Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

written by Henry Fry
updated 12/9/2018
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With its coral-speckled beaches, luscious green rice terraces and blissful azure seas, Bali has long been a haven for surfers, sun worshippers and yoga junkies alike. Whether you’re planning the adventure of a lifetime or a week of relaxation, here are ten Bali travel tips to help you make the most of your visit.

1. Learn to haggle for almost everything

You'll find there is often one price for locals and one price for tourists in Bali, but if you’re savvy you can barter for something in between. There’s always room for manoeuvre. Even things with a fixed price – like hotels and tours – can be negotiated.

2. Head west for waves, east for snorkelling

The surf in Bali is world-renowned. West coast spots like Canggu and Kuta boast incredible waves, while the Rip Curl Surf School in Legian runs daily classes for novices.

The calmer waters to the east are great for scuba diving and snorkelling, and headgear is readily available pretty much everywhere.

Sea turtle © Daniel Wilhelm Nilsson


3. Get the right visa

For most travellers, there are three main kinds of visa available. The free-entry visa is non-extendable, so if you think you might end up staying longer than 30 days you should pay for the extendable visa on arrival (US$35.00), or get a 60-day visa before leaving home.

4. Embrace mopeds as your transport of choice

While initially daunting, particularly in jam-packed city centres, mopeds are cheap to rent and give you the freedom to explore the island’s more out-of-the-way attractions.

Make sure to check the tank, as they’re often left empty by the previous rider. If you do run low, petrol is easily purchased (usually in vodka bottles) from almost every roadside shop. And don’t forget to ask for a helmet.

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5. Don’t miss the Gilis

The three Gili Islands lie off the west coast of Lombok, less than two hours' boat ride from Bali, and are a laid-back haven for partying, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Rent a bike and head around the stunning white shoreline, stopping off to swim amid tropical fish and the occasional sea turtle. Boats run between the islands constantly, but make sure to catch a public one, rather than pay through the nose for a private speedboat.

Gili Meno © Luciano Mortula - LGM


6. Watch a fire dance at Uluwatu

Traditional dances are performed everywhere, but none in so spectacular a location as the ancient cliff top temple of Uluwatu, on the tip of the southern Bukit Peninsula. If you’re travelling by moped be aware that you’ll be returning in the dark, so make note of your route.

7. Be vigilant with money

Use ATMs as much as possible and try to avoid money-changers, as they can undercut you. If you have no other option, do your own calculations and double-check theirs. Notes are large and some changers play on tourists’ confusion, giving you less than you’ve agreed on.

8. Get a health kick in Ubud

Ubud is Bali’s traditional cultural hub and now lies at the heart of the island’s holistic wellness movement – part of Eat, Pray, Love was filmed here. Head to one of the many classes at the The Yoga Barn and stop off in The Seeds of Life, a raw food restaurant, for a detox.

Make time to stroll through the famous rice terraces, visit the Monkey Forest (keeping a firm hold of your valuables), and if you’re feeling adventurous, go white-water rafting on the breathtaking Ayung River.

Yoga in Bali © zjuzjaka


9. Or just eat everything

From the traditional famed babi guling (a whole spit-roast pig) to Japanese, Chinese, Thai and American fusion cuisine, there’s always something to fill your belly in Bali.

Try the Potato Head Beach Club in high-end Seminyak for some multicultural dining in an unusual horseshoe-shaped building, or head to Gili Trawangan for the night market, where you can sample grilled king prawns straight from the ocean.

Make sure to order the Indonesian staple gado gado, a salad of boiled vegetables and eggs, at least once on your trip.

10. Relax!

There is such wide range of activities on offer in Bali, that it can be overwhelming. Whether your stay is long or short, let the Balinese spirit in: chill out, breathe and enjoy the ride.

Explore more of Bali with The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. Top image: Rice terraces in Bali © Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock.

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written by Henry Fry
updated 12/9/2018
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