To be completely honest, Bali was never really on my bucket list. I associated it with Aussie bogans, cheap drinks and clearly staged Instagram photos of girls in flowy dresses. It was never a place I could envision myself exploring. However, after my friend convinced me to spend 2 and a half weeks in January with her in Bali I have changed my mind and firmly believe that Bali is a great place to explore, though there are a few things that you should know.
The first thing to know is that nothing is free in Bali. Everything, and I mean everything, costs and before you think to yourself, “that’s not a problem, everything is cheap in Bali,” just know that’s not always the case. For example, how many Bali swing photos have you seen on Instagram? While I was in there I lost count of how many ‘Bali swings’ I saw, but I certainly remembered the price: 10,000 IDR, about $10 AUD, per experience.
Restaurants and big shops tend to be fixed priced, but at most of the markets and stalls that you will encounter haggling will be required. Haggling is an art form and requires confidence. I personally and not very good at haggling and relied on my friend to do most of the hard work for me. She did give me a couple of tips which you can read about here.
This is a tough rule to learn if you’re anything like me, and by that I mean organised and a lover of schedules. Time somehow seems to operate differently in Bali. What should only take you 10 minutes can easily take an hour, and transport schedules are merely a suggestion. I experienced this first hand during my stressful experience getting to Gili Air. All you can do is take a couple of deep breaths and know that everything you need will get done, you just have to trust the Bali process.
Taking a taxi anywhere in Bali can be a tricky affair. Always try to find a taxi with a meter and make sure your driver turns it on. Blue Bird taxis are generally pretty good for this but make sure it is a real Blue Bird and not an impersonator. If you do happen to get an un-metered taxi always negotiate the fair before you get in the vehicle. To get from Ubud to Kuta it should cost you about 200,000 IDR.
Spending a long day walking in cheap shoes is never a good idea. Walking around and through water in shoes with no grip is also not a good idea. I suggest investing in a pair of good quality sandals that can handle a bit of water and that go with a large number of outfits, that way you’ll avoid sore feet and accidentally slipping on wet rocks while you’re out chasing waterfalls.
Recommended: Bucket List: Climb Mt Batur
I know, this seems like strange thing to include on a list of tips for visiting Bali, but it’s the best advice I received before my trip. Bali is great but Kuta is crowded AF and Ubud is full of fake spirituality, so while you should certainly experience those places, keep in mind that there is more to Indonesia than Bali. In fact, there are 17,508, 6000 of which are inhabited.
Is visiting Bali on your bucket list?