exchanged a large amount on our first morning at the MPB Money Exchange (the green buildings) on my first morning in Seminyak, as I had read that they have a great reputation, and kept it in the safe at the villa.
The currency can be very confusing - so to help, I kept larger notes (for restaurants meals etc) in one part of my wallet, and smaller notes for water, snacks, street food and small purchases in another.
THE MOST IMPORTANT - Learn Bahasa
By learning even just a small handful of phrases and words, you will be showing so much respect to the local people. I always got the HUGEST smiles and excitement whenever I spoke the little Indonesian I had practised. Here is what I had learnt...
Salamat Pagi / good morning
Salamat Siang / good day 11am-3pm
Salamat sore / good afternoon 3pm-6pm
Salamat Malam / good evening
- for a more informal 'speak like a local, drop the 'Salamat'. For example, at the markets in the morning, I would say "Pagi!"
Apa kabar / How are you?
Aku baik terima kasih / I'm good thank you
Nama saya Unna / my name is Unna
Ini suamiku Aaron / this is my husband Aaron
Siapa namamu? / what is your name?
Senang bertemu dengan mu / it's nice to meet you
Terima kasih / thank you
Sama Sama / you're welcome
Sampai jumpa / see you soon!
DOWNLOAD GOOGLE TRANSLATE
As mentioned above, I had learnt Bahasa (Indonesian) before I went but the app was so helpful. I used it many times with people whose English was as limited as my Indonesian. It was so handy!
No drugs & no codeine
In a country where there is the death penalty for drug offences, DO NOT even risk anything! But apart from the typical A class and weed, did you know that codeine is also illegal in Bali? So if you have any pain medication containing it, best to leave that at home! Any prescription medication we took (like strong sleeping pills for the plane from the doctor) I kept the original container with my name on it as well as a letter from the doctor to say they were prescribed to me. Best to be safe than sorry in Bali on the drug front!