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 http://www.cdc.gov/
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.