Bali ceremony

Your Inclusive Guide to Bali – What you should know before you travel

February 5, 2023

Bali, Indonesia’s most famous island, is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world right now.  The landscape captivates you with its pristine beaches, lush rainforests and majestic green rice terraces.  Luxurious villas and resorts cater to those seeking wellness, relaxation and peace.  There are activities to get the adrenaline pumping, Instagram worthy photo-ops and authentic cultural & culinary experiences.  There is truly something for everyone in Bali.
As with any travel destination, it’s important to be aware of safety concerns, cultural differences and travel advisories to ensure you have the best experience during your vacation. Here are my top tips to keep you safe in Bali.

Staying Safe & Healthy

Purchase Travel Insurance: Make sure you have reliable and extensive travel insurance coverage to cover any unforeseen medical expenses, trip interruptions and cancellations.

Medication: Some prescription medications are illegal in Bali as well. If you need to take medication, ensure it is in the original bottle and it’s highly recommended to bring a physician’s note stating why you need it and how much you should take.

Drugs are bad: Don’t do (or purchase) drugs of any kind in Bali.  It is illegal and punishable by death.

Vaccinations: Bali is still considered a developing country so it is recommended to be updated on your Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Tetnus vaccinations.  Anti-Malaria vaccination is recommended too if you plan to do some hiking off the beaten path.  And don’t forget the mosquito repellent to avoid getting Dengue fever.

Don’t drink the water: Tap water isn’t regulated by the government so it is best to bring a refillable bottle to fill at restaurants or cafés.  Ice is regulated however so you don’t have to worry about ice in your drinks
when at a bar, hotel or restaurant.

Crime: Petty crime can be common, especially in busy tourist areas such as Seminyak and Kuta.  It’s recommended you don’t bring all your valuables with you, keep expensive jewelry at home and don’t carry your phone in your back pocket.

Watch out for the wildlife: Cheeky monkeys have been known to steal valuables, backpacks and other personal belongings.  Make sure your items are well-secured.  Smiling at a monkey is considered a form of aggression to them. Don’t show your teeth. There are also many stray animals such as dogs.  They are considered wild and could result in a trip to the hospital if you get bit.

Cultural Observations:

Nyepi, the “Day of Silence”: It occurs in March each year.  This significant holiday is a day dedicated to prayers, fasting and meditation.  There is no travel allowed on this day.  Everything shuts down; even the power is turned off and everyone must stay inside in silence.

Bartering for Souveniers: Don’t be afraid to bargain a little as it is culturally expected.  However, remember that the vendors rely on this money for their livelihood so be respectful.  Touching an item indicates you are interested in purchasing.

What to Wear: As Bali is popular for tourists, typical attire for a beach holiday is considered acceptable however, if you are entering a temple or heading into a more remote area plan to dress modestly. It is suggested to wear a sarong or long dress that covers your legs and preferably something to cover your shoulders.

Women and Menstruation: Speaking of temples, if you are a woman on her period, you are not allowed to enter.  Some places will trust that you will follow this rule but others will ask you beforehand.

Canang Sari: These are daily offerings placed on streets and beaches. It is considered rude to step on or over one. Watch where you walk and simply apologize if you accidently disrupt an offering.

Gestures: Pointing is considered rude with both your fingers and your feet. If you need to get the attention of someone, use your entire hand, with the palm facing downwards. A smile goes a long way. The Balinese are friendly people and the gesture will be appreciated.

Other Helpful Tips

Visa on Arrival: Depending on your nationality, you will likely need a Visa to enter Bali.  You can purchase this when you land at immigration for approximately $35 USD.  It’s highly recommended you do this in advance however as the lineups can be long at immigration.

Bring Cash: Many local vendors, drivers and warungs only accept cash.  There are ATM’s available all over. The best ATM’s to use are ones located in the foyer of a major bank. Brands with many locations in Bali include BNI, BRI, and BCA.

Learn some lingo: Knowing a few key phrases is always a good idea when visiting a new destination.  Here are a few to get you started:

  • Selamat Pagi – Good Morning
  • Tolong – Please
  • Tedak – No
  • Suksma – Thank you (pronounced “suk-su-ma”)

Have you been to Bali? What was your favourite part or place to visit?

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