Bali first timer

A first-timer’s guide to Bali

In Articles, Holiday Reviews - Asia, Holiday Reviews - Bali, Islands & Beaches, Must Do - Bali by The H4C Team

Bali’s reputation as the place to find and centre your spirit is well deserved. It can be wonderfully romantic for couples looking to explore and enhance their mindfulness or simply reconnect – and honestly, Bali is one of our favourite travel destinations in the world! So, congratulations on choosing to experience this magical destination for yourselves.

You’ll discover luxurious resorts, amazing dining, incredible beaches, exotic jungles and a beautiful culture and people. But, for those who haven’t travelled before, it may also be a little overwhelming at times. Which is where we come in! Relax, because these first-timer Bali travel tips will help you enjoy a wondrous holiday or honeymoon on this beautiful Indonesian island. 

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Plan for Bali weather
You’ll have plenty of room for mementos in your suitcases — because you needn’t bother packing jeans or jackets! The temperatures hover at ‘hot’ year-round (around 32˚C give or take) thanks to Bali sitting just eight degrees south of the equator. The lighter you dress, the more comfortable you’ll be in the sultry humidity. Think cotton clothing and open-toe shoes. Sarongs are also a must for visiting temples, though you can pick one up when you arrive (more on that below).

April through September is the dry season. July and August are the busiest — but as the crowds are spread around the island, it’s still a great time to visit. The other months are part of the rainy season, which usually just means a light shower in the afternoon or evening. Some travellers prefer rainy season as the afternoon shower cools things off and there are less tourists (which can mean even better prices!).

Understanding Bali currency
In Bali, as well as the rest of Indonesia, they use the rupiah. For every $A1, you’ll currently get 10,500 rupiah (check xe.com for today’s rate). Essentially, when you exchange $A100 you’re a millionaire … at least while you’re in Bali!

Fortunately, Bali is a great place to be whether you’ve got a tight budget or a blank cheque. You can buy a delicious meal of nasi goreng for around 20,000IDR, roughly $A2! Tipping isn’t required, though it’s always a kindness to offer a little extra to restaurant staff, general helpers, cleaners, and drivers as it goes a long way for them.

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Good news on visas for Bali
Australians once needed to pay for a visa when travelling to Bali for a getaway. This is no longer required if you are staying less than 30 days. No visa, no worries!


How to exchange money safely in Bali
Credit cards won’t always cut it in Bali, especially beyond the major hotels and centres, so old-fashioned cash is a must. Your money will go a long way, but a word of caution on how you get it. Dodge any dodgy ATMs by sticking to those supervised by guards or at banks. Naturally, guard your pin number well (solid advice wherever you travel).

First-timers should also be alert to pop-up ‘money changers’. You’ll see them everywhere but avoid them unless they’re in reputable areas (your hotel can direct you). Don’t go chasing the promise of ‘free money’ and if the exchange rate seems too good to be true, it probably is. The most trusted way to exchange money is with the official BMC and Central Kuta Money Exchange. If you do use an unknown money changer, at least make sure you’re the last one to count the cash before walking away.

Temple etiquette in Bali
Step away from the busy areas, and Bali is a very spiritual place. It’s part of what makes the Island of the Gods so special and we highly recommend reading a little history before you go for an even more meaningful experience.

Temples are upheld to the highest honour, so it shows respect to dress accordingly. Before entering any temple, keep your legs covered below the knees with a sarong or sash (this applies to men and women). Shoulders should never be bare either. Pack a few light cover-ups or pick up a locally made beauty. When in doubt, cover up and you’ll never be that tourist (you know the one). Cringe.

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Getting around Bali
There might be a devil-may-care charm about zooming through Bali on a motorbike. But, in our opinion, the best way to get around the island SAFELY is to use metered taxis. We recommend Blue Bird Taxi because they are metered and safe. Most drivers speak some English which is super helpful if you have no real idea where you’re going. The brand is known its scam-free reputation, so beware of imitations. Book through the app (ensure it’s the legitimate app) to arrange your rides and check for the ‘Blue Bird’ on the windscreen with the correct phone number when your taxi arrives.

What not to do in Bali
And finally, we have some tips of things you should never do while in Bali!

1. Don’t drink the tap water
This is a firm no. Bali’s tap water is not processed for drinking so always opt for bottled water that’s sealed completely (readily available, especially at hotels and resorts). This extends to brushing your teeth as well. Bye bye ‘Bali Belly.’

2. Only haggle seriously if you plan to buy
The local Balinese don’t make much money, but some bartering is expected. Put yourself in the seller’s shoes — it’s not fair to waste their time unless you really want the item! So, shop around and then bid on your chosen batik sarong or Gamelan ball by offering around one-third of the first offer, then go up from there if needed.

3. Don’t take off without travel insurance
It’s as essential as packing swimwear (not just for Bali, but for any overseas trip). Travel insurance covers medical emergencies, but it can also come to your rescue if you miss a flight or your luggage goes AWOL.

4. If you do ride a scooter, please wear a helmet!
We recommend taxis for a reason. But if you and your love can’t resist throwing caution to the wind and renting a scooter or motorbike, at least wear a helmet. Makes sense.

5. Don’t pat the monkeys
They may look cute, but those cheeky furballs are still wild animals (and can even get aggressive). Hands off. Also, Australians are fortunate to live in one of the only rabies-free countries in the world, and we often forget the threat is still real elsewhere. Please admire the monkeys from afar. 

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So, now you’ve got the low-down on how to travel through Bali like a boss, where should you stay? Head to our library of hand-picked hotels, villas and resorts that are all perfect for a Bali honeymoon or romantic holiday!

And, if you are stuck for what area you want to stay in, the Holidays for Couples Bali gallery of feature articles has comprehensive guides on all the best areas to stay and play while in Bali.