Introduction

If you're reading this post it's quite likely you've headed here from my Ultimate Guide to Bali - Part One and already know about the different areas of the island. If not and you would like to know more about where to stay, eat, drink, party and relax then head over to that blog post to find out more!

In this blog post I will be covering topics such as how to get around the island, how to haggle for the best deal in the markets, everything you need to know about visa's and much more. Scroll down for all the tips and tricks I picked up while visiting there for six weeks in early 2019. 



Route & How Long to Stay

As I was backpacking I stayed in Bali for six weeks, something which received a mixed reaction from other travellers, however felt right to me as I have wanted to go for as long as I could remember and see as much as possible. I left feeling like there was still things I didn’t get to see and do, however you would be able to tick off most of the big things in 10 days to two weeks. While I was in Bali one of best friends came to visit too and we saw Canggu, Ubud and all three Gili islands in that time.

While I didn’t visit Kuta or Uluwatu they are nearest to Denpasar Airport, and in order followed by Seminyak and Canggu above each other on the West Coast. Ubud is around an hours taxi drive from Canggu, with access to the Gili Islands and Nusa Islands via Sanur another hour away from Ubud. You can also travel to the Gili Islands via Amed which is on the North East Coast and is around 3 hours drive from Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu. While this way is a longer travel on land the boat ride to the islands is shorter and cheaper, so it really just depends what you think best suits you.

For me the most logical route would be; Uluwatu, Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu then Ubud for around 2-4 days each. After this it depends on what you would like to do, either day trip to some of the more natural and cultural sites, or spend a few days in Lovina to visit them from a more nearby location before heading over to Amed to go to the Gili Islands, going from the Gili’s directly to the Nusa Islands and finally heading back to Bali.



Shopping

Where. To. Begin. When it comes to shopping in Bali I could have quite happily decorated a house and thrown out my whole wardrobe and started from scratch with the beautiful things I found. From the iconic rattan bags, to bargain market dresses, and all the macrame homeware you could dream of there is something for everyone. When it comes to shopping, and bargaining, I think over the six weeks I spent in Bali I managed to hone into the best places to shop, and developed a system for how to best haggle.

The spots I found best to shop at were Seminyak around the Bintang Supermarket, and Ubud Art Market for variety and price. While Canggu has many gorgeous shops and a lovely market, they are much more Westernised and as such this is reflected in the pricing. Both Seminyak and Ubud have endless markets and market stall shops which sell the same wears as you’ll find in Canggu, but at a much lower cost.

When it comes to bargaining I found that asking the shop owner how much something will be is a good starting point, I would then reply with half of their first price and haggle to reach a price in the middle of those two amounts, or about two thirds of the original price. For example if they said 400K, I would say 200K and try to meet around 300k. Haggling is a game, and the friendlier you are and the more you interact the better price you’ll get, buying multiple items will also allow you to bargain a bit more. I would also say be respectful, we all want a bargain but selling these items is most Balinese people’s income. 
Here’s a rough idea on how much you would expect to pay for popular items:

Rattan Bag: Between 300-450K depending on the style and shape, the plain round ones are the cheapest as they are easiest to make
Macrame Bag: Between 250-350K depending on the size and quality
Dresses: Around 100K but if you buy a couple you should be able to get a discount
Jewellery: This really varies on the quality, I bought one piece in Seminyak for 300K and later got offered it for 50K in Ubud (very annoying). Anything made from rope I would say around 50K per piece, and anything metal around 100-150K+




Transport

The main way to travel around Bali is either by taxi or boat as public transport is pretty much non existent.

The taxi situation in Bali can be quite tricky to navigate and can vary from area to area. There are several apps which work like Uber and can used in the main areas of Uluwatu, Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud, these are Uber, Go Jek, Bluebird and Grab. You should keep in mind with these taxi apps that while they are cheaper than the unmarked cars you find in Bali they are also not allowed to go drop off/ pick up from everywhere and the local taxis can get very angry if they spot them. I have seen this first hand and heard second hand accounts of tourists being dragged out of taxi’s. It’s rare but definitely something to keep in mind. Each of these apps will give you a price estimate for your journey, and you can pay on card or by cash. Bluebird taxi’s are the official taxi’s of Bali and the ones I tried to use most regularly as to me they felt safer, but this is just a personal preference.

If you are going to use an local taxi (not an app), always negotiate a rate before you get in, and check this is in Rupiah and not Australia dollars. As most prices are quoted without the 000’s on the end, there is a common scam where a taxi driver will argue $30 not 30K Rupiah which is the difference of about £2.50 and £15, so be careful. Also always try and have the right change on you as many will say they don’t have change for your 100K note and you’ll end up paying much more than you should have. Also keep in mind that a scooter should be cheaper than getting a car.

If you are wanting to travel between different area’s you can also use taxi’s and they will happily take you to most places. While I was in Bali I got given WhatsApp numbers by many taxi drivers who I then used again later on and negotiated a better rate with for repeat business, especially for longer trips to Lovina and Amed. Most taxi drivers you meet on the streets will also happily arrange a day trip for you to sightseeing areas, the best thing to do is to go over and chat to whoever you feel most comfortable with. For a half day you should expect to pay around 350K, and for a full day around 500-600K, all depending on number of stops, length of driving, etc.

As a final note, the whole six weeks I was in Bali I didn’t once encounter any of these scams and every taxi driver I had was wonderfully friendly and helpful!

Another option for getting around Bali is to rent a scooter, which is something I didn’t do while in Bali. This is completely down to personal preference, however while I felt safe on the back of one with anyone Indonesian, I heard and saw too much while in Bali to feel comfortable either driving one myself or getting on the back of one with a fellow tourist.



Culture & Sight Seeing

Unlike most of the rest of Indonesia, Bali is predominately a Hindhu island, as are the Nusa Islands, however the Gili islands are Muslim and actually part of Lombok rather than Bali. If you are lucky enough to be in Bali during Hindu New Year (silent day), this is important to keep in mind as you will not be allowed to go outside on silent day and things wind down the day before and after. I stayed in Ubud during this amazing religious event and watched the parade the day beforehand which starts at around nightfall (weather depending). The date changes each year so if you are travelling in March or April it’s best to check before you leave, as the airports also close on silent day.

As the Balinese people mostly practise Hinduism you will see small offerings outside most homes and businesses, be careful to not walk on them and where possible walk around them and not over them. There are lots of wonderful things to discover about Hinduism and Balinese culture while visiting the island, as well as Buddhist temples and sacred hot water pools and springs. The most known are:

Canggu

Tanah Lot Temple

Ubud

Monkey Forest
Saraswati Temple
Tirta Empul Water Temple
Pura Gunung Lebah Temple
Ubud Palace
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
Batu Karu Mountain Trek
Tegenungan Waterfall
Tegalalang Rice Fields and Swings

Gili Islands

Jason DeCaires Taylor underwater statues

Nusa Penida

Diamond Beach
Angels Billabong
Broken Beach
Kelingking Beach (the dinosaur head)

Lovina

Aling-Aling Waterfall
Git-Git Waterfall
Ulun Danu Water Temple
Banjar Buddhist Temple
Hot Water Springs

There are so many beautiful mountains, volcano’s and rice fields to visit while in Bali I couldn't possibly list them all, above is a list of the ones I went to or had on my hit-list while travelling and the ares I accessed them from.




Animals

Famed for it’s monkeys, Bali is actually host to a wonderful range of animals, some of them beautiful and some of them dangerous.

While in Bali you will notice a lot of dogs both stray and owned wondering around, and some cats. While our nature is to go over and pet them my advice would be to not interact with them where possible. Common sense says you should get your rabies jabs before you visit, however this will only delay the viruses effect on you and is not a cure. I heard several stories of people minding their own business being bitten by dogs and monkeys and having to pay thousands to get to a hospital asap to get jabs, which you’ll also have to get over the course of five days. Rabies can kill quickly if passed onto humans and while it shouldn’t effect your stay it is best to safe around certain animals.

On a different note about dogs, one evening in Canggu we got chased down the street by three growling dogs before a girl on a scooter and her boyfriend saved us and took us to safety. Of a night time the dogs become guard dogs and can chase after you in this very aggressive manner, I hate to think what would have happened if the couple hadn’t of driven by to help us, and would encourage anyone visiting to not wonder around quiet areas at night on foot due to this reason.

I would also hope it goes without saying, however anything to do with feeding, riding or touching elephants is the result of them being horribly looked after and I personally would be rather not visit any sanctuaries.



Vias’s

If you are travelling from one of 140 countries, including the UK and most European countries, USA, Australia and New Zealand you are allowed to stay in Bali for 30 days and can get your visa on arrival which is completely free. You can check the list of countries here.

However if you would like to stay for over 30 days things get a little more complicated.

On arrival you will need to go to the little desk in the middle of the arrivals hall and tell them you would like to pay for your visa, which will cost $30 USD. If you are asked for a reason it’s perfectly fine to say because you want to extend your stay at a later date. You then go to the que on the left hand side of the arrivals hall. From there you have three options of how you proceed with extending your visa.

The first option is to sort it out yourself, which you can read a much more informed account of here. From what I understand it involves three separate trips to the visa office on dates you cannot choose yourself, thereby meaning you’d have to stay in one area for a roughly 10-14 day period of time and plan your trip around this which didn’t give me the flexibility I wanted with my trip and so opted for option two.

The second option is to do what I did and pay somebody else to do it for you. I chose this option as it was only slightly more expensive and only required one trip to the visa office instead of three, and allowed me to continue travelling around Bali at the same time. This cost me around £40, only slightly more expensive than the visa itself and to me a price worth paying. It did however also include handing over my passport and £40 to a man I had never met before, however I did this via my hostel in Canggu with a reputable agent, and would suggest anyone looking to go down this route to do the same thing. If you’d like the contact details of the agent I used please email me at robyn@therobyndiaries.com.

The third option is to do a visa run to somewhere like Singapore for a day or two. As I understand it the Balinese customs agents are getting ever stricter with people doing this and can refuse to let you on a flight if they are suspecting you are visiting for this reason so if this is they visa option you pick I would suggest staying in Singapore at least over night to make it less obvious.



Summary

I hope these little tips help you plan your trip and highlight a few things I learnt along the way while visiting this beautiful island. The six weeks I spent in Bali I felt safe at all times and would highly recommend it for travellers, including solo females. It was the first place I have visited that leans on the less Westernised side of the world and loved every aspect of this. While there are a few dangers mentioned above to keep in mind, a little common sense and respect will keep you safe in Bali.

I had wanted to go to Bali for years before I finally made it there, and it did not let me down! If I could return tomorrow for another visit I would as there is simply so much to see and do, alongside a wonderful way of life and beautiful landscape to fall in love with.

If you want to read more about each area of Bali, what I did while I was there, where I stayed and the top bars, restaurants and beach clubs please check out my Ultimate Guide to Bali - Part One. 

If you visit Bali I hope you love it as much as I did, and let me know all about your travels on Twitter or Instagram at @robyn_lynch.