Your first time to Bali? Here are some tips, advice and things to look out for to help get you prepared for your trip.
As someone who’s been to Bali on four separate occasions (with the latest trip taking place just a couple of weeks ago), I thought I’d take some time out to put together a post with some tips, advice, things to expect and must-knows for those of you who are about to visit for the first time.
I personally feel like reading something like this before my first trip useful, so am hoping this helps you feel a little more prepared before you touch down in Denpasar!
Before you go
Where to stay:
Your first time to a new destination often starts with looking for the best location to stay. It can be a fine art finding a base that is conveniently located, but not in too much of a touristy place. If you’re like me and want to stay away from the main touristy drags (like Kuta and Seminyak) but still want the option to access them, my personal recommendation would be to base yourself in Canggu, which is just north of Seminyak (outlined in red below).
Accommodation options range from backpacker dorms to hotel rooms, and if you’re looking for a little bit of luxury – there are an abundance of villas available to stay at too.
If you just so happen to be travelling in a big group (I’ve seen lots of families head to Bali together), I’d recommend pitching in and renting a villa for your stay. There are many villas available with multiple bedrooms that can work out to be very affordable when you’re travelling with multiple people. Even if you’re not travelling in a group and are just getting away with your partner, staying at a villa is an affordable reality in Bali and can even work out cheaper than staying at a standard motel in Australia!
I’ve tracked down a couple of stunning gems in Canggu for you below, but feel free to check out some more of the amazing Bali villas available. Hello, private pool!
Once you’ve booked your accommodation, be sure to take a print out or save a copy of your confirmation on your phone that includes the address of where you’re staying. If your villa doesn’t have a free airport pick up service, you’ll definitely want to have the address and/or map on hand to show your driver where you’re heading.
On my first three trips to Bali, I didn’t get any vaccinations however, on my most recent (because I’m grown up and trying to be responsible), I got two twin vaccinations. These were for Hep A, Tetanus, Typhoid and Whooping Cough (it was just included in one of the vaccinations).
Dengue Fever can sometimes be common in Bali – especially during the wet season, so I’d recommend insect repellent/DEET and also using the mosquito nets (if available) at your accommodation.
Arriving at Denpasar (DPS) airport:
As you arrive at your gate in DPS, you’ll most likely be taking a long walk in the new airport towards the immigration hall. Lines can get pretty long with the visa process, so my words of wisdom here would be to walk fast and get there sooner rather than later if you don’t want to wait too long!
If you’re a fellow Australian, you can obtain a visa on arrival in Bali that is valid for 30 days. Once you arrive at the airport you’ll go through the visa process at immigration before picking up your bags at the baggage carousels.
The cost of the visa on arrival is $35USD per person and I’d recommend taking US currency with you to pay for this as even though they take Australian dollars, the conversion rate that they give you isn’t the greatest.
Getting a taxi at the airport:
On my recent trip to Bali, I had actually pre-booked transport to take me from the airport to our villa however, after looking for our driver amongst the 200 that were at the airport for 20 minutes, we gave up and took a taxi from the taxi service counter (on the right hand side, before walking through the duty free shop).
At the taxi service counter, there is a price list for destinations around Bali. Getting to Seminyak/Kuta should cost around 150,000-200,000 Rupiah, and getting to Canggu is around 250,000 Rupiah. If you’re getting a taxi, I’d highly recommend getting it from the taxi service counter – it’s a much more stress-free process than having a dozen drivers hassle you once you walk through the duty free shop!
On the ground in Bali:
Driving in Bali:
Although many tourists probably don’t have their international drivers license and drive/ride a scooter or motorbike in Bali, I’d absolutely recommend abiding by the rules and getting one in your home country before you go, if you wish to drive.
Police in Bali constantly stop drivers and request to see their licenses, but it’s likely that you’ve heard about the corrupt system of Bali where bribery is not an uncommon sight.
If you don’t wish to drive (I don’t blame you with the crazy traffic!), you’ll be pleased to know that taxis and drivers are very easily accessible throughout Bali. Just be sure to know what you should be paying, and be prepared to haggle to avoid getting ripped off.
Drinking water in Bali:
It’s most likely that you’ve heard of ‘Bali Belly’, so to avoid getting it, your best bet is to avoid drinking and brushing your teeth with the tap water in Bali. Bottled water is widely accessible – your accommodation will most likely provide complimentary bottles and sell additional at their restaurants/reception; and you’ll find a Circle K (mini mart) on almost every corner in the main touristy areas of Bali. A large 1.5 litre bottle will cost you less than an Australian dollar.
Another tip is to carry a mini bottle of antibacterial sanitiser with you at all times. To be extra cautious, I’d use sanitiser even after washing my hands.
Staying connected in Bali:
If you need your daily fix of Instagram, you’ll be pleased to know that WiFi is pretty much available at any hotel/villa/cafe in Bali. SIM cards with prepaid data plans can also be purchased in Bali, but remember – you’re supposed to be on holidays, so put your phone down, and go out and enjoy the Bali sun!
Got any other questions about Bali? Feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!