Often you hear people talk about far away holidays in warm countries where the weather is always perfect and so you must have heard the name Bali, an Indonesian island, pop up here and there. But before you decide on this particular Island above all other Indonesian islands I would recommend you to think about the reasons why you want to go there and not to Java, Lombok or Gili for example.
What you should know before going to Bali
First and for all Bali is VERY touristy with people from the island driving up the prices like crazy (not meaning it isn’t still cheaper than Europe or Australia) but, and I mean this especially for backpackers or low budget travellers, it is never fun to feel like you are overpaying just because you are white or not a native. To give you a concrete example I will say that the price for nasi goreng (fried rice) in the touristy places lies between 35.000 RP and 50.000 RP, whereas if you go to more local places (often hidden in smaller streets) you pay between 8.000 RP (the lowest I found by chance in a little village alongside mt Batur) and 25.000 RP. The same goes for buying objects or services (like transport) never just take the first offer always walk away and find another person or company that sells the same thing or service and ask if they can do better, they often can and will!
Also prepare yourself on having to pay for every ‘to see‘ or ‘to take a picture with ‘ location. It appears to be typical for Bali that you aren’t allowed to do treks or waterfall hikes by yourself and often they charge you an excessive amount for the guide or alleged registration. These are meant to be ways for the communities to make money of tourists I do understand this but at the same time it is really annoying you can’t even go to a single nature area without paying for it, it makes it kind of hard to enjoy the moment. Luckily thus far Bali is the only place I have seen that acts like this.
Transport on Bali
The transport on Bali isn’t as cheap as we all might think with taxi’s charging you triple or quadruple the normal amount unless you can find a metered taxi but In my 14 days there I have yet to encounter one.
As busses aren’t organised in Bali a better option would be Grab, you can install this application if you have an Indonesian number ( 7 GB for €6). Now how does it work? You type a concrete address (even a beach) or you pin the location you’re at then you see cars around you so you can tell whether or not grabs are nearby and available for that area. Subsequently you choose what kind of grab you would like to order with the price depending on whether you choose a normal car, a big car (6-8 people), a grab taxi or a grab bike .
However the third option is by far my favourite! Renting a scooter. This will cost you between 50.000 RP and 70.000 RP a day (sometimes you can find cheaper deals if you rent the scooter for a longer time) which can be shared by two people making the cost even lower. Just don’t end up driving one scooter with more than two as there are different laws for tourists than there are for the locals, who are often driving a whole family on one scooter! The fines, aka bribes, are handed out for driving with more than two people as said before and for driving around without an international drivers licence, I have not been pulled over and asked for my international drivers licence. A trick I’ve been told about is to put two notes of 50.000 RP in your pockets, one in your right pocket and the other in your left so that if you are pulled over you can first hand over one of them and if that one isn’t enough you can give the second one. Mind you that often they will tell you the bribe price themselves.
Beware of driving in Bali it isn’t the simplest thing as you are supposed to drive on the left but everyone just drives everywhere! Also if you are thinking of renting a car just don’t do it having seen how small the streets are and how much traffic there is a scooter is definitely the best option. If you were considering it because of carrying the luggage around I can happily say that people in Bali are very friendly and helpful and it usually isn’t a problem to leave your big backpacks or suitcases with the hostel or hotel for free as you are doing an island scooter trip!
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