Bali or my very own “Eat, pray, love”
(Part 6. Tips &Tricks)
Now that we know where to stay & eat, what to see & do and how to be safe in Bali, it is time for some tips & tricks that will make your holiday just perfect. This is not necessarily my kind of post because I like to put some feelings in what I write, but I do know there are some important things that you should be aware of before heading to Bali for the first time.
WHEN TO GO
One of the most common mistakes made by people is going to Bali in winter thinking that this is the best time to be there, probably comparing to Thailand or Philippines. Don’t get me wrong, Bali has magic all year round due its constant temperature around 27-28 degrees Celsius, but summer season starts in May and ends in September. April and October are still good months to visit Bali because there are fewer tourists and being transition months, there is not so much rain. As a conclusion, winter season, also known as rainy season, starts in November and lasts till March. The bad news is that December, when I saw people tend to visit the island for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, is actually the worst month to be there, with the highest chance to rain.
As I always say, 28 degrees Celsius and a beach sound good even with rainy and cloudy weather. But wouldn’t you prefer to visit it on the sunny dry season? As a plus, you have so many alternatives in winter with great weather such as Thailand and Philippines mentioned above or Vietnam, Brazil, Argentina, the Caribbean Islands. And you can find similar prices as well.
That being said, make an exception this year and skip the European holiday. I know, Greece, Spain, Italy have their magic, that is out of the question, but wouldn’t you like to do something different next year?
!Tip 1: Even though we are discussing about hot and dry season, you should still be prepared for a day or two with cloudy weather. And maybe a few minutes of rain per day. Imagine how it will be in the rainy season.
!Tip 2: I have some friends that visited Bali for winter holidays and they had excellent sunny weather. I guess it is all about luck on this matter, but you sure increase your chances when you go in the dry season.
!Tip 3: This is one of the many reasons Bali is well known for being a honeymoon destination. And you should definitely consider it if you have wedding plans next year! PS: Congrats and a very happy life together!
HOW TO ARRIVE
Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport, is located in southern Bali, 13 km south of Denpasar. It is Indonesia’s third-busiest international airport and this is where your magical holiday will start. You can now find lots of flights from every corner of the world. Depending on your departure country, you may find direct flights or with one or two layovers. From Romania, for example, you can find many flights with just one layover, depending on the companies you choose.
!Tip 1: Prices can get pretty high for Denpasar Airport, so you should plan in advance and hunt for some promotions. Another option for finding cheaper tickets is to combine your Bali holiday with Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, from where you may find low cost direct flights.
!Tip 2: You can easily access all the important parts of Bali from the airport, the airport being located close to Kuta, Denpasar or Jimbaran and around 30 km away from Ubud.
Depending on passport and citizenship, there are many options to choose from if the main purpose is traveling as a tourist and not working or engaging in any form of business:
- Free Visa – majority of countries (FREE entry, 30 days valid NOT extendable)
- Visa on Arrival (costs 35 USD, 30 days valid, can be extended once for 30 days)
- Social or cultural Visa (can stay 60 days, can be extended 3 times for 30 days each, issued by consulate or embassy outside Indonesia)
- Multiple Entry Visa (stay up to 60 days per visit, valid 1 year, issued by consulate or embassy outside Indonesia)
Here you can find the list of the countries that can benefit from free visa plus many more other useful information:
!Tip 1: For Romania, which is my home country, we can benefit from free visa for 30 days by completing an immigration form obtained in the airplane. You just need to have a passport valid for at least 6 more months and an empty page for stamp or visa sticker!
Getting around Bali is an important thing to consider because you cannot fully understand its magic without wandering the island. As I already said, traffic is infernal here. Although it may seem like a small island and the distances are around 30-40 km, it will last longer than you think to arrive at your destination. Hundreds of cars and scooters driving on the left side of the road make it very difficult to visit all the tourist attractions. Patience should be your middle name in order to survive Bali’s traffic.
As you may already guess, motorbikes and scooters are the most popular means of transport on the island. They are the best option to explore places with narrow streets such as Kuta, Canggu or Seminyak. Still, driving a motorbike can be quite scary, especially in Bali! It is not unusual for cars and bikes to swerve into your lane without indication. First day on the scooter is definitely a challenge.
For longer distances, I suggest you to travel by car. Regarding car rental, it is pretty difficult to get your own if you are not used with driving on the left side of the road. As a plus, you should be more than careful about the scooters. Moreover, you need your license from your home country and an international driving license. All in all, I do not recommend this idea.
Still, locals offer a variety of excellent half day, full day and overnight tour packages which are available from your hotel desk or any of the numerous travel agents and tour operators which abound in Bali. There is not a place is Bali you want to visit that is not covered.
If you prefer privacy and want to visit just with your loved one or your friends, you can find a car and driver who will also act as your guide. This is the best option in my opinion for visiting further tourist attractions. Competition is tight and many drivers know several languages.
!Tip 1: Prices are extremely affordable. You find a driver available all day to wander with you and wait for you while you explore for 30 EUR. Tell the driver your desired route and negotiate a fee;
!Tip 2: I’ve got a good recommendation for a driver before while in Bali. I just texted him on Whatsapp to establish the pickup hour and price and he awaited us at the reception when scheduled.
!Tip 3: I also suggest choosing this option for airport transfer. Sure, you may find taxis there, but I think it is more practical at the beginning of your holiday.
MONEY, ATMs and CREDIT CARDS
Bali uses the Indonesian rupiah (IDR) as the local currency.
1 EUR meant around 15780 IDR when I was on the island.
Cash is essential because there are still parts where you can’t pay by card. Be careful where you exchange money and count twice. You already know what happened to me at the exchange point on my first day in Bali. Do not carry too much money on you, just what you need for your daily expenses. For the rest, I recommend using the safe deposit box from your accommodation.
You can find ATMs everywhere in the cities so you can withdraw money easily. Be careful if you are going in Nusa Lembongan. You can only find one ATM there at Mushroom Bay and one in Nusa Penida near the harbor.
You can pay by credit card in all restaurants and big shops. Regarding accommodation, although it is not mentioned on www.booking.com, for example, they often charge you 3% as a commission for the bank. So you should keep that in mind!
This pretty much sums up all the information needed in order to enjoy your Bali holiday to the fullest. If I forgot anything, please feel free to ask me and I will be happy to assist.
As I said in my first Bali post, you cannot leave this place without seeing at least one of the amazing islands around. My next post will be about Nusa Lembongan and its sister Ceningan, just 30 minutes away from Sanur Beach. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to get all the travel secrets.
Till next time!
You already know by now: life is short and the world is wide…