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Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Bali Indonesia

Last Updated on October 30, 2021 by queenie mak

Bali is a dream destination for most travellers and it is an exceptional place for solo female travellers!

But if you are planning your first solo trip to Bali, then you must have a lot of questions about the island, how to get around, and other things you may or may not be aware of.

I’ve been to Bali several times and spent a lot of time in Canggu, Seminyak and Ubud. These are some of the best tourist spots on the island. So I know a thing or two when it comes to Bali.

I put together a list of things I wish I knew before going to Bali in this post. These are all the questions I had before my first trip to Bali, and I wished someone told me about it all.

So keep reading and learn how you can efficiently plan your trip by learning all my travel tips for Bali.

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21 things to know before going to Bali

If you are travelling to Bali for the first time, you must have a lot of questions about logistics, how to get around, etc.

I’ve compiled 21 things to know before going to Bali. They include all my travel tips for Bali and are especially useful if you plan to visit Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud.

1. Do I need a visa for visiting Bali?

All travellers will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS).

But before you travel to Bali, make sure your passport has a minimum of six months validity and you have a return airplane ticket. And also, check if you need a visa.

Visitors travelling from one of 169 visa-free countries can enter Indonesia under visa exemption and stay up to 30 days. The visa cannot be extended.

Travellers from one of 68 visa-on-arrival countries will be given a 30-day visa-on-arrival when they touchdown in Bali. It is possible to extend the visa for another 30 days.

And travellers going to Bali for purposes other than tourism will have to apply the appropriate visa at the Indonesia Embassy in their home country before they fly out to Bali.

*Note* – All Bali entry requirements have changed during the pandemic and they continue to change quickly and often. Make sure to check the IATA website for the most updated entry requirements.

2. How do I travel from the airport to my hotel?

There are several ways to travel from DPS airport to Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud or anywhere else on the island. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Prearrange a ride with your hotel – send a request to your hotel and ask for the rate for an airport pick-up
  2. Order a car ride at the airport – there is a counter at the arrival hall where you can order a taxi to your destination
  3. Prearrange a ride with a driver – see point #9 below
  4. Order a car with Gojek – see point #4 below

3. How do I get a prepaid SIM card?

The airport sells prepaid SIM cards but they are costly. However, it is more convenient to get one at the airport especially if you need to be online right away. But if you can wait until you get to your destination in Bali, then do that.

The cheapest prepaid SIM cards are sold at the local mobile phone store. There are many in Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud and other cities. And they look something like the photo above.

The most common one is Telkomsel’s Simpati prepaid SIM card. Choose from various plans (depending on the number of days you’ll be in Bali) and make sure to bring your passport (or a copy of it) for your initial purchase.

As for the price, a 14-day prepaid SIM card costs 100k IDR. You get 10GB of data, 300 minutes and 300 SMS.

When your plan is over, you can top up your SIM card at the store. All you have to do is to bring your mobile phone with you, select the package you want to top up and pay, and the store clerk will add the credit for you. Monthly top-ups start from 50k IDR for 3GB per month.

4. How do I get around Bali?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any public buses or any public transportation in Bali. And walking doesn’t seem to be ideal either because not many places are walkable, and some areas do not have sidewalks.

The best way to get around Bali is by driving a scooter.

But if you don’t have a scooter, you can use Gojek. Gojek is the best way to get around town, travel from the airport or to travel to other parts of the island.

Gojek is similar to Grab or Uber, where you can order a car, but you can request a scooter or a car. It is a popular car and bike service in Bali.

First, download Gojek on your smartphone. Then you can order a GoRide (which is a scooter) or GoCar (different types of cars).

Pro-tip: you can even use Gojek for food delivery! Look for GoFood on the app.

5. Do I need an international driver’s license before going to Bali?

If you plan on renting a scooter while you are in Bali, then you will need a proper driving license.

Before you leave for Bali, get your international license in your home country. You can use the international license to drive a scooter in Bali.

6. What if I don’t know how to ride a scooter?

Like I mentioned already, the best way to get around Bali is by riding a scooter, especially on smaller islands like Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida.

And if you don’t know how to ride a scooter, there are companies in Bali that can teach you how to ride a scooter.

I learned how to drive a scooter through Canggu Scooter Lessons.

You can get one-on-one scooter lessons from one of the staff from Canggu Scooter Lessons. It costs 150k IDR each hour. The lesson includes a scooter, helmet and a pick-up from your place.

The lesson is customized to your level and will start from the parking lot by practicing acceleration, balancing, turning, breaking, and etc.

It helps if you already know how to ride a bicycle. But even if you don’t, you can get a bit more practice with the guys from Canggu Scooter Lessons.

If you are ready for a scooter lesson, contact Canggu Scooter Lessons through their WhatsApp number one day before to schedule a lesson.

7. Where do I rent a scooter?

There are many scooter rental places all over Bali. Most of them are concentrated in the tourist areas of Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud.

Daily and weekly scooter rentals are possible. But you’ll get the cheapest rate if you rent it a month at a time.

Monthly rental starts from 750k IDR per month depending on which scooter you get. Plus, you can get a scooter surfboard rack if you plan on surfing in Bali.

If you are a beginner scooter driver, you can get a Honda Scoopy or a Honda Vario. They are both pretty common in Bali.

Since I always stay in Canggu, I rent my scooter from Family Rental Motor Bike in Berawa. They have really good service and good communication through WhatsApp.

When you rent your scooter, make sure to bring your passport (or a copy of it). Also provide your address in Bali and a WhatsApp phone number.

8. Where do I get petrol for my scooter?

There are actual petrol stations on the main roads around Bali, similar to the ones you see in North America, Asia and everywhere else. These petrol stations service both cars and scooters. And the price is cheaper than the local petrol pumps.

If you are in a hurry, you can still get gas at a local petrol station (see photos above) which lines the smaller streets of Canggu, Seminyak, Ubud and other touristy areas. When I call them “stations,” they are simply gas pumps in front of a shop or convenience store.

It costs about 35-40k IDR to fill up the entire tank for your scooter.

9. What if I don’t want to ride a scooter and go for a long day trip?

If you want to take a full-day trip to several places in Bali, hire a driver and car and the driver will take care of all the transportation and logistics.

It is very common for tourists to hire a car for the day. All you have to do is give a list of places you want to visit in Bali, and your driver will plan the day and take you to all the places you wish to see.

And if you don’t know exactly where to go, an experienced driver can take you to all the best attractions in Bali and even some of the local places that are off the beaten path.

My friend Mertee is an excellent driver. He is available for airport pickup and can be hired for the day. You can contact him through Facebook and let him know that I referred you. I don’t get any commission at all. I really like how he is always friendly and helpful.

10. What is the standard voltage for Bali?

The standard voltage is 230V. The power socket is type C and F.

Unless you are coming from an European countries like the Netherlands or Portugal, you may need a travel adapter for all your electronics. Check here to determine if you need to bring a travel adapter.

11. Should I bring all my medications to Bali?

If you are on specific medication, bring enough supply for your entire trip to Bali.

But if you need something more general like aspirin or something to cure “Bali belly” (aka upset stomach or traveller’s diarrhea), you can get that at a pharmacy.

And there are plenty of pharmacies in all the touristy towns. Pharmacies like Guardian and other local stores have many types of medication where you can buy over the counter.

12. What is the official language in Bali?

Balinese locals speak Bahasa Indonesia, but some (especially locals in the hospitality fields) can speak English.

I’ve travelled to Bali many times and can get around the island with only English. I know a few Indonesian words like selamat pagi (good morning) and terima kasih (thank you) and a few food words.

But if you learn a few phrases, locals really appreciate your effort to speak with them in their language.

13. Where do I get money in Bali?

There are many ATMs in the touristy areas of Bali. You can find ATMs like the ones in the photo in Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud, Uluwatu, airport and any areas with tourist attractions.

Generally, ATMs allow you to take out any amount up to 3mil IDR. And the bank fee is dependent on your bank so make sure to check the fees are involved with taking money from an ATM in Bali.

Most local establishments will only take cash as payment. Whereas some restaurants, hotels, spas and other high-end places will take credit cards. This brings me to the next question…

14. Do I need to bring my credit card to Bali?

You can use cash anywhere in Bali. But you should also bring your credit card with you since some restaurants, day spas, and hotels accept credit card payments.

And using a credit card at the supermarket is especially useful because your final bill will often be an odd amount, and when you pay by cash, you will end up with a lot of change, i.e. coins. This may or not may not be a big deal, but it isn’t easy to use the coins in Bali, so you’ll end up with a lot of them at the end of your trip.

15. Where do I do wash my clothes in Bali?

In the touristy areas of Bali, there are laundromats along the main roads. It is pretty easy to find one in Canggu, Seminyak and Ubud. You’ll just have to look for a sign for “laundry” or peek in and see if the shop has many washing machines.

All you need to do is drop off your laundry and pick up your clean clothes the following day. It costs about 20k IDR per kilo. Every time I drop off laundry is about 1 to 1.5kg so I never spend more than 30k IDR each time.

Also, I’ve seen prices as low as 7k IDR per kilo on the small roads and the outskirts of town. Might be worth trying if you are on a strict budget.

16. How should I dress while travelling around Bali?

If you are touring around Bali, there isn’t a strict dress code.

But when you are visiting some of the sacred temples around the island, both women and men are expected to wear shirts that cover the shoulders and part of the upper arms.

Sometimes the temple will provide sarongs at the front entrance, where you can borrow a sarong during your visit.

But if you are planning a day of sightseeing around the island, wear a top that covers your shoulder and bring your own sarong to be sure that you can enter the holy site.

17. Can women visit sacred temples during their monthly menstrual cycle?

If you are planning any day trips or excursions to temples and other holy sites around Bali, make sure you are not going during your monthly menstrual cycle.

Yes, you read that correctly. In Bali, women are not allowed to enter temples when they are menstruating. Both locals and foreigners must abide by this tradition.

Some temples (especially the touristy ones) will have signs at the entrance to remind women not to enter if they are having their menstration.

Please respect the Hindu temples and Hinduism traditions/rules while travelling in Bali, as it is an important aspect of the local culture.

18. Are spas and massages affordable in Bali?

Going to the spa is one of the best things you can do in Bali. As this is my favourite solo travel activity, I know a thing or two.

There is a range of spa services you can choose from. Many of the local day spas are on the main roads in Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud where you can find cheap massages, hair treatments, manicures and pedicures.

But if you spend a bit more (and still not a lot of money compared to the prices back home), you can get an ultra-luxurious experience at a day spa.

A 60-minute Balinese massage starts from 250k IDR at a gorgeous day spa. You can also get manicures and pedicures starting from 150k IDR.

Whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be one of the best spa experiences you will ever have!

19. Are there any western food options in Bali?

If there is one thing Bali has, it is a lot of excellent western cafes! Seriously, cafes are abundant throughout the areas of Canggu, Seminyak, Ubud and Uluwatu.

Since Bali is a big tourist destination, there are many eateries catering to visitors.

You can get eggs with avocado on a sourdough bread toast anywhere on the island. Plus, you will find some of the best coffee you will ever have! And not to mention any brunch items, burgers, sandwiches, and everything else in between.

And best of all, they are all affordable (especially compared to the prices back home).

20. Are there any vegetarian and vegan food options in Bali?

There are plenty of food options in Bali that caters to vegetarians and vegans. Local warungs have a lot of vegetables on their menu while western-styled cafes have a variety of salads, buddha bowls and smoothie bowls.

Some of the best cafes in Canggu have a variety of veggie-based menu items. And for those of you who require gluten-free options, they got you covered too.

And same goes for cafes in Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu and anywhere else on the island. You can easily find wholesome food and healthy food options that taste great and come with a cheap price tag.

21. What type of budget should I be allocating for accommodations in Bali?

Bali has a variety of accommodations that can cater to any type of budget.

Budget travellers can enjoy excellent hostels and guest houses for as cheap as 170k IDR per night. Or upgrade to the swankiest private villas where you can pay anywhere from 300k IDR and upwards.

And because accommodation is very affordable in Bali, I recommend staying at a private villa where you get your own house or room, an outdoor area and a swimming pool. There are plenty of villas in Canggu, Seminyak, Ubud and other parts of the island. It is part of the Bali experience that you don’t want to miss! Plus, it is completely affordable on a solo traveller’s budget.

It is easy to find accommodations throughout the island. Check Agoda for the most competitive rates.

From my experience, Agoda is one of the best sites for booking hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. I’ve never had any issues with my bookings.

Are these tips for travelling to Bali helpful for planning your first solo trip?

I know that 21 things might seem like a lot of things to know before going to Bali. But honestly, you will come across all of these topics in one way or another. So you might as well learn them first, so you are prepared for your trip to Bali.

And if it is your first time travelling to Bali, follow my 10 day Bali itinerary so you can see the best attractions on the island efficiently and on a budget.

Let me know in the comments if these Bali tips for first-timers are helpful to you or if there are any other tips for Bali that I should include in the list.

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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