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17 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Bali

By katedemolder

May 22, 2017 at 11:40am


Bali, despite being about the size of Wicklow and Wexford put together, boasts a tourism industry that huge nations around the world would kill for. 

Upon flying into Denpasar, you're thrust into a whole new world of different sights, sounds, colours and extremes that you never thought possible. 

And while parts of it is utter madness (you'll have taxi drivers literally fighting over the chance to bring you two miles down the road at the airport), there's a lot to get out of this gorgeous island and its incredible people.

1. The currency will make you feel like a billionaire 

€1 equates to 14,886.34 Indonesian Rupiah - so, as you can imagine, you're dealing with hundreds of thousands a lot of the time. 

It takes a while to get used to, but do yourself a favour and don't count cash in front of the person serving you/selling you something - as this is considered rude. 

2. Paying by card isn't really a thing

But there are ATMs everywhere. 

And don't panic if your money doesn't come out straight away - they can be temperamental at best. 

3. Sunrises in Sanur are the most incredible things you'll ever see

Even locals get up at 5am just to watch it. 

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4. Taxis are way cheap

And even cheaper if you use 'Go-Jek'. We once took a 45 minute taxi from one side of Bali to the other, and it cost the guts of €4. 

5. Night markets are the bomb

Night food markets are where the locals eat, and despite that side of the world having a dodgy rep in terms of food, Balinese grub is pretty legit. You can get enough food to feed a family for about €2, and it's utterly delish. 

However, those with peanut allergies should be aware that peanuts are in most dishes. 

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6. Offerings are laid out thrice daily

While Indonesia is primarily Muslim, Bali is mostly Hindu - and as part of their daily ritual, they lay out offerings to the Gods.

These offerings are beautiful little packages, held together by banana leaves, blessed and then left outside a home. You can find anything from food to oils to flowers to cigarettes to booze in these offerings - and don't worry too much if you step on them, you won't go to Hindu hell for it. 

Just keep an eye out. 

Bali Hindu Offerings

Photo cred: Indoneo

7. Their health food game is insane

While most of mountainous north Bali is as it always has been, a large portion of the south is very Westernised. 

And with this Westernisation - comes a plethora of incredible health food restaurants that will change your mind on vegetarianism. 

A welcome change considering everything is fried beyond belief in Balinese cooking. 

8. When it rains, it pours...

...and the locals can feel it in the air. Bring a light raincoat with you, and when you see a local stick on their waterproof poncho, you can be sure that torrential rain is near. 

9. When looking for alcohol - Only. Drink. Beer.

Indonesian tax on foreign alcohols is extortionate - meaning that locals throughout the years have attempted to muster up their own; Arak. This stuff is Bali's poitín, and it's lethal. Literally. 

Not made for human consumption, Arak has a history of really damaging drinkers' organs, and even fatally injuring them. 

So yeah, stick to Bintang. Or if you really are a spirit drinker - bring your own. 

10. There is something for everyone

Can't stress this more. 

Whether it's food, adventure, luxury, nightlife, sightseeing, history, shopping, animal watching, traditional dance, culture, art or whatever. 

It's an island of extremes, where on one street you could see children begging for pennies, another street you can see a stag do of Aussies pissed at 10am and one more you could see models tucking into chicken cordon bleu. 

It's as impressive as it is baffling. 

11. Be firm with your answer when talking to local sellers

We Irish are desperate to make everyone like us, and panic in awkward social situations - and Balinese sellers thrive on this when they think it'll make them a few quid. 

Example: If you tell a woman trying to sell you a t-shirt that you'll 'buy something later', she will follow you around until 'later' comes. Not kidding. You'd often see local sellers set up shop next to the unlucky person on the beach for the day!

Just say no thank you. It's that simple. 

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12. Don't swan around naked

Many beach bars and restaurants have dress codes that go a bit further than just a bikini/pair of speedos. Just carry around light clothing with you at all times to avoid being turned away. 

13. Religion trumps all

As you may have already guessed, religion plays a big part in Bali. And because of the hundreds of holy days they experience each year, the island (or parts of it) has a tendency to close down unnoticed in order to properly celebrate. 

So there's simply no point at getting frustrated at roads being closed, shops being shut or hoards of people being everywhere - you're just going to have to postpone your plans until tomorrow. 

Plus, you get to see visuals like these...

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14. Buy suncream and tampons from home and bring them with you

Suncream is about thrice the price in Bali, meaning you can drop the equivalent of €20 - €50 on a small tub. All products also have a whitening agent in them, meaning that your chances of going home with a sunkissed glow is slim to none.

Oh, and tampons, when you do find them, cost about €10 a box. Stock up prior to arrival. 

15. Haggle, but to a point

It's often easy to forget that what you spend in a day may be a weekly wage to Balinese market sellers. This is their livelihood, and while they're happy to engage in the act of bargaining - don't push it. 

If you walk away and they don't come after you, you can be sure that they won't go any lower. 

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16. People beep when driving all the time

They do it to let you know that they're there. So don't panic when you're beeped at. 

17. And finally, do some research on where you'll be going

Bali offers so much, but you'll have to go find it. 

For example:

  • For yoga retreats and exploring thick forests - go to Ubud
  • For heavy partying and big nightclubs - go to Kuta
  • For glam cocktails and cool beach clubs - go to Seminyak
  • For incredible surfing beaches - go to Uluwatu
  • And for a more chilled out, residential area and good restaurants - go to Sanur
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Bali is an incredible spot for a lot of reasons. Whether you're there to get a tan, become a yogi, drink for a week solid or play with some monkeys - it's got it all. 

Now all you need to do is Eat, Pray, Love. 

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