This is the last (for now) of my “Things You Should Know” series. I hope you enjoyed them and I plan to do them for the countries I travel to. So here are my current tips about traveling in Bali.
- Pictures on Instagram and Pinterest make Bali seem peaceful and uninhabited, or less touristy than it really is. The truth is that Bali is loud, there are lots of people from locals to tourists, and it is not nearly as clean as we think it is.
- There are lots of stray dogs. BUT there are also lots of shelters. They seem to be treated very well, a lot of shop owners let a dog sleep on their front steps or inside in the shade, kind of half adopting them.
- Motorbikes are everywhere. You need to look out for them, even if you think you have the right of way, they will keep going through you. After being in Ubud for 10 minutes I almost was hit by a bike. I looked in all directions and crossed the street, halfway across I hear honking and this motorbike zooms in front of me almost hitting me if I didn’t move backwards. Always be aware of the bikes around you.
- There is so much litter. This ties into the picture one above but it deserves its own bullet point. On the beach and in the water you will see so much plastic. It reminded me a lot of India. There isn’t a good trash collecting service, it is done by the locals if they want to do it. On top of that there is so much single use plastic items like straws or utensils that just ends up on the street. Not to mention the water is bad so you have to drink out of plastic water bottles. Some restaurants had bulk mineral water from a delivery service, but not everyone did this.
- The merchants can be aggressive but so can the taxi drivers. I personally felt the taxi drivers were way more annoying. One time I was yelled at asking if I needed a taxi… as I got out of my taxi… They are trying to make a living but just beware. I was shaking my head “no” most of the time I was walking around.
- People aren’t lying when they say the monkeys in the Monkey Forest in Ubud will steal from you. I put my lens cap in an outer pocket of my backpack and a monkey hopped on my shoulders and thought it was food. She scurried away, and luckily a family (the dad was a photographer so recognized the lens cap) had some real food and got the monkey to drop my lens cap.
This was the thief, before she jumped on me. As you can see they will even try to unzip your backpack to see if there is food in there.
- Brick and mortar stores may have fixed prices instead of allowing you to barter. If the price seems too high, this might seem revolutionary, don’t buy it. I’ve heard bad stories of people getting angry with the cashiers, but they didn’t set the prices. Their owners did, and they are usually from western countries, which means they set them to western prices. If you don’t want to pay that much money there are plenty of stalls where you can find cool stuff that you can barter for a lower price.
- You will hear a lot to worry about ice cubes in your drinks. I never had a problem with the restaurants I went to, but if you are going to a small local cafe, be wary. I had a problem with the salads. They use the local water to “clean” the lettuce but that obviously contaminates it, and can make you sick. The two times I had a salad, I ended up rushing to the toilet a few hours later. Luckily I didn’t get more sick.
- There are a lot of Western toilets but you may come across a Turkish toilet so don’t be afraid to squat it out.
- Bring tissues with you because you may come across a stall with no toilet paper. Its happened to me multiple times in India and once in Bali when I got a surprise hit of Bali belly. You don’t want to be out of TP in those moments.
- Everyone told me Canggu beach was THE place to be. I thought I had booked there but it was actually about a 15 minute motorbike ride away. There were more shops in Canggu but Berawa beach was much better. Canggu was crowded from the tourists and merchants bothering you every 5 minutes. It was also covered in trash. Berawa was much cleaner and quieter. The waves are the same if you are into surfing.
This should definitely not deter you from visiting Bali. It is such a beautiful island, despite the trash, and the people are very friendly and welcoming. Comment below if you have visited Bali and have anything to add to this list.