Traveling to Bali has become a bucket-list item for most millennials. From volcanoes rising from the sea, to the deeply-rooted spirituality, Bali offers a savage energetic atmosphere that is a plus for any millennial. This stunning paradise is known for its peaceful beaches, spiritual connection, tropical landscapes, and exotic cuisine that might make you rethink changing the date on your return ticket, and is unquestionably one of the best places to visit in Indonesia so it’s no wonder that so many people are travelling to Bali for the first time. But like anywhere else, you might run into a couple of obstacles like where to go in Bali, tipping in Bali, and things to do and not to do, and most importantly, what to pack for Bali.
BALI TRAVEL GUIDE FOR FIRST TIMERS
With the amount of media recent media, we assume that Bali is on everyone’s list, every digital nomad seems to want to consider Bali a base, and everyone is considering Bali as a honeymoon destination. (Surprisingly, it even makes a great travel destination if you take your kids to Bali.) However, if this is your first time heading to this little piece of paradise and you’re putting your Bali itinerary together, then fret not because this Bali travel guide for first timers is designed to make your lavish getaway is a relaxing and fun, hassle-free one. After making the trek to Bali half a dozen times, and spending close to 8 months there, here are a few things we wished we knew before our first time in Bali including what to do and what to not do in Bali.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO BALI
Locals Know You’re a Tourist
You stick out like a sore thumb when it’s your first time, which means you’ll wind up being hunted down by dozens of street vendors the moment you walk out of your hotel. The easiest way to navigate the situation is to be polite and tell them no.
Where To Stay If You Want To Be Near Everything
Bali is huge! But if it’s your first time, stick to South and Central Bali which are full of tourists, great nightlife, and plenty of shopping too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can tackle the entire island on your first time traveling to Bali.
Kuta, is great if you love to party and want the option to spice things up after hitting the beach. Just don’t forget to go wild at the Sky Garden Bali, where you can drink and dance the night away. Seminyak offers tourists some amazing beaches and watersports as well.
But if you want to go surfing, then you’ll definitely want to do it on the Uluwatu Beach, or you can just bask in the gorgeous sunset by the Uluwatu Temple and enjoy the panoramic cliff tops.
On the other hand, if pristine is more your gig, then pristine is what you’ll get in the region of Jimbaran, where you not only get to stay at 5-star hotel resorts, but you’ll get to enjoy some delicious seafood dishes like lobsters and oysters, while embracing the lavish local culture.
TIPPING IN BALI
While tipping in Bali is considered to be a western concept, and not mandatory, it is generally appreciated by the service staff. You will notice that there is a 10% service charge that shows up on the invoice, it normally either goes to the government or to the establishment, and not the staff ( are paid extremely low wages).
In most restaurants tipping between 5-20% is generally what we opt for.
That said, there is no standard amount for other services in Bali such as hired drivers and guides, housekeepers and staff in your accommodation, or a porter who takes care of your belongings. A general rule of them is to round your payments to the nearest 10,000 IDR if you hire a driver, and 10,000 IDR to the porter for each piece of luggage.
Because tipping in Bali is not mandatory sometimes establishments put up a sign saying ‘no tipping’ to let customers know if they have internal rules. It’s hard to know what do you tip in Bali, so when in doubt go ahead and tip a few dollars here and there. It goes a lot further than it does back home.
WHAT TO BUY IN BALI
We’re the Type A is us always wants to be over prepared and pack everything, switching to carry-on life has made it really easy to evaluate what we need to lug from home, and what we can buy when we land. And Bali is one of those places where it’s cheaper and easier to purchase what you need than pay the extra fees and bring things from home. As always, remember to leave room in your luggage for your new goodies!
Still not sure what to buy in Bali and what to bring from home? Here are a few things we’ve picked up on our travels there!
There are so many places to shop in Bali- from smaller shops to huge malls- our favorites being in Kuta and Seminyak. While shopping center have set prices, you can negotiate in the smaller stalls to get better prices. Also, always remember to convert the amounts in your head to make sure that you’re getting a great deal.
- Swimsuits / beach cover-ups
- Beach bags
- Flip-flops / sandals
- Handmade jewelry
- Aloe vera / sunscreen /Coconut oil
WHAT TO DO IN BALI
Obviously, how you structure your Bali itinerary is going to depend on what your interests are, and how much time you have to spend there, but there a few things that you should know before travelling to Bali for the first time to ensure that your time there is magical as expected.
The Exchange Rate Is Your Buddy
You might not translate well, but your money will. Many tourists from the U.S., New Zealand, and even Australia will be happy to know that their dollars will convert nicely thanks to the exchange rate. But if you’re not sure, you can always check on XE Converter to see if your currency holds water in Bali.
The Cost Of Living Is Low
The cost of living is so low, that you can stay in Bali for a whole month if you’d like. It’ll only set you back about $600 a month, which is definitely cheaper than rent in most cities in the west. The most inexpensive restaurant meal costs about 266 IDR, which is about $2, and a Domestic beer will cost about just as much. Overall, the cost of living in Bali is significantly less than in New York. Now that’s a cost you can sink our teeth into. Remember this when you’re thinking about how much to tip in Bali.
Temple Etiquette: You Might Need a Sarong
Bali is a deeply spiritual place, so when you enter a temple, think of it as an invite to someone’s home. This means there are certain rules you must obey. So, before you enter any Hindu temple, you’ll need to wear a sarong or a sash to cover your legs below the knees, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. But don’t expose too much of your upper body either, and that includes bare shoulders. You can rent a sarong and a sash at relatively cheap prices, or you can buy your own if you’re planning on going to several temples.
WHAT TO NOT DO IN BALI
Don’t Drink The Water
Bali is beautiful, but the Indonesian sanitation and waste disposal standards are not up to 1st world standards and the risk of chemical, metal, and biological contaminants are high, so choose bottled water just to be safe. This tip applies regardless to everyone and not only meant as a Bali for first timers warning.
Put Your Safety At Risk
While most of us from the West don’t really think of travel insurance as an essential item on our list or a big part of our Bali itinerary planning, it is one of the most important things you can get for your peace of mind. Travel insurance can not only cover medical emergencies, but also covers any travel mishaps like missed flights, and lost luggage. Traveling to Bali should be a great experience, so having the extra added peace of mind is worth it.
Don’t ride a scooter without a helmet
Jumping on a scooter to get around Bali is a lot easier than trying to hail a cab, however, regardless of whether you rent the scooter in Bali yourself, or use a service, please make sure that you have an international license and use your helmet. We’ve seen far too many injuries.
WHERE TO GO IN BALI (BALI ITINERARY)
Bali isn’t an enormous island, but it comes with an enormous amount of options that can seem overwhelming. Let’s get you started with this summary, but best is to head over to our extensive Bali area guide to see what each corner has to offer!
Bali’s Beaches Are Sublime
If you’re on the hunt for some of the best places to visit in Indonesia, you obviously have Indonesian beaches on your list and that includes Bali. The beauty of Bali’s beaches is immeasurable, so if you love waves, then come to the Ungasun beaches and recharge your batteries. You’ll also find plenty of hip clubs where you can completely let loose. Plus, the sunset will inspire you to stay up all night just to catch a glimpse of the beautiful sights.
You can also stop by the beaches in the Bukit Peninsula, with waves that are clearer than those on Ungasun. You can also head to south Bali and swim on the clear waters of Jimbaran’s eye-watering beaches. Bali’s beaches will completely exceed your expectations.
Enjoy The Popular attractions
Go chase a few Bali waterfalls, or take a selfie by the Kintamani volcano and Mount Batur, or another favored tourist destination like the Tegallalang rice terraces in Ubud, which is a sight worth seeing. Even try Ubud’s Monkey Forest, which is a natural forest sanctuary with a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. Or… simply lean back and relax in Canggu.
If you’d prefer to splash around without hitting the beach, then you can try the Circus waterpark in Waterbom Bali, or the New Kuta Green Park, which provides loads of fun. Just don’t forget to visit the Puka Mandala temple or the Bakra Sandhi Monument, and while you’re at it, why not pamper yourself at the Ritz Carlton Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort?
When it comes to cultural hotspots, luxurious accommodations, unbelievable beaches, there’s no greater place in the world than Bali, so regardless of whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned veteran, you can find something new to fill your Bali itinerary every time you go there.