Bali is the Mecca for all Travel Lovers, Surfers and Digital Nomads. On this wonderful Indonesian holiday island you will find beautiful beaches, impressive culture, fancy cafes & restaurants and many other travelers. I’ve heard mixed opinions about Bali: some did not find the island beautiful, totally overcrowded and were being robbed – the others love it and come back again and again! Sure, Bali has become very touristy but for my part I can say that I had a great time on Bali and will definitely come back soon!
Why? Well, that is quite simple: Bali has beautiful accommodations at great prices (not even Thailand can keep up), a relatively western standard, good and cheap food, beautiful cafes and restaurants, it stays warm in the evenings, many like-minded people with whom you can connect with and really cordial locals! I had a total positive impression: Although in Bali a lot of tourists are meanwhile on their way, the locals are still super friendly, helpful and traditional. Here you can really learn a lot from the culture. For example the real meaning of KARMA.
That you are perfectly prepared for your next trip to Bali, I have summarized my top insider tips for you in this blogpost! With my advices for reasonable prices, you will not let yourself get ripped off!
12 insider tips for your Bali trip
1. Take a Grab or Go-Jek instead of a taxi
Normal taxi drivers demand really “high” prices here on Bali. But with apps like Grab or Go-Jek you can conveniently order your private taxi and you usually pay less than half of the normal price! Download one of these apps preferably before you arrive on Bali – so you can start right at the airport without any problems. Do not be surprised – when you arrive at the airport you will first be bombarded by taxi drivers. Just ignore them, walk a little further away from the crowds and order your driver. Grab is virtually the Uber for Asia, which is very widespread here.
Go-Jek for me is the most badass app for Bali, because with that you can really order EVERYTHING. You will find more info about that in a later part of this article.
2. Buy a local SIM card at the airport
It’s a bit more expensive if you buy the sim card just right away at the airport, but you are directly equipped and you can order a Grab, etc. I bought a card from Telkomsel: 350,000 IDR (20 €) for 38GB (In Canggu we later saw 35GB in a shop for 170,000 IDR). So estimate, how important a direct internet connection is for you. With Telkomsel you have great reception and you can also make a hotspot for your laptop. I calculated on 10,000 IDR = 0.60 €.
3. Rent a scooter
A scooter is really a must-have in Bali. The great thing is that you can do almost everything with a scooter in Bali, because the distances are not so big. Second advantage: You are about twice as fast as in a car. The streets here are relatively narrow for cars and super crowded, so traffic jams often occur. With the scooter you can easily jet past it.
Your best bet would be to rent a scooter directly for several days! Depending on how long you are here, the daily rate will be a lot cheaper. A scooter per day usually costs 60,000 IDR (3,50 €). I rented my scooter for a whole month, which is just 650,000 IDRs (38 €), which is just under 21,500 IDRs (1,25€) per day! So if you’re in Bali for long-term, I can really recommend that to you.
You’ll have to refuel your bike, so on the streets you’ll see shelves everywhere, filled with bottles of petrol (often absolute bottles) for 10,000 IDR. Here you can refuel your scooter pretty easy. At the big gas stations, a refilling cost between 22,000 and 35,000 IDR.
IMPORTANT: Always wear a helmet and drive super carefully! The driving style really needs getting used to and curves also often get cut. Sadly, scooter accidents happen often here, among others because of the loads of gravel roads.
I’ve also hit the road pretty hard on a gravel road when i was on the neighbour island Nusa Penida, because I had to do a full stop. Thanks god, I had a helmet on! Otherwise that would not have gone so well. Even if a helmet is not the sexiest thing to wear – please put it on! Now I have some scars on my legs, or as you can say, the well-known “Bali Tattoo”, but I can live with that. I have seen so many Europeans, Australians and Americans riding without a helmet!!! Really fatal here! I have experienced it to myself. You may be the most skilled driver, but everything is different in Bali.
Also always carry your international driver’s license with you while traveling. For example, you can put it in your helmet pocket. Because sometimes the police do checks and this can end up with fines. Better save that money! And there are even penalties for forgetting to wear a helmet, so another reason to put it on!
4. Find the best accommodation for you
If you just want to book a few nights for holiday, Agoda is really great. They have the best prices in most cases. If you download the app, you can compare the accommodations, book directly and retrieve the booking confirmation with address, itinerary, etc. which you can access without Internet later on.
If you stay a little longer in a place like me, just take a day off and drive around. For example, I’d picked out a few accommodations on Agoda, which I then looked at. Firstly, you see the room in real life and know if you like the room and secondly, you usually get much better prices! Here as well: Monthly prices make a huge difference! For example, for my room at Matra Bali Coliving & Coworking I paid 6 million IDR (350 €), which was really really good and modern equipped! If you only book a few nights, the price here is 350,000 IDR (20 €).
5. Download the GO-JEK app
With GO-JEK you can not just order a taxi. The app even gives you the opportunity to deliver food, order a massage to your room and have someone shop at the grocery store for you. In this app you will find almost everything you need – so check it out!
But beware: That makes you pretty lazy, if you get everything delivered like the princess on the pea … And as nice as it is, of course, you pay some money for delivery and the journey on top.
6. Eat in Warungs
In Bali there are really great and beautiful hipster cafes & restaurants with really good food. Here, however, the prices are also higher. Still cheaper than German prices, but really expensive for Balinese standards. A meal costs between 60,000 – 90,000 IDR (3,50€ – 5,30 €). Sounds ok but wait for the prices below! If you want to do something good for your purse, try Warungs! These are local restaurants with typical Balinese food.
The warungs also differ in fancy warungs and the really typical local warungs. The former is usually more of a restaurant where you order a la carte and the price is a bit higher. The latter is super cheap and really delicious! These are usually small shops on the street with buffets. You can tell by the fact that they have a small counter in front, in which bowls with different dishes are. Here you get “Nasi Campur”: rice with different toppings like curry, various vegetables, tofu, tempeh or chicken. Here, a dish costs between 8,000 – 15,000 IDR (€ 0.50 – € 0.90). That’s nothing and absolutely delicious!
7. Go to the market to do some fruit shopping
Bali is, like other Asian countries, a fruit paradise! At the market or at street stalls you get the tastiest and freshest fruit really everywhere for really good prices. You might not know many fruits – just try everything!
So that you have a rough idea of the prices, I’ve written down a few here:
– Watermelon about 10,000 IDR / kg
– Dragonfruit about 15.000 IDR / kg (you have to try it !!)
– Mangosteen about 15,000 – 20,000 IDR / kg
– Mango about 20,000 – 28,000 IDR / kg
– Coconut 10,000 IDR / piece
But beware: Durian, also known as Stink or vomit fruit, has its name rightly. I once tried a durian fruit and have to say VERY DESPICABLE for the German palate … I do not want to have that again!
On Bali you can do really good shopping. But it can also be very expensive if you are not careful! In addition to brand stores, there are many local shops where you can buy shoes, clothes, sunglasses, etc. Of the first price you can often trade 50%! If you are not satisfied with the price and just go away, they usually call you back and suggest a better price. Do not be too squeamish here. At first I was a bit shy to negotiate. But towards the end of my journey I got better and better and had a lot of fun doing it. You leave the store with a double grin.
9. Are you looking for a place to work online?
Bali is the hotspot for Digital Nomads. You can either work well in one of the beautiful cafés or in one of the many co-working spaces. Especially Ubud and Canggu are perfect for this – most of the Digital Nomads are here. In Canggu there are, for example, the Dojo and the District. I particularly liked the concept of Matra Bali Coliving & Coworking with great views over Canggu and the sea.
10. Pick the right place!
Whether you love the island or not, it really depends on where you go!
Personally, for example, I would advise against going to Kuta, Denpasar or Seminyak. These places are overcrowded by tourism, the culture is lost here and you just do not experience the true Bali.
Places I can definitely recommend are Canggu (great nightlife and good surfing), Ubud (jungle feeling with fancy cafés and a healthy lifestyle), Uluwatu (really nice beach and craggy cliffs) and Balian (here you have peace, beach and jungle).
11. Go surfing!
If not here, where else? Here you have really awesome waves. Everywhere on the beach you can borrow a board. For a start, book a surf session with a teacher. That really makes a big difference! We paid 350,000 IDR (20 €) for one session. In Bali, you will experience real surfer flair.
12. Learn a few Balinese words!
When traveling to a new country, learning to speak a few words of the local language is a must. This is a sign of respect for me and also a lot of fun to see how the locals are happy about it!
Here are the key phrases that you can easily learn:
Hello – Hai!
Goodbye – Selamat tinggal!
Thank you – Terima kasih!
I hope that my tips will help you to save some time, money and nerves during your trip to Bali so that you can go straight to the beautiful part: carefree enjoyment! I wish you a wonderful trip!