Bali is all of this. However, during our recent visit, we discovered a few other things about Bali that we would like to share to prepare future visitors to this magical island.
1) Taxi and Car Services: Similar to other destinations that rely heavily on tourism, taxi drivers and private tour guides may take advantage of you. Tom and I thought we got a fantastic deal by securing a private car and driver for 5 hours at the cost of $35. Crazy, right?! Unfortunately, proprietors of businesses that the drivers take you to visit subsidize the low cost. For example, instead of going to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, we were taken to a restaurant overlooking a small rice field that was a stop for many bus tour groups. Also, we’re not beach people but were shuttled to a beach providing an array of water sports. Admittedly, the price was decent, but you will be parasailing with 15 other tourists in the same area. We thought we did adequate research when selecting a car service. Instead, we recommend visitors to utilize hotel cars to get the experience that is truly desired. It may cost a little more, but we feel it is worth the extra money.
2) Currency: The value of the Indonesian Rupiah is very weak to the US Dollar. When withdrawing money from the ATM, take out the maximum amount allowed. The most I was able to withdraw at one visit was 2M Rupiah, the equivalent of $144. This may seem like a lot of money, as items are relatively inexpensive. However, many shops, restaurants, and services require cash. If credit cards are taken, some places charge a 3% surcharge.
3) Laundry Services: Pack light and have your clothes laundered in Bali. Laundry shops are abundant in Bali. For $3 (US) we had an entire traveler backpack of clothes wash, dried, and ironed. This is a fantastic service throughout SE Asia (although Bali is, by far, the least expensive). Take advantage of it on your next trip!
4) Alcohol. Due to recent regulations and taxes, the cost of alcohol has skyrocketed. When you leave the airport, you walk through a duty-free area. If you would like to enjoy an adult beverage in Bali, you may want to buy a bottle of wine or your favorite spirit to supplement. Buy cocktails at bars and restaurants, but don’t break the bank!
5) Security. In 2002, there was a bombing at a nightclub in Kata. Since that time, many bars, restaurants, and resorts take security very seriously. Tom and I had never experienced anything like it. Driving to a hotel entrance, each car is pulled into a gated area. The vehicle is searched inside and out. Mirrors check the undercarriage. During this time, security calls the front desk to ensure we are registered guests. Before entering the lobby, we had to go through a metal detector, and all of our belongings were scanned through the x-ray machines. We thought it was a bit excessive, but we are all about security and are happy to go along with the required searches.
6) Escape the tourist scene. Bali is a fantastically diverse and relatively large island. Hire a driver and explore the unexplored. Discover your adventure. Lounge on a secluded beach hike in the forests goes biking through small villages and stroll through different stores and artist workshops. Watch a ceremony at a temple. However, be careful, if you do want to do a typical “tourist event” such as Uluwatu Temple at sunset complete with a traditional Balinese dance. Over 2000 other tourists are there at the same time. Instead, Tom and I went at sunrise and were one of 20 other guests and had the place to ourselves.
Bali is a beautiful island paradise. With these few tips in mind, we hope you are a little more prepared to enjoy your fabulous holiday.
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