Bali is getting better in terms of hygiene and medical facilities but it still has a way to go. You do not want to have a medical emergency here. Play safe and make sure you have medical insurance before you come. Best to have insurance that will evacuate you if you get terribly sick or have a serious injury and need airlifted to Singapore or home. Here are a couple of other common sense points that should keep you in good shape and enjoying your visit.
Drink plenty of fluids (water and fruit juices) to avoid dehydration. Drink bottled water ONLY - ice in drinks, however, is not a problem. Use common sense when choosing a place to eat. Eat in established restaurants that are clean and well patronized. If you are dead set on trying the hawkers in the street stick to those not serving meats unless your system is already well adjusted.
If you are using prescription drugs bring a sufficient supply. Pharmacies (Apotiks) often can fill a prescription but the dosage may not be quite the same as your doctor has prescribed. (Also, while traveling keep your vital medication with you or in your carry on - in case your luggage is lost).
Take prompt care of any cuts or burns - do not risk infection in this heat and humidity. If you are sleeping in the open air, use mosquito repellent and a mosquito net. Malaria is not a problem in Bali . For additional information there's a list of hospitals and clinics in the Emergency Info section.
If you are coming here for a week or so, you might be tempted to rent a car and go out driving yourself around to explore Bali . Our advice: Don't - especially if you are coming from a country where driving on the right is the norm. When you put together pedestrians, bicycles, tour buses, trucks, livestock and assorted immovable objects in the middle of roads that are not well marked with traffic controls are often ignored and little - if any - enforcement of rules that may exist - you have yourself one of the most creative driving environments imaginable.
First, forget about getting lost - that's the least of your concerns. If you have an accident and there is an injury to a local person you will not be able to leave until the matter is cleared up. Better to hire a car with a driver, enjoy the scenery and arrive at your destination relaxed. It usually costs only about US$ 10.00 more per day to hire a driver with your rental vehicle than without - so you be the judge.
If we have not convinced you and for some reason you still want to drive yourself, you will need to have either an International Driving License (see your local automobile club) or a Tourist Driving License. A Tourist Driving License can be obtained Jl. Cokorde Agung Tresna 14, Renon. You will need to bring a copy of your passport and the driving license from your home country. Cost is Rp. 100.000 and the license is valid for 30 days. The office is open Monday - Saturday 8.00am - 3.00pm. Tel. 243939.
For shorter trips, i.e. back and forth between Kuta and Nusa Dua, metered taxis are available. The Best is Bali Taxi - the BLUE cabs. Clean, reliable, safe and honest. The meters run at approximately Rp.1,500 per kilometer (an unbelievable bargain) If you are out on the street and can't get a blue cab, next best are the green and orange cabs - also clean, reliable, safe and honest but fares are a bit (10%) higher. There are other white cabs but often the meters "don't work". If you choose to stay in such a cab, negotiate the fare First (the key words here are Negotiate and First).
Bali Taxi Telephone is: 701-111
Praja Taxi Telephone is: 289-090
As well, the more really adventurous visitor may want to explore Bali by motorcycle. If you do be advised that you will need a motorcycle driver's license - if you don't have one you may get Temporary Permit - valid for 6 months on Bali only - a simple enough procedeure but make sure to take 3 passport size photos, your passport, and a valid driver's license to the Police station in Denpasar – and by law you need to wear a helmet. Check the condition of the machine before you pay.
Another interesting way to discover Bali is by Bemo (the small covered carry vans careening about). No better way to mix with the locals - Very cheap but there's no air-conditioning and the bemos can get very, very crowded. Last but not least are Dokars (2 wheeled horse drawn buggies). More a tourist thing in Kuta at night but a staple of transportation for locals in Denpasar during the day.
You can exchange most major world currencies (cash or travelers checks) easily into the local coin, the Indonesian Rupiah. Hotels generally give less favorable exchange rates (the price of convenience). Or - and this our choice - go to a branch office of one of the local banks. However that being said, there are a squillion "authorized" money changers available. If you choose to deal with an money changer BE CAREFUL - The number of stories we hear about people being cheated are shameful and the authorities are seemingly helpless to shut these despicable characters down. Nonetheless here are a couple of points worth remembering (see sidebar) . First, the rate posted on the door usually is for amounts in notes of US $100. - lesser denominated notes (i.e. $50.00) will be given a less favorable rate. Next verify the exchange calculation (ask to use the calculator or - better yet - bring your own) and count your change before you leave the window. Lastly, be prepared, if you are cashing travelers checks you will need to present your passport for identification and many money changers do not accept cash notes that have been defaced - or are in less than near mint condition. The official exchange rate posted is daily in all major newspapers.
Rupiahs come in paper and coins. Paper denominations are 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000; coin denominations are 10, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. Just a word of caution there are many styles of the same denomination and together with all the "zeroes" even we who live here become confused sometimes.
ATMs are quite common and the ones with VISA / Cirrus logos dispense local currency at the bank's then current exchange rate. Some have the rate on the screen. (Our guess is that this is still far better than going to a money changer considering the high probability of being short changed.) A note of caution though - you must be absolutely sure to take your card - if not and the card remains in some machines additional withdrawals may be made WITHOUT having to re-enter the PIN!
Credit cards are accepted at better restaurants and retailers. But be aware most retailers add an extra 3 - 5 % on your bill for the privilege of using plastic. You do not have to accept this: You're not going to get anywhere arguing with the shopkeeper but if you want to get this back make sure the retailer or restaurant writes this surcharge down as an extra charge for using the card and then claim it from your month end billing.
Tipping is relatively new in Bali . Most large hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge of between 5 & 10 percent to your bill which is quite sufficient. Smaller restaurants generally don't add anything extra but considering that the waiter's wage may well be less than $1.00 a day - a tip of 10 percent is very much appreciated.
Other. Bellmen generally get Rp.1,000 - Rp.1,500 for a small to medium sized luggage and at least Rp.2,000 for those house trailers some people carry around. For taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest Rp.5,000 or depending on the length of trip is the norm. If you hire a car for an entire day it is good form to give the driver Rp.5,000 - 10,000 for each meal and tip (say Rp.20,000) at the end of the day. With tour guides and the like tipping is up to you - just remember that chances are your driver/guide has most likely already received a commission from anything you purchased during the day.
All telephone numbers listed herein are local numbers. To reach any number in Bali dial: International access code + 62 + 361+ (local number). Wherein "62" is Indonesia country code and "361" is the most common area code for Bali . Be advised most Bali telephone numbers are 6 digits some are still 5. Cellular service in Indonesia is GSM. If you bring your own handphone you may purchase a prepaid calling chip from any Satelindo distributor (cheaper than using your home country service).
Telecommunication capabilities have improved greatly over the last few years but patience is the keyword when trying to dial overseas from Indonesia - especially during office hours. Most better hotels offer International Direct Dialing (IDD) and Home Country Direct (HCD) services. Overseas calls can also be made at state-run telephone offices known as a wartel (warung telephone).
Need to get online ? Both AT&T Globalnet & AOL have local access numbers on Bali . AT&T is 256-737 / AOL is 289-652. If you plan to be on Bali for a while and need to be connected there are several ISPs. The local phone company allows anyone access to its network without having to establish an user account or pay any set fees (the telco makes its money by adding a 50% surcharge to its normal per minute tariff) making it easy to check your internet email (ie.Yahoo mail) on your laptop. To access dial 0809- 89999 / username: telkomnet@instan / password : telkom.
Bali 's famous temple ceremonies can wreak havoc on retail hours. Though most shops in the major tourist areas are open from 10 am till 8 p.m., six days a week (seven in shopping centers and hotels) - sometimes a shop is closed for no apparent reason BUT there is a reason, the shopkeeper has a ceremony to attend. Restaurants start serving from 7 a.m. or so until midnight. Government offices and banks operate from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. on Fridays.
Difficult for many first timers but once you get the hang of it you'll never pay retail again! However, not everybody wants to bargain anymore. Many of Bali 's finer retailers now refuse (price tags generally signify a fixed price) but bargaining is still the norm in the art markets, trinket and T-shirt shops. But don't get cheesy. Nothing is more irritating nowadays than watching a well clad tourist trying to squeeze the last 1,000 Rupiah (about 10 US cents) out of a shopkeeper. Just remember how much it cost to get to Bali . So what is the value in not taking home that beautiful wood statue? Negotiate a good price and take home a good story.
The Balinese have a reputation as extremely honest people. Unfortunately, not everyone on Bali is Balinese and there has been an increase in petty crimes - especially in Kuta. Nonetheless Bali is still far, far safer than most large cities in this world.
Pickpockets, car break-ins and drive by bag snatching seem to be the most common complaints. To reduce your risk, use plain common sense and take the same basic precautions you would if you were visiting any big city. So, keep a tight grip on your purse or camera, Never leave any bags (whether valuable or not) unattended in your car, on the beach or by the pool, use the hotel safety deposit box, don't go down dark deserted gangs (alleys) and don't count money in the open. Not so hard...
On the flip side don't even think of committing a crime in Indonesia . You are a long way from home with far fewer rights than you think. Behave yourself and be a gracious guest.
On the way out of the hotel, keep a little extra money handy. All tourists leaving Indonesia from Ngurah Rai International Airport are required to pay an airport tax of Rp.100,000. That said be advised that it is against the law to leave Indonesia with more than Rp.10,000,000. Departure for domestic travel is also taxed (Rp.20,000) though most of the time this has already been included in the ticket price - but every so often you are surprised... (and even if you're not you can always make a donation to the local Red Cross or charity du jour).