When we told everyone we were starting our year-long holiday in Bali most people said we were mad. And when we said we were starting in Kuta they said we had totally lost it. Many had had some shocking experiences during their holiday in Bali and were not keen to return.

Some of our friends have been many times and have found it a small piece of heaven that they never want to leave. They all had a small piece of advice for us that in the big picture meant so much as we landed and hit the ground running to make Bali the best start to our year of travel.

Resort, hotel or villa? Check here for the best deals to suit your trip.

When visiting a new place there are so many things you just don’t think of and this was the same for me when we started our holiday in Bali. We chose it because it was hot, very Westernised and for us, this was what we needed to settle into the slow travel we wanted to do.

Our friend’s advice has saved us on a few occasions while we were visiting Bali and there are a few things we had to learn the hard way, as you do! We hope our top Bali travel tips will keep you from getting into strife the next time or the first time you visit this amazingly beautiful island for your Bali vacation.

Let the succesful holiday in Bali begin!

Money

There are so many zeros and they can be so hard to work out when you first get to Bali. I remember the first time we went shopping and they said it was 135,000…I did a double take straight away and didn’t know what to do. Then it dawned on me that it was like $13.50Aud! Wrapping your head around the money as fast as you can will save you from getting ripped off during your holiday in Bali.

So one Aussie Dollar is 10,000 rupiah. 10 cents = 1000 rp

Indonesian rupiah

Many people take money to Bali with them and then change it over there. We took $700AUD to get us through the first 7 days of our holiday in Bali. The advice we had been given was to take money with us and exchange it as most ATM’s will only disperse a small amount of cash around 3 million rupiah in some of the bigger tourist spots in Bali which is $300AUD at a time to as little as 1.5 million in less popular tourist spots in Bali. The fees are also totally outrageous (around $8.00AUD every time you withdraw money with currency conversion in that too)

Food – Bali Belly

Eating is one of the top things to do in Bali. But your holiday in Bali can be severely affected if you get a terrible dose of Bali Belly. You do need to remember there is a big difference between the travellers runs and Bali Belly. Our doctor told us that if we had a small case of the runs it was just our body getting rid of something that did not agree with us and to try and let it run its course. If you did not recover quickly or had other severe symptoms then you should see a doctor.

Many people will tell you to have pro-biotics every day before you go or red cordial. While some of these Bali travel tips came in handy especially Yakult for our youngest, it seemed to work until we didn’t do it for a few days. We also used hand sanitiser and didn’t drink the water but we have all managed to be sick in some way.

I think unfortunately from the many forums we have read about other peoples Bali experience, if you are going to get sick you can get it from so many different places and there is no telling where you got it from. It is best to just be careful and hope for the best during your Bali vacation

food from Bali

Declare, Declare, Declare!

If you are entering Bali Indonesia with any type of medication DECLARE IT and make sure you have a letter from your doctor to state what you have and why you have it. We did this with the medication we bought from home and it totally put my mind at ease as we went through customs.

I told them we had antibiotics and medicine for Marley with a doctors letter and they seemed not to worry about it. If you are unsure just declare it as Indonesia does still have the death penalty for drug trafficking. JUST DON’T DO IT. This also goes for drugs on the street.

Drinking in Bali

Alcohol

If you are planning on going out in Bali you need to take a little extra care with your drinks. It is reported that Arak is sometimes subsituted for alcohol and it can be very dangerous. You are best to drink bottled already mixed alcohol if you can rather than mixers made by the bartenders. Same as at home never leave your drink unattended as well.

Water

It is really important to remember not to drink that water while you are staying in Bali. This also means you need to use bottled water to brush your teeth as well. Most accommodation in Bali will supply you with blottled water in your room complimentary. Ice in drinks is where you can also get into trouble but most places use the correct ice that is government regulated. If it is round with a hole through it you should be right.

drinks by the pool in Bali

Travel Insurance-Doctors in Bali

We always say if you can’t afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel and this is no different with travelling in Bali. On our last night in Ubud Marley could barely keep anything down and we made the decision to call the doctor. I was so worried as how were we going to navigate our way there and back on a place we did not know and we were leaving the next day.

What I didn’t know was how easy it would be. All we had to do was call the reception at our accommodation and they organised the doctor to come to the hotel for us. He was seriously at our bedside in under 30 minutes and I was astounded at how easy it was to see the doctors in Bali.

He assessed Marley with his nurse as his assistant and told us what he thought was wrong (upset tummy but did not say Bali belly) He gave us some medication that he bought with him and told us what to do if the symptoms persisted over the next few days and the WE PAID HIM BY CREDIT CARD! Can you believe it? Just one tap and we were right to go.

It did cost 1.7 million rupiah ($170AUD) and they were happy to provide a doctors certificate right then and there for our insurance. Our excess is $200 so we decided to cop it on the chin so if we need a huge amount at some stage we hadn’t used it up already or increased our excess early on.


Getting ripped off.

This will happen to you at some stage during your Bali holiday and maybe before you even know it. And there are so many ways that it can happen. If it does happen learn from it and then make sure it doesn’t happen again or don’t return to that shop. Some people get very angry and return to a place to make it known. Normally in a mini-mart or small shop, it is a tiny amount but it can be very frustrating.

Our top Bali travel tips so you don’t get ripped off!

1 – Change your money at an authorised money changer. They don’t charge a commission and they will count the money in front of you. COUNT IT AGAIN. Make sure you have the correct amount before you leave. Pay attention, don’t take anything with you that will distract you while you are changing money in Bali. This is the best piece of Bali info we can give you.

2- If you go to an Indomart, Circle K or any sort of mini-mart they MUST SCAN YOUR ITEMS. If they aren’t scanning them and using a calculator you are more than likely getting ripped off. This happened to us…he used a calculator and the amount was 243,000rp. I then politely asked him to scan it all and to give me a receipt and suddenly it only came to 208,000. Maybe he was just really bad at using a calculator.

3- Know the amount you hand over and know the amount you should get back. This can be so hard with all the zeroes getting thrown about but KNOW YOUR MONEY. Best Bali travel tip you will ever get!

4- Grab is a very unpopular form of transport for many of the local drivers but there are so many that just rip off people with no meters or changing the price when you arrive at a place or getting lost on the way and the bill can triple. With grab, you know exactly what the trip will cost you BEFORE you even get in the car and they are a fraction of the local taxi costs.

*Side note here. There are some places that grab will not go due to it being so unpopular so don’t get stranded.

Bartering

This is something that I struggle with whenever we visit a country that has the bartering system. I am not used to it and I have a problem with going as low as I can. We have been told that going half of what is originally asked for is a fair start and then go from there. These people still need to make a living off what they sell so please remember this when you are bartering for something you really want.

Money changing

This is something that we have seen a lot of people having trouble with on their holiday to Bali. They use the wrong money changing facility and get ripped off sometimes by a couple of hundred dollars. ONLY use official money changes that DON’T charge commission.

If you are worried you can ask at your hotel and they should be able to point you towards a good one but the saying goes ‘if it is too good to be true it normally is’. If a place is offering a higher rate there may be a reason why!

Accommodation

So many people are looking for cheap Bali holidays and why not? With the cost of travelling within Australia skyrocketing every year you can come, stay in Bali and have a brilliant time at a fraction of the cost. There are so many amazing places to stay in Bali and some of the best places to stay in Bali are a little back from Kuta Beach or out of that area completely. Don’t get me wrong you can stay right on Kuta Beach if you like but we find once people holiday in the same spot a few times they really get to know where the best places to stay in Bali really are.

Resorts

Many people will opt for a stay in Bali at a resort. Some of the best family resorts in Bali offer a kids club, kids pool and include many of the meals you will need. Bali holidays are meant to be relaxing for everyone so if this is what you would enjoy with some small trips out organised through your resort then one of these may be the best place to stay in Bali for you.

Hotels

There are so many hotels in Bali for families. Picking one will be hard and will need to really reflect on what you want to do while you stay in Bali. We stayed at the Harris Hotel Riverview and we found it to be just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of central Kuta. Next time we may venture out of Kuta to stay in one of the other areas but you can totally do Bali on a budget and still stay in a great hotel with so many extras.

Villas

These types of accommodation are great for families. If you decided to stay in Bali and stay in a villa just make sure you have some help. I always like a desk when we first arrive in a place just so you can get your bearings and if anything goes wrong you have some support like if you were to need the doctors in Bali.

For accommodation in Bali we recommend you look for:

  • Ease of travelling to where you want to go.
  • Kids club if you need a break – check ages of your children, are they too old or too young?
  • Are you able to book some day trips through your resort, hotel, apartment?
  • Does it have EVERYTHING you need? Wi-fi, air con, pool etc.
  • Is breakfast included? This is important for us as our youngest is so fussy we can always tell if she is getting at least one good meal a day.
  • Cost. This is a big one. Whether you are doing Bali on a budget or you are splashing out know what you get for your money.
  • Check out from your Bali hotel. What time are you leaving? Will you be left hot and sweaty in Bali hours before your flight leaves
Ramada Bali sunset road

Crossing the road in Bali

One thing you will be astounded with on your first visit to Bali is the sheer amount of traffic on the roads, especially scooters. And if you have taken a car from the airport you will have at some point held on for dear life!

I am not sure if this is something that even seasoned travellers to Bali get used to but I can tell you I was like a deer in the headlights the first time I tried to cross the road. We got some top tips from the security guards out the front of our hotel on the first few days. So I hope they help you!

  • You should try to find a crossing if you can but there are no actual pedestrian crossings like at home, even though there are lines on the road. These are probably one of the safest ways to cross.
  • Stand on the side of the road with your hand up in a stop sign.
  • Walk with purpose across the road at a constant pace
  • Hold your child’s hand and try to walk altogether. Don’t dawdle or suddenly run

Cars will see that you are crossing and slow down or go around you. Obviously common sense should prevail. If you are on a busy road you need to be careful.

If you are really unsure you can seek out a security guard that is manning a gate at a hotel. They helped us plenty of times across the road in heavy traffic. We also saw them help so many families with prams cross the road too. A couple had a joke with us about paying them but they were honestly just a joke.


Transport

There are so many ways to see all of the top Bali destinations but one of the top ones we can recommend is getting a Bali tour guide. You can hire a Bali driver for the day for as little as $60AUD. A brilliant Bali driver knows exactly where to go in Bali and we found it the best way to travel in Bali.

Your Bali tour guide will pick you up at your hotel or apartment and show you the best of Bali. They will wait for you or they will go with you into the place and give you a private tour with all the Bali info you will need. A Bali tour guide will make your holiday in Bali unforgettable and here are four of the best.

  1. Family Bali Tours
  2. Bali Customized Tours
  3. Your Bali Discovery Driver
  4. Marco Bali
temple in Bali

In Bali you can hire anything…anything

When we were first considering our Bali holiday there were so many things to think about. We had to take as little as possible with us due to our long term travel plans but keep that stuff in top notch condition. I was stunned when talking to a friend and she said you can have you washing done ofr as little as $10 Australian dollars. So I looked into some other things that you can hire in Bali and the list is never ending.

You can hire in Bali:

  • Baby equipment-cots, prams, car seats
  • A Bali driver for the day
  • Scooters and helmets
  • A nanny for your children
  • Someone to wash your clothes
  • Someone to shop for you

So many services will come to you at your hotel or your resort. You can also ask in forums for people to recommend services they have used before. We used both a driver and a washing service that our friends had used on previous Bali trips.

Basic prices in Bali

One thing I couldn’t find in all my research was the basic prices in Bali of groceries and food. Western style food is expensive at nearly prices like home buut you can get to a local restaurant (warung) and enjoy a brilliant cheap meal in Bali.

These prices are from a circle K, mini mart or an indomart.

  • Beer (Bintang) 23,000
  • Water 600ml 7,000
  • Sunscreen (small) 180,000
  • Noodle cup 7,500
  • toothpaste 10,000
  • Yakult 5 pack 10,000
  • Chicken and veg dinner 20,000 (warung)
  • Nasi Goreng 20,000 (warung)
  • Fresh mango juice 15,000 (warung)
  • Apples (royal gala) 54,500 per kilo (supermarket)
  • 1kg of washing 20,000 per kilo
shops in Bali

General Bali travel tips

Before I left I like to ask people who have been to a place to give me the most honest and best travel tips they can. I am lucky that we have some great friends that have been to Bali and were happy to share their experiences with us and I am also a barista so people are normally very happy to share experiences, sometimes in a very blunt way too. Here are some of the best Bali travel tips we got…but be ready some are not for the faint-hearted!

  • Never trust a fart in Bali. No seriously stop laughing, they can be dangerous!
  • If you do put too much trust in one always made sure you have spare undies, some wipes and a sarong in your backpack. These will help you get back to the hotel if you are out.
  • Bring the lightest weight clothes you can find. It is HOT over here!
  • Prepared to sweat…then sweat some more all over, al the time.
  • You are going to say no thanks so much you will just end up saying it to each other accidentally! Yep, we did that!
  • Sunscreen is super expensive over here. If you have checked luggage pop some in there.

Tipping

While it is not customary in Bali to tip, we always just rounded up every bill or left a small amount. You can pretty much guarantee you will get awesome service and a warm smile everywhere you go. I remember hearing a man going off at a lady for her bad service in a restaurant we were at.

We had the same lady and she was awesome…I believe the way you treat someone from the get-go effects them and the service you are perceiving to get. She looked afraid of him and to be honest from what I saw the star treatment would still not be good enough for this guy.

We also found when we went a place with a tour guide or driver if we ate then we asked them to eat with us and we paid for their meal. If we got a cold drink we got an extra one for them as well. We like to be able to sit and talk to the people that we are with so we can get a better understanding of their life and what they do and this is a perfect way to do that.

Remember if you cant afford to buy travel Insurance you cant afford to travel

I really hope that this is a great guide for your trip to Bali and that you have found some very useful tips in it to prepare you for an awesome time away. If you have any questions or you want to know more drop us a line here at Wyld family travel and we can chat!

We hope you enjoyed this article from Wyld Family Travel. Please find 2 more articles below for your reading enjoyment. Just click the description to read.

More about the Author

Bec Wyld is a mother, wife and once reluctant traveller. Bec has been to over 30 countries across the globe. I have planned and stressed in all of these places. Becs writing can be found on Wyld Family Travel and as a guest poster and contributor on many other travel websites including Lonely Planet Kids

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Bali is a different world for most travellers. Simple things are sometimes not so simple in Bali. We have some essential Bali tips

Money changing Bali | Seeing a doctor in Bali | Alcohol in Bali | being scammed in Bali | Eating in Bali | travel tips for Bali | Bali belly | where to stay in Bali | Indonesia | travel in Indonesia 

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