Information before you go
These Bali travel tips are useful if planning your trip to this tropical island. It's always convenient to know what to know about practical stuff to make your stay even more comfortable. Check our other pages on issues you should be aware of concerning health, visa and weather.
With its location just south of the equator Bali can be considered a real tropical island with an average temperature of 22ºC in the mountain regions and up to 30ºC along the coast and inland.
Just like any tropical destination Bali has only two seasons; the wet season (monsoon) and the dry season. During the monsoon the humidity level can reach 97%. So you can imagine that if you add the high temperature to the high humidity it can become a sweaty situation.
However from my own experience I never really thought it was too uncomfortable to be in Bali during the monsoon. After some heavy rain I sometimes even thought it was pretty chilly. So make sure you have some warm clothing with you too.
Result of a heavy tropical rain shower
Theoretically the monsoon starts around the end of October until April. But in reality the rain can come later or it can keep on pouring well into the month May.
Generally the best time to go is from May to September. But still expect some tropical rain spells during this time, especially around the mountain areas.
The good thing about it though is that the rain can fall from the sky like a bucket of water and often stops within an hour leaving a refreshing scent everywhere.
When heading for the mountains make sure to bring a rain coat
To be honest my girlfriend and I don't really take the weather into consideration when we travel to Bali. We of course prefer the bright sunny skies to the rain but we enjoy going to Bali even more when it's less crowded, which is during the rainy season. It you plan to go hiking, surfing or diving then it would be wise to double check the weather conditions first.
The high-season in Bali is from mid-June till end of September and the days before Christmas until the first week of the New Year. During these periods the crowd and prices can double. If you need to travel during the national holidays make sure you book way ahead.
Generally speaking Bali is one of the safest destinations in Asia to travel. Like any other place you just need to take the normal safety precautions. Solo travelers and women travelers don't have to worry too much about traveling by themselves as the Balinese are caring and avoid aggression and conflict at all times. Just make sure you don't give anyone your hotel name, don't accept drinks from just anyone and that you are able to get back to your hotel by yourself.
That said, since Bali is a popular tourist destination and the major tourist destination such as Kuta and Legian attract a crowd from every corner of the world, you need to exercise a degree of caution here.
Overall the number of violent crimes in Bali is pretty low. Theft could be seen as a number one crime. Stealing valuables from hotels rooms and pick pocketing are becoming more common. Also when you are strolling along busy streets such as in Kuta hold on to your valuables as motorcycles are known to snatch handbags and backpacks from pedestrians and speed off before you realize it.
An other issue that we would like to point out is the increase of victims of methanol poisoning. Methanol is odorless and is added to liquor. Some say that only locally produced spirits are contaminated but there have been some cases that other liquor has methanol in it too. Take extreme care as methanol has killed many young travelers in Bali. Contaminated liquor can be sold everywhere, including nightclubs.
While drugs seem to be easy to purchase in Bali, don't be tempted. There are severe penalties when you are caught and if you are charged for trafficking you can be sentenced to death.
Last but definitely not least, some tips on beach safety. Technically you should be able to determine pretty quickly if it is safe to go swimming or not once you arrive at a beach. However beaches such as those in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are pretty tricky as the sudden under currents are not always visible for those who aren't familiar. Swim only between the yellow colored flags and don't get in when the red flags are out.
If you don't want to be easily exposed to scams we have listed our experiences under these travel advice once you are in Bali.
The local currency in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah, however many places also accept US dollars and Euros. If you are paying with Rupiahs for the first time, it might be wise to have a look at the bills first since the notes have a lot of zeros on them.
The Rupiah has fluctuated a lot these last couple of years. In general you can say that Rp. 10.000 is about USD 1. But to be more precise I always check the current currency rate on www.xe.com.
Rupiah bills come in 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000 and 100.000 notes. As you can imagine, you will be carrying a big bundle of notes when traveling in Bali considering that a Rp 50.000 note is about USD 5.
On my holidays to Bali I prefer not to have that much money on me, since there are many ATM's that accept my bank card. The only cash I have on me when I arrive in Bali is for the first few days.
It is for instance convenient to have some Rupiahs for the airport taxi and when you want to go to a restaurant upon arrival. Expect to find ATM's in all tourist places except for Pemuteran, Amed and smaller villages.
Inform you bank at home that you'll be using your card abroad.
ATM's in Bali accept VISA card, Master card or debit card with a Cirrus network. Check first what the maximum amount is you can get from an ATM machine, because each withdrawal will cost you.
For instance BCA (blue logo) usually has a maximum withdrawal of Rp 150.000 to Rp. 200.000 only while Danamon (yellow and green logo) ATM's usually have an higher withdrawal such as Rp 2.000.000.
I always had trouble with Manderi (blue with gold/yellow logo) as they usually didn't accept my foreign bank cards.
Many hotels, restaurants and big shops also accept credit cards, so this is also a convenient way to pay.
Make sure though to inform your bank that you are planning to use your card in Bali. If you don't, chances are that their security system will block your transactions for safety reasons. Believe me it's no fun at all.
Also make sure that you keep your receipts and that you check your bank statements regularly when you are back home.
A friend of mine used her credit card when traveling throughout Indonesia and a month after she got back home she saw that her card was used to pay large amounts in Karaoke bars. Obviously it was not a nice surprise but luckily she was able to receive her money back.
Another option is of course to go to the money changer. Here you have to be more careful about the rate exchange and commission. And never leave before counting your money yourself first.
As mentioned before, the notes have a lot of zeros so the amount you will receive can be quite confusing. On top of that the Rp.10.000 note has almost the same red color as the Rp. 100.000. The seller at the money changers knows how confusing it can be and will take advantage of it. Don't make them feel you need to rush things, take your time to count what you have received. Or to be more safe, change at your hotel.
When traveling with young children or with a disability it is always good to know what obstacles you can encounter. The facilities in Bali are well developed compared to other parts of Indonesia, but unfortunately still quite far from perfect.
When you visit Bali with very young children you should bare some things in mind. Powdered milk is widely available in Bali. So if your child doesn't mind changing his/her usual brand you don't have to bring it from home.
Diapers are also available in supermarkets such as Hardy's or other supermarkets in Kuta, Sanur, Denpasar and Ubud.
However since the Balinese do not use diapers they are imported and therefore much more expensive then at home.
On top of that don't expect baby changing facilities in public places. I recommend just strolling into an international hotel as there is a higher chance they have these facilities.
In bigger supermarkets they sell baby products
To prevent exposing your child to the sun bring a hat, sun block and try to walk or sit in the shade as much as possible.
Since I don't have a child I can't really say if you should take your child around Bali in a buggy or not. The pavements in Bali are usually not well maintained and you will encounter a lot of stairs or other obstacles.
However I have seen travelers with buggies and strollers so I can imagine it can be useful if you are going to eat out and your child just wants to doze off.
Another option is to carry your child in a backpack-carrier. It makes moving around more easily.
You will sometimes see a Balinese carry her child
on her hips in a 'selendang'
Children car seats are not common when you hire a car or tour around with a private driver. So make sure the rental company can provide one before making any final bookings.
If you are traveling with a disability then you will soon realize that Bali does not provide a lot of facilities. The curbs are often high, pavements uneven and ramps are absent.
Fortunately the island is working on creating less obstacles for travelers with an disability. But to prevent disappointments you should call or email the hotel about their facilities before booking.
In Sanur they have special services for travelers with a disability
Luckily there is a company at Sanur beach which provides services for travelers with a disability. They offer transportation, tours, equipment hire, accommodation etc. To find out more about their services check their website.
Perhaps it would be more convenient to book your holiday through a travel agency which specializes in traveling with a disability.
They are able to give you Bali travel information on hotels, restaurants and sights that are easily accessible. Plus they can arrange suitable transportation.
Even though Indonesian food is mouth watering I can imagine that some travelers who have been traveling for some time crave different food. With the large number of expats, tourists and probably also being so close to Australia, Bali has a large selection of international food and products (depending on the part of the island you are, that is)
Not only do restaurants serve food from all over the world, but there are supermarkets and shops that sell all types of international products ranging from peanut butter to chocolate bars.
Don't bring too much from home. Supermarkets such as Hardy's have a large choice.
Go to Hardy's Supermarket which can be found in most tourist areas to still your cravings. Other small shops such as Cafe Batu Jimbar in Sanur have international delicacies too.
Seminyak is also the place to be for specific food such as organic and international goods.
The Bali Deli is a gourmet supermarket and is probably the most popular place in Seminyak to buy international food. It has high quality imported food products and bakery delicacies.
So enough choice to satisfy your taste buds...
Bali Deli in Seminyak Indonesia has a large selection of international goodies
As for toiletries I advice you to bring the ones from home, especially for women. My girlfriend always complains when she needs to buy some cream in Bali. Since the Indonesian beauty standard is to have 'nice white skin' women not only avoid being in the sun but also use whitening cream.
Therefore most shops in Bali sell whitening cream only, with exception to body lotion. So if you want to maintain your tan in Bali bring your own cream. Nonetheless shampoo and soap is plentiful in Bali and are of good quality and very cheap.
Since you will be heading for the tropics the most comfortable things to wear will be loose fitted light cloths, preferable made from cotton. Also long sleeves and long pants are recommended to prevent mosquito bites and constant sun exposure.
1 day Laundry service is very cheap
On my holidays to Bali I usually don't bring that much clothes with me. Not because I'm a guy (my girlfriend also travels light) but because the laundry service in Bali is very convenient. You can find it everywhere and it is sooooo cheap.
Usually you can pick up your clothes the next day and they will be so fresh and clean that you can even smell it when you get back home days or weeks later.
Renting a self-drive car or motorbike gives you a lot of freedom to explore the island. If you go for a common motorbike which is usually a 125cc or 150cc you don't need a special motor cycle licence, a regular car licence is also accepted.
However theoretically additional to you regular licence you must have an international driving licence too.
I'm not going to advice you to do differently, but ever since I have been renting a bike in Bali I have never been asked to show a international licence at the rental place.
But, if you do get stopped by the police, then your heart will not skip a beat if you have the right papers on you.
To be on the safe side, have an international drivers licence
The police can stop you easily for minor traffic mistakes. For instance while changing lanes suddenly because you noticed a sign too late is an enough reason for them to stop you.
And, as you can read in our motorcycle diaries I was always relieved that I could show my international drivers licence whenever they stopped us.
The police in Bali also set up road blocks at unexpected places. They will stop everyone, not just tourists. If they catch you without the correct papers you will be fined immediately. It will cost you around USD25 (which goes into their pockets as we never received a proper receipt) or you have to go to court.
It is basically up to you. If you want to run the risk then it's possible to rent a motorbike without the necessary driving licence. As for a car I know it is stricter and many car rental places ask you to show a valid driving licences.
I wonder if the Bali police will check his licence too...
So to be on the safe side, arrange an international drivers licence before you leave for Bali and carry it on you together with your original car or motor cycle licence.
If you haven't got both you can obtain a tourist driving licence at Palayan Sim Tourist in Kantor Bersma Smasat on Jalan Cok Agung Tresna in Denpasar (0361-243939). The licence costs around Rp 200.000.
Also be aware that they drive on the left side of the road! If this is all getting to much for you, you can also rent a car with a driver. Perfect if you don't want to get frustrated by the crazy traffic!
In tourist areas the volts is 220-240, but in somewhat remote areas it can be 110 volts. Outlets are plugs with two rounded pins. If you forget to pack an adapter there are many shops in Bali which sell those.
Internet shops (Warnet in Indonesian) are available everywhere, whether it's broadband or dial up. But with the fast development of internet in Bali there are many other options to make it easier for you to call home via Skype, email to friends and family and to share your Bali holiday on Facebook.
Internet is found everywhere, in all kind of forms
Almost every where on the island you have access to Wifi internet. For some you still need to pay but at many Bali accommodations and restaurants you can connect for free.
At major villages such as Ubud, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, Lovina and Nusa Dua Wifi is found at every corner and it works pretty well. So if you have brought your smartphone, ipad or laptop you can connect with anybody anytime.
If you don't have the latest gadgets on you then another option is the pay phone, also found in the internet shops or special public telephone shops called Wartel. Of course this is a much more expensive option.
Checking emails on the smartphone...
You can also use your own mobile in Bali just in case you want to send text messages or always want to be reached.
If you are staying for a longer period you might want to buy an Indonesian Sim-card which you can put in your own mobile. It is widely available and it is very cheap to get one.
Home > Bali Travel Tips
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Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
Hi, I have been travelling for years and I want to say that this website is the best I have EVER come across. It is easy to navigate, it is really descriptive, gives all the info that you could ever want and is accompanied by the best photos and advice. GREAT.