Bali dos and don’ts for first time visitors

If you’re visiting Bali for the first time, this blog post is for you. I love this place. Quick story, Hubby worked in Bali as part of the recovery team {pretty horrific and sad} after the bombings in 2002 when we were first dating. I remember him calling me up to tell me that he was being sent to Bali for work, and we’d only just started dating a few months earlier and I cried. He spent around eight months in Bali working, flying back and forth. Back then I heard a lot about Bali, but because it had such devastating memories attached to it {Hubby also lost friends in the bombings as well} we just decided that we would never go back together.

On the other hand, I’d heard all of these amazing stories of people loving Bali, especially my sister, and I wondered if it was for me. Fast forward to last year in November, when my sister was going through a hard time so I flew over with my mum and friend Rebel, to spend a few nights with her and fly back home together. Well, it was love. I am a huge fan of Bali. I think everyone will fall in love with Bali for their own reasons, but for me it restores me. The people are beautiful and kind. The food is my favourite. The massages are next level. The location is just beautiful. I love all of it. I think the trick is finding your own Bali {for me it’s the relaxing, wellness, eating safari side of Bali}.

I’m going to do a thorough blog post of where we stay and love to eat and visit, but first of all I wanted to share some dos and don’ts that were shared with me before I had my first trip. These are not meant to scare you, or put you off, because Bali isn’t scary at all. It’s just little bits of information to keep in mind so that you can have a more seamless trip, and an amazing holiday.

  • DO eat all the Nasi Goreng. If only for me. Ha! I love it. You will find expensive Nasi Goreng {Indonesian fried rice topped with an egg}, or you can find it at local restaurants {known as warungs} for as little as AU$1.50. Enjoy it! So yummy.
  • DO drink bottled water only. The water from the tap within Bali isn’t safe to drink or even brush your teeth with, so use bottled water instead. The ice is fine though, a reputable company provides the ice to restaurants, hotels and resorts, so it’s fine to have in your drink.
  • DON’T forget your sunscreen and sanitary products. Most things are cheaper to buy in Bali, but sunscreen and tampons/pads are much more expensive, so bring those with you.
  • DO exchange your money before you go, or be careful. We get our money out at the Denpasar Airport using the ATM just as you exit the airport. You can only get $250 out at a time, but I find this ATM to be safe and it’s easier to do it all in one go. My sister’s card got skimmed at an ATM, and it is something that happens often so just be mindful.
  • DO familiarise yourself with the conversion rate. It’s really easy to do, but can be confusing when you’re negotiating prices. Just remove four zeros to get the Australian rate, so a $50,000 note is actually a $5 note. Or just save this photo to your phone when traveling.

  • DO carry your bag on the side that isn’t exposed to the road. Now I’ve never had anyone try to grab my bag or anything like that, but I’ve always followed this advice. I just carry my bag on the side that the traffic isn’t. I actually carry a really, really small handbag to make things easier.
  • DO be kind. I know that haggling when buying things is a sport of sorts, but it’s not something I’m super comfortable with. Remember that the people in stalls deserve to be treated kindly.
  • DON’T overpay. OK, so I’m not comfortable haggling hardcore but the locals do want to negotiate with you. They want to go back and forth at least twice. Usually you’d expect to pay half of the first price they offer, or even a third. I start by offering a third of what they’re offering and end up at half the price.
  • DO learn some basic Balinese. It’s easy to learn online, but my favourite local lingo that always makes everyone laugh is Sing Ken Ken which means, ‘no worries’. I’m going to take Balinese lessons this year and can’t wait to get better at it. Locals love when you make an effort with the language.
  • DON’T forget to cover up if visiting a temple. You’ll need to cover your shoulders and knees. Some will provide sarongs for you, otherwise take your own.
  • DO find a good driver and use them throughout your stay. If you have friends who have traveled before they can probably recommend one for you, otherwise I have a great family guy that we use and I’m happy to recommend.
  • DO download WhatsApp. This App is what makes it easy to text and call people while overseas. Your driver will use it contact you, so make sure you have the App and an account using your Australian phone number. Download it here.
  • DON’T take a scratch-it ticket if someone offers it to you on the street. They’re trying to get you to look into investing into time share accommodation. Take it if it’s your thing, otherwise politely decline.
  • DO take a probiotic before traveling. Our tummies are more sensitive than locals, so we need to build up our gut health. I haven’t had Bali Belly, but Lacey did last trip. You can buy Yakult at most corner stores if you want to continue looking after your belly while traveling.
  • DO feel comfortable calling a doctor if you do get sick. Lacey got Bali Belly, but not a bad case of it, but I still wanted a doctor to see her and check her out. He came to our villa within an hour of calling him, and gave her some medication and hydrating powder to get her back to better. She was better by that night, which was great. I am happy to pass on his number if you like, just email me.
  • DON’T tell people it’s your first time visiting. It’s something people will ask often, and it’s kinda cheeky because they will know that you’re a bit green, especially when it comes to prices.
  • DO get items custom made. I’m plus size with size 11 feet, and I can’t tell you how exciting it was to get things custom made for my bigger than normal body. I have two tailors that I use to get items made. One will copy and amend things that I already have, and another will make items from photos. Both come to my villa on the day I arrive and drop off the day before I leave. If you want contacts for a good tailor or leather person, just email me and I’m happy to share.

Do you travel to Bali? Got any tips to share? Otherwise, if you’re visiting for the first time… ask any questions!