Bali is a quite developed island and it has pretty much everything you need, but!
Whether you are going on holiday or working remotely, there are a few things you need to know before going, especially if your trip is longer than a few weeks.
In this blog post, I wrote the top 13 things you need to know before going to Bali. Treat this list like a checklist before leaving just to make sure you have all these things covered or in mind. Ready? Let’s dive in!
#1 Check Your Card Fees
Nearly everything is cash-only in Bali. Before leaving, you need to make sure you’re aware of the fees you would need to pay every time you cash out from the ATM. Even if it looks like it’s not much, everything adds up so make sure you know the fees for each card. In my case, I figured out that my card with HSBC had lower fees than Monzo (online bank), so I always used my HSBC card to cash out.
#2 SMS and calls from your country
I really wished I had known this before my trip to Bali. You won’t receive SMS and calls from your country, let me tell you why it’s a problem.
If you forget a password connected to your number, you won’t receive the (recovery) code via text. So before leaving make sure you change the settings to email only if possible, or send the code to someone you trust.
Regarding calls, you could make them if you have to but it would be really pricey. I experienced fraud on my Amex card and I had to call to unlock it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t call so I had to wait until coming back to the UK to solve the issue. Same for travel insurance, they had a dedicated helpline to call but I couldn’t. So make sure to check everything before leaving. If you will get a local SIM card, you won’t be able to call outside Indonesia at all!
#3 Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance
I can’t stress this enough. I hope nothing happens but if it does, you need to be protected. The most common problem for Westerners is the “Bali belly” and you can get hospitalised for that. My travel insurance is included in my work healthcare package and we use Axa Insurance. I wouldn’t advise it because it’s generic health care and not only travel-focus, it also only covers 65 days per trip. Make sure you do your research specifically for travel healthcare insurance, sometimes this could be combined with flight insurance as well (or it might be included in your credit card benefits).
#4 Don’t Bring Many Shoes
Yes, I’m talking to you! Don’t go crazy with packing a lot of shoes because the majority of your time in Bali will be spent barefoot. That’s right, barefoot!
All the coworking spaces, local shops, temples, and homes have a no-shoes policy. You will also spend time by the beach or pool so shoes are the last thing to be worried about. I actually spent 3 months with only one pair of flat sandals, flip-flops and trainers (for the flight).
#5 Pack Light
Moving around Bali with a small carry-on is the best solution for you. I’m not only saying to pack light because I’m a minimalist but these are practical examples:
- A small suitcase fits on a scooter, which is the most widely used transport used on the island. This would make your movements faster and cheaper.
- You can move from island to island easily via speedboats
- Ok, this is very specific but here you go. If you want to go from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan, that is only possible through a super tiny yellow bridge which is only crossable by scooter or foot.
- Laundry shops in Bali are very efficient and incredibly cheap. You can get everything washed, dried and folded for the day after for about £2 per kg (your clothes will smell amazing too). Remember, you only get a good price if you go to the laundry yourself rather than giving it to your hotel.
#6 Forget about Skincare Or Hair Products
We all have our favourite skincare and hair products we carry around even when travelling. However, I must say Bali has really good skincare and haircare shops! My favourite is Bali Life, the shop I normally go to is in Ubud (not far from the Palace). The face oil and body butter are my top pics and the prices are incredibly affordable.
#7 Don’t Bring Books
If there is something you really don’t need to pack is a book. This is why. I can safely say that every accommodation I’ve been to in Bali had books left by other travellers to pick up for free. There are also lots of bookshops and libraries on the island. There is a shop in Ubud called Ganesha Bookshop where you can find any book you want and if you return it they will give you half of the price back. I used to buy lots of books from there or other bookshops and leave them at my hotel/homestay when finished.
#8 Get Some Refillable Containers
I got these small silicon containers before going to Bali and it was the smartest choice ever. I know it sounds weird but this is why. You will come across different kinds of accommodations. The majority of homestays won’t have any products, so no shampoo, hair conditioner or shower gel. But sometimes you might end up in a hotel or resort where they have everything. If you have these tiny containers, you can top them up when you can and use them in homestays or other accommodations where you will need them!
#9 Don’t Book A Booking.com Driver
I know this is going to sound weird. If you booked your first accommodation through Booking.com, you might be tempted to book the driver from the airport via Booking.com as well. My friends and I had really bad experiences with Booking.com drivers in Bali (totally fine in other countries). They are underpaid and not professional (I’m sure some of them are but this is our experience). I found that booking the driver through the hotel is cheaper and much more reliable. Grab (the taxi service) is also not bad but they might charge more if you are coming from the airport. As soon as you find your favourite driver, make sure to save his number (yes it’s always a man!). Call the same person no matter where you are, because they could come to pick you up themselves or they could send someone from their family/community (again, very trusted people).
#10 Bring a refillable water bottle
Bali is trying to get as much eco-friendly as possible. Make sure you bring your bottle with you and refill it on the way. Ideally, you should never buy a water bottle in order to reduce your plastic intake on the island. I use this one on my travels and in London, I love it because it keeps the water always cool even in really hot weather.
#11 Bring Your Meds!
I’m not a doctor but I always start taking probiotics before leaving for any trip. This will help my stomach adjust to different water and food.
Also, bring your vitamins and electrolytes. You can obviously find them in Bali too, but bring them from home if you have your favourites. Just remember, they need to be ok outside the fridge and in hot temperatures.
#12 You Will Need A Sim Card
Some drivers will ask you if you want to stop at the SIM card shop as soon as they pick you up from the airport. Yes, you need it for sure. Especially if you are staying more than a week. However, it needs to be a good price. You have to make sure it’s not going to cost more than £5 including data (read more on this blog post dedicated to SIM cards in Bali)
#13 Ask for WhatsApp groups
If you know of someone who went to Bali recently, ask that person to be added to their Bali WhatsApp groups. Same in Bali, every time you meet someone, ask them which groups are they part of. WhatsApp groups work incredibly well in Bali. They are the best way to meet people, and attend network events or trips!
I hope you found this list useful. I wish I had known these things before leaving. One thing I didn’t touch on in this blog post is the VISA, for this topic I made a dedicated detailed blog post.
Ciao for now,