In general, today you can google everything. Which is not necessarily always a good idea, for example when you feel sick. First of all, doctors hate self-analyzing of amateurs and second, you will get the impression that you will die because of your szneezing because it’s some kind of super exotic desease ;-)
It’s the same before going on a holiday trip. You’ve read your Lonely Planet, you are prepared, and then you google certain things. We all do this. We all will find the nightmare stories of some strangers and even though we know that these things won’t happen to us, we keep that in mind. So with this post, I want to answer some random questions that might pop up and keep you from reading horror stories ;-)
How do I travel from A to B in Bali?
Transport is rather easy and cheap, even though it is slow in many cases. Especially around the bigger cities like Kuta, Ubud or Canggu, the streets are crowded with scooters and cars and it might take you a while to drive 10kms.
There is not much public transport, even though some shuttle services exist (Perama Bus for example). They leave more or less on time and are rather cheap (and never fully booked). You can also book shuttle services via street agencies and many of the speed boat companies offer shuttles to get you to your final destinations too. But be aware, they are slow.
Taxi is more or less the most common way to travel. There is one official taxi company in bigger cities (those blue thingies and their drivers wear blue shirts too), which uses taximeters. With all others you might need to haggle a bit for a fixed price. If you want to be sure what is ok, ask the manager of your hotel or homestay. There are also services like Uber, but it is absolutely not welcome there. And you can also hire a driver with a scooter to get you to some places.
Scooter driving is also pretty common, if you have good nerves and are able to drive a scooter with at least good skills (nothing for beginners!), it is a perfect ride. On island like the Gilis there is only bicycles and horse coaches. Yep. Horse coaches.
Are there dangerous animals?
Google says there are cobras, snakes falling from trees, spiders and so on. Let me say it that way: there will be way more animals seeing you than you seeing them, and you definitely don’t always want to know what is rustling between the bushes. These animals do exist and not only far outside the towns. In general the rule is: if you don’t know it, don’t touch it. During my trip in only saw two snakes (from afar, like in the sea while snorkeling or it was swimming between rice plants), one waran and some smaller spiders, no idea if they were poisonous or not. At wet areas there are frogs – they can be venomous for sure. Geckos are not and they are everywhere, even inside your room, where they make funny sounds. And eat mosquitoes, so they will be good friends for you.
Petting dogs or monkeys can be dangerous, since many of them are infected with rabies. I have a vaccination against it, still I am always careful. Dogs aren’t aggressive usually, sometimes they have a little street fight, then you just keep aside. But the monkeys especially at Monkey Forest in Ubud can get very aggressive and bite a lot. That was also the reason why I skipped this sight, because first, I hate the idea of making them aggressive for tourist entertainment and making them photo material only and second, they are running around in the area around that park anyways and you can watch them better and way more relaxed without biting. I therefore also highly recommend a rabies vaccination before going to Asia.
Is Bali dirty?
Compared to central Europe you might find it dirty, and of course they have a huge trash problem, because the awareness of using trash bins and recycling or reducing plastic or trash in general is not as big as it is in Europe. Still, compared for example to Sri Lanka, it is way less dirty. There are many initiatives to collect trash or recycle or use alternative materials. It is only the first step. But after hearing crazy stories about the dirt there, I was surprised in a very positive way.
How is Bali for solo traveling women?
I will probably dedicate a special blogpost to this topic, but long story short – it was super easy, respectful and a wonderful experience. Maybe also because I am used to the rather stressful traveling in Sri Lanka on my own, but I always felt relaxed.
Is it expensive?
Since there are so many expats and travelers from rich countries like Australia, there are lots of luxury hotels, villas, spas and restaurants too. But in general, eating, drinking, living and sleeping in Bali is rather cheap. Eating in a good warung will cost you about 3-5 Euros including a drink. A beer is mostly around 1,5 Euros. But yes, when you eat in a hipster restaurant in Canggu three times a day and get some fancy coffees in between, it will sum up, as they are in general more European price level. You can sleep from 5 to 500 Euros in Ubud – just as you wish.
What about the food?
Actually the food became really international. You can get awesome Pizza, Sushi, Burgers or whatever in the hotspot areas. I usually prefer the local food – which in this case means Indonesian with some special accents. Loads of veggies, rice and fish or meat. Banana pancakes!!! There is also tempeh (which you should definitely try) – fermented soy and similar to tofu. Famous foods are for example Nasi Goreng, Beef Randang or sate skewers. I loved the food there, especially when you get some extra spicy sauces or chilis in it.
There is not so much sweet stuff – but you have aaaaall the awesome fruit and a lot of great ice cream places.
If you are a coffee lover, be careful. “Bali kopi” – Balinese coffee- is powder coffee stirred in extremely hot water. Not soooo much my taste, but the strongest coffee you can get (keeps you awake the whole day for sure). But since there are so many coffee shops with all kinds of coffee variations, you will get your daily dose of caffeine (and you can taste the good Australian influence).
Be careful with water. I met people who drank tab water, I sticked to bottled water or water from water machines. But I was not as careful as for example in Sri Lanka, where I even brushed my teeth with bottled water.
In general I had no problems with food or drinks, as long as you follow the general rules (eat where the locals eat!). Ah, and cash is king. Using a credit card is not possible everywhere, but there are millions of atm to serve you.
Is Bali safe?
I think so, yes. I was never afraid that someone would rob me. I never saw any violence, and people are helpful and really really friendly.
What do I wear?
You can wear shorts, dresses, bikinis on the beach, whatever you want. There is no problem with religion or local traditions. In a temple, you must wear a sarong and women are not allowed going there while menstruating. But in general, I would not go sunbathing topless or walk around without a t-shirt as a man.
I never needed a warm sweater except on Mt. Batur. I preferred layering with shirts and it might be a good idea to get a rain cape when the rainy season starts, because you can always get into a little rain shower ;-) Keep it light and fluffy, since the air is hot and humid. And if you need to wash, go to one of the laundries where they use driers, because due to the humidity in the air, it takes endless time to dry your clothes.
There are loads of shops where you can shop clothes, yoga stuff, bikinis, shoes or jewelry. And since you will fall in love with many things, you might keep that fact in mind when packing your suitcase – leave a bit of space ;-)
I got two tattoos in Bali, but these were not a spontaneous idea, I planned it like I would do it at home. I would not go to any tattoo shop, but look for an international place with high quality and hygiene standards. I was at Babayaga, a studio owned by Russians, in Canggu – a place which I can highly recommend. There are many different artists and different styles, everything is custom, they are super cool and creative and the atmosphere is relaxed. They give you a after care package, still keep in mind, that sea water, sun or sand is definitely nothing good for a fresh tattoo. If you go there, you will enjoy it, and you will have a hard time deciding what you want, believe me. They also do walk ins – follow them on Instagram and you will be informed and see all the awesome shit that is made there.
I got mine on the last day and am super happy with my stuff. It’s healing perfectly and I fall in love again and again every day.
The main place to practice yoga is definitely Ubud as it is also the spiritual center of Bali. Locations like the Yoga Barn or the many retreats offer countless possibilities and usually have a daily schedule where you can book classes. I highly recommend attending a retreat, mine at Blooming Lotus in Ubud was really breathtaking.
But also everywhere else there is a broad range of yoga classes and for us Europeans it is a wonderful opportunities to practice in nature. Just try or google the places in advance, most of them have ratings. I attended a morning Hatha class at Desa Seni in Canggu with Bernd. It was simply amazing, also due to the location, and very motivating (even though I felt my whole body on the next day ^^).
I hope I could give you some answers. If you have any other questions, just let me know! Some of them might be answered in my other Bali posts, have fun reading it :-)