Our Travel Tips for the First Time Visitors as well for our Patrons
The Indonesian island of Bali has plenty of treats for visitors. It has excellent weather, a beautiful green landscape, pristine beaches and a culture that is fascinating and unique. Bali is a very popular tourist destination and as such can have its frustrations. Unlike the majority of Indonesians, most of the inhabitants of the island follow Balinese Hinduism as opposed to Islam. Their customs are well established and the culture of the island has been well preserved.
Most visitors arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). Taxies on the island are quite plentiful and reasonably priced. Minibuses and full-size buses also travel along popular routes. There are no trains on the island but it is possible to hire a car or motorcycle. In all parts of Indonesia, vehicles travel on the left. To the west of the island is a vehicle and passenger ferry which shuttles to and from the larger island of Java.
Bahasa Indonesia is spoken throughout the island. It uses the Roman alphabet so it is possible for the visitor to learn a few phrases. There is a local Balinese dialect which is used in rural areas. English is widely spoken in tourist areas. The unit of currency used throughout Indonesia is the Rupiah.
Bali lies very close to the equator and it has a humid tropical climate. The average temperature is about 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The wettest months are between November and March, but short bursts of rain can appear at any time.
Choose your base carefully
It pays to put some thought into your Bali base, as chaotic traffic and hot weather are likely to make you stick close to your hotel or villa rather than wander far on foot or sit in stuffy taxis. If you’re looking for relaxation, Sanur on the South-East coast is the place for you. Choose one of our large Villas and pamper yourself.
Remember that low season often means rainy season
Be mindful of Bali’s rainy season (November to April) when planning your trip. Discounts can be great, but if you end up spending your holiday cooped up indoors, you may be left wondering if making the trip was worth it. Fortunately, the rains are often limited to brief afternoon downpours, so your holiday isn't likely to be a total write-off.
Respect religious customs
Religion matters in Bali. Don’t get upset when a street is blocked off for a ceremony or your driver pulls over mid-trip to make a blessing – this is all part of the magic of the island. Plan accordingly if your travel dates fall on Nyepi when everything in Bali (even the airport) shuts down for the day, and always dress modestly (covering the shoulders and knees) and conduct yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites..
Keep the environment clean
Bali’s heat and humidity calls for constant hydration, but consider the environment before purchasing another bottled drink. An estimated three million plastic bottles are discarded in Bali each month; please help reduce this figure by investing in a stainless steel bottle that you can refill.
You can bargain for many items and services in Bali, but do so respectfully and with a smile on your face. You’ll know when the vendor has reached their limit, and at that point don’t push it. When in doubt, walk away – if the seller doesn’t come after you, you can be sure they aren’t prepared to drop the price any lower.
Do not take risks
Bali is generally safer than many headlines suggest, but with close to four million tourists hitting its shores every year, it’s statistically natural that some travelers may have problems. Party safe, always wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, be respectful, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your home country, and you're on track for the holiday of a lifetime.
Respect the ocean
Even if you’re an avid beach-goer or surfer, Bali's powerful waves, strong currents and exposed rocks can be treacherous, so take care, and don't swim alone unless you are completely confident in doing so. Show equal respect for the beach by not leaving any garbage (including plastic water bottles) behind – when the tide comes in, it'll be sucked into the ocean at great cost to the marine ecosystem.
Play by the rules
The Indonesian legal system may seem confusing and contradictory to you, but it's best not argue with police if you are accused of an infringement that may feel unjust, and pay ‘fines’ with good grace. Do not expect any special treatment for being a foreigner, and it goes without saying that having anything to do with drugs is a very bad idea.
The current visa situation
In early 2015, Indonesia waived its standard 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival (VOA) system for 45 countries; visitors from most other nations (including Australians) must purchase the VOA. While extending a 30-day visa is possible, it can be a tricky business. Speak to a reputable visa agent on the ground, or contact your nearest Indonesian consulate prior to departure.