In case I haven’t made it very clear in the lead up and past week, I have just come back from 7 days in beautiful Bali.
I just adore Bali, I love the busy yet somehow laid back vibe, the shopping, the constant beep beep from every passing car, cab and scooter, the sunshine, the culture and of course the fact that cocktail hour is basically whenever you feel like it.
This trip makes my 4th visit to Bali so of course that now makes me an expert. I have picked up some tips and tricks along the way that I think may just come in handy for you all.
There are many different “Bali’s” that you can go and experience depending on your tastes and budget. I personally like a mix of Dirty Street Bali and High class Seminyak.
One day I’ll be rummaging through the street markets sweating up a storm and paying $5 per dress, the next im dining at La Lucciola being all classy.
Both have their good points and what you choose really does depend on what you want to get out of your trip.
But let’s get stuck into things shall we…
Some are my tips, some are from my family and friends who are also frequent Bali goers.
The currency in Indonesia is Rupiah. A rule of thumb is $100 000 Rupiah = $10 AUD. The exchange rates go up and down but basically this is the easiest way to remember it. If in doubt take off 4 zeros off the end of the number on the note and that’s what you are paying in Australian mullah.
While there are ATM’s in Bali I prefer to take my money out in Australia and then get it changed to Rupiah in Bali. Maybe get $100 changed over in Oz just to get you by until you see a money changer.
There are so many ‘Authorised’ money changers over in Bali and I think we have all heard the stories about people getting swindled. My rule of thumb is to use the money changers that are in shops with actual walls and doors. The signs that say ‘money changer’ are usually on a blue and red sign. Don’t go to the money changers that are just set up as stalls in the markets… This is where the dodgy usually happens. Do not go to a place that charges commission and always count the money back yourself before the transaction is complete.
Fixed price stores and larger restaurants/ warungs will have credit card facilities but smaller markets stalls and cabs will not so I find cash easier.
Spending wise I budget for $100 per day, this includes all meals, taxi costs, drinks and just general travel expenses. Shopping is on top of this but I found this is more than enough to get me by. Some days you spend more, some less but putting this much aside means Im covered for all I need.
Ah Bartering, you either love it or hate it. I hated it at first but after 4 times, im all good. Basically any market shop you will need to negotiate a price, shops with a door will mostly be fixed price. Get a sense of how much things cost before you start to buy but keep in mind you usually aim for about 1/3 of the starting price.
If I am unsure about something I will do a practise run purchase and see how low I can go until they let me walk away. If the shop owner lets you go they are either having a good day or the price is just too low for them.
Keep in mind that the average Balinese wage is equal to about $50 Australian per week… that extra $1 you are arguing about possibly means more to them than it does to you. They also mostly work 6-7 days a week up to 13 hour days with little to no time off…
A rough guide of what to aim for when buying from markets is as follows, this is just a guide for how much I generally pay but will pay more/ less depending on the product and who many items I buy.
Sunglasses – 20 000 – 30 000 ($2-$3)
Dress’s – 50 000 – 70 000 ($5- $7)
Tshirts/ singlets – 40 000 – 50 000 ($4-$5)
Shorts- 30 000 – 40 000 ($3-$4)
Haram Pants – 50 000 – 60 000 ($5-$6)
Shoes (Synthetic / fake leather) – 80 000- 12 000 ($8-$12)
Back packs- 100 000 – 150 000 ($10-$15)
I don’t really buy the fake brand purses or handbags as they are not my style but I wouldn’t pay over $8 for a purse or $15 for a handbag and even that pushing it.
I did buy a gorgeous small leather handbag that goes over the shoulder from a market up in Ubud for $18… I consider it the best purchase of the trip!
Where you can try to speak in Rupiah over AUD, it shows that you are a little more experienced with this whole bartering hooplah.
Which brings me to tipping. Of course it is your personal choice but tipping is most definitely a Balinese custom and is expected as a sign of respect. The places and people to tip are as follows, of course you can tip whoever you want but I will always tip at the following:
Restaurants, Warungs and any eatery places
Bars and drinking places
Massage and beauty services
Drivers (Not cabs but hired drivers)
Hotel Porters/ cleaners (I just leave my tip on my bed at the end of my stay for the cleaners)
You generally don’t need to tip staff that work in fixed price stores but if you choose to you most certainly can. My mum once tipped the ladies in the fixed price jewellery store Filthy Gorgeous cause they made her shopping experience so lovely, the look on their faces was one of surprise and gratitude as it clearly was a rarity for them.
I tip 50 000 -100 000 ($5 – $10) as a general rule of thumb but will increase it if I like the person or they have done a fantastic job. If I hire a driver for a day trip I will tip around $200 000 – $300 000 ($20- $30) on top of the agreed fair.
The main areas of Bali that tourists inhabit are Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Legian street is a long street that goes from the start of Kuta, passes through Legain and takes you all the way through to Seminyak. Chances are if you go to Bali you will go on Legian street.
You can walk but the heat makes that pretty uncomfortable so I generally cab it. I will always try for a Blue Bird Taxi first and make sure they turn the metre on. If I can’t find a blue bird I will go in the others but will always agree on a price before we start the trip.
If a cab turns on a metre it should cost you around $50 000 Rupiah ($5) from Kuta to Seminyak however if you end up in a non-metre taxi they will try to charge you more because of ‘traffic’ or the time of day….depending on your desperation for said cab depends on how much you will agree pay.
You can also hire a driver for pretty much anything you like. You can hire them for a day should you wish to take a day trip somewhere far away like Ubud or I know some people who hire a driver to be ‘on call’ and devoted to them for their entire trip. Drivers hired for the day are generally around $500 000 ($50) + Tip but it’s up to you and the driver to negotiate these rates.
There are 3 basic restaurant levels for eating out in Bali.
Street Carts- I don’t eat here as they are generally not refrigerated and have been sitting in the sun for god knows how long. I once had some fried chicken from a street cart as I was feeling a little adventurous but I made sure I saw my piece come out of a fridge and deep fried in front of me, it was very tasty but I will admit I was still a nervous nelly eating it!
Warungs- Cheaper restaurants, kind of like a Bali café/ pub meal but with alcohol. Expect to pay around $50 000 ($5) for Nasi Goreng/ Mi Goreng etc…. I Love warungs, they are on my regular rotation.
Door Restaurants- This is pretty much my universal Bali rule, if a place has a proper door it is more expensive. Places on Eat street in Seminyak and higher class restaurants around that area are pretty much Australian prices, maybe a little cheaper than here but still expensive in Bali talk.
I take over a bottle of Cottees orange cordial and take a swig every morning and night as i am convinced that it keeps the Bali Belly away. It was a tip I picked up from my sister in law and since doing it have never been sick. Its fairly much an old wives tale but still, aside from not drinking the tap water and eating from the street carts I pretty much eat and drink anything I want and (Touch wood) don’t get sick…. Still take some Imodium with you just in case!
I also use hand sanitiser like a maniac when im over there, right before eating is a no brainer!
Never drink the tap water from Bali, even when brushing your teeth or open mouth it in the shower, buy multiple bottles from the Circle K or Mini mart and keep them in your hotel fridge.
As for ice, I do have it in my drinks. Most places I dine in have ice made from clean water as they know us tourists can’t stomach the original tap stuff. If you’re worried you can double check or just stick with bottled drinks like Bintang and Smirnoff…. Oh I suppose soft drink and water too, they’re always an option.
A warung we ate in while visiting Ubud
I have a friend who went to Bali and hated it (weirdo), he couldn’t handle to constant hawkers and people forcefully trying to sell to him. Yes some shops/markets can be a bit full on and relentless, I’ve been grabbed, had my dress lifted up and even had to pay a shop owner $5 just to leave me alone. This is not exclusive to Bali, I’ve had bad experiences in Adelaide too!
Any place you visit you will always come across people who will try it on. For the most part the local people are lovely and extremely caring. For the handful of bad experiences I’ve had I’ve got 1000’s of good ones to go in their place.
Keep in mind Bali is a busy place, full of hustle and noise. Appreciate it for what it is and you will get so much more out of your trip.
Above all remember your manners and be respectful. A local may be doing errands for you and helping you out (by driving you around or serving you food etc) or have a different way of doing things than you’re used to but that does not mean you get to talk down to them or treat them like a lesser person. I have unfortunately witnessed some tourists behaving appallingly whilst in Bali and its not on. No one deserves that kind of treatment, ever.
Enjoy your self and amerce yourself in a completely different culture, its good for the soul and spirit.
Woah that’s a long post but I have so much more to tell you! Im also working on posts on things to do in Bali, what to wear in Bali and Bali beauty upkeep including my experience having a V-Steam… yes it’s exactly what you think it is. They steam your Vajayjay…..