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12 Things a Bali First-Timer Should Know

February 6, 2016
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I love the little island which is Bali. It’s warm, it’s perfect for any budget, cheap spa treatments ($6 massage anyone!?) and the food is delicious. In my article 6 Destinations You Should Be Adding To Your Bucket List I put Indonesia’s most popular island on that list. I remember my first time in Bali, I found it overwhelming and went home feeling deflated and disappointed. It could of also had to do with the travel companion I went there with! Since then I have been back quite a few times, and have fallen more in love with it each time. Here are some tips for you to get into the Bob Marley loving, laid back, surfy vibe, that is Bali.

1. It Thrives Off Tourism
Bali relies heavily off the thousands of tourists that come each year. And with more Europeans making the flight to come visit this slice of paradise, it is getting even busier. Depending on where you go on the island, it can get a little crowded. This can be great if your travelling solo or wanting to meet new people, though it can be too much if you are wanting to escape the crowds. Bali has a wide range of accommodation including cheap private villas that feel like a home away from home. These villas provide your own oasis and adds a more secluded feeling to your holiday.  If you really want to be away from as many people as possible, you can head to lesser crowded places like, Lovina, Padangbai, Tulamben and 2 other little islands a short ferry ride away Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. To find the best place for you, head to booking.com.

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2. Scammers
Don’t let getting scammed put you off going to Bali. There are many scammers in a lot of countries around the globe. The ones I would watch out for the most in Bali are the ones with the scratch and win tickets. They stand out on the street and offer free scratch and win tickets. If you take one, the seller will start up a conversation, will not let you leave his/her sight until you have scratched it. When you scratch it you win a ‘prize’ and the person who handed you the scratch and win, will put on a very convincing act, covering there mouths, acting super surprised, jumping up and down shouting that you won an awesome prize and this prize never gets won! They shuffle you off in a nice private van to an office nearby to collect your prize. When you get to the office you are greeted by time share salesmen and women telling you that you will get your prize after they talk to you about some time share. At the end, there ends up being no prize, your hot, pissed off and in dire need of a cocktail and swim. Yes, this has happened to me. In my defence it was actually my ex-partner that got suckered and being the awesome girlfriend I am, I went along with it. I think he was feeling a bit sheepish after!

3. Dress Code
One of the best things about Bali is the dress code. Being that there isn’t one! Flip flops, singlets, shorts, bikinis and sarongs, you name it you could pretty much wear it. You can get into a bar or club wearing any of that attire. It is super chilled there. The only dress code applies when you are visiting a temple. You must cover up with a sarong around the waist. Depending on which temple you are going to, they may have sarongs you can rent out for the tiniest fee. Others have stalls you can buy them from. If you aren’t in the mood for bartering, remember to take your own if you have one already. 

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4. Bartering
If your not confident or have never bartered before, start practising now! Bartering in Bali is almost a fine art. Something I have only perfected in my last 2 visits there. When you ask how much something is in a local shop, some will give you a ridiculous price that you can barter to about half or a quarter to what they originally told you, it can take some work though. Some shop owners can give you a good, fair price, that I often end up paying a few extra dollars for if I’m not in the mood for bartering. Have confidence and have fun with it. The balinese are easy to joke and get along with. 

5. Don’t Get Stuck In The One Area
I know it can be comfortable when you have a nice hotel and you’ve got your bearings on the area your staying in. Don’t let that stop you from going out, exploring and staying in other parts of the island. For a small island there is lots to see and do. The scenery can dramatically change from beaches to rice paddies and it’s beautiful to get out and stay somewhere different and enjoy that diversity. Its not far to travel around from one town to the next. Each town has something different to offer and you’ll be glad you made that change. 

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6. Taxis, Drivers & Scooters
There is absolutely no shortage of taxis, drivers or scooters in Bali. You will not be able to walk out of your hotel without getting beeped at from passing by taxis and drivers. It can be hard for your first time in Bali to determine which one works best for you. Taxis are good if you’re going travelling up to 30 minutes away. Always make sure you tell the driver to run the meter. If he refuses, or claims that the meter is broken, turn him away and flag another taxi down. Running the meter is the cheapest option and saves you negotiating a price. Drivers are best for all day trips and shopping trips. Depending on where you are going prices can vary and you will need to barter for a good price. Scooters are by far the cheapest option, if you’re not travelling to far away, and great if you are travelling solo. Scooters aren’t for the faint of heart as the traffic in Bali is crazy! It’s definitely an adventure though!

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7. Visa Requirements
For most countries getting your visa on arrival is usually the case. There has been a lot of changes to the Indonesian visas of late and visa requirements are a tricky thing to explain for each country. The best website to read about what visa you need for your country is Bali.com

8. There Are Better Places Than Kuta
Kuta is the most advertised of places to stay in Bali, but it is by far not the best place to stay. If you want to hit the clubs and party until 4am everyday, stay in Kuta. If not head to Cangguu, Sanur, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu. All of these places have better beaches and are far less crowded. If you want to be amongst the rice paddies head inland up to Ubud. 

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9. Don’t Worry If You Step On Prayer Offerings
I know this may sound really awful, just let me explain before you think the worst of me! A while ago I read on a blog that you should avoid at all costs stepping on the prayer offerings in Bali. This is completely untrue. The Balinese practice the Hindu religion. Every morning they put out these beautiful offerings in a small square type bowl made out of palm leaves. Inside the palm leaf is some burning incense, rice and a small offering of their choosing. You will see some pretty funny offerings! These offerings are everywhere. They will be found on pathways, outside shops, inside shops, on the beach, in temples and placed in small shrines around varies areas. By the end of the day, dogs, cats and birds have nibbled at them. Scooters and cars have run over them. They have been tripped over and stepped on by locals and tourists. Obviously don’t step on them purposely, but don’t fret to much if you accidentally do. If you are looking down the whole time trying to avoid stepping on these your going to look pretty silly! They are like tiny land minds all over the place and you won’t leave Bali without accidentally stepping or tripping on one.

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10. Watch Your Plastic Water Bottle Usage
Bali is hot, hot, hot! Making sure you are getting enough fluids is vital, and drinking purified water is a must. You cannot drink the tap water or you might be in for a nasty case of Bali Belly. Bali is becoming an eco and environmental disaster when it comes to plastic water bottles. More plastic bottles are going into the ocean and washing up on beaches. We can all do our part to help Bali with their plastic water bottle usage and bring along a filtration system. There are all sorts of travel friendly water filtration systems and it really is your preference for which one will work for you. For me, I find the the stainless steel bottle from Clearly Filtered to be my best choice. Do your research and check out which you would prefer. If you choose to go with Clearly Filtered, at the checkout you can put in livedreamwander in the discount code box and get 10% off. Yay for savings!

11. Eat The Local Food
Oh, the food in Bali!! DELICIOUS! Don’t be afraid to expand your taste buds here. Go traditional and try the Balinese and Indonesian food on the menu. The seafood is also amazing. No trip to Bali is complete without trying the satay chicken sticks with a side of peanut sauce. They do the best peanut sauce ever! Coming from experience, you will never be able to recreate this sauce at home. 

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12. Interact With The Locals
The Balinese are such friendly people. They love having a chat, laughing with you and getting to know you. They have a great sense of humour and take nothing to seriously. It’s nice getting to know the locals. Enjoy, have fun and relax! After all your on holidays in this little piece of paradise that is Bali.

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Have you been to Bali? If you have any tips that I have missed, comment below!


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2 Comments

  • Reply LisaLDN February 6, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    What a great and incredibly helpful post! I’m currently planning a lot of traveling starting September, and Bali is on the list of places I might add to the itinerary! This was really insightful, and great to know before going 🙂 Thank you!
    LisaLDN recently posted…Pura Vida Bracelets (+ discount code)

    • Reply Shara February 6, 2016 at 5:51 PM

      Thank you Lisa! I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

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