Bali travel advice

Bali travel advice


Tips from our friends in Bali

GETTING AROUND BALI


Paul Cowey, Bali specialist at our supplier Rickshaw Travel, offers his Bali travel advice: “It's easy to travel around Bali with taxis and tuk tuks in the towns offering loads of chances to explore, although make sure you set a price before you set off. Haggling is part and parcel of Balinese culture and our tours include a pre-arranged price with the driver so money goes directly into local pockets without travellers feeling like they have to haggle for a bargain.”

JUST OFFSHORE


Paul Cowey, from our supplier Rickshaw Travel: “It’s well worth going to the Gili Islands for at least a couple of days as they’re really remote, cut off from the rest of Bali, and each of the three islands caters for a slightly different crowd – so do your homework and take your pick. Not many people visit Lombok as it’s a little bit more difficult to travel around, especially when compared to tourist-friendly Bali, although it’s really beautiful and has quite possibly the best volcano trek in the whole of Indonesia.”

WHERE & WHAT TO EAT


Paul Cowey, Rickshaw Travel: “Warungs (street food restaurants) are definitely the best place to eat with eight to 10 tables set outside a small kitchen offering the tastiest and most affordable food on the island. Menus will usually offer a rough English translation, but keep an eye out for the warungs where local Balinese are sitting down to eat as these are usually the most authentic and offer the best quality food. Our travellers always rave about the cooking classes that we offer in Candidasa as they take place in small scale locations, right on the coast, and always use fresh seasonal ingredients.”

WHAT TO PACK


Alan Wilson, from our supplier Ecolodges Indonesia, provides some top packing tips: “Pack lightly and remember your rainwear! Warmer clothes are needed for cool evenings and upland areas, and dressing in layers works best, so lightweight, long sleeved casual and modest clothing is recommended. It is regarded inappropriate to wear brief clothes anywhere other than the beach, pool or at sports facilities, and women should observe a more conservative dress code that requires shoulders and legs to be kept covered. Good walking shoes are essential, and mosquitoes are drawn to dark colours, so khaki, camel, bone or similar are preferable colours to wear.”

Health & safety


Travel safely in Bali

Health


Visit your GP a couple of months prior to travelling to Bali to ensure you are up-to-date with vaccinations.

Take out comprehensive travel insurance which covers medical evacuation as well as watersports activities, if needed, such as kayaking, surfing or scuba diving.

Although there is a very low risk of malaria on Bali, it’s still worth taking precautions against mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves and trousers and toning down your colour scheme. There is a higher risk in Lombok so bear this in mind if you’re travelling between islands. Several hotels spray gardens with water during the dry season and this can attract mosquitoes, especially in the evening, so apply insect repellent and avoid sitting close to swimming pools or water features.

There is a risk of dengue fever in Bali with the wet season – Oct to Mar – the most likely time for bites. Cover up, use insect repellent and aim to avoid getting bitten as there’s currently no vaccine or preventative medicine. If you are bitten and find yourself suffering from a high temperature, severe muscle ache, swollen glands and a pain behind the eyes, keep hydrated and seek medical asssitance in Kuta or Ubud.

Don’t drink the tap water unless it’s been boiled i.e. within tea or coffee. Also, be on guard for ice in drinks, and salads washed in tap water; although most restaurants and warungs will avoid washing food in tap water. Consider buying a LifeStraw, which safely filters water and reduces the need to buy plastic bottles.

Carry hand gel if you’re planning on eating food with your fingers, especially if you’ve been handling money beforehand.

Keep hydrated and apply sun cream and a floppy hat if you’re out without shade or when going on a boat trip without a protective canopy. And although snorkelling can be a mesmerising experience, make sure you use water resistant sun cream or, better yet, a t-shirt and long shorts when out at sea.

Always stick to designated paths when trekking or cycling in rural areas of Bali and always tell someone at your accommodation where you’re going and when you intend to be back.

Safety


Although the majority of Bali is free from crime there are some tourist heavy areas where you should pay particularly close attention to your belongings. Opportunistic crime such as bag snatching happens, but rarely, so try not to invite crime by leaving bags unguarded or putting expensive cameras, phones and jewellery on display.

Always take a metered taxi or fix a price when taking a tuk tuk in towns or horse and cart on Lombok, so as to avoid any unpleasant scenes at the end of the trip. And book ferry or boat tickets to Lombok and the Gili Islands through your holiday company or accommodation as there are a few scams which could prove expensive otherwise.

Avoid using unregistered fast boats for travel or snorkelling trips that may not be properly equipped for open sea crossings and operate without providing life jackets.

Don’t feed the monkeys around any of the temples or in Ubud Monkey Forest as some monkeys can behave aggressively if they think you’re hiding food.

Same sex couples should understand that although Bali is Hindu and much more tolerant of homosexuality than the rest of Muslim Indonesia, including Lombok, it’s worth being discreet when it comes to open displays of affection. The same can be said for straight couples too.

For further information on health and safety in Bali, please visit FCO or the CDC websites.
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Bali tips from our travellers


Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Bali travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“You don’t need to go to a big resort in Bali. We saw so much by staying off the beaten track.” - Pauline Johansen

“Bring modest clothes to wear in the temples and small villages - shirts that cover shoulders and shorts that are just above the knee or lower. Bring a torch for the mountain hike!” - Christina Colley

“If you like the experience of few other guests and personal service, come in the rainy season!” - Julie Bruton-Seal

“Just decide what kind of holiday you want - I'd recommend a mixture of busy and remote to get a good idea of the culture.” - Christina Lloyd

“Bear in mind that Lombok is not as commercial as Bali - but this is its charm.” - Jo Christophe

“Relax! Our tour guide was terrific but caused some cultural confusion as she was a 30 year old female Muslim from Java taking a group of mostly female (and not shy) Westerners around Bali which is mostly Hindu. I loved the misunderstandings.” - Andrew Craig

“I’d recommend the beautiful villas in Munduk, overlooking the rice field, the snorkelling around Menjangan Island (so many fish and beautiful coral garden), and the trip to the crater rim of Mount Batur.” - Karen Lordan
Photo credits: [Getting around: tajai] [Where and what to eat: LWYang] [Review 1 - Karen Lordan: Fabien LE JEUNE] [Review 2 - Pauline Johansen: Andreia]

Written by: Chris Owen
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