See and Surf Bali to the Full Extreme

Established Since 1999

Travel Tips
Money Matters - Tipping Phone Home
Business Hours Bargaining Street Wise Outward Bound

Healthy Traveling
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. 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. Additional information on health matters may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Telephone the CDC international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or visit the CDC home page on the Internet at


Money Matters
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 live here are sometimes confused.

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 up to 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.3,000 - 4,000 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.

Phone Home
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 ? AOL has a local access number on Bali. It is 289652. But you need Globalnet in your bag of connection options (no problem with newer versions) Want to connect to CompuServe? - Forget it - (we did). If you plan to be on Bali for a while and need to be connected there are several ISPs to choose from.

Business Hours
Baliís 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 youíll 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 donít 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.

Street Wise
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) in your car, use the hotel safety deposit box, donít go down dark deserted gangs (alleys) and donít 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.

Outward Bound
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.150,000. 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.30,000) though most of the time this has already been included in the ticket price - but every once and awhile you are surprised.

Ulun Danu Temple at Lake Beratan

Travel Tip

Be careful when changing money. Sorry to say but we hear too many stories of tourists being cheated at one money changer or another. One of the more popular current scams goes something like this:

You see an exchange rate that seems to good to pass up - so you give it a go. The money changer calculates how much Rupiah you will receive and proceeds to count it out in front of you. After this he/she will ask you to count it again - so far so good. You agree and the amount is correct. You're happy and ready to leave until the changer asks to count it again - Just to make sure. How thoughtful you think and you let the changer count it again. The amount is right and you're asked to count it yet one more time - you do and everything seems fine.

Now you're ready to leave - but wait, the changer wants to count it - yes - one more time. You're thinking these people are so careful. Well this recounting goes on until the changer feels you're not paying attention and money literally falls off the table. At some point you won't count it the last time and after you're long gone you realize you've been short changed.

Rule No. 1 Don't let the money you are changing out of sight or out of reach in case you want to walk.

Rule No. 2 Pay attention. You don't need to count 6 times. If you find yourself in this situation refer to Rule No. 1 - Pick up your money and walk to the nearest bank.


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