Bali, Indonesia has become a very popular destination for travelers in recent years. Bali is a really cool island in Indonesia with a lot of fun places to explore. It’s a great visit if you like tropical destinations with a lot of cultural impact. Bali has a main island as well as smaller islands around it like Gili Meno and Nusa Penida which are accessible by boat. I stayed for about 4 days in Bali and explored Ubud as well as Kuta beach area and Nusa Penida. Here are some things everyone should know before making the trip to Bali.
1. They drive on the left side of the road
In Bali, people drive on the left side of the road which is uncommon in a lot of other countries. If you’re used to driving on the right side of the road consider this if you are thinking of renting a car and have never driven on the left side of the road.
2. It’s more expensive than neighboring areas
Coming to Bali as the last leg of my trip to South East Asia, it was definitely a bit of a shock to see the differences in prices. I knew that Bali was more expensive than other parts of Indonesia and Thailand but it’s definitely something to consider when booking accommodations and budgeting that Bali will likely break the bank more than some other nearby destinations.
3. If there’s a religious holiday, it may be busier than normal
It’s common for there to be an influx in visitors during times like Ramadan that draw crowds for holiday festivals. I happened to go during a busy week with many visitors from Java and there was an overwhelming number of people in some areas. Taxi drivers told us this was common during Ramadan and many were coming for the festival.
4. There’s a lot of traffic
Another thing to know about Bali is that the roads are very narrow and sometimes difficult to get around. Because the roads are kind of crazy there is often traffic, especially in the main areas of Ubud. This is important to know if you’re considering renting a car and also looking for places to stay. If you want to avoid traffic with taxis it may be best to stay in hotels located more centrally to be able to walk places.
5. Bikes are more popular than cars
Another transportation tip is that motorbikes are really popular in Bali and definitely outnumber cars. If you want to give them a try you can always rent these for cheaper than cars but they can be tricky to drive in traffic. Also a lot of taxi stands have mostly motorbikes rather than cars and it’s a popular way to get around.
6. Some of the beaches aren’t clean
I spent a lot of my trip to South East Asia enjoying beautiful beaches so it was a bit of a surprise to find that a lot of beaches in Bali have a lot of trash on them. This isn’t necessarily every beach, but when I stayed in the Kuta area I definitely noticed trash on the beaches, both in the sand and in the water.
7. Bali may be bigger than you realize
Maybe this was just me, but I had the notion I could see all I wanted to see on my 4 ½ day trip. Some things I wanted to see were just physically far away and would have taken a long drive in a taxi so we didn’t want to spend the money. The other issue was also the boats to the other islands that can be tricky with booking and also leave the islands early. The last boat back to the mainland leaves early and visiting each island is typically its own day trip. If you want to be really thorough with seeing everything, leave yourself enough days and extend your trip.
8. You shouldn’t drink the tap water
Tap water is not safe to drink in Bali and can definitely give you some serious stomachaches. I would recommend packing a reusable water bottle for sure and looking for places throughout the day where you can refill it.
9. Some rideshare apps are discouraged
During my trip to SE Asia I got familiar with Grab, which is really similar to Uber. It was really convenient in Malaysia but in a lot of parts of Bali, especially Ubud, there are signs everywhere that tell you not to use Grab, Uber, Lyft and others. The signs say that you should instead support local taxi drivers.
I heard mixed messages on this because some people said they used it anyway because taxi drivers rip them off and others said that it was a bad idea because some taxi drivers would be violent with Grab drivers if they saw them. I would say check the signs in the area you’re in to see if it will be an issue. It definitely seems more acceptable in the southern region to use rideshare apps than in busy areas like Ubud.
10. Don’t be afraid to bargain
You may be comfortable bargaining if you’ve been traveling in other nearby countries, but if not definitely don’t be afraid to do it. Bargaining is really common in Bali for everything from taxis to clothes and souvenirs. A lot of locals will give you a higher price to see if you will pay it, but are most often ready to bargain with you. Towards the end of my trip I almost never got in a taxi without bargaining for a lower price.
11. Agree on a price before you get in a taxi
Because taxi drivers have a monopoly on popular areas, be wary of scammers. The best way to avoid getting ripped off is to tell the driver where you’re going before you get in the taxi and explicitly agree on a price before going anywhere.
Overall, Bali is a great destination and I really enjoyed staying there! I think it’s worth the trip and definitely worth it to see the other islands nearby as well.