First time in Bali?
My first time in Bali is definitely not going to be the last one! I’m not lying when I say that I completely fell in love with the country. There is something there that words can’t describe. People are the kindest, everyone is ready to help whenever you need it (you don’t even have to ask). You just feel like you’re home, like you belong. And I don’t even need to start on how beautiful nature is – you already know everything!
Now I would like to tell you few things (you can consider it as some basic tips) that are useful to know if you’re visiting Bali for the first time. In no particular order, let’s start:
1. Scooter rides all the way!
You MUST go for a scooter ride! It’s not that scary as most of the people tell you!
I have a driving license but don’t really drive at home so I was a bit scared at first since I read everywhere how traffic is chaos in Bali, but that’s not true at all. Yeah, when you come for the first time and see so many scooters and cars and everything, you’ll be terrified. But when you go for a ride you’ll realize how simple it actually is. One of the things I miss the most are those scooter rides, haha 😀
HOW THE TRAFFIC WORKS:
You get used to driving on the left side quickly (in Croatia we drive on the right side). Roads are simple, they are usually straight. Some parts maybe have a bit more curves than others but there’s no a lot of crossroads. You honk when you’re passing someone and in front of the curves so if there’s someone on the other side, they know you’re coming. You don’t worry much about what’s going on behind you. It’s only important what’s happening in front of you. And that’s it! 😀
WHY ARE SCOOTERS GREAT OPTION?
With scooters, you won’t get stuck in traffic jams. At least not that much as you would in a car. With a car, you basically can’t do anything about traffic jams except to wait. And with scooters? With scooters, you can squeeze through almost anything. You can pass from both, left and right side, whichever suits you better. You’ll always find that little space that you need to pass. And there’s that great feeling while driving a scooter in Bali that I just can’t describe so I guess you’ll have to try it for yourself. Plus, you’ll probably get a nice tan while on a scooter. 😉
2. What to pack?
Temperatures in Bali are really high with high humidity levels as well. So make sure that you pack light clothes. One light jacket is more than enough (I took a hoodie and long sleeves shirt which I didn’t use that much. Maybe just a few times when we were leaving before sunrise). Make sure you have a good pair of shoes since it’s easier to walk in them, especially if you’re going for some hikes. Water shoes are really useful while visiting waterfalls. It’s much easier to walk in them because of slippery rocks. (I’m so grateful I took them since I’m also not used to walk barefoot that much :D). And if you’re visiting beaches – flip flops. Shoes are a bad idea – too much sand. 😀
Don’t forget the sunscreen! And make sure to put it more then just once during the day (especially if you’re white like we were and use scooters a lot :D). Mosquito spray is useful too (depends on which places are you visiting). And also, waterproof bandages. Alen hurt himself the first day in our villa. Haha 😀
3. Be careful with money
Their currency is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) and their money has a lot of zeros. It’s so confusing when you face their money for the first time because you’re paying in thousands and millions. So make sure to count everything twice. But don’t worry, you get used to it very quickly. We didn’t have any bad experiences and one time when we didn’t realize that we gave too much money, they pointed it out and gave us back. 🙂 Also, make sure to change money to euros or dollars and then when you come to Bali you change it to Rupiahs.
4. Buy a SIM card
Make sure that you buy a SIM card when you come (it’s useful that at least one person in your group has it). You’ll always need to check something, text your driver, etc. We took the one from Telkomsel (apparently that’s the best Indonesian network). You’ll get 25 GB of the Internet (4 GB 4G Data, 3GB 3G Data and 18GB that you can use from 1 to 6 am) for 70 000 IDR (that’s around 5$). We used it for 2 weeks and had more than enough for basic needs (since we used free WiFi in our villa and restaurants).
5. Become a bargain expert
First time in Bali I also had my first bargain experience. I bought a lot of stuff since I liked to bargain a lot. 😀 So, the thing is that they will tell you their price, you’ll say that that’s too much and offer the amount you’re willing to pay. If they don’t want to lower the price, just act like you’re not interested and walk away. That will work. They will usually go for half of the price they offered. 🙂
6. Indonesians are the friendliest people ever
Their smiles are just so contagious. When you’re passing by their villages, they will always greet you and wave (especially children). And that really raise your mood. 😀 They will help you with anything. For example, we were going down the hill with our scooters and reached the point where there was no road anymore, just gravel. We had to turn our scooters around, but I couldn’t turn mine because it was too heavy. Two guys were passing by and they just came and helped me turn it around, I didn’t even have to ask. Indonesians leave the best first impression. 😀 Definitely will make your first time in Bali unforgettable.
7. Make sure to always leave a small donation
Like I already said, people there are really nice and will gladly pose for your photos or take a photo with you. For example at one village the men let us pose with his roosters. He even picked a flower and put it in my hair. 😀 We also saw people working in rice terraces and went to the field to get some shots of them working. They didn’t mind it and were kind to us. We left a small donation to everyone. That won’t make any difference for you, but it will mean a lot to them. 🙂
8.Make sure to try local food/drinks
Bali coffee is the best coffee. As a group of non-coffee drinkers, we enjoyed Bali coffee way too much. So many flavors! Our favorite one is definitely coconut coffee. Haven’t tried the luwak one, but we bought it (will let you know when we try it at home :D). So make sure you try all the flavors, you won’t regret it and you’ll probably end up spending a lot of money on buying it for home. 😀 Plus, you can try their awesome tea too (Rosella is the best).
We also tried some local food such as noodles (our favorite), coconut chicken (this is really interesting food to try :D), fried bananas, dragon fruit (best fruit ever!) and delicious bananas pancakes with honey (our breakfast dessert every single day!). Don’t be afraid to experiment.
9. Wake up for sunrise
As you all know Bali is extremely popular with tourists nowadays. That means a lot of people at every location! But… if you wake up for sunrise, you’ll have a particular location just for yourself. Well, you may stumble upon some photographers/videographers (everyone knows how much we love sunrises :D). Plus, sunrises in Bali are really beautiful (sunrises everywhere actually haha) and seeing those sun rays is just so mesmerizing. Try it at least once and then thank me later. 😉
10. Make sure to fully explore everything
One of the most amazing waterfalls, rice fields, volcanoes, lakes, beaches, beautiful temples, animals… Bali has everything. There’s no time to visit everything (well depends on how long are you staying), but make sure that you fully enjoy places that you do visit. Take a moment and enjoy yourself.
- You’ll find guides extremely helpful
Honestly, you don’t need guides, you won’t be lost without them, but they are extremely helpful (when visiting waterfalls). For example, when we were at Sekumpul waterfall I really wanted to take a photo at the huge rock but was having second thoughts about it since I saw someone having a hard time coming down. When guide realized that he offered me help. He pointed out every step I need to take and I was up and down in a minute without any problem. Also, he went with me close to the waterfall so I can swim there and I was there without any problem since he knows the best way to come there. I saw some people fall down because rocks are really slippery (because of the water, of course, :D) but that didn’t happen to me because guides really look after you. 😀 Also, they help you a lot when for example crossing a river, they offer to carry your stuff. One even borrowed my friend loafers when he couldn’t walk barefoot anymore. Plus, you’ll learn some interesting stuff from them. 🙂
11. Be adventurous
This tip is closely connected to the previous one as jumping from waterfalls and natural waterfall slides are quite popular in Bali. I was jumping from a waterfall for the first time in Bali. It was at Aling Aling waterfall (well, waterfalls close to the Aling-Aling). The first jump was just 5 meters high and I have to admit I was scared since I never jumped from a place like that. But it felt awesome! Then I skipped 10 meters jump and went straight to 15 meters (I’m not that brave it’s just that I’m not a good jumper and at 10 meters you need to take a run-up and then jump so I didn’t want to risk it :D). I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. 😀 Big thanks to Terri, the best guide ever! He was so patient, explained me everything, calmed me down, encouraged me… And then when I jumped he jumped right away to make sure I was okay. It’s definitely the craziest thing I’ve done so far and I would regret if I hadn’t. So go for it! You have a life jacket, so you’re safe. 🙂
At the same waterfall, you have a natural waterfall slide which is better than every slide ever! 😀 I liked it so much that I went down over and over again. At Sekumpul waterfall you have a tour with jumping and sliding too. We didn’t try it (and I couldn’t feel sorrier for that!), so if you do try, make sure to let me know how was it. 🙂
I also tried rafting at the Ayung river. It’s great for beginners because it’s level 2-3. (this was my first time :D). It’s not that scary but it’s a fun experience and the guide will do anything to entertain you during the rafting.
Elephant ride is a great thing too! But make sure to go to the elephant sanctuary (Mason Elephant Park & Lodge) where they take care of elephants saved (mostly) from Sumatra. Paying for elephant ride is a great way to help them as (apart from money) elephants need their daily stretching. J Also, elephant caretakers are really kind and you’ll have a nice chat with them during the ride. I went with Houdini and his elephant Roxy and had a great time. This was actually my first time seeing and being so close to the elephant and would definitely recommend anyone to try the same.
And there’s tons of other stuff that we didn’t have a chance to try but definitely will the next time (quad rides, water activities, swimming with manta rays, etc.)
12. Don’t leave the trash!
What I noticed in Bali (and in every other touristic place) is a lot of trash that people leave. So please, if you’re somewhere and have any kind of trash, just put it in your backpack and throw it away in the nearest trash can or back at the place where you’re staying. Let’s keep nature clean, it’s not that hard. 🙂