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5 Tips for Traveling Bali

Two years ago while on a backpacking trip around Southeast Asia I wasn’t sure exactly where to go next so I ended up where all backpackers end up, Bali! I had seen photos on Instagram; I had seen “What can $100 get you in Bali?” videos on YouTube and decided why not see what it’s really like. Somehow it was simultaneously nothing like I had imagined and exactly what I imagined. You can find beautiful beaches, incredible hikes, hidden waterfalls, a very well known party scene and endless cafes and shops. I traveled around Bali for a month and these are a few of the things I would’ve loved to know before going.

Know your conversion rate and if you have a budget , stick to it! Before going to Bali I always heard how cheap it was but I learned your budget can go right out the window very quickly if you’re not careful. Bali has plenty of cute cafes and fun bars but they can be expensive and after a couple days it adds up quickly. If you’re looking for more affordable authentic food trying going to a warung, they’re have a variety of local food and it’s absolutely delicious! It’s also very common for many places to have a surcharge if you want to pay on a card so bring more cash if you want to avoid that.

Research where you’re going in Bali. Although it’s all one island the different areas have completely different vibes and with the traffic it’s not always quick getting from one place to the next. Uluwatu has beautiful beaches and amazing surfing and it’s very popular for couples. Canggu and Seminyak are very popular for digital nomads and they have great places to go for a night out. Ubud and Sideman feel like more of a serene retreat with hidden waterfalls and rice terraces. Just like each area has a different vibe, be warned the police are different as well, from my experience in Ubud they’ll pull you over for not wearing a helmet on a scooter but in Canggu they’ll let it slide.

Make sure you have Grab and Gojek downloaded when you get there! Grab and Gojek are both popular car services like Uber; they serve the same purpose just sometimes one is cheaper than the other. I learned this the hard way but make sure you’re only taking rides with the drivers registered through the app; one night in an attempt to get home quickly I took a ride with a driver who wasn’t from the app and he tried to kiss me when he dropped me off at my hostel. Because he wasn’t a registered driver there was no one to report it to, lesson learnt!

If you’re trying to book a scooter or car make sure you’re not in a restricted area for your Grab or Gojek to pick you up. There’s certain areas like near the airport and popular streets with lots of clubs and bars where the scooters are restricted and they won’t be able to drive down to get you. Typically there will be a sign saying no Grab or Gojek and then near it is usually a guy trying to over charge you to drive you home. When you see these signs you have to walk a couple minutes down the street and then your scooter will be able to come get you.

If you are taking a ferry to another island, I highly recommend booking your transfer for your destination ahead of time. When going from Bali to Nusa Penida we got lucky that it was only a 10 minute walk from the ferry port to the hostel. If it wasn’t, we could’ve been walking for a long time because I didn’t see any Grab or Gojek while on the island. When taking the ferry back to Bali we made the same mistake but weren’t as lucky this time! We got back to the ferry port in Bali and tried to book a Grab to take us to Canggu and we couldn’t get anyone to accept our ride. We ended up having to take a taxi from the ferry port to our hostel and it was exponentially more expensive than if we just booked a transfer ahead of time.

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