The essential and complete Bali travel checklist
Passports, Tickets and Visas
If you carry a Singapore, Malaysian, Philippines, Thai, Vietnam, Chile, HK, Macao, Brunei, Morocco or Peru you will not need a visa to enter Bali.
For all other passport holders you’ll need USD$25 on arrival (valid for 30 days, and extendable) to pay for your visa on arrival. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia, and you must have proof of onward passage (either return or through tickets).
When leaving Bali, you’ll have to pay a departure tax of 150,000Rp per person at the airport. You pay this in rupiah not US currency. Put this money aside and don’t spend it on shopping!
Pro Tip: If you want to avoid the queues and baggage collecting – use The Bali Concierge airport service for a VIP pickup experience. For USD$50 they will escort you from your arrival gate, handle all the visa stuff and put your bags through immigration – all while you wait at the bar and enjoy snacks.
Insurance when traveling anywhere is a must. Especially somewhere like Bali, where you are likely to do outdoor activities, ride scooters and get in the surf. You don’t want to be stuck without insurance. We recommend using a reputable insurance company, such as Zuji, who is underwritten by Allianz.
Don’t even try Indonesia is very strict with drug laws, and even has the death penalty for drug trafficking. There are plain clothes police that also patrol the streets looking for sellers and users. Basically, don’t even try – else you’ll end up like the Bali 9 or Schapelle Corby.
Bring em but be careful It’s always good to have a credit card with you when traveling, especially for those unexpected expenses. Remember to notify your credit card company that you are traveling, and give them your overseas contact details – otherwise they may cancel or suspend your card under suspicion of fraud. When using credit cards in Bali, make sure its only on legitimate looking credit card machines – be wary of devices that ‘skim’ and steal your card information. Avoid places that use the old type manual carbon copy units – any decent place should have a electronic unit. Rule of thumb: If you are not sure, just use cash.
Staying Healthy and avoiding “Bali Belly”
Indonesia is a developing nation and as such does not have the same level of sanitation and health care standards which we come to expect in developed nations. It’s recommended to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Flu. It’s best to consult your local doctor about vaccinations. The water in Bali is not recommended for drinking, so to avoid the infamous “bali belly” stick to bottled water. If you want to be extra careful, use your bottled water for brushing your teeth as well. Avoid ice in drinks from food stalls and small warungs (eatery). But ice from the convenience store or from a bar should be okay.
Alcohol and Drinks
Alcohol can be quite expensive Other than the locally made Bintang Beer (similar to and owned by Heineken) which is refreshingly Delicious and dirt cheap, and the horrible hangover inducing Arak, most alcohol is very expensive in Bali. This is supposedly due to the ‘moral’ tax put on by the Indonesian government. Eg. A bottle of Smirnoff Vodka can cost us to 500,000rp (About USD$55). So it’s a popular option to bring in your own duty free alcohol. Indonesian law allows up to 1L per person, which is not a lot. If you choose to bring more and get caught you will have to surrender it or pay a, *ahem*, “fine” of anything from 20,000rp to 100,000rp and you will be able to keep your alcohol.
The best way to get around Bali, if you are not game on driving/riding your own vehicle is taxi and car+driver services. Taxi’s are inexpensive (ie a metered taxi for a 45min ride is less than USD$7), see the bottom of this post for Taxi companies. Make sure the taxi is metered and starts at 5,000rp. You can also get car+driver services from about starting from USD$35 for a whole day – it would be recommended to tip the driver at the end of the day.
Mobile Phones and Wifi
Your own phone will probably be able to global roam on Indonesian networks, but it can be very expensive to make and receive calls. The best thing to do is purchase a local prepay sim card (like SimPati or 3) and pop it in your phone – you will then enjoy the low local rates. iPhones and Blackberry work but you’ll have to get a SIM card that has internet data. It’s easier to stick to the free wifi available at many cafes and bars.
In Indonesia they use 220V, 50 Cycle and the plugs are dual round prongs of the European variety. Adapters are available at some hotels OR can be purchased at Matahari’s ( supermarket ) for around 35,000 Rp.
Tipping is good karma
Tipping There will sometimes be a service charge tacked onto your restaurant bill. It is not compulsory, but it is good practice to tip your hotel porters, masseuses, maids and any other staff during your stay. It doesn’t have to be much – but you will ensure you will be looked after, and it would be greatly appreciated by the staff who only earn the equivalent of a few dollars a day.
Sunscreen and moisturizer is expensive for some reason in Bali, bring your favorites from home. Condoms in Indonesia are not the best quality, it’d be safer and wiser to bring some of your own. Imodium (diarrhea medication) is worth keeping with you, you can buy them at any pharmacy (called apotik in Indonesian) in case of the infamous “bali belly”.