Bali FAQs for First time Travellers!
Are you planning a trip to Bali soon and have various questions about Food, Transportation, Driver's license, Renting your own vehicle and your stay? Here are some basic FAQs for answering some of your queries at different stages of Travel Planning! These questions are based on the various comments I have received under my YouTube videos based in Bali. You can check the full video series here. Hope this helps :D
1. Which Area should I stay at if I'm visiting for the first time?
Bali is a large island with a lot of different districts and towns. Each of these towns have their own distinct character and charm for tourists visiting the island. Kuta and Seminyak are considered upscale Party destinations, while Ubud is a tranquil town with nothing much happening after a certain hour at night. However, the most beautiful, sprawling green paddy fields and stunning waterfalls mark the landscape of Ubud. Canggu is a Beach town with a lot of shacks and is predominantly for surfers. You'll also find some cheap stay options in Canggu. The eastern side of Bali has a few Black sand beaches and is sometimes less frequented than other places. For each of these places, keeping the number of days in mind, I would recommend that you spend a few days at each of these popular Balinese towns to have a mixed bag experience.
2. Where should I book my hotel/airbnb for the first day of arrival?
Kuta is the closest to the airport and personally, I stayed in Kuta for the first two and last one day because of it's proximity, and ease of approach to the airport. You can consider staying in Kuta too, for your day of arrival. I would highly recommend a stay at Tusita Hotel, Kuta.
3. How should I carry currency?
Before your visit to Bali exchange your country's currency to a few extra dollars (unless you're traveling from US, in which case you can carry your own currency). If you are traveling from country's like Australia, Japan, Europe, UK, China, you will have the option of exchanging your own currency. If you are travelling from some other country, you can carry some dollars for exchanging them. Or alternately use a global debit card, credit card or Forex Card for direct withdrawal from the Cash Withdrawal machine.
4. Where should I exchange currency?
There are various options for exchanging currency in Bali. For an up to date info on the exchange rates, you can download apps like Rupihas from the play store here. You could exchange your currency at the airport. Recommended for small amounts and for booking your first taxi to the hotel. The exchange rate at the airport however is not the best out there. There are a lot of official exchanges and tellers at popular market places in Bali like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud and other popular market places. They usually provide a better rate of exchange. So wait till you reach your hotel and head out. You'll find an exchange near you easily by asking locals.
5. What are the visa regulations for my country?
There are various criterias for Bali Visa like - Your country of residence, purpose of visit, and duration of stay. There are about 140 visa exempted countries for visiting Bali. For more information of visa requirements for your country check here - Visa Requirements
I was visiting from India and for an Indian, visa is free for 30 days of visit. Which means that upon arrival at Bali airport, my passport was stamped without any additional charges. The stamp is a measure of your duration of stay and will be checked when you leave the country.
6. Where do I get a local sim card?
Sim cards are easily available in any mobile shop. Buy "Telekomsel" sim with instant activation and data availability. Price will be approx IDR 10,000 - 50,000. Depending on where you buy from and with what data limit. Please double check the marked cost of the sim card before purchase since some vendors try to charge extra for making an additional profit.
7. What are the transportation options for visiting places?
In most countries, booking an Uber is the most easily available option for going around places. However, at most places in Bali, you won't find an Uber easily. Even though Uber drivers operate in Bali too. This is because of the stiff competition from a rival app called Gojek (download here). Gojek is an app through which you can hire an ojek, a taxi, you can get food delivered at your place of residence/hotel etc. It is a pretty versatile app. In fact, if you compare the charges of renting a taxi with Uber, Gojek is priced at a much much lesser cost. I used the app whenever I needed any kind of transportation besides a rented bike. If you need a cab rental otherwise, without using technology (quite frankly, I don't know why someone would do that), you can ask your hotel reception desk.
If you are more of a backpacker, or solo traveller, or you are travelling as a couple, renting a bike (scooty) should make sense (unless you don't know how to drive). Bike rentals options are available at all popular market places. You will need to provide your ID proof, and advanced payment in full as deposit. The cost of renting a bike is usually (IDR 50,000 - 70,000)/day.
8. What is an ojek?
This ones really interesting. Ojek is a local means of transportation. It is a motorcycle taxi. Which means that there is a motorcycle driven by a local and you can sit behind the driver as a pillion. It is usually the most economical mode of transportation for a single person. Even if you a small group of people, you can rent a few different ojeks to go to one destination.
9. Do I need an international driver's license?
YES! You need an IDL as per law in Bali. But, I wasn’t asked for one at any point of my visit. The actual law is barely implemented. So in practice, you don't need an international driver's license to drive in Bali. For renting a bike or for driving, your native country's license would work. At every place where I rented a vehicle, they took my Indian driver’s license as proof. So, nobody will "ask" for an international driver's license. I wasn't asked to present my license at any point of time during my stay. But having said that, please stay out of trouble as much as you can. Don’t break any traffic or speed rules for your own safety.
10. What clothes are appropriate for the island?
Any beach/tropical climate appropriate clothes are okay for Bali. No judgements or regulations at all! It is quite okay to sport any kind of outfit, even if you're travelling solo. However, please note, if you visit any other part of Indonesia, outside of Bali, the places are quite conservation. In which case, please be sure to respect local customs and dress modestly (for both guys and gals)!
11. Is vegetarian or vegan food available easily?
Yes! Although, I am a non-vegetarian, I have written a separate article on food options for vegetarians here - A Vegetarian's guide to Bali. You can check that out for more detailed information HERE.
12. What are some common words in local language?
Although at tourist destinations like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud etc. most people speak English (some fluently and some not so fluently). But if you do need to communicate with someone who doesn't speak the language, these words should help.
Here are some basic words:
Thank you - Terima Kasi,
Yes - Ya,
No - Tidak
Where - Dimana
What - Apa
When - Kapan
How much - Berapa
Sorry - maaf
For eating food remember these words:
Small restaurants are called "warung"
Food - Makan
For water - use the word "aqua" as it is the locally accepted brand for packaged water. Something like Bisleri or aquafina in India. Although in Bali, most people speak English. But if you do need to communicate with someone who doesn't speak the language, these should help.
Without - Tanpa
Without sugar (something I used very often) - Tanpa gula
vegetarian - Vegetarian
Any other questions or their answers that pop in your mind that I may have missed? Mention then in the comments to help others or to start a discussion. :)