Money, Mores and Macaques: Tips for a Trouble-Free Trip to Bali

A trip to Indonesia wouldn’t be complete without visiting Bali. It’s often referred to as the island “paradise.” But, there’s more to this Garden of Eden than meets the eye. If you’re not careful, you may leave here with bumps and bruises, even serious illness, instead of fond memories. Here’s how to have a trouble-free trip to Bali.

Don’t Offend The Locals

When you go into the temples in Bali, you’re entering holy lands. And, many innocently ignorant tourists inadvertently offend the locals with their dress inside these temples. Plan on wearing something conservative. For example, a shirt that covers the shoulders and part of the upper arms is considered appropriate. Anything less than that will be seen as offensive.


You’ll also want to cover your waist and legs with a temple scarf, called a “selendang” and “sarong,” respectively. You can find them locally, and ask someone how to put them on properly – it matters.

Obey The Local Smoking Laws

There is no smoking in public places in Bali, not since 2011. This means no smoking in hotels, temples, tourist attractions, hospitals, and schools. You also cannot smoke in restaurants. If you’re a smoker, you’re pretty much out of luck in the country. You will have to smoke in designated areas or find a friend who will let you smoke in their home.

Ship Your Souvenirs By Air Cargo

Theft is common in Bali, unfortunately. It’s not unheard of to have your hotel room broken into so, if you want to send souvenirs home, it’s best to send your Bali souvenirs by air cargo. It’s safe, cheap, and you won’t have to worry about guarding them at checkout, on the plane, and in the hotel for the entire trip.

Stay Safe – Don’t Do Drugs

You don’t have to admit to it publicly. You don’t even have to admit it to your family or friends. But, if you do any kind of illegal drug, and this includes marijuana and mushrooms, do not buy them in Bali. They are illegal, and you’ll get more than a slap on the wrist here. Drug laws are known to be draconian. Under the Indonesian Law No 35/2009, simple possession of an illegal substance is punishable by 4 to 12 years in prison – that’s right, prison. Not a small county or local jail. Prison.

If the drugs exceed 1kg, or 5 grams, you face life in prison. You also face stiff fines of IDR 800 to 8 billion. Trafficking in punishable by 5 to 15 years and even more fines. If you’re caught trafficking in more than 1kg or 5 grams for processed drugs, the punishment may be death. It’s just not worth it. Stay clean and stay alive (and out of prison). And yes, tourists are known to have been caught in drug stings here.

Use The Blue Taxis

There are a lot of taxis in Bali, but you should only really trust the Blue Taxis. They will say “Bali Taxi” right on the side, also known locally as Blue Bird Taxis. Other services are a little hit or miss, and some are downright criminal. Blue Bird is so honest, that other taxi services often hate them and collude with some of the cheaper (and less reputable) hotels to keep them from servicing certain areas.

Look For Red Flags At The Beach – Literally

Bali can be a great place to swim, but the beach isn’t risk-free. There are beaches, especially a section of beach from Kuta to Canggu that are known to have deadly rip tides and undertows. Local authorities will raise red flags (yes, actual flags) to warn you. Do not ignore them.

Don’t Drink The Tap Water

Like Mexico, the water in Bali isn’t safe for non-locals to drink. The bacteria here are very different than those found in more western countries, and you’re almost certainly not used to it. If you do drink it, you’ll get Bali Belly, which essentially traveller’s diarrhoea. Obviously that would be unpleasant, and it could ruin your entire trip.

Lucy Macarthur is a self-admitted travel addict. When she’s not on her latest trek, she’s sharing her know-how on how to travel safe and hassle-free. Look for her informative posts on a variety of websites and blogs.

Featured Courtesy by skye16 under cc license


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