Book your hotel through a website such as hotels.com – you will get a good deal where you can live well on a budget. If you want to live on a really low budget, then you should go for guesthouses, homestay and hostels.
If you stay in Bali for more than 30 days, then you must get a visa. This can be arranged before you go to Bali or at the airport when you arrive. Keep in mind that your passport must be valid for 6 months longer than you plan to stay in Bali. Also make sure to check if there is anything special to keep in mind depending on the country you are travelling from.
Make sure to check if you need any vaccinations. I took a vaccine that should prevent Japanese encephalitis – it’s a kind of meningitis that is deadly and not curable. This vaccine is expensive but I thought it was worth it.
Buy Lonelyplanet’s book about Bali & Lombok. You will find all necessary information in that book about everything you can do in Bali and Lombok.
On your trip
If anyone asks you if it’s your first time in Bali, always answer that you have been here a couple of times before. This prevents you from becoming a “victim” which gives them an advantage in setting prices.
To go by taxi is cheap in Bali, but always remember that it’s possible to bargain for the price. To be safe, the best thing is to travel with Blue Bird since they have taxi meters. In Canggu it’s not allowed to go with the taxi companies Uber and GoJek, since they want to keep the city as local as possible.
If you need to withdraw money you can do that at the ATMs, but be alert to see that it’s safe. If you need to exchange money at an exchange bureau you need to know the exchange rate so you don’t get fooled and get to pay too high a rate.
There is Wi-fi in almost all restaurants and hotels, but be aware that it is slow.
Everything in Bali is very cheap, so take the opportunity to book massage, pedicure/manicure and other things you don’t want to spend money on at home.
The risk for malaria in Bali is almost zero. In Lombok the risk is a bit higher, but it can be solved with mosquito spray and net. Talking from my own experience, watch out for Dengue fever. I got that once and believe me, it’s nothing you want to try! Protect yourself well and try not to smell too sweaty (good luck with that in the heat here… ha ha) – that will keep the mosquitos away.
If you’re new to surfing Kuta beach is the best beach to start with. You will find boards for rent and you can book surfing lessons at a good price. As I wrote in my last blog post Lapoint as well is a perfect spot to learn surfing at or freshen up your knowledge.
Traffic and security
It’s left hand traffic in Bali, which makes it a bit confusing to start with. There are hardly any signs and the zebra crossings are not safe at all. Watch out! You have to adapt to the rest of the traffic and run over the street when there is space between the cars. No-one will stop for you. The same applies when driving a Vespa, you have to be very careful and try to blend in with the traffic.
You have to have an international driving licence to be allowed to drive in Bali. Use a helmet when you drive a Vespa and drive carefully. You might be stopped by the corrupt police and be forced to pay a fine. One tip is to bring 200.000IDR in cash in the Vespa when you’re driving and tell the police that that’s all you got, otherwise they might ask for as much as one million IDR.
Don’t get upset if everyone honks when you drive in the traffic. It’s the Bali way of warning for overtaking and tell you to watch out.
As in many other places around the world, you can’t drink the water in Bali. Some hostels and at Lapoint they have water sinks where you can fill up your bottle with free water
Don’t eat the fast food or buffet. That food may have been there the whole day and can make you sick. Make sure that the food is really hot and well done before you eat it.
At a bar, be aware that there might be bad alcohol in the drink. Sometimes they use methanol. To be on the safe side, drink the beer Bintang, it’s nice even for those who don’t like beer.
Finally, be careful and use your common sense and you will be fine!