Bali is a massive destination for the solo traveler. There are so many activities here that lend themselves to meeting up with like minded people. It doesn’t matter if you are a yogi or a surfer (perhaps you are both!) you will find other solos to share your experiences with!
Tripadvisor users now rates Bali as it’s number one destination in the World for 2017 and it’s no surprise. Somewhere so popular is always going to attract those who want to take advantage of tourists, particularly those who travel alone.
So with this is mind we thought we’d cover some of the well known and less known scams in Bali. Many of these scams of course are common in any busy tourist destination, so read on if you are heading anywhere popular on your own.
Arriving at Bali Airport
The scams in Bali can pretty much start as soon as you step off the plane.
Instead of walking straight into the hands of the taxi mafia, just head upstairs to the arrivals hall and pick up a Bluebird taxi that will have just dropped off. These guys are the most reliable taxi company in Bali. A trip into Kuta will cost 1/4 of the price of the taxi mafia.
You could even walk out of the airport and pick one up outside, however it’s not that easy to negotiate the airport on foot and you might have to use google maps.
Buying things from stores, mini marts etc in Indonesia
One of my pet Bali hates is the fact that the people working in the shops are not always the most honest and short changing is rife. This particularly seems to be the case in the many small mini marts that are everywhere.
Always add up your bill as you go around the store and check your change.
Getting ill in Bali
Private hospitals in Bali are extremely expensive. You do not want to get seriously ill or have a bad accident in Bali and be without over 90 travel insurance. If you are really ill then you may have to be flown out to Singapore or Darwin which is going to cost a fortune. Do not risk coming to Bali without travel cover!
Beach sellers, hawkers and other annoyances
The key here is to not show you are visibly upset by these people. At the end of the day they are just trying to make a living. Be aware that if they can get away with ripping you off, then the probably will.
You might think the $10 sarong you purchased on the beach was a bargain but that same item would cost $4 in a large store and probably $1 to the vendor! Again these people are just trying to make money to survive so overpaying is not a big deal but be aware.
Hotels and guesthouses in Bali
There are no real scam as such. In the past you might have been presented with a different bill that suddenly includes extra tax, but this is rare now. if you are walking in off the street then ask for the NETT cost of a room to ensure you are aware of the full amount.
Transportation in Bali
As mentioned above, the most reliable taxi company is Bluebird but be aware that other taxi companies paint their vehicles the same colour to fool tourists!
We also recommend the Perama bus network to get around the main sites of Bali such as Ubud and Lovina. There are plenty of private drivers too, many of which will offer a fair deal, but just ensure you negotiate before you take off!
Bali is a great destination so enjoy this beautiful little island.
Off The Beaten Track
Every corner of Bali has something to see.These destinations are great to add to your bali holiday plan if your hoping to see something a little quieter with less tourists.
Candidasa is located on the east coast of Bali, and is a laid back beach town. Come here if you want to escape the crowds.
Padang Bai is near Candidasa, and serves as a port for boat travel to Lombok and the Gili Islands. Beautiful beaches great for diving and snorkelling.
Amed is in north eastern Bali. It is a quiet, peaceful fishing village, where people go to relax, swim and dive.
Singaraja is on the north coast of Bali, and Bali’s second largest city. Come here to see the old town and surrounding sights.
Lovina is in Bali’s north coast, just west of Singaraja. Known for it’s black sand beaches and dolphin watching.
A small island south west of Bali. Come here to relax in the slow pace, with the main activities surfing, diving and snorkelling.
Bali’s Neighbour: Lombok and the Gili Islands
Lombok is becoming more popular over the recent years. Lombok is another Indonesian island east of Bali, that you can reach by boat or plane. It is far less touristy then Bali but has some beautiful landscapes and beaches.
Senggigi is the main tourist area of Lombok, with a small town and hotels lining the beach.
Click here for Senggigi Travel Guide.
Gili Islands are made up of 3 Islands with stunning beaches, with Gili Trawangan being the most touristy and populated.
Some other travel advice for Bali
ONLY USE BLUE BIRD TAXIS
Bali can be chaotic when you first land at Denpasar International Airport, so arrange a pick-up before you leave home and avoid the craziness. Make sure you get an air conditioned van or car as the Bali heat can be stifling.
Travel charges around the island vary immensely. If you’re using taxis, only use metered Blue Bird Taxis. You can download the Blue Bird Taxi app and order a ride, just as you would with Uber. You can also hail one on the street, but be careful it’s not a Blue Biro Taxi, or Blue Bire Taxi … some drivers go to great lengths to make their taxis like an official Blue Bird.
Traffic is horrendous, so allow plenty of time on top of the “expected arrival time”. Hiring a scooter to get around is quicker and more economical, but it can be hair raising if you’re not experienced. Also, no insurance company will cover you for vehicle, scooter or motorcycle accidents unless you have a valid Australian licence for that vehicle as well as an Indonesian licence, so a local driver may be the best option for longer sightseeing trips. The going rate for a reputable driver is $50 per day, up to about eight hours of sightseeing. If you’re after supplies, you can download and use the Gojek app to have just about anything delivered to your hotel door.
Only use Blue Bird taxis.
Only use Blue Bird taxis.Source:istock
ALWAYS ASK FOR AIR CONDITIONING
Accommodation is plentiful in Bali — you can easily find a hotel, resort, homestay or beach shack in the area you like to suit your needs — and budget. The main tourist areas are Kuta on the south-west coast, Seminyak which is slightly north of Kuta, Nusa Dua on the south-east tip of the island, Ubud in the uplands and Canggu on the south coast.
Again, TripAdvisor is a great resource for hotel information. Basic tips are to ensure you get a room with AC and a safe, and always take your hotel’s details with you so you can easily find your way back — there are a lot of hotels with similar names.
BEWARE: YOU’LL BE A MILLIONAIRE
The Indonesian currency — the rupiah — can be a little overwhelming so get familiar with it before you go. Money changers are everywhere but only use those in popular areas. Be vigilant during your transaction to make sure you are the last person to count your cash before you leave. ATM skimming is common in Bali, so be careful when entering your PIN and make sure the ATM appears to be in good working order before you use it. If it looks dodgy, it is. Whether you use money changers or get it from an ATM, you’ll end up with wads of cash — $A1 will get you 10,500 rupiah so if you change $100 you’ll be a millionaire in Bali!
The first question to ask when you check in: “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”
The first question to ask when you check in: “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”Source:istock
GET A LOCAL SIM
Most hotels, restaurants and attractions in Bali now have free Wi-Fi, you just have to ask for the password. You can also get a local SIM when you land at the airport and top it up as you go to avoid excessive global roaming charges from your home carrier.
STEER CLEAR OF STARBUCKS, AND ARAK
Bali has some of the best food in the region — from traditional Indonesian dishes at roadside warungs to five-star international degustation menus.
Don’t be afraid to try food from stalls as long as any meat products are stored on ice and are cooked in front of you. Restaurants and cafes are everywhere — you can eat right on the beach with the water lapping at your toes, or watch the sunset over a stunningly manicured garden. Popular restaurants book out fast so reserve a table online or by calling. Your hotel concierge can also help with suggestions. Service and Government tax will be added to your bill when dining at most restaurants, so keep this in mind. Bali also has a great coffee culture driven by expats and locals, so don’t just go to Starbucks.
Wine is expensive everywhere in Bali and unfortunately, methanol poisoning is a risk when ordering spirits from a bar or club. Only drink spirits you have bought there and opened yourself or your own duty free alcohol. Never drink arak — or Balinese moonshine unless you want a trip to the local hospital.
Nasi goreng – Indonesian fried rice.
Nasi goreng – Indonesian fried rice.Source:istock
ALWAYS TAKE SUNSCREEN AND TISSUES
See your GP before you leave Australia about any vaccinations you may require. Make sure you let them know if you will be visiting animal attractions, such as the Monkey Forest in Ubud. You’ve heard horror stories about Bali Belly, and it is pretty common, so be prepared with a travel medical kit. You can also go to a local chemist, or Apotek, for advice. In severe cases, get your hotel to call a doctor or go to a medical centre and have your credit card and travel insurance documentation with you. Only drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth too. Resist the temptation to open your mouth in those wonderful outdoor showers and hotel pools. The sun is brutal in Bali so take plenty of sunscreen as it can be expensive to get there, and also stock up on insect repellent for mosquitoes, bed bugs and cane mites. Use hand sanitiser before eating and always carry tissues as some bathrooms don’t have toilet paper.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY ‘PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS’
Always get travel insurance before travelling to Bali. You never know what might happen and medical costs can quickly add up. Keep your passport securely with you, or locked in the hotel safe, and it’s a good idea to copy all travel documents and email a copy to yourself or leave with someone at home.
Injuring yourself when walking around Bali’s uneven streets is pretty common, so keep an eye on where you’re going and be aware that the lines painted on Bali roads — the ones that look similar to our pedestrian crossings — are really just for decoration.
If you’re coming back to your hotel late at night, get a Blue Bird taxi or walk alongside main roads; don’t take shortcuts through neighbourhoods you’re not familiar with — it’s easy to get lost.