Are you planning a trip to Bali? Then these travel tips and tricks are a must read.
This collection of travel advice are the best tips that we have carefully put together based on our own personal travel experience through Bali and other Indonesian islands.
1(a) 30 Day Free Tourist Visa
169 nationalities can obtain a 30 Day Free Tourist Visa (FTV) once they arrive in Indonesia. This Visa is NON extendable and must not be mixed up with the Visa On Arrival.
1(b) Visa On Arrival (VOA)
You have to get a 30 day VOA at the airport if (1) you did not get an Indonesian visa prior to entering the country AND (2) you want to stay in Indonesia for a maximum of 60 days (assuming the country of your passport is eligible for the VOA extension).
With a VOA you can stay in Indonesia for 60 days in total, the first 30 days are on the VOA and the second 30 days through the VOA extension.
So, unlike the FTV which is non-extendable, the VOA can be extended for an additional 30 days through an immigration office.
The VOA can be paid in different currencies. In September 2019 we paid 37$ (IDR 500K).
You might be asked for proof of the flights out of Indonesia so keep them handy, showing the proof of onward travel from your mobile is good enough.
2. Taxi from the airport to your accommodation
Airport taxis are expensive. A taxi booth outside the airport quoted us 250k IDR (17.80$) for a 2 km drive.
Grab taxis which are cheaper are allowed to pick up passengers from the airport but you need to walk away from the arrival hall. Still, whether Grab or a taxi, both are more expensive from inside the grounds of the airport.
3. Accommodation near the airport
Kak Garden Inn is located less than 2 km from the airport, has good room rates, excellent internet connection and is very clean. It is also just a 20 minutes walk to Kuta Square.
4. Sim Card
We got a Telkomsel Simpati SIM Card and the best internet package we had is ‘Kuota Keluarga’. It includes 20 GB of data which can be used all throughout Indonesia, is valid for 30 days and costs 150k IDR (10.65$). This package is good as the 20 GB of data can be shared with one other Telkomsel user.
Make sure that your package is Internet and not INTERNET LOCAL. Most of the packages include Internet Local which won’t be of much use if travelling around. Internet Local is only good for that specific place where you purchase the package. Once out of that area the internet data is lost.
5. Mobile Top Up
The best way to top up is buying credit at an Indomaret shop.
In the Indonesian language buying credit is referred to as ‘Pulsa’. Once at the shop, you will need to say by how much you want to top up (check travel tip no. 4). Then go to My Telkomsel app, browse to ‘shop’ and select the desired package.
Make sure that ALL the GB is Internet and not Internet Local.
6. ATM Withdrawals
There is no ATM fee on cash withdrawal in Indonesia and any fees incurred are those of the card company.
Bank cards usually offer a crappy rate of exchange and if making multiple or large transactions this cost really adds up. Try an online bank such as REVOLUT or TRANSFERWISE, these offer a much better exchange rate than many banks.
Best online bank is STARLING but this is only for UK citizens.
7. Exchanging money to Indonesian Rupiah
Revolut provides good exchange rates when exchanging Euros to Rupiah.
8. Paying by credit cards
In Bali, payments are mostly cash only and if card payment is allowed it usually carries a charge of 3% on the total.
By comparison, in Java, the neighboring island, we had more opportunities to pay by card which never included the extra 3%.
9. Internet Connection Quality
Usually the internet connection of guesthouses and homestays we stayed at while in Bali experienced some interruptions while the upload of photos to Google drive was extremely slow.
Therefore we usually made use of WIFI at the different establishments we were at (such as restaurants) and were able to find a handful with a better Internet connection. We also made extensive use of our mobile data.
Read this guide if you want to know whether Bali is expensive or cheap.
10. Driving a motorbike in Bali
In order to be legally driving a bike in Bali you need a motorbike license and an international driving license. During our stay in Bali we were stopped twice by the police both while driving on a highway.
Upon renting a motorbike in Indonesia, you should be provided with the bike’s registration document. Keep this handy as you might be asked to show it at certain points.
Some roads on Nusa Penida are quite rough so it’s safer to avoid driving a motorbike unless you are up to the challenge.
11. Navigating Nusa Penida’s roads
Both Google Maps and Maps.Me are not up-to-date with the island’s road network.
We resorted to using both apps together with our sense of direction in getting to an attraction. This coupled with the bad state of some of the roads made a trip of few kilometres turn into one involving hours.
12. Scams in Bali
Here is a good read for Bali scams. Personally, we have experienced the mini market scam, women trying to sell us sarongs at temples when these are provided at the entrance and being quoted and sometimes even paying exorbitant prices. It is good practice to do some on-line research on prices especially for transport to get some insight into the going rates.
13. From Bali to Nusa Penida by bike
The only ferry that carries cars and motorbikes to Nusa Penida from Bali is the public ferry that docks at Padang Bai port in Bali and Kutampi port in Nusa Penida.
The below picture shows the price list for the public ferry from Bali to Nusa Penida.
At Padang Bai ticket counter we paid for 2 tickets for adults at 31,700 IDR (2.25$) each and that for the motorbike at 56,200 IDR (4$).
The adult ferry tickets from Nusa Penida to Bali were a little bit cheaper than from Bali to Nusa Penida.
The journey duration is of 1 hour 30 minutes though coming back the journey was more than that as the ferry stopped for almost 1 hour at sea just before entering the port in Bali (presumably for some reason the ferry could not anchor at the port and had to wait out at sea).
Departure time at both ports is not fixed. From Bali to Nusa Penida the ferry left the port at 3:30 pm. From Nusa Penida to Bali departure time was at 10:15 am. The ticket booth in Bali starts selling tickets at 10 am while in Nusa Penida at 8 am. It is suggested to be at the port around this time as the departure time and especially that for the ferry from Bali varies by a lot.
14. From Bali to Lombok by bike
There are multiple ferries to Lombok from Padang Bai Port in Bali every day. The price for a motorbike (including 2 persons) is 130k IDR (9.25$). A single adult ticket costs 46k IDR ($3.30).
15. Immigration Offices in Bali
There are 3 immigration offices that process visa extensions in Bali. They are located (1) north of Bali in Singaraja, (2) in Denpasar and (3) more to the south of Bali at Ngurah Rai.
The location of your accommodation determines the office you should head to for the extension. At the time we were staying in Ubud so the applicable office was that of Denpasar.
We got our visa extended in October which is not considered to be a peak month. And the process took 7 days to complete. If moving to a new destination over this time, do consider that visa extensions require 3 separate trips to the immigration office. Therefore moving further away will entail a longer trip to get to the office on your next visit.
16. Food cost
Here is a list of food and prices together with an average cost of a meal for 1 person with drink (which sometimes included a beer) at a mid range restaurant.
|Packed meal from local markets||3k – 5k||Depending on size – this is mainly rice with a little bit of noodles & fish or chicken on top wrapped in paper in a cone shape (usually)|
|Masakan Padang||15k – 20k||These have food on display at the front of the store. Price includes a meal with tofu, tempa, rice & vegetables. Expect to pay a bit more if adding meat (Rendang).|
|Street food: Bakso||10k||Meatball soup|
|Warung catered for locals||15k-25k||For an Indonesian meal|
|Pizza||45k – 75k|
|Steak at a mid range restaurant||250k|
|Average cost of meal including drink at a mid range restaurant||85k||These meals are a mix of local & western food sometimes coupled with a beer|
** 1USD is equivalent to 14k IDR and 1EUR is equivalent to 17K IDR
17. Denpasar – Bali capital city
Though not being much of a tourist hot spot, Denpasar provides so many authentic local food options in contrast to other destinations in Bali.
18. Water Intake
Keep an eye on your water intake. Owing to drier air you’ll need to make sure that you’re drinking enough water.
19. Weather in Bali
The dry season is April to September with July and August being the busiest. We have been to Bali in September, October and up to mid November. And had sunny days with very few instances of light rain early morning each for a short period.
20. Thailand Tourist Single Entry Visa
If visiting Thailand after Indonesia and need a 60 day visa, then getting this at the Consulate in Denpasar is your best option.
The process is simple and 2 days after handing in all the required documentation you’ll have the visa sticker in your passport.
Below you will find the opening hours of the Consulate and the documents required. Note that we did not need to provide the ‘Letter of employment’.
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