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Whether you want to lounge on a beach in Legian, sip cocktails in Sanur or escape into the rice paddies of the central mountains, Bali has something to offer every traveller. Make the most of your time in the Island of the Gods with these 7 travel tips for your Bali holiday.
With all that sun, sand and spirituality, it’s no surprise why Bali is one of the most touristed islands on earth. But with all that popularity comes crowds, and with crowds come tourists, and with tourists come tourists scams. If the likes of Kuta and Denpasar aren’t for you, we suggest heading up into the central mountains to Mount Batukaru and the rice patties of Munduk, or north-west to the Taman Taman Nasional Bali Barat, where you’ll find less crowds (and more authenticity).
Top tip: Reconnect with your spiritual roots by heading to the stone fountain baths of Air Panas Banjar in west Bali.
While we can tell some horror stories about bali belly, the news is mostly good – it’s not as prevalent as it once was. While ice cubes, fruit and fresh salads all used to be on the danger list, hygiene standards are mostly on the up-and-up. So don’t feel like the only safe thing to eat in Bali is air (because even that tastes questionable…). That being said, don’t throw caution to the wind entirely. Be smart about what you eat (and where) and stay hydrated.
Top tip: Invest in a stainless steel water bottle that you can refill with filtered water at hotels and restaurants. You’ll help reduce the estimated 3 million plastic bottles that are discarded in Bali each year.
…and we mean in every sense of the saying. If you’re out drinking with friends in the main tourist areas such as Kuta, make sure you keep an eye on what is actually being poured into your glass. It’s not uncommon for bartenders to spike drinks with methanol – a cheaper substitute that doesn’t dilute the drink’s potency. While there’s no way of detecting methanol by taste, symptoms of methanol poisoning can include headaches, nausea and even blindness. Avoid this by only ordering sealed drinks that you open yourself or see opened.
Top tip: Treat yourself to a good quality cocktail at Rock Bar on the Jimbaran Coast. Jutting 14 metres out onto the Indian Ocean, this is the spot to see the sun set and spot Bali’s Mount Agung on the horizon.
You’re likely to run into all manner of furry friends in Bali – from kittens and cats, to dogs and monkeys. But while they might look harmless, a scratch or bite from a feral animal could leave you with a nasty infection or worse – rabies. If you are bitten by a wild animal, head to your local hospital immediately. Plan on visiting the monkeys at Mandala Suci Wenara Wana (Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary) in Ubud? Leave your valuables at home and ensure your bags are zipped up – bananas aren’t the only items these monkeys have a habit of swiping.
Top tip: Rather than treat those pooches to a pat, why not make a donation to Bali Street Dog Fund, an organisation helping to protect and enhance the welfare of stray dogs and cats in Bali.
Even for Australians, Bali’s muggy heat can knock you sideways so make sure you drink plenty of (filtered) water and slather yourself in sunscreen. There’s also nothing like a bad case of dengue fever to put a dampener on your holiday. Show some caution by wearing industrial strength insect repellent, long sleeves and light-coloured clothing. Stay clear of areas where mosquitos breed, such as small or large bodies of stagnant water.
Top tip: Particularly susceptible to heat stroke or illness? Visit your doctor before you leave and check that your hotel in Bali can easily contact a doctor or hospital in the event of an emergency.
While Bali might feel like an extension of Australia, it is its own country and therefore has its own laws. Be respectful of cultural etiquettes and religious customs, particularly if you’re visiting temples or bargaining with storeowners at the local markets. It’s also worth reminding you that when it comes to the Indonesian legal system, there’s no special treatment for Australians. Rule of thumb is: don’t do anything wrong and don’t argue with the police.
Top tip: Learn some local lingo before you go – try selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you).