I recently got back from a short trip to Bali, and having spent some time researching the ‘must do/see’ things before I went, had a rough idea of how I would spend my time. However, what I didn’t know about prior to going was the expected tipping amount, the mandatory government and service tax, that there are two types of taxi’s (one company very reliable while the other one is very dodgy), how far away things are, and the general price of a drink! So, this post is dedicated to providing as much info as possible, so your are prepared and know what to expect before you get there!
– You have to pay to arrive AND depart
Yep thats right, while the arrival visa is approx. AU$48 (may fluctuate depending on exchange rate), it is best to pay in USD if possible as this is a fixed price at US$35. While it is common to pay an arrival visa, what I haven’t experienced before, is having to pay an EXIT fee to leave the country. While this is kind of brilliant on Indonesia’s behalf, it can be slightly annoying if you forget to leave a little extra cash before arriving at the airport. The price to leave is 200,000 rupiah which is about AU$20, but for this it is compusory to pay in local currency at this amount is a standard price for all departing visitors (there are 3 or so ATM’s conveniently located nearby the exit desk for all those unfortunate enough to not know about this scheme.)
– The Good vs the oh so bad Taxi’s
So i’m still not entirely sure of the minimum fare amount, but the best advise I can give you is to ONLY use BLUEBIRD taxi’s. They will always use a metered system, which starts at around 7,000 rupiah (AU$1.00) when you get in, and depending on how far you are going, should never cost more than about 35,000 ($AU5.00) for local trips. If you’re not using a Bluebird taxi, be prepared to pay a lot more. They don’t have meters, and when you try and barter a fair, will insist on the minimum fair, which is abut AU$3.00, even if your going 200 metres down the road. If you challenge their price the journey will quickly take a sour turn and they get nasty. We were a little hesitant at first to take the metered taxi’s and thought we were getting a great deal one night after agreeing on AU$10.00 to go from Legian to Seminyak. It wasn’t til the next day, when we took this same journey again, in a Bluebird taxi that cost about AU$3.00, did we realise we had been majorly ripped off the day before. While a $7.00 cab ride may not sound like a lot of money, when you can get a whole meal for that, you start to watch your dollars a little more closely.
– The mysterious Government and Service tax
Here’s a useful tip, that may catch you off guard – the prices displayed on the menu in bars and restaurants don’t include government or service tax, so expect to pay a little more than you expected when it comes time to pay the bill. Government tax is always10% extra and included service tax can range from anything between 3% and 11%. The most we paid in additional charges was 21% ‘service/gov tax’ at our hotel! This can be brutal is you forget, so always remember to factor this into your budget before buying big!
– Its not that cheap
Ok, it is cheap. But having travelled through south east asia, and eating $2 street food in Vietnam, I was expecting the same local experiences. This isn’t the case. Food options are pubs, cafes, bars that serve food, up-market restaurants and top of the range degustration menus. If you one of those travellers that loves to get amongst it, and really taste the local cuisine, this may prove a little disappointing, if not difficult. I only saw 2 street vendors during the whole week I was in Bali, so there aren’t a lot of choices from what I saw. (note – I was in Semonyak/Legian/Kuta so this may have a big influence on why they were lacking). Walking around the streets, and looking at the menus on offer, I felt like I was in a beachside village in Australia.
– It’s like a mini Australia, complete with brogans, booze and boutiques.
Bali really is a mini Australia, and may rival Tasmania for the numbers of Aussies living there at any one time. So this is mind, it’s not the place to go if you want to get away from other Aussies!
– Location IS important
When trying to choose from the hundreds of affordable accommodation, make sure you pick something that is close to the area or attractions you are wanting to visit. When we booked our accommodation, we knew it was slightly out of town, and didn’t think this would matter too much, but in hindsight it would have been night to be a stones throw away for the main areas. I recommend having a map open in one screen if searching online, so you can see exactly where the hotel is by comparison to everything else. For me, I wasn’t too fussed about being close to the beach, as the beaches along the popular Kuta/Legian/Seminyak strip are quite dirty and polluted. I was more interested in having a nice pool that I could laze around, chilling out and reading my book! Whatever your style, make sure you research the are before making a final decision, so you have a good understanding of the area.
– Bali belly is the devil
It’s true. You do NOT want to get it! I was unlucky enough to get sick on the 3rd day of our trip and literally spent the day lying in bed, making great friends with the hotel bathroom, and feeling sorry for myself. While trying to forget about his dreadful I felt, I decided to do a google self diagnosis, which for anyone who has ever tried this will know, it always suggests you have a rare/terminal/serious disease. What I did find however, was a range of suggestions to prevent getting sick, which in hindsight would have been useful knowledge before arriving. What I learnt was as follows:
- Many people swear by Yakult – the probiotics in this little drink of goodness help to keep your body strong to fight against disease
- Raspberry cordial is also very popular as apparently (I’m no doctor, but people are convinced) works the same as Yakult.
- Take hydra light – it’s better to have it on standby then have to buy it while feeling dreadful and explaining its purpose to someone with broken english when you can’t find it in the store
- Any probiotic will help, but needs to be taken a few weeks before arriving in Bali
- Eat a lot of yoghurt
Whether these really work on not, its hard to know, but when I was feeling fragile, I wished I had known about every one of these things on the list! All in all, Bali really is a beautiful place, but it’s best not to be disillusioned about anything before you go! If you have any questions, let me know, and i’ll do my best to answer honestly.