What you have to know about Bali:
Bali is an island and the smallest province of Indonesia, and includes a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east, and has its capital of Denpasar at the southern part of the island.
Bali is Indonesia’s favorite tourist destination, known for its natural attractions, perfect climate and relaxed atmosphere. This island of flowers, temples and friendly people is considered a real gem by travelers worldwide. The Island also featured by the complete tourist facilities, attractions and recreations that definitely make this island as the best holiday destinations in Asia.
With a population of 3.8 million in the 2010 census, and currently 4.22 million, the island is home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority. According to the 2010 Census, 84.5% of Bali’s population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder followed Islam. Bali is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. A tourist haven for decades, the province has seen a further surge in tourist numbers in recent years.
Over the years, the grace and charm of Bali and its people have earned this tiny island numerous sobriquets of praise and homage: Island Of The Gods; The Last paradise; Land Of The Thousand Temples; Morning Of The World. Generations of foreign visitors, mesmerized by the placid lifestyle and fantastic rituals of the gregarious Balinese, have sought to capture the island’s spirit with poetic labels such as these.
And yet it is Bali that does the capturing. Covering less than 6,000 square kilometers, this lush, diamond-shaped isle attracts tourist, each drawn by the promise of a paradise on the earth. This is a land of startling geographical contracts, of verdant rice terraces and sacred, mist-wreathed volcanoes, of white-sand beaches and dense tropical rain forest. and this is home to one of the world’s most vibrant cultures; a society famed for its dance and music, it’s lavish ceremonies and artistic achievements.
More than 80 percent of the economy is based on agriculture, the other sectors being handicrafts, tourism, small trade, and professional services.
Economically and culturally, Bali is one of the most important islands of Indonesia. Rice is grown on irrigated, terraced hillsides; other crops include sugar cane, coffee, copra, tobacco, fruits and vegetables. Cattle and hogs are also raised. The Balinese are skilled artisans, particularly in woodcarving and in fashioning objects of tortoiseshell and of gold, silver and other metals. The Balinese are noted for their traditional dance, the distinctive music of the gamelan and for their skills in weaving cloth of gold and silver threads, Songket, as well as for embroidering silk and cotton clothing.
Bali of today is one of the twenty six provinces of the Republic of Indonesia, divided administratively between eight districts that take their names and boundaries from the island’s old Hindu kingdoms.
With sunshine shining throughout the year, Bali has a tropical monsoon climate, with pleasant day temperatures between 20 to 33 degrees Celsius or 68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season starts from October to March, when the West monsoon brings heavy showers and high humidity. June to September is considered the driest season, with low humidity and it can be fairly cold in the evenings, the best time for any outdoor activities.
History of Bali
The first Hindus arrived in Bali as early as 100 BC, but the unique culture which is so apparent to any current day visitor to Bali hails largely from neighbouring Java, with some influence from Bali’s distant animist past. The Javanese Majapahit Empire’s rule over Bali became complete in the 14th century when Gajah Mada, Prime Minister of the Javanese king, defeated the Balinese king at Bedulu.
The rule of the Majapahit Empire resulted in the initial influx of Javanese culture, most of all in architecture, dance, painting, sculpture and the wayang puppet theatre. All of this is still very apparent today. The very few Balinese who did not adopt this Javanese Hindu culture are known today as the Bali Aga (“original Balinese”) and still live in the isolated villages of Tenganan near Candidasa and Trunyan on the remote eastern shore of Lake Batur at Kintamani.
With the rise of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago, the Majapahit Empire in Java fell and Bali became independent near the turn of the 16th century. The Javanese aristocracy found refuge in Bali, bringing an even stronger influx of Hindu arts, literature and religion.
Divided among a number of ruling rajas, occasionally battling off invaders from now Islamic Java to the west and making forays to conquer Lombok to the east, the north of the island was finally captured by the Dutch colonialists in a series of brutal wars from 1846 to 1849. Southern Bali was not conquered until 1906, and eastern Bali did not surrender until 1908. In both 1906 and 1908, many Balinese chose death over disgrace and fought en-masse until the bitter end, often walking straight into Dutch cannons and gunfire. This manner of suicidal fighting to the death is known as puputan. Victory was bittersweet, as the images of the puputan highly tarnished the Dutch in the international community. Perhaps to make up for this, the Dutch did not make the Balinese enter into a forced cultivation system, as had happened in Java, and instead tried to promote Balinese culture through their policy of Baliseering or the “Balinisation of Bali”.
Bali became part of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945. In 1965, after the failed coup d’etat which was allegedly backed by the Communist Party (PKI), state-instigated, anti-communist violence spread across Indonesia. In Bali, it has been said that the rivers ran red with the reprisal killings of suspected communists—most estimates of the death toll say 80,000, or about five percent of the population of Bali at the time.
The current chapter in Bali’s history began in the seventies when intrepid hippies and surfers discovered Bali’s beaches and waves, and tourism soon became the biggest income earner. Despite the shocks of the terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, the magical island continues to draw crowds, and Bali’s culture remains as spectacular as ever
Culture of Bali:
Unlike any other island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (canang sari, or sesajen) found in every Balinese house, work place, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. These leaf trays are made daily and can contain an enormous range of offering items: flowers, glutinous rice, cookies, salt, and even cigarettes and coffee! They are set out with burning incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water no less than three times a day, before every meal. Don’t worry if you step on one, as they are placed on the ground for this very purpose and will be swept away anyway (But you better not step on one on purpose, because – as Balinese believe – it’ll give you bad luck!).
Balinese Hinduism diverged from the mainstream well over 500 years ago and is quite radically different from what you would see in India. The primary deity is Sanghyang Widi Wasa (Acintya), the “all-in-one god” for which other gods like Vishnu (Wisnu) and Shiva (Civa) are merely manifestations, and instead of being shown directly, he is depicted by an empty throne wrapped in the distinctive poleng black-and-white chessboard pattern and protected by a ceremonial tedung umbrella.
The Airport – DPS / Ngurah Rai International Airport
Most visitors will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA Code: DPS), also known as Denpasar International Airport. Despite this misleading name, the airport is actually located in Tuban between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 30 mins away from Denpasar. Ngurah Rai is Indonesia’s 3rd busiest international airport (after Jakarta and Surabaya) and a major hub well-connected to Australia, South-East Asia, and the rest of Indonesia.
The airport will not win any awards for style, but it is functional enough and has the usual complement of overpriced restaurants, duty-free shops and other services. ATMs which accept Cirrus and Plus cards for withdrawals are available in airport departure and arrival areas and a range money changing kiosks including some operated by Indonesian banks such as BNI, BCA and Mandiri are available at the airport. Most ATMs for international arriving passengers are available right after exiting customs. There is one ATM to the immediate left of the customs exit, and another one a short walk away; near a restaurant.
Security protocols including passenger and baggage screening are similar to other large international airports in the region. Limitations similar to those in the EU and US are placed upon the carrying of fluids and other so- called security items in hand luggage. International passengers should be prepared for scrutiny of their baggage, including all carry-on items. When departing, you will likely pass through a total of three security checkpoints, and possibly a further one at the boarding gate, so be patient, particularly when things are busy.
Security protocols at the domestic terminal are similar to those applied at other Indonesian domestic hub airports, with baggage and carry-on screening, x-ray, metal detection, hand inspections and other security measures in place for departing passengers.
Be mindful of airport porters who may attempt to take control of your luggage either adjacent to or immediately adjacent to the baggage claim or in other sections of the airport. These porters may look quite similar to actual airport officials and may carry a name badge. If you do not wish to engage the services of a porter, then a firm but polite “no” should suffice. If you do accept their services then a payment is required with Rp 5,000 being the standard charge. Many of the porters demand money if they have been successful in picking up your bag, even if you tell them not to do so. Most certainly do not pay them if they do this and completely ignore any demands they make for payment or any other ‘services’ they may claim to be able to provide.
With the move to the newer international terminal (as of October 2013); porters usually will not take control of your luggage unless they either ask you or you request their assistance (depending on which one comes first). If you do utilize them; tipping is based on size of your baggage and the time spent helping you get through customs. In most cases, your baggage will be off of the conveyor belt and lined up on the side by the time you make your way to the baggage claim area.
When departing from Bali, you are subject to the airport departure tax which can be paid in cash in Indonesian Rupiah, or US Dollars with a surcharge, so save some bills for the trip out. The airport departure tax is Rp 200,000 for international departures ($22 in May 2014) and Rp 40,000 for domestic departures. Infants under 2 years of age are exempted from departure tax (but not Visa On Arrival).
Travel to Bali:
International points of entry into Bali, Indonesia, are the Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar (DPS) and the sea ports at Padang Bai, Benoa and Gilimanuk.
Before making your travel plans to any worldwide destination, we strongly recommend you authenticate important details regarding all applicable health, passport and visa requirements.
Arriving at Bali Airport, international
Once you landed at the international terminal, listed below is the recommended procedure:
- Keep your passports with the filled out Arrival and Departure card(s) and Tax Card ready (stewardess will give them to you)
- Move to the Visa on Arrival counters and pay US$ 35 per person
- If you have already obtained a visa abroad you can skip this step
- Next go to the immigration counters and queue according to the appropriate signs. Long queues after a long flight are still happening, but getting less.
- When you have passed through immigration go towards the conveyer belt indicated on monitors according to your flight number
- Grab a trolley and collect your luggage. If you need assistance there are porters around that you can hire. They will get your luggage, escort you to your car, taxi or pick up service and help you load the vehicle
- Go through customs towards the ‘exit’ sign and give them the tax card. You will only need ONE for PER family. Make sure you do not bring more then $10,000 CASH and of course…no drugs. You could end up enjoying an all-inclusive holiday in Bali’s prison for a very long time
- Then you enter the arrival area. There’s a money changer (rates are OK) on the right just when you get out, and there are MANY people holding up name signs as they wait and page for the guests who booked a airport pick-up to be dropped to numerous hotels and villas. If you have arranged a pick up and you can’t find your name, don’t give up. The driver might just be sitting on the floor checking his sms
- If you have not yet arranged a pick-up, no problems, walk towards the blue TAXI SERVICE counter. They work with a fixed price list and the price depends on the area you want to go to. You can’t get a metered taxi at the airport – there is no real easy alternative. The prices are not too bad. Expect to pay around US$ 8-10 per taxi for the main tourist areas in the south. E.g. Umalas, Kerobokan is currently 120.000Rp. Remote areas can cost you up to $30. Tell the assistant your destination or hotel name. Arguing the price they quote is of no use if you feel that the price is too expensive or if you think your hotel is not in Seminyak, but in Legian.
- You need to pay CASH to the driver after he dropped you. So if you plan to get a taxi, remember to change some money at the counter just outside. Tipping is common but not a must.
Generally 220-240V, 50 cycles AC. Some villages may have 110V, 50 cycles AC. Power is in greater demand than supply, and shortages are common. Some outlying areas do not yet have any electricity. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 “Schukostecker” or “Schuko” or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 “Europlug” types. American and Canadian travellers should pack a voltage-changing adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment (although a lot of electronics with power adapters will work on 220 volts, check your equipment first).
It’s a good idea to carry a small flashlight with a spare bulb and batteries.Most large hotels provide hairdryers and electric adapters.
The Indonesian archipelago is spread over three time zones. Western Indonesia Standard Time, which covers the islands of Sumatra, Java & Madura, West and Central Kalimantan is 7 hours ahead of GMT; Central Indonesia Standard Time covers East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara, is 8 hours ahead of GMT; finally Eastern Indonesia Standard Time, which covers Maluku, and Irian Jaya is 9 hours ahead of GMT
Dress is normally informal in Indonesia due to the warm, humid climate and clothing of light-weight fabrics are recommended. Highland areas are noticeably cooler, however, and carrying a light sweater is suggested. Acceptable attire for men is a shirt and long pants. A jacket and tie are required for offlcial calls or for more formal occasions. Long-sleeved batik shirts are acceptable for evening functions. For ladies, dresses, blouses, and long pants are appropriate. Shorts, halter tops or tank tops should only be used at sports facilities or on the beach. Temple visits require long pants or long skirts.
Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. The most common spoken language around the tourist areas is Indonesian, as many people in the tourist sector are not solely Balinese, but migrants from Java, Lombok, Sumatra, and other parts of Indonesia. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. Kawi and Sanskrit are also commonly used by some Hindu priests in Bali, for Hinduism literature was mostly written in Sanskrit.
English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry. Other foreign languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French or German are often used in multilingual signs for foreign tourists.
The Indonesian Rupiah is the local currency, normally abbreviated to Rp followed by the value. Denominations of Rp.100 and 100 are in the form of coins, 500 and 1,000 are in either coins or bills, and Rp.5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 are only available in bills.
In Bali, carry a handful of Rp.10,000 to Rp.100,000 notes for your daily expenses. Backing this up with a credit card for major purchases is a good idea. Take note though, most mid-range hotels, all top-end hotels and some tourist attractions, car rental agencies and tour companies list their prices in US dollar. The Rupiah is still acceptable in these establishments but the exchange rate is usually more advantageous to the vendor than the tourist.
Plastic Money – Many shops accept credit cards and charge cards but often add 2-3 percent to your bill. Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most – American Express and JCB is getting much less accepted. The amount signed for and charged is in Rupiah and the bill is then converted by the clearing banks to your domestic currency.
ATM – Automatic Teller Machines are mushrooming all over the island, especially at shopping centers and bank branches. Most of them are connected to international banking networks thus making it possible to look for machines that are affiliated with your own ATM network. You can draw usually between 1.2mio and 2.5mio in one go. So if you need more money you will have to pull several times adding to the bank charges, as each transaction counts!
Banks – Most major banks have branches in the main tourist centers and provincial capitals. Banking hours are generally from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 11 a.m. on Saturdays.
Foreign currency, whether in banknotes or traveler’s checks, should be exchanged at major banks or authorized money changers (PT. Central Kuta is highly recommended). Bewhare of changing tricks !
The US dollar and nowadays the EURO are the preferred foreign currency in Bali; bring always new, clean US$ bank notes which are not damaged in any way. If for instance a corner is missing or someone scribbled something on an otherwise perfect bill, hardly anybody will accept it at full value – or at all. Forget about dollar bills older than 2007.
Exchange rates offered by money changers are generally better than by the banks, they stay open longer and transactions are faster. Sometime for US$100 notes better exchange rates are offered than for US$10 or US$20 bills.
The authorised money changer at the airport may offer lower rates than in the more popular tourist areas, so be sure to have a small note (no larger than about $10 or $20) ready to cash there, and move on to Kuta or an alternative location to cash larger amounts.
Most Money changer’s will give a slightly better rate for larger currency notes such as US Hundred dollar bills as opposed to $10’s, $20’s or $50’s
Shopping in Bali is not simply walking into a shop, picking something from a shelf and paying for it. Shopping is an art. In every traditional market and art shop around Bali bargaining is a must.
This traditional way makes shopping in Bali a fun time, where you can feel the warmth of human value in every transaction. Before you begin your shopping tour on this island, please obtain cash because most places do not accept credit cards.
In every traditional market and art shop around Bali bargaining is a must!
Even if you are not a seasoned negotiator be prepared to enjoy the bargaining process. It is a fun activity and be patient and you will get the ‘best (and maybe even local) price’. In some places you can bargain until you get 50% off. Always go in at less than a third of the price (maybe even a quarter) and bargaining and even walk away, until you get the price you want. Then make sure you pay the right money.
When bargaining, keep in mind the notion of a fair price.
Business offices are usually open either from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm or 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, with a break for lunch between 12.00 noon and 1.00 pm. On Saturday many business offices are closed. Government office hours are from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm from Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays many Government offices are closed.
Most of the roads hug the coastline or the edge of the mountains. Due to the steepness of the mountains in the interior of the island there are very few roads across the island, although some take you to the central volcanos. A car with a driver is relatively cheap if you share with a few more travellers and gives you maximum flexibility regarding the route and sights. Please check also our tours and rent car offers !
Ngurah Rai Airport Taxi has the monopoly on the taxi service out of the airport. No other taxi company is allowed to have a service counter in the airport. For up to 3 people travelling together, it’s cheaper to use the taxi, as long as the luggage fits into the boot/trunk.
Bali taxis are divided into two groups – Bluebird taxis, then all the others. Bluebird taxis have earned a reputation for being honest dealers in the often-corrupt taxi industry. Non-Bluebird taxis, on the other hand, are known for dirty tricks – not using their meter and taking roundabout routes, among other things.
Need a taxi anywhere in Bali? Just stand by the side of the road, lift your arm, and a taxi will stop to pick you up. Taxis in Bali are plentiful, with one at almost every corner, at least in South Bali.
Getting around by taxi is cheap on Bali, however you need to know a few rules.
- You should insist that the taxi driver switch on the meter at the beginning of the ride
- Starting fare is Rp. 6,000 (ca. US$ 0.6)
- Some of the drivers “tend to forget” which could lead to possible negotiations that can be avoided from the start
- Bluebird Taxi Drivers follow strict company regulations to switch on the meter immediately. With other companies you might have to insist or remind them.
- Some refuse to switch on the meter, particularly in the middle of the night in Kuta or when you want to be dropped in a remote area. Here you need to find your best bargaining and negotiation powers. Avoid settling for the first asking price
- In some areas such as in Ubud or Tanah Lot the local community manages the taxi service. Other taxi companies are not allowed to operate. These are “private cars” without meters, and you need to fix a price with the driver AFTER BARGAINING. Prices depend on distance and time of the day.
Major hotels usually add a 11% service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill would be appropriate if the service is satisfactory. Airport porters expect Rp.2,000,- for a small bag and Rp.3,000,- for bags weighing more than 20 kg. Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers is not mandatory, but if service has been satisfactory a basic Rp.1,000,- tip is sufficient for a taxi driver. Hirecar drivers would normally expect a larger tip.
Where to sleep:
Bali has, without a doubt, the best range of accommodation in Indonesia, from Rp60,000 per night ($6) losmens to US$4,000 per night super-homes.
The backpackers tend to head for Kuta, which has the cheapest digs on the island. However, if the accomodation is located near a night club they can be noisy at night. One quiet and clean place in the cheaper catagory is Hotel Oka in Jalan Padma in Legian, only a kilometre from the night clubs of Kuta and walking distance from the beach.
Many of the numerous five-star resorts are clustered in Nusa Dua, Seminyak and Ubud. Sanur and Jimbaran offer a fairly happy compromise if you want beaches and some quiet. Ubud’s hotels and resorts cater to those who prefer spas and cultural pursuits over surfing and booze. Legian is situated between Kuta and Seminyak and offers a good range of accommodation. The newest area to start offering a wide range of accommodation is Uluwatu which now boasts everything from surfer bungalows to the opulent Bulgari Hotel. Further north on the west coast is the district of Canggu, which offers many traditional villages set among undulating ricefields and a good range of accommodation. For rest and revitalisation, visit Amed, an area of peaceful fishing villages on the east coast with some good hotels and restaurants, or head for the sparsely populated areas of West Bali.
Please check our Hotel Booking Site Compare and book the cheapest rates !!!
Bali has become famous for its large collection of private villas for rent, complete with staff and top-class levels of service. Low labour costs result in single villas boasting staff teams of up to 30 people at the really high end. A private villa rental can be a great option for a visit to Bali, but it pays to be aware of the potential pitfalls.
Not every place sold as a villa actually fits the bill. Prices vary widely and some operators claim to go as low as US$30 per night (which usually means a standalone bungalow on hotel grounds with little actual privacy). Realistically, you will be looking at upwards of US$200 per night for anything with a decent location and a private pool. At the top of the range, nightly rents can easily go north of US$1,000. The general rule of you get what you pay for applies here. There are, of course, exceptions, but a 4 bedroom villa offered for US$400 and one for US$800 per night will be different in many ways—the standard of maintenance, the number of staff and their English ability, and the overall quality of furnishings and fittings in the property.
Please check our Bali Villas for rent !!!