A tiny island with a big heart, booming tourism, and lots to discover – who doesn’t love Bali?
If you haven’t traveled to Bali (yet), or are planning to sometime soon, we’ve put together this guide on the top things travelers need to know before visiting this Indonesian island that’s also known as the “island of the gods.”
Whether you’re looking to plan a two-week getaway to Bali or stay for a while as a digital nomad, keep this guide that’s filled with insider tips that are important to know when visiting Bali. This post has travel tips such as:
- How the WiFi is in Bali
- Important customs to follow
- How much to budget for your trip
- The trendiest things to do in 2022
Here are the top 10 things travelers need to know before visiting Bali.
How hard is it on the wallet?
Bali is more expensive than other parts of Indonesia, and it’s one of the relatively more expensive places to travel to in Southeast Asia, but compared to Europe or North America, it’s a dream!
For long-stay tourists, the cost of living in Bali is that it will vary depending on where you’re staying. According to the website Nomadlist, the average monthly cost of living in Canggu is around $1,500 USD per month. Ubud is just a little less at $1,376 per month on average. If you head north to the town of Lovina, costs will be much lower. It depends on where you want to visit and what you want to experience in Bali. Let’s break down the costs to give you a better idea.
Hotels: A mid-range hotel (sometimes with a pool) can range between $25-50 or more per night. If you want to stay longer in Bali, there’s a possibility to rent a villa and this will help cut some costs in the longer term.
Food: A local meal can be found for less than $4, and you can also splurge at a beach-side restaurant on a $20 meal (appetizers included).
Transportation: Being an island, the main way to get around in Bali is by motorbike. A scooter rental will set you back anywhere between $40-70 per month, and daily rentals shouldn’t cost you more than $5.
How Friendly Are The Locals In Bali?
In general, Balinese people are friendly, open, and welcoming people. Their traditional culture and way of life means that there are lots of customs and etiquette to abide by, but travelers to the region typically feel safe and welcomed on the island.
This is a tricky thing to generalize because everyone’s travel experience is different. But if you are respectful to the locals you will be given the same treatment right back, which is similar to most places around the world.
That being said, the expat and traveler community in Bali is very tight, so you can easily make friends with other travelers here.
Bali Customs & Culture
This is probably the most important section on our list! Bali is a sacred island with lots of customs that locals live by every day. While there’s been a massive influx of travelers and expats arriving on the island for decades now, the Balinese try to preserve their culture. 87% of the people in Bali currently identify as Hindu and it’s also the only place in Indonesia where the population is predominantly practicing Hindus.
Here’s a rundown of the top customs and etiquette practices to follow when visiting Bali:
- Don’t point at anyone.
- Don’t touch the head of a local (so, like, don’t go patting random kids on the head even if they are super cute).
- Take off your shoes when entering a local’s home.
- Don’t let your foot soles show while sitting.
- Don’t cross your arms or put your hands on your tips (these are seen as aggressive postures).
- Be mindful of the offerings on the ground and don’t crush them.
- Don’t engage in a political discussion or activity, especially with any locals (you might be in the clear, but it is much more serious for the locals).
Temples are superfluous in Bali, so following the right protocol when visiting a temple is super important.
- Take off your shoes before entering.
- Dress modestly. Keep your shoulders and legs covered.
- Put on a sarong to cover your legs when entering a temple.
- According to religious teachings, women on their periods can’t enter any temples or other sacred places of worship.
Top Trending Things To Do In Bali
The Monkey Forest Sanctuary: You’ve probably seen it on Instagram, and it’s also a must-do when visiting Bali. After visiting Monkey Forest, you can easily fill your days in Bali enjoying the island’s many beautiful beaches and temples. Some of the most notable temples are Gunung Kawi Temple near Ubud and Pura Lempuyang Luhur, which is located along the eastern tip of the island.
If you want to get a little under-the-radar, the West Bali National Park covers an area of over 70 square miles and serves as a sanctuary for over 100 species of birds, endangered plants, marine life, and so much more. Guides are available for hire at the park’s entrance, and most of the nearby hotels also arrange tours of the park.
Is Bali Safe For Travelers?
Bali consistently rates as a safe destination for international travelers. Reported muggings and other crimes are relatively rare, but it’s still important to exercise a normal amount of caution when traveling.
The biggest safety issues that most travelers experience in Bali is actually with transportation. Bali is filled with narrow, winding roads that aren’t great for walking and can be tricky when driving a scooter. Make sure to be careful when walking along a main road and when driving a motorbike because lots of accidents do occur, especially among tourists.
Bali is also a safe destination for women travelers. Just make sure to respect the local customs and don’t dress too immodestly when venturing outside of the beach or pool area. Walking around during the day you won’t have any issues, but make sure to have your wits about you if you find yourself wandering at night.
Mount Agung, an active volcano on the island, has been sputtering throughout these past few years. While smoke and ash have halted flights and dissuaded tourists from coming at times, the danger has not reached the hotel zones.
Travel insurance tips for your trip:
Remember, travel insurance is always a good idea when going on any type of trip. Get yourself covered (at a super low cost) with the right health insurance in case of a motorbike accident or if your belongings get stolen or lost at some point during your trip.
Local Eats In Bali
While some cafes in Bali can do a pretty good smoothie bowl, that’s surprisingly not the main dish on the island.
When it comes to local Balinese food, indulge yourself in a mouth-watering satay (meat or veggie meat on a stick with a spicy peanut buttery sauce), Lawar (finely chopped meat and vegetables mixed with shredded coconut), and of course, Nasi Goreng (fried rice, Indo style). Nasi means rice in Bahasa Indonesia, one of Bali’s two main languages. So, it’s safe to say that you’ll never pass a market in Bali or the rest of Indonesia without seeing some sort of Nasi dish.
What Are The Best Apps For Bali?
Grab is the Southeast Asian version of Uber, and this app is essential when visiting Bali. Use Grab to find a motorbike taxi to take you to your destination.
Very popular in Bali, Go-Jek is your all-in-one ride share and delivery app. This app has a handy list of restaurants and grocery stores and you can order anything for delivery straight to your door.
Insider tip: Travelers should be aware that in some cities of Bali, only local taxis are allowed. Make sure to ask an experienced traveler or local before requesting a ride share because the driver might not be allowed to enter the area.
For messaging, WhatsApp is the main app used on the island. If you haven’t already, download this app to your phone before your trip.
How’s The WiFi Situation?
Especially amongst the digital nomad community, Bali is well-known for its buzzing coffee shops and co-working spaces with excellent WiFi (and strong coffee to boot). That being said, the WiFi connection in Bali depends on where you are on the island.
According to Nomadlist, the average WiFi speed in Bali is 6 mgps. In general, the towns on the southern tip get much stronger connections than towns in the north.
If you really need a strong WiFi connection, consider investing in a pocket WiFi for your trip. Check with local providers XL, Telkomsel, and Smartfen and inquire about their pocket WiFi rentals.
What Are Some Of The Top Experiences?
From fire dances at sunset to sunrise hikes on volcanoes, Bali is filled with unforgettable experiences. And now that the island has finally reopened to international travelers, it’s time to get out there and enjoy them all.
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, there are plenty of tours available where you can hike up to the scenic Mount Batur with a group and with the help of a guide. For some culture, head to Uluwatu Temple and check out a local Kecak Dance performance at sunset. Or, check out this Ubud secret waterfalls & Instagram tour on Airbnb.
How Long Can I Stay?
Indonesia’s visa-on-arrival program allows tourists from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and a number of other nations to visit the country for 30 days, and this includes Bali. While there have been reports of tourists in the past extending their visa multiple times, this is no longer allowed.
According to the latest guidance, your 30-day visa can only be extended once, which would give you 2 months in total in Bali.
Whether you’re a surfer always in search of the best waves, a backpacker on a mid-range budget, or a vagabond with a laptop and a yoga mat (or somewhere in between) Bali is a great place to relax, unwind, and learn about one of the world’s most fascinating and historic cultures.
And with the new 5-year digital nomad visa in the works, there might just be another reason to plan a longer trip to Bali in the near future.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories