What you need to know and the travel books dont tell you!
BEFORE YOU LEAVE … PACK LIGHT
If you are planning a massive shopping spree while in Bali, and lets face it, who isnt!? Take your biggest suitcase, and pack only the bare essentials. I also ensure that my carry on luggage is right on the limit of size! You will end up wearing clothes that you buy over there, so you will not need much at all. Ladies .. toiletries are SO cheap over there that you can buy what you need when you get there and chuck it out so that you are not wasting valuable packing weight on the way back! A small container of shampoo costs about 50c!
TRAVELLERS CHQ’s v PLASTIC v CASH
Cash is best. You will get a much better exchange rate in Bali, you will also get a better rate for cash. Take a card as a last resort – banks charge you all sorts of fees and international change rates. All you need to take with you is US$25 for your arrival visa (per person) plus a small amount of Rupiah .. just change about $30 here and change it as you need it over there at a money exchange that DOES NOT take commision. They are everywhere, but you do need to check that they dont take commission.
AUSSIE GOLD COINS
Take a handful of aussie gold coins with you and keep some on you at all times. They are great for bargaining that little bit further! The Baliness love our gold coins .. use for tips even!
You can pre-purchase your inbound duty free on your way out and it saves you money! On your way out of the country, make your duty free purchases for when you are heading back. Most DF stores offer 20 – 40% extra off if you buy before you go! It is also great when you are walking in from your flight after your holiday .. you walk straight up to the pre-purchase counter and collect your goods while the rest of the flight is lining up to pay (full price) at the counter! Going into Bali you can take 1125mls of alcohol in per adult travelling. If you dont finish the bottle, you can bring it back in your checked-in luggage only. But it must be opened and had at least a drink out of it. Coming back into Aus, you can bring a little over 2 litres .. I think it is 2125mls.
AT THE AIRPORT – DENPASAR
Dont let the westernised professional uniforms of the airport Porters fool you .. this is not a welcoming gesture! You will be asked to pay them, and conveniently they will stop right outside the money exchange booths and let you know that you need to pay for this service! They may even be cheeky enough to say that they take plastic if you say you have no cash!! (Not that I am speaking from experience here!) Aussie gold coins are perfect for this situation! OR just be very stern and say NO at the baggage claim. BTW they will have your baggage already off the belt and all neatly lined up in front of them, so it is hard to say no! Another tip .. most hotels have pre-arranged transfers for you, if not it is a good idea to arrange this. If you see a driver holding a sign that has a name that is similar to yours, best guess is that’s you! Even though our entire booking was over the internet and all details were in written english .. they still spelled the name wrong!
All Bali regulars have their own driver, and with out a doubt you can not go past Nyoman. Thank you to Steve B for providing us with Nyoman’s details as he was wonderful and most important, trustworthy. Nyoman will drive you anywhere you want. One day we actually just said to him, we want to go from Sanur to Ubud, you take us to the best places in between! And we had a great trip, with lots and lots of amazing conversation about the Baliness Culture on the way. Nyoman can be contacted on 081337743550 or email him at email@example.com. He will need a few days notice, so make sure you call him early and book him in for a few days so you get to see lots!
You can take your Aussie phone to Bali and pay the ridiculous costs involved (some people dont realise that when you are roaming internationally you are paying the cost of ALL your calls, both incoming and outgoing!). I ditched my mobile, as scary as it was, and yes I had detachment issues for the first few days, however I got over it! If you dont want to use the hotel phone, a great idea is to take a phone from here that is at least tri or quad band (dual band does not work in Indonesia) and purchase a Simpadi Phone card for about 20,000rp and put some credit on it. Much cheaper … but I do know what some people are like without their mobile!!
Dont forget to keep aside 200,000 rp (per person) for your depature tax. This tax is also known to go up without notice, but at the time of writing this it was 200,000. The other thing you can sometimes get stuck on, is that when you are on the plane to Bali, you are asked to fill in all your paperwork. On arrival you hand over the cards, and they give you one of them back, it is like the ‘stub’ of the arrival card. This is your depature card, and you will need it when you are departing! Keep it with your passport so that you dont loose it. If you do misplace the departure card, you can get another, but by the time you realise you need it you are upstairs and need to go back downstairs to get another!