Ar­rive un­flus­tered and depart re­laxed with Es­cape’s guide to Bali ba­sics

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - COVER STORY - JENNY HEWETT

They say that time spent in re­con­nais­sance is sel­dom wasted. A small per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion might have the means to travel with a pri­vate concierge, but for the rest of us, research into a des­ti­na­tion is es­sen­tial.

Bali may be one of our favourite hol­i­day spots, but there are still parts of it that are a mys­tery to most of us.

Whether you’re trav­el­ling to the In­done­sian is­land for the first time or you’re a Bali tragic, this prac­ti­cal guide aims to cover all the bases.

From what to do when you’re wait­ing for a late-night flight, to lo­cal trans­port and cus­toms, here’s what you need to know be­fore fly­ing to Bali.


Tourist visas to In­done­sia are valid for 30 days and free for Aus­tralian pass­port hold­ers.

You must have proof of ei­ther a re­turn or on­ward flight booked out of In­done­sia be­fore you leave Aus­tralia, oth­er­wise your air­line won’t let you fly. Bali’s Ngu­rah Rai In­ter­na­tional Air­port is busy and there’s of­ten a long wait at im­mi­gra­tion. If pa­tience isn’t one of your virtues, or you’re trav­el­ling with young kids, use a fast-track ser­vice, such as Bali Fast Track’s (bal­i­fast­track.com) VIP Meet-And-As­sist, which stream­lines the process, al­beit for a hefty price (from $480 for a fam­ily of four). You’ll still need to wait for your bags on the other side, though.


They may not be as rig­or­ous as Aus­tralia’s bor­der laws, but Bali has its own set of cus­toms reg­u­la­tions.

If you’re bring­ing in duty-free al­co­hol or wine, there is a one-litre limit. Like­wise, some Aus­tralian pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions, in­clud­ing codeine and strong sleep­ing pills, are con­sid­ered il­le­gal nar­cotics in In­done­sia. Make sure you carry pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion in its orig­i­nal pack­ag­ing and with the pre­scrip­tion at­tached, and if pos­si­ble, a let­ter from your doc­tor de­tail­ing what each is.


Hav­ing a phone can make things eas­ier, es­pe­cially if you need to com­mu­ni­cate with driv­ers or friends.

Ear­lier this year, the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced new laws which re­quire all pre­paid phone num­bers to be reg­is­tered, which means you can no longer just buy a SIM and use it.

How­ever, when you exit the air­port, there’s a Telkom­sel booth on the left where you can buy and reg­is­ter a SIM card on the spot, as well as buy data and min­utes.


Taxis to Seminyak and Canggu from the air­port should cost no more than the equiv­a­lent of $20 or $25 and it’s OK to stay firm on this. Many ho­tels and vil­las also of­fer free trans­fers with your book­ing.


Pri­vate driv­ers are the best op­tion if you plan on tour­ing to dif­fer­ent parts of the is­land. Most driv­ers charge about $50 for a full day.

Avoid trans­fer­ring money to a driver be­fore you ar­rive, it’s stan­dard to pay at the end of your tour.

If you’re mak­ing short trips around the area, taxis should not cost more than an agreed rate of $5. Al­ter­na­tively, ask the driver to turn on the me­ter.

Like­wise, lo­cal ride-shar­ing apps Grab and Go­jek are good op­tions, but be warned that they’re not looked upon favourably in some ar­eas.

Traf­fic can be a prob­lem in Bali and of­ten you’re bet­ter off or­der­ing a Go­jek mo­tor­bike.

Grab is com­pat­i­ble with Aus­tralian num­bers, but Go­jek re­quires a lo­cal phone num­ber to work.


Apart from the ob­vi­ous hat, sun­screen and swim­mers, there are a few es­sen­tials ev­ery trav­eller should have in Bali.

Dengue fever is a con­cern in South­east Asia and high qual­ity Aus­tralian mos­quito re­pel­lent is rec­om­mended at all times. It’s also worth pack­ing medicine for trav­eller’s di­ar­rhoea and food poi­son­ing, plus stronger pre­scrip­tion painkillers or Napro­gesic for pe­riod pain, which are not avail­able in Bali.

Tam­pons are also ex­pen­sive and can be hard to find.


Trav­eller’s di­ar­rhoea, food poi­son­ing and stom­ach viruses are com­mon. Wash your hands as of­ten as you can and carry hand sani­tiser to use af­ter han­dling money.

Avoid eat­ing sal­ads and raw food at un­ver­i­fi­able venues. Buy activated charcoal tablets from a Guardian or Kimia Farma to help pre­vent di­ar­rhoea. Seminyak-based Dr Kr­ishna (+62 818 0386 2021) does house calls to the North Kuta ar­eas and can be booked via What­sapp.



Most cafes and res­tau­rants add a ser­vice charge to the bill, but it’s cour­te­ous to leave a dol­lar or two for the wait­staff who served you. Larger tips are com­mon at more up-mar­ket res­tau­rants, but not ex­pected.

It’s also good prac­tice to round up taxi fares and Go­jek and Grab trips to the near­est 10,000 ru­piah ($1).

For each spa and nail ther­a­pist, $2 is a good tip to show ap­pre­ci­a­tion. You might also want to tip your pri­vate driver af­ter your tour. For tour guides, a fair tip is about $10 a day.


Most re­turn flights from Bali to Aus­tralia depart late at night and most check-out times fall around noon, so you’ll need to kill time.

Ho­tels are gen­er­ally happy to store your lug­gage un­til your de­par­ture and many also of­fer late check-out if you ask, or even some­where to shower. Al­ter­na­tively, get a late check-out day pass at Pep­pers Seminyak (pep­persseminyak.com), which in­cludes ac­cess to the re­sort pool, gym, shower rooms and lug­gage stor­age.


Spir­i­tu­al­ity is at the core of Ba­li­ne­seHindu cul­ture and var­i­ous daily and monthly ri­tu­als are in­te­gral to their way of life. Cer­e­monies are held for ev­ery­thing from the half and full moon to aus­pi­cious dates for buri­als, teeth-fil­ing and wed­dings.

It can be com­mon for en­tire roads to be blocked off for a cer­e­mony and for staff to be ab­sent from their jobs dur­ing this time. Canang saris or of­fer­ings are placed on the streets and in tem­ples daily.

The Ba­li­nese peo­ple are very warm and open, there are no hard and fast rules about the cul­ture, al­though women who are men­stru­at­ing are pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing tem­ples.

The peo­ple have a very play­ful and laid-back na­ture. Of­ten things take longer than they might in Aus­tralia, so pa­tience is es­sen­tial.


Nyepi Day, also known as the Day of Si­lence, is Bali’s lu­nar new year


When in Bali, head to Nusa Penida to snorkel with manta rays; get up close to mon­keys; stay in a Capella Ke­liki Val­ley tent in arty Ubud; re­lax with a late check-out day pass at Pep­pers Seminyak.

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