12 Things to Know to Prepare for Bali

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Calling all Bali-bound friends! 

Are you ready to jet off to Bali, the “Island of the Gods?” 

Are you dreaming of new delicious food, drinking cocktails on the beach and relaxing in the afternoons after a wonderful massage? 

But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, here are 12 things to know about Bali to make your Balinese adventure even more incredible. Let’s dive in!

12 Things to Know before Traveling to Bali

Private pool in front of a villa
Private Villa in Seminyak

1. Organise your Visa

Before COVID, not every country needed a visa to enter Bali. However, the number of countries now requiring a visa has increased since COVID. 

Bali is one of those countries.

The official website is https://molina.imigrasi.go.id/

But before you start, you will need to have:

  • A scanned copy of your passport page
  • A photo of yourself
  • A copy of your return flights
  • Knowing how long your stay is – e.g. 30 days, 90 days
  • Method of payment: SIMPONI or Mastercard, Visa or JCB credit/debit card.

We recommend that you apply for your visa before entering Bali. 

The queues at the airport for a Visa were long, and arriving in a new country can be overwhelming, especially after a long flight.

We found the visa process straightforward; however, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Remember to check (and recheck) your personal data. We found that our date of birth was entered and reverted to 00.
  2. When applying for a visa online, check for national holidays, which may delay the process.
  3. After applying for the Visa, you will be asked to create a sign-in to the website, which will re-enter your personal data.

2. Purchase a Bali Tourist Tax

Not to be confused with the entry visa, the tourist visa is paid to support cultural places of interest in and around Bali. 

The current cost is IDR 150,000 per person (USD10).

You can purchase this online at https://lovebali.baliprov.go.id

3. Complete your Customs Declaration

Another document to complete before you arrive is your customs declaration.

It is a straightforward document that, when completed, produces a QR code for scanning as you exit the airport terminal.

Official Website Direktorat Jenderal Bea dan Cukai – https://ecd.beacukai.go.id

4. Organise Travel Insurance before you arrive

When you witness the crazy driving, walk the uneven payments, encounter the roaming dogs, and know you can’t drink the local water, it’s a “no-brainer” not to purchase travel insurance.

Our go-to is CoverMore, who we have found easy to deal with and prompt with claims.

5. Purchase an Airalo E-Sim

We decided to try an E-Sim, which has quickly become the easiest way to stay connected for Google searches, as well as family and friends.

Download the Airalo app below to get started. We would recommend loading the app before you leave home.

You can choose a variety of data packages, for example:

-1GB for 7 days at USD5.50

– 20GB for 30 days at USD40

When we arrived in Bali, we followed the instructions by selecting the E-Sim on our cellphone. We now had plenty of data to use for our stay.

6. Load up your Wise card

Green Bank Card
Wise Debit Card

WISE is the best option for paying for your taxi, meals, or gifts in Bali.

Sign up for WISE.

WISE offers one of the best rates.

This allows you to lock in your spending rate when you arrive. Knowing the money is already on your WISE card, you can use an ATM to withdraw cash or pay for meals and purchases.

Note: Some merchants charge 3% for using a WISE or Debit card.

If you want cash on arrival at the airport, there are ATMs after you leave Customs. You can also change money here.

However, the cash exchange rate is much better at one of the money changers outside of the airport.

Sign up for WISE.

7. Airport Accommodation at Kuta Beach

468*60

If you arrive late or leave early for Bali, we recommend Risata Bali Resort and Spa near I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS).

This hotel offers airport transfers and has a cafe, bar, restaurant, and spa services.

8. Check your Vaccinations months before you arrive in Bali

Bali does not require specific vaccinations to enter the country. 

We would recommend reviewing Travel Doctor if you need further information.

9. Get the Go-Jek app for Transport

Grab and Go-Jek.

The guys and girls driving around in green jackets and helmets on scooters are available to deliver food or provide transport.

Although the scooters were not an option for us because we had a toddler with us. We used Go-Jek to order cars for transport to restaurants and places of interest.

With Go-Jek, you can choose the type of vehicle, large or small, depending on the number of people in your group.

On average, the response times are good, with the odd car being cancelled when delayed for a closer vehicle nearby.

10. Service Charges at Tourist Restaurants and Bars

Be aware that some restaurants and bars charge a service fee in addition to the advertised price.

Review the bottom of the menu for service charges when ordering drinks or meals at beachside bars and restaurants. These can range from 16-21% on average.

When eating at a family restaurant (Warrung), you will pay the price you see listed.

11. Research National Days of Celebration

Women walking in a celebration
Celebration in Ubud

When planning any travel, we always google the national holidays for the country or region we visit.

This ensures we are aware of any closures for public services or cultural aspects to be respected.

12. Bring your Water Bottle

Bring your reusable water bottle to Bali to avoid leaving another plastic bottle for the environment to dispose of.

The tap water in Bali is not drinkable.

However, our accommodation provided large water coolers to refill our drinking bottles and wash our teeth.

7 Highlights of Staying in Bali

Nightime on Seminyak Beach
Nightime on Seminyak Beach

Our recent visit to Bali consisted of two stays: Seminyak and Ubud.

Our accommodation at a private villa in Seminyak was shared with our Brisbane family (a couple and their toddler, our granddaughter). The villa was on two levels, with two bedrooms with ensuite upstairs and a large living area with a private pool downstairs.

The villa also had breakfast prepared by a cook each morning. 

When staying in Ubud, the villa helped organise a driver for a half tour of many local places for Rp40,000 plus entrance fees.

1. Staying in Seminyak near the Beach

People enjoying food and drinks under umbrellas on a beach
An afternoon at Seminyak Beach

Our villa was a five-minute walk to the beach, which was good for morning walks and sunset drinks. The beach was busy with walkers, runners and dogs enjoying the mild early morning temperature.

2. Seimyak’s Choice of Restaurant and Bars

We had various choices for morning coffee, lunch, dinner, and afternoon drinks when we stayed in Seminyak. Plus, we had access to mini supermarkets for essential items.

Our villa was a 10-15-minute walk to Ginger Moon restaurant on the famous Eat Street and another 5 minutes to the local market, where we could shop for bargains.

3. The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud

Monkey looking at the camera holding a cob of corn
Long-tailed Macaques enjoying breakfast at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud

Our suggestion is to arrive early, which is the feeding time for the long-tailed macaques. This way, they are focused on food rather than you.

Walking beneath a canopy of trees, you can explore the various temples on this nature reserve.

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance.

4. Pura Tirta Empul, Ubud

Orange fish in a pond of an ancient temple
Pura Tirta Empul

If you had to choose one temple to visit, the Pura Tirta Temple is worth visiting. Early morning is the best time to avoid the tourist crowd.

You will be given a sarong as you enter, so buying one at the entrance is unnecessary. The entrance fee varies depending on whether you want to bathe or feed the numerous fish.

5. Satria Coffee Plantation and Luwak

A tray of tea and coffee filled cups
A selection of tea and coffee

For coffee lovers, stopping at the plantation is a learning and tasting experience. The plantation tour and tasting tray are free, but the Luwak coffee is expensive.

Although the Luwak coffee may not appeal to everyone, there are plenty of other coffee and tea variants to try.

Luwak coffee is the pulp of coffee berries that have passed through the digestive tract of an Asian Palm Civet. 

6. Visit Bali Bird Park in Ubud

Colourful parrot on a branch
Bali Bird Park

The Bali Bird Park was one of the highlights of our Bali trip.

The array of colourful and exotic birds had us “oohing and ahhing” and the camera clicking.

There were birds local to Bali and native to other countries like the Cassowary of Australia.

Some of the birds wandered freely around the park or within a large enclosed aviary. We were also treated to a bird display held late in the morning, as well as the feeding of the birds.

Walking the various aviaries is easy because the park is not large.

7. Spend a Morning at Bali Zoo, Ubud

Orangutang sitting on a rock
Orangutang at Bali Zoo

The walk down from the entrance passes wandering deer that you can feed. These friendly animals are a hit with young children.

And like most zoos, the topography is hilly, which is part of the zoo.

Thankfully, the zoo provides a free return shuttle to the orangutans, tigers and elephants. Here, you can take a break at the restaurant or find snacks at one of the stalls.

A highlight was the two lions roaring at each other before resting near their gamekeeper. Here, you could get close to the lions, who seemed very content.

Prepare for Bali before you Arrive

Our best advice is to prepare for Bali by organising your entry visa, tourist visa and customs declaration before you arrive at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar Airport).

The queues of travellers who had not prepared were long. They had to endure a wait for their entry visas, which can be two to three hours.

Being organised with online visas will allow you to pass quickly through passport control. Make sure to use the electronic gate entry.

Out of respect for the Balinese, purchase your tourist visa, which helps the local economy with the volume of tourists. 

As you exit the airport, you will snake through money changers and SIM card sellers to be greeted by many drivers offering their services.

Remember to organise your E-Sim before you leave, top up your Wise card and organise a transfer from your Villa. You’ll appreciate your organisation at the start of your Balinese stay.

Although the traffic appears chaotic, local transport is the best way to reach your next destination. 

Overall, Bali is an ideal travel destination.

Research national days and weather to make the most of your time there. 

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