I’ve just returned home from another incredible trip to Bali. This was my 11th trip and I’ve been travelling here since I was a little kid. I thought I would share some of my photos, some tips and tricks and what we did, to help others who are planning to visit. Please feel free to reach out if you need any help.
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE INTO BALI
Australians are no longer required to pay an entrance or an exit fee as you arrive/depart Bali. You must have at least 6 months valid on your passport and they have started to get a lot tougher on how your passport looks. Make sure your passport is clean and does not have any damage to it. If you plan to stay in Indonesia for less than 30 days, and have an Australian Passport, then you DO NOT need a Visa. You will get a stamp in your passport and this is called a Visa Exemption Stamp. You do not have to pay for this. The Visa Exemptions for Australians cannot be extended, and you will need to leave Indonesia within 30 days. You also no longer need to pay the 150,000 rupiah departure fee. This is great news for Australians travelling to and from Bali.
CURRENCY AND WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY
IDR or Indonesian Rupiah is the currency used in Bali and it can be a little tricky to wrap your head around. I’ve attached a photo to this blog that will hopefully help and you can use it as a guide. When I was there, it was around 9750 rupiah to $1 aud. I’d usually round up to 10,000 rupiah equals $1 aussie dollar. Most of the Balinese now round up too! for example when you ask how much something is, they’ll say $4 or $5 dollars. Be careful not to confuse the 10,000 rupiah ($1) to the 100,000 rupiah ($10) note. The purple note is 10,000 and the pink note is 100,000 and they can easily be mixed up! The coins are basically useless and I personally will give them back to the Balinese if they give them to me. Because the currency is so high, it can be overwhelming when you’re buying something say worth $50AUD because it will be 500,000 rupiah. A good tip is to download the XE Currency Convertor app and have it set up for offline use if you do get stuck!
For money, I carried cash and I also carried my Citibank Everyday card. I have used this throughout Europe, Africa, America , Asia and even at home and I will never travel without it again! It’s an every day card where you put Australian dollars onto it, and then wherever you are, when you draw out the money, it comes out in the local currency. Citibank offers a much better exchange rate than the big banks, and you do not get charged a withdrawal fee or an international transaction fee. I will attach the link below if you would like to sign up for one.
A lot of places now take card, not so much in the markets, but in cafe’s and resteraunts and supermarkets and boutique stores. I did also carry some cash, and got this changed at the same place I usually go every time I’m in Bali. If you google map Y Sports Bar Legian ( it is near popular shopping street Garlic Lane), there is a CIRCLE K right next door to it and at the back of the store there is a currency exchange. They always have had the best rates, are extremely professional and have never had any issues. There are MANY dodgy exchange set ups in Bali, where they have slits in the table for the money to drop through as they count your money, be extremely careful where you get money changed and don’t go to the ones where the exchange rate is significantly higher than the others as this is guaranteed to rip you off!
BALI SIM CARD
I knew that there would be WIFI basically everywhere we went, however I still wanted to have access to my phone for day trips/taxi rides etc. I contacted a local that was advertising on a Facebook page I follow, and he was fantastic. He drove to our Villa on our first morning and set everything up for me and made sure that it was all working. I purchased a Telekomsel SIM with 9gb of data for 130,000 ($13) It was fantastic not to ever have to worry about not having WIFI and handy when trying to direct taxi’s to hidden cafe’s. You can buy top ups for data if you need to at the Circle K and Mini Marts.
Name: Thealit Garing
WhatsApp: +62 812 3675 5181
Oh my gosh I could seriously write a whole blog just on the amazing food! The amount of pretty ”Instagram” cafe’s around this time was insaneeee, I was upset that I didn’t get to eat at so many, even though we ate out most meals! There were so many popular places that I will mention, some were super busy, some had pretty photo walls and some were just as expensive as home. A lot of these cafe’s had what we call ++ ( 10% tax charge plus 6-7% service charge) on top of the bill. This was something that I noticed was very frequent in Bali this time. A lot of these fancy places were also located in Seminyak, and the ever growing Canggu area. There are still ALOT of cheap eats and local warungs around for those on a budget, but I found that the food was a lot more expensive this time around! A handy tip for those travelling also to avoid Bali Belly is to not drink the tap water, buy bottled water only and when eating out, ensure the ice in your drink is from bottled/filtered water. Please don’t think you’re a hero with an iron gut cause the Balinese don’t even drink the water, and it will 100% ruin your holiday!
If you visit the website The Bali Bible, there is an entire section of deals for eating out at places. Some of the deals were things like ‘Pay $19 and get $50 to spend”. We used these at Clean Canteen and Saigon Street, both in Seminyak . Here is the link: https://www.thebalibible.com/deals-and-offers
OK back to the food, my go to places are:
- Bella Vista
- Fat Bowl
- Billy’s 69 Bar
- Sonny Side
- Tommy’s Bar
- Brunch Club
- Nalu Bowls
- Shelter Café
- Makan Place
- ITUITU Legian
- The Lokal 80361
- Coffee Cartel
- Y Sports Bar
- Fat Tony’s
- Saigon Street
- Clean Canteen
- KYND Community ( including KYND Ice Creamery next door)
- Bali Bola
- Mad Pops
- Motel Mexicola
- Sea Circus
- Neon Palms
- Coffee Cartel
- Kim Soo
- La Favela
- Ginger Moon
- Lola’s Shakin All Day
- The Loft
- GIVE Cafe
- The Shady Shack
- Crate Cafe
- La Finca
- Strawberry Fields
Nusa Lembongan/Nusa Ceningan
- The Deck- Nusa Lembongan
- The Reef- Nusa Lembongan
- Tigerlilly’s- Nusa Lembongan
- The Sand (no tax)- Nusa Ceningan
- Sea Breeze (no tax) – Nusa Ceningan
- The Island- Nusa Ceningan
- Ohana’s- Nusa Ceningan
Beach Clubs/ Night Out’s
- La Favela
- La Brisa
- The Lawn
- La Plancha
- Mr Sippy
- FINNS Beach Club
- Motel Mexicola
- Echo Beach Club
- Old Man’s
- Pretty Poison
- Single Fin Uluwatu
- Sea Vu Play
- OMNIA Uluwatu
A must do when visiting Bali. Bartering is the way of life so be prepared to play the bartering game. As a rule of thumb, I usually ask first if it is bartering or fixed price, as there are more and more fixed price markets coming about now. If they are OK to barter, I will usually cut 50% of their asking price and work my way up from there. Keep in mind, the currency sounds big, but you will probably be bartering over $1 or $2 in the end, and as long as you are happy to pay the amount, that’s all that really matters. I can tell you right now that $2 might not mean a lot to us, but to a Balinese it can mean dinner for their family. Do you know the average wage is $250aus a MONTH! Just keep that in mind when bartering. That’s not to say to pay the first price they say, but just something to keep in the back of your mind when things get a bit heated.
Expect to be hassled, A LOT! Whether this is someone going ‘Braid Your Hair’, ‘You Want Massage’, ‘Manicure of Pedicure’ or simply ‘Come Look at My Shop’. This can be incredibly overwhelming, especially for someone visiting for the first time, as it is constant and sometimes they will even reach out and touch you. I have gotten in the habit of either ignoring them and keep walking, shaking my head and looking at the ground or using some basic Bahasa words I will touch on later.
For those who are not interested in bartering, good news! I found more and more shops this year were fixed price! This is good when you want to spend a solid few hours getting your shopping done, without the stress of bartering. My pick would be Miss Debby’s located on Garlic Lane- Legian, also known as Bali Kmart. It is located towards the end of Garlic Lane near the Circle K Market and there is an alleyway that takes you into the local compound where there are 5 or 6 shops set up, all fixed price. This is a family run business and they provide cold water and baskets and will help you with sizes and styles you need. The shops leading down the alley way are also fixed price too. Inside Miss Debby’s, you can find T-Shirts, Singlets, Hats, Homewares, Macramé, Art, bags, suitcases, fake mimco and makeup and more! I suggest going here at the start of your trip, so you can get an idea of prices that you can use when shopping on the street where you may need to barter. I spent more time here this year as I could not be bothered bartering, I thought the prices were fair compared to on the street and she had nearly everything that I needed.
Another fixed price shop is Ketut’s, also located on Garlic Lane- Legian, in a little market opposite the alley way for Miss Debby’s. Ketut’s is made up of 4 or 5 shops like Miss Debby’s that stock clothing, homewares and more. Ketut is extremely lovely and helpful and will go out of her way to get something in stock for you. Ketut’s is particularly good in getting things made for more Plus Size that other shops don’t have. She also has free cold water which is fantastic after walking around in the heat.
For Groceries and Souvenirs, we shopped at the Bintang Supermarket in Seminyak. They accept card here and it is a 2-story supermarket that sells everything you can think of. Tupperware bottles were $2 here, but you can buy fresh produce, cheeses, chocolate, alcohol, medication, shampoo, hair care, sunscreen etc. You name it and it is all here. We would either walk from our villa or get a taxi to the supermarket. Bali has now stopped the use of Single Use Plastic Bags, so you can either buy one here (expensive around $3-$4) or just bring one from home!
Krishna is another popular place for tourists to visit to stock up on souvenirs and wood pieces. You may need to get in a taxi to get here depending on where you are staying. I personally did not visit one, as I have purchased all that stuff in the past, but we drove past a few and they were always very busy. These are fixed price and mostly just Knick knack things.
You also have Carrefour, another supermarket/department store that requires a taxi to get to. Please note you must pay the driver 5000 rupiah to get into the carpark. There are plenty of taxi’s waiting to take you back to your hotel once you have finished. We went here this time to purchase things like Pain Relief Cream (tiger balm, counter pain etc) and some Indonesian Food I was wanting to take home.
Back in the day we use to buy all the DVDS like new releases and seasons and they were all hard copy, which made your luggage so much heavier. Flash forward to today, and they put them on a USB/Hard drive for you. We used one guy who was fantastic. I sent him a message via Facebook messenger (he also has email and WhatsApp) and he emailed me an excel document with thousands of available movies, cd’s and TV Series including New Releases and categorized by year/genre etc. If you couldn’t find what you were looking for, it was as easy as emailing him and he would find it. I emailed my list back to him and he came to my hotel to pick my external hard drive up, and then dropped it back to me the next morning with everything on it in a separate folder. Tana was extremely friendly and helpful and even sold USB and Hard Drives if you did not have your own. I could not recommend him enough, and this was such an easy process and meant I had extra luggage space too! I’ve attached his business card for those who may want to contact him whilst in Bali or before their trip to start the list!
Prices started from 50 cents per DVD/CD and $2 per season
The more you buy, the more he throws in for free!
I ordered a set of JUJU’s through a lovely lady who owned JC NATURALS. They were $35, and she delivered to our hotel for an extra $2. I wanted specific colours and she had them made for me and delivered them already wrapped and ready to go in my suitcase. These were everywhere on the streets, but not in the colours I wanted, hence why I messaged her. She had a lot of other amazing things for sale and you can see these on her Facebook page by searching JC NATURALS
BASIC WORDS TO KNOW/ USE :
No: Tidak- pronounced teedak
Walking: Jalan Jalan (Good to say when everyone wants you to come into their shop)
Good: Bagus- pronounced bagoos
Good Morning: Selamat Pagi
Thank You: Terima kasih- pronounced (te-ree-ma ka-seeh)
Nasi Goreng: Fried Rice
Mie Goreng: Fried Noodle
DRIVERS AND TAXI SERVICES
Whether it’s your first time to Bali or your 10th time, I would only ever recommend Blue Bird Taxi’s over any other Taxi Company. Blue Bird Taxis have a photo and the name of your driver, as well as a reference number if you ever need to report anything. They will also always put on the Meter. There are so many different companies out there now that will try and rip you off! They will take you the long way, they won’t have or put a metre on and they will try and rip you off.
Blue Birds stand out as they are Tiffany Blue in colour, but this time I noticed there were some other taxi companies trying to use the similar colour, font and branding as Blue Bird, however they were called Blue BIRO. Now you could easily pick this up if one went straight past you, however if you are looking down the street into the distance, you may be fooled. Just a handy hint to look out for ! Blue Bird also has an app if you really get stuck, just download before you go. It is very similar to Uber.
The bottom photo is the Blue Biro- the dodgy one who will try to rip you off, the top one is the real Blue Bird, I only ever get In these
Please note that Blue Bird taxis can drive you to certain locations such as Uluwatu, Ubud and Canggu, but they CAN NOT pick up a fare from here. It is all to do with supporting the local transport and using their taxi services and drivers. Whilst I understand this, I do not completely agree with it, as not everyone is comfortable using other taxi services or motorbikes. Unfortunately, we were stopped by 3 men in Canggu and made to get out of our taxi and walk 500 metres before being able to use a blue bird again. What once never was an issue, is now quite a big issue in these places. So please be mindful of this. In Ubud we noticed quite a significant price increase to comparison to Legian/Seminyak. It may be cheaper to have a driver for the entire day to take you to these places, and I’ll touch on drivers shortly.
The other popular option of transport now is Motorbike Taxi’s. They are on the corner of most streets, wear red jackets and will always offer to take you places. Personally, I do not ride motorbikes in popular areas in Bali, as your travel insurance WILL NOT cover you if you have an accident, so for me It is not worth it at all. There is a motorbike app also call Go Jek, which is very similar to Uber here, but it is via Bike. We did use this one day in Canggu and was very professional and felt safe the entire time. You download the app and book via the app. You can pay the driver in cash also which is handy. The good thing about Go Jek is that all drivers come with helmets for you to wear too!
🌴We spent 5 nights in Legian at a Private Villa (Villa Mita) available on air bnb. It was 2-bedroom, 2 bathrooms with a small private pool and kitchen. Walking distance to Jalan Legian, Garlic Lane, Legian Beach, Bintang Supermarkets and other shopping streets. For somewhere that was so central to everything, it was so nice and quiet. https://abnb.me/bRPhqPCuuY
🌴We then went and spent 3 nights over on Nusa Lembongan, a must do! You can do a day trip or spend nights there and I highly recommend it. A short 30-minute boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan and it leaves multiple times daily. We used Scoot Speed Boat to get there and costs approx. $50 aus for the return trip, that also includes pick up and drop off to your hotel. We stayed at Oka 7 Bungalow on the beautiful cliff face overlooking the ocean. It was an incredible spot to stay and extremely cheap, around $45 a night each for a private bungalow with breakfast included. https://abnb.me/FyvLPdlvuYhttps://abnb.me/FyvLPdlvuY
🌴We spent 2 nights in Ubud and stayed The Apartments Ubud. This was about a 10-minute drive out of Ubud City Centre and because there are no normal taxi’s in the area, the apartments organised a driver for us to take us in and pick us up. We had a private 1-bedroom villa with a private pool, a kitchen and beautiful bathroom. Because this is not super central, the apartments also organised dinner to be delivered to our room. This was booked through Booking.com but just a heads up is to book in advance to get a really good deal! http://www.booking.com/Share-RNmWYUk
If you are new to Air BnB and would like money off your stay, click on the below link:
If you prefer to book through Booking.com, click on the link below for a discount:
PERSONAL DRIVER AND DAY TRIP RECOMMENDATIONS
In Bali, there is so much competition for drivers and it can be very hard to get work. I’ve known Gede for many years as he use to work at a hotel I always stayed at. He is such a lovely man who is struggling to find work at the moment. We had Gede for a whole day where he picked us up around 11am and took us to Balangan Beach, Uluwatu and Single Fin. He waited for us all day and took us wherever we wanted to go. We returned back to our Villa around 7:30 that evening. He had a phone charger in the car and fantastic air conditioning. The average cost for a driver for the day (8hrs) is $50 for the car ( if you have 2 or 3 people this works out to be around $15-20 each) Gede also came and picked us up from Ubud to bring us back to Legian, and then drove us to the airport the following night . I really can’t recommend Gede enough. Here are his details, please feel free to send him a message on WhatsApp if you’re needing an airport pick up, day trip or shopping trip planned .
WhatsApp: Gede : +62 878 6107 6145
Our Driver Joni in Ubud:
When we were staying in Ubud, we organised a full day trip through Bali Tour and Transport Information. We sent them a message via Facebook and everything was organised exactly how we planned. Because we wanted to visit Lempuyang Temple, which is about 2 hours drive from Ubud, we had to be picked up at 4:45am. Joni our driver came and picked us up and then let us sleep as we headed to the temple. Joni had a big spacious car with bottled water and WIFI which was a huge bonus, as Ash didn’t have a SIM card. We arrived at Lempuyang Temple just after sunrise and Joni had packed us Sarongs to enter the temple. To enter the temple, you had to pay a donation of your choice. You are blessed as you enter the temple, and then you can see the famous gates. There is always a line up of people waiting to get their photo taken in between ‘The Gates of Heaven” The water effect is actually done by someone sitting on the ground holding a mirror directly under your phone to create the illusion. Joni lined up for us whilst we walked around, up the stairs and took our own photos. We waited approx. 45 minutes before it was our turn to get the famous photo, and then we went to the Water Palace. Joni took us to a restaurant nearby for breakfast, and then we went into the Water Place, entry was 40,000 rupiah ( $4 ) each. Joni took us around on a guided tour and explained the history and culture and talked specifically about their gods. Joni knew exactly what he was talking about and was extremely passionate. He took great photos of us and did not rush us. Joni would often pull over on the side of the road to show us the beautiful rice fields. We then visited the Holy Water Temple that was 50,000 ($5) to enter. I didn’t go in this one, but Ash did and said it was beautiful, but there were a lot of tourists. This was the same for the Cempung Waterfall. It was 30,000 to enter. If you don’t like stairs or not very good on your feet, I would not recommend visiting here, as the stairs down were quite steep and slippery. There wasn’t a lot of water coming down the Waterfall, but it was still beautiful, and an experience nonetheless. Joni took us to a traditional village and then to the famous BALI SWING. Tickets were $15 each and included a bottle of water and you could pick what swing you wanted to use. There were also plenty of other activities such as Zip Lining, Cycling and plenty of Famous Photo Spots. Joni then drove us down the famous Tegalalang Road, which is a 12km strip with shopping like Homewares, Wooden Products, Statues and Macramé. Joni stopped the car every time we wanted to look at something, and he gave us bartering tips before we went in. He took us to an Art Shop finally before heading back to our villa. In total we were with Joni for 14 hours. We made the itinerary for the day based on other tours we had seen and if there was something we wanted to see, Joni would make sure that we saw it. Joni was upfront from the start for his pricing, and the entire day cost $30 each. We gave him an extra tip at the end, and he said that all tips get donated to a local family. We would 100% recommend Joni again to friends and family as he was extremely polite, super informative and very knowledgeable and safety was his number one priority. His details are:
Facebook: Bali Tour and Transport Information
WhatsApp: Joni :+6281339698589
Island Time Bali- Nusa Penida Land and Sea Day Trip
We were recommended this day trip through our friends who could not talk more highly of it, and they were exactly right! We were staying on Nusa Lembongan, so one the owners Blackie came and picked us up from our hotel and took us to the boat. The day started by snorkelling at 2 places, the Mangroves and then over to Crystal Bay. We wanted to do the Manta Ray Bay, but the surf was too rough. There are plenty of fantastic places to snorkel on the island, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. We originally had 8 of us on the boat snorkelling and they provided all the snorkelling gear and bottles of water. We finished snorkelling and left the boat at Crystal Bay, where we started our Nusa Penida Land Tour. We had our fantastic guide Jelly for the entire day and he was just the best. He took us to all the coolest spots, documented the entire day on the Go Pro and our phones even though we went to popular tourist spots, he always found us the most secluded areas. Lunch and Snacks and Water were included through the day and we ended around 5ish with a boat back to Nusa Ceningan. We could do either the East or the West side of the island. We chose the West Side and got to visit the famous KlingKing Beach, Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong. Keep in mind that the roads were bumpy for most of the day, but Jelly would always pull over if you need to. Our driver drove extremely well considering the road quality. I could not recommend Island Time Bali more highly and would definitely use them again! We had the most incredible day and got to see some of the best spots that Nusa Penida has to offer!
You can find their details on Instagram at Island Time_Bali
Or Contact Blackie or Jelly Direct through WhatsApp:
Blackie: +62 813 3767 0983
Jelly: +62 823 4118 5126