Bali is a favorite destination for millions of visitors for its pristine natural beauty and hospitable locals at an affordable price tag. Several tourists of all ages, interests, and budget visit Bali each year and the vast majority of them fall in love with this tropical island. It doesn’t matter if you stay at a budget guesthouse or plan to rent a villa in Bali, you’re certain to have the time of your life. But, to make sure everything is as easy and smooth as possible on your trip, there are a few things you need to be aware of. This article explains five essential things to know before you take a trip to Bali.
1# The Visa:
If you want to visit Bali and have a non-Asian passport, the chances are you’re going to need to get a visa. A large number of nationalities are eligible for a visa on arrival that lasts for 30-days when they land at the airport. This costs around $35 and you pay for it when you arrive in Bali.
What happens if you want to stay in Bali for longer than 30-days or to travel to other parts of Indonesia? Then consider applying for the 60-day tourist visa beforehand at the Indonesian Embassy. Remember, that 30 or 60-days doesn’t always equal one or two months respectively and you should take care not to overstay your visa.
Also, expect long delays at the airport as people get and pay for their visa on arrival. Sometimes it can take around an hour or longer to pass through immigration.
2# Drugs in Bali:
It’s no secret that a number of young backpackers come to Bali to party. When this happens, they may be open to excessive drinking and are more receptive to taking drugs. You’ll probably see locals selling drugs on the beaches and it’s quite common to be offered magic mushrooms in some parts of the island. The price is going to be cheap and it may seem like a good idea.
But before you do, make sure that you’re aware of the strict drug laws in Indonesia. The difference between personal use and trafficking is murky and you could find yourself in serious trouble for a small amount. You may not get into trouble back at home, but in Indonesia, it’s a different story. Just to put this in perspective, expect lengthy prison sentences or even the death penalty for possession of more than 5 grams, which applies to marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy as well as many others.
Possession of medications, such as Codeine, can also lead to prosecution and even a prison sentence. Make sure you read the laws carefully before you inadvertently bring a prohibited substance in the country.
3# Expect Bali to be Busy:
Bali is a popular destination and you can expect to find thousands of tourists all throughout the year. The busiest period is around Christmas and Easter as well as in July and August. Make sure you do your research before visiting and choose the area you want to stay carefully. After all, you don’t want to be staying in the party districts when you’re having a family vacation.
4# Temple Etiquette:
Visiting the Hindu temples in Bali is a highlight for many tourists. But, remember they’re a place of worship and dress restrictions apply. Visitors need to dress appropriately, and this means you should cover your legs and shoulders. Don’t wear shorts, mini skirts, singlets, or low cut tops. If the temple staff think your clothes are inappropriate, you’re going to be asked to rent a sarong for a small fee before you can enter.
5# Avoid the Money Changer Scam:
Money changers that offer seemingly amazing rates may not be as good as they appear. High exchange rates entice frugal travelers inside who end up walking out of the shop with less money than they should. A typical scenario is that you’re told the exchange office is out of smaller notes and so they give you everything in larger denominations. However, you receive much less than what you’re entitled to.
Most tourists aren’t familiar with the local currency and typically fall for it when they get a handful of 100,000 Rupiah notes. You take the wad of cash, stuff it in your pocket, and then leave. But, what the weary tourist doesn’t realize is that 100,000 Rupiah is only worth around $7.50. And when you change a large amount, it’s easy to get ripped off. Don’t expect a receipt or to be told what you should get.
The best way to avoid this is to know what the official exchange rate is beforehand and to calculate how much Rupiah the money changer will give you. Always ask for a receipt and count the money before leaving. Or, better still, ask someone to tell you a reputable place to change your money. You may have to pay slightly higher fees, but it’s better than being ripped off.
The Takeaway Message:
If you’re planning your dream trip to Bali, remember to take into consideration the tips in this article. You’re certain to have the time of your life in this exotic, tropical paradise as you’re a respectful tourist. Observe and follow the local customs and traditions whilst being careful not to fall foul of the law, especially when illicit substances and draconian laws are involved. When you combine these together, your trip to Bali will be unforgettable for all the right reasons.