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Traveling to Bali: Useful tips for a hassle-free trip
6 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

This is part of the Been There, Done That series, where our expert globetrotters travel the world to get the insights and information you require for a seamless travel experience.

Planning a trip to Bali? Whether you're drawn to its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, or vibrant culture, ensuring a hassle-free experience is key to making the most of your adventure.

From securing your visa to navigating transportation options, here are 8 indispensable tips to streamline your journey and maximize your enjoyment of this enchanting island paradise.

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1. Secure your visa in advance

Before embarking on your Bali getaway, take care of visa requirements to avoid any last-minute hassles. Indonesia mandates that all tourists obtain a visa prior to entry.

You have two options: an Indonesia Electronic Visa on Arrival (eVoA), which can be conveniently pre-purchased and applied for through platforms like iVisa, or a visa on arrival. Opting for an e-visa not only saves time but also grants you a fast and contactless entry through dedicated e-gates, bypassing the lengthy queues associated with visa-on-arrival processing and payment.

a. Prepare necessary documents: This typically includes a valid passport, photographs, proof of accommodation, and return tickets.

b. Submit your application early and stay updated: Apply for your visa with ample time before your trip and keep track of its progress. Processing times vary, so early submission allows for any potential issues to be addressed promptly.

c. Print both physical and digital copies of your documents: Despite technological advancements, it's prudent to have physical and digital backups of essential documents. From passports to hotel reservations, having duplicates ensures readiness for any situation, facilitating smoother passage through immigration and customs.

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Photo: Scooters, cars, and Grab vehicles sit in heavy traffic in Bali.

2. Choose transportation wisely

There are multiple ways to get around Bali, but some modes are better than others.

d. Public transportation: While buses are the most common mode of transportation for locals, they may not always be the most convenient or efficient choice, especially during peak hours. Itineraries are rarely fixed; often, with Bali’s heavy traffic, you will likely be waiting for a lengthy amount of time in Bali’s humidity before catching a bus.

e. Tourist bus: Tourist-class bus Kura-Kura operates a dozen routes around southern Bali and up to Ubud. You can purchase a ticket via the Kura-Kura app, on the company website or when you get on the bus. If you don’t mind waiting, it's the cheapest way to get around, with a seven-day unlimited pass costing less than US$18.

f. Ride-hailing app Grab: Consider alternatives such as ride-hailing apps like Grab, which provide on-demand transport tailored to your schedule and preferences. For longer journeys or sightseeing excursions, Grab's rental services offer flexibility and peace of mind.

Simplify your travels by downloading the Grab app, the region's equivalent of Uber, prior to touching down in Bali. Offering safe, reliable, and cost-effective rides, Grab is your go-to for navigating Bali's bustling streets. Plus, take advantage of Grab's complimentary lounge at Ngurah Rai International Airport, which provides a welcome and air-conditioned lounge.

g. Scooter rental: Bali is one of the cheapest places in the world to rent a motorbike, with petrol prices at US$0.50 a liter and rentals as low as US$6 a day. Be mindful that few rental dealers on the street have insurance, and an accident could be stressful and expensive.

There are reputable companies like Bali Bike Rental that have a fleet of insured bikes. Motorbike rentals can be great in southern Bali and parts of Ubud, but the busy roads are not for inexperienced drivers. It is not uncommon to see accidents.

3. Pack light for the climate

Bali's tropical climate beckons for lightweight, breathable attire. Leave bulky jackets behind and opt for comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing suitable for the island's warm and humid weather. Remember, you can always purchase any forgotten items locally, so pack smart and travel light.

h. Packing essentials: Bali is consistently hot, and the UV is always high, pack sun-protecting clothes like a hat and a breathable long-sleeved shirt.

4. Stay safe and aware

While Bali is renowned for its safety and hospitality, it's essential to exercise caution, particularly on the roads. With narrow lanes, erratic driving, and a prevalence of scooters, navigating Bali's streets requires vigilance and mindfulness.

i. Stay informed: Before and during your trip, stay informed about the local situation in the areas you plan to visit.

j. Respect local laws and customs: Understanding and respecting local laws and customs can significantly reduce risks, especially when entering the various temples around the nation.

k. Keep valuables safe: Use hotel safes and keep valuables discreet to avoid attracting attention. You never know how good the security in your hotel will be.

5. Stay connected with local SIM cards

Stay connected throughout your Bali adventure by purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival. With several providers offering affordable data and call plans, having reliable connectivity enhances your communication, navigation, and overall travel experience.

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6. Manage your money

Bali's bustling markets, street vendors, and boutique shops offer plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining. While credit cards are widely accepted, carrying cash can be advantageous, especially for small purchases or transactions at local markets.

Be mindful of currency exchange rates and fees, opting for ATMs over airport money exchangers for better rates and convenience. The currency in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).

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7. Health and wellness tips for travelers to Bali

Bali is a known wellness destination, with yoga studios and spas on seemingly every corner. Whether you are going for wellness or a beachy escape, you should have your health in order.

l. Vaccinations: Check with your healthcare provider or the CDC website for recommended vaccinations well in advance of your trip. Right now, you do not need a Covid-19 vaccination to travel to Bali.

m. Travel insurance: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Our world-record-breaking traveler, Michael Zervos, preferred go-to insurance company is Genki, who provides health insurance for Digital Nomads, and they're conveniently a partner of ours.

n. Avoid tap water: Stick to bottled water and avoid ice in drinks to prevent gastrointestinal issues.

8. Language tips

Mostly, everyone speaks English in Bali, making communication relatively easy for English speakers. However, learning a few basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language, can enrich your cultural experience and demonstrate respect for the local customs.

Simple greetings like "Selamat pagi" (Good morning), "Terima kasih" (Thank you), and "Permisi" (Excuse me) can go a long way in fostering positive interactions with locals. Embracing the local language can also lead to meaningful connections and memorable experiences during your time in Bali.

Best time to travel to Bali

Consider planning your trip during the dry season, which typically runs from April to October. This period offers sunny days and clear skies, ideal for exploring Bali's outdoor attractions, such as beaches, temples, and rice terraces.

By incorporating these tips into your travel plans, you're poised for a memorable and stress-free adventure in beautiful Bali. From pristine beaches to verdant rice terraces, cultural treasures to culinary delights, let Bali captivate your senses and leave you with cherished memories to last a lifetime.

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