BALI TRAVEL TIPS: 10 Tips and Cautions for Visiting Bali

Ubud Water Palace- Ubud- Bali

Ubud’s gorgeous Water Palace

BALI TRAVEL TIPS: 10 Tips and Cautions for Visiting Bali 

Anyone who’s familiar with me or LashWorldTour knows that I absolutely love Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been making extended visits of the island since 2000, when I first discovered this amazing, culturally-rich tropical paradise. Of all the places I’ve traveled in the world, Bali is the one place I’d like to retire to one day.

Still every place has its annoyances, issues and things to be aware of. Here’s my list of helpful tips, minor cautions and things to avoid while visiting ‘Island of the Gods’. Knowing these could help you enjoy your visit to Bali to the fullest. 

cheap flights to Bali - flight taking off at sunset

international flight taking off at sunset

Cheapest Flights to Bali

If you’re looking for cheap flights to Bali, it’s helpful to know that:

The cheapest flights to/from Bali originate in SE Asia. That makes sense since it’s the closest region to Bali. The absolute cheapest flights originate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore. Flights to Bali from Bangkok and other major SE Asian cities are significantly pricier.

If you’re traveling around SE Asia, it might be worth your time/money to travel to KL or Singapore first and then fly to Bali. Check out current flight prices online before deciding.

From Europe and North America flying into KL, Singapore, and especially Bangkok, is considerably cheaper than ‘directly’ flying to Bali.  (Currently about $200-$400 more expensive to Bali)  If you have a long enough vacation, it could be worth your while/money to combine a trip to Bali with a visit to Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand beforehand.

One strategy would be to get a less expensive flight to Bkk, Sing or KL.  Spend a week or two there, then continue on to Bali with a cheap flight from SE Asia. You might save yourself a couple hundred dollars and get to see two countries!  In any event, be sure to compare flights on airlines’ official websites as well as on comprehensive flight search websites.

Bali travel tips - Indonesian Visa Info

Indonesian Visa Info

 Visas and visa extensions

There are several different visas available for visiting Indonesia. Each has its own cost and extension possibilities. Here’s a quick summary of the three visas most useful for travelers:

 Visa on Arrival

Nationals of 52 countries can arrive in Bali without a visa. In that case, at Bali’s airport you purchase a Visa on Arrival when passing through immigration. As of 2015, it costs $35 US and is valid for 30 days. You can extend it once only, for one month, for  $35 US at the Indonesian Immigration office in Denasar, the airport, or Singaraja.

 Tourist Visa

This is a 2-month (60 days) visa which you must get at an Indonesian Embassy before you go to Bali. Apply at any Indonesian Embassy with their application form, photos, photocopies of your passport. It costs roughly $50 US. The exact amount will be affected by the currency of the country in which the Embassy is located.

Tourist Visas can be renewed after arrival in Bali 1-4 times, one month each, for a total of 6 months’ stay before you must leave the country. Each month you must visit an Indonesian Immigration office within the country, pay 250,000 rp, and do a bunch of paperwork. Alternately, you can hire a visa consultancy agency, who will do all the work for you. The drawback with hiring an agent is that it costs about 650,000 rp.

Check the Indonesian Embassy website for exact current information.

 Social Visa

Just like the Tourist Visa, this is a 2-month (60 days) visa which you must get at an Indonesian Embassy before you go to Bali. Apply at any Indonesian Embassy with their application form, photos, photocopies of your passport. It costs roughly $50 US. The exact amount will be in the currency of the country in which the Embassy is located.

To obtain a social visa, you must have an Indonesian national sponsor you. That means your sponsor must send a letter and forms to you or the Embassy in order for your visa to be processed. Since the Tourist Visa can now be extended up to 4 times, just like the Social Visa, it’s much easier to get the Tourist Visa.

public transport - Bali

public transport – Bali


Public transportation is not easy in Bali like it is in every other SE Asian country. The Balinese have distinctly segregated transportation for locals and transport for tourists. Tourist transport, which you’ll find everywhere, is outrageously expensive. Essentially, you have to hire a mini-van and driver. Prices for a 3-hour drive are currently about 300,000 rp ( > $30 US) That’s way more than transportation costs in neighboring countries.

The other option is using local buses. Unfortunately, very few buses go directly from A to B. You usually have to take 2 – 4 buses to reach your destination, which could easily take all day, even for a destination that’s a 3-hour trip by car. In addition, no buses run to/from major tourist areas. So if you’re in a tourist area, your first big hurdle is getting to a bus station. Good luck. In Bali transportation boils down to your time or your money.

Another option is to secure your own transportation: bicycle, motorbike or car. It’s very easy to rent or buy all three in Bali. I always get around either by bicycle or motorbike.

Kuta - Bali

Kuta – Bali

 Kuta Sprawl

Bali’s famous / notorious Kuta beach sprawls out along the coast from the airport for at least 10 km and now encompasses Tuban, Legian, Seminyak and Cangu. Kuta is tourist Bali, where you’ll find a massive maze of alleyways full of souvenir shacks, designer stores, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and surf shops. If you’re a teenager looking for exciting surfing and party action, Kuta could be an exciting place to hang out.

Otherwise, do yourself a HUGE favor: skip the Kuta sprawl entirely. I can’t tell you how many travelers I’ve met who went to Kuta, despite guidebook descriptions and other people’s warnings, and were completely horrified. Why do that to yourself? Especially when there are so many wonderful places around Bali island. Forget Kuta and see the rest of Bali.


One thing about Bali that most first time visitors are shocked and dismayed about are Bali’s assertive and persistent touts. Locals constantly approach westerners trying to sell sarongs, massages, transportation, tours, jewelery… It can become extremely annoying. The best way to avoid them completely is to steer clear of heavily tourist-ed places like south Bali. You won’t come across touts in Bali’s more rural areas. (hint hint)

Otherwise, while you’re in tourist areas the best thing to do to minimize your encounters and aggravation is to totally ignore them, as if they don’t exist. If you respond in any way, they’ll keep right at you. As long as you continue interacting with them, they’ll never stop.

I know it can feel extremely rude to westerners to completely ignore someone who’s talking to us. We’re taught to politely respond to anyone and everyone who talks to us. Go right ahead then, try it. You’ll be pestered to death. From a local’s perspective, as long as someone is interacting with them, that someone is potentially interested. On the other hand, being ignored is a clear message that the person is not interested.

no drugs sign - Bali tips

no drugs sign – Bali tips


In Indonesia, the penalty for drug possession / trafficking is life imprisonment or death. That’s a pretty heavy risk to take for some recreational pleasure! Yet as I write, dozens of westerners are rotting away in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison near Kuta in south Bali. You can bet the prison conditions are not rosy. Do yourself a favor and enjoy recreational habits in a less stern country.


arak cocktail - Bali

arak cocktail – Bali

 Arak – methanol poisoning

Arak is a traditional Balinese distilled spirits made from toddy palm trees. Both legal and bootleg distilleries exist around the island. It’s a popular drink among locals for religious ceremonies, festivals, family gatherings and socializing. Arak is also used for cocktails in many tourist restaurants, hotels and resorts. It has a great, slightly fermented flavor and a strong punch. Overall, arak is a safe and delicious spirit with a strong kick.

Unfortunately, in recent years occasional cases of methanol poisoning have been cropping up randomly in Bali. Such poisoning causes blindness or death. Both locals and tourists have been poisoned. if you drink arak during your visit make sure you imbibe at hotels and bars that use only legally processed arak from regulated factories or else drink at popular, well-frequented local bars. How to check? Ask the barman. The risk is quite low and cases are rare. But it’s a serious complication when it happens.

To learn more about arak read my post: Arak and Tuak, Bali’s Locally Brewed ‘Moonshine’

Bali man and dog

Balinese man hugging his dog – a very unusual sight


Since 2010, Bali has been battling rabies, mostly from dogs. A few dozen people have died from dog bites during the past three years, mostly in rural areas. The Balinese authorities and veterinarians have been trying hard to eradicate the disease. Hundreds of stray dogs have been exterminated. Vaccines have been passed around to vets and hospitals all over the island. Vaccines have been administered to both dogs and people.

Tourists are not likely to be affected, but just be aware of the potential threat and steer clear of any unhealthy looking dogs or other animals, particularly monkeys and cats. One clue: animals in Indonesia are generally very afraid of people and don’t allow humans to touch them. So if you come across an animal approaching you, you might want to get away.

Secondly, rabid animals become aggressive, may bite or attack, and may foam at the mouth. In the unlikely event that you get scratched or bit, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt vaccination is essential.

Lash - motorbike - Bali

I really enjoy driving my rental motorbike in Bali – but make sure to wear a helmet!

 Traffic Police Corruption in south Bali

(sorry, no photos for obvious reasons)

Renting a motorbike or car in Bali is easy, cheap and convenient. But be very careful of police when driving anywhere in south Bali. That includes the airport – Kuta – Legion – Seminyak – Sanur – Denpasar region. Police love pulling over westerners on bikes! Make sure you have the bike registration, your helmet on your head, and an international driver’s license. Also don’t inadvertently break any rules, like stopping on the zebra lane at a red light. They’ll nail you for a ‘fine’ in a second.

On the other hand, an acceptable ‘fine’ (read ‘bribe’) most times is 50,000 rp (< $6 US). That’s not so very bad, compared to the fines you’d get, say, in the USA.

The rest of Bali is an entirely different story. Police are not on the look-out for driving tourists and they’ll leave you completely alone. One exception is the region around north Bali’s most famous dive sites, specifically the roads between Amlapura city and Tulamben.

beach near Negara- Bali

beautiful beach near Negara- southwest Bali

 Dangerous seas

The sea at many of Bali’s beaches can be quite dangerous. There are often extremely strong undertows and rip currents. At Bali’s most popular tourist beaches, such as the long strip from Kuta to Seminyak, large signs clearly indicate which areas are currently safe and which are dangerous. Pay attention! Don’t enter the dangerous sea zones. Every year a few people drown in Bali. I once witnessed two local boys drown while a throng of people stood by watching, helplessly.

At other less-known beaches around Bali, don’t just assume you can jump in and swim. Always ask locals first if it’s safe or not. Ask about currents. Smaller, calm coves like those found at Amed, northeast Bali, are generally fairly safe as long as you stay within the bay. But wide sweeping beaches found around the island might be very dangerous. If you don’t see any locals in the water, there might be a good reason to stay out.


Do you have experience with any of these issues in Bali?

         If so, share your story! 

Do you have any other helpful tips for visiting Bali? 




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  1. Matt Pease

    Hi Lash –

    Great site!

    This Visa information is a little out of date, no? I think the tourist visa now is for 2 months and can be extended to 3 months, no?

    I’m trying to plan out a trip just now & am deciding how long we should stay. Is the Visa for all of Indonesia? Because we’d like to surf and we’d also maybe like to head to Bunaken.

    Thank you!
    Matt & Reka

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Matt,

      Umm… You might want to re-read what i wrote in this post? I did say the tourist visa is valid for 2 months (actually 60 days to be exact). And I believe all my other visa info is correct right now. It was certainly correct as of Dec, 2012 during my 4th extension of my tourist visa. I suppose it’s possible that things have changed this year, but I really doubt it. You can stay a total of 6 months… All the exact detalis are in this post. Just check it over again. lol.

      Yes, the visa is valid for ALL of Indonesia. You can most certainly go to Bunaken.

      HOpe you’re enjoying your trip planning!

      cheers, Lash

  2. Zahirah

    Hello! I’m travelling to Bali for the first and am very excited ! But just wanted to know what to look out for ! So thank you so much for this great tips . All the best !

    p/s; envy you for being able to travel the world alone. Kudos.

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hello Zahirah,


      Wow, off to Bali for the 1st time! Yippie! I hope you love it as much as I do. It’s just wonderful. YOu’ll have a blast.

      Great, so glad my article helped you plan your trip and know what to look out for while in Bali.

      thanks for stopping by to read and leave your comments.

      have a great time!

      cheers, Lash

  3. Shauna Knight

    Hi! Your blog is great! I have a question about tourist visas. I want to apply for a 60 day visa in the US before I leave. One of the requirements is a letter from an employer stating you will be returning to work. I am unemployed at the moment. I quit my job to travel. Will I still be able to apply is I don’t have this requirement?

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Shauna,


      Yeah, off to Indonesia, eh? It’s an amazing place. Hope you love it.

      Hmm, I’ve never heard of that requirement before! I recommend contacting the Indonesian Embassy and asking them directly.

      If they do have that requirement, it must only be for applying for the visa while in the USA. I’ve never heard of it when applying for an Indo visa at Indonesian Embassies around SE Asia. Would it be possible for you to get to another country before Indo and apply at the Indo Embassy in that country – for example Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand?

      Best luck!

      cheers, Lash

  4. Dannielle Lily

    Thanks for this, I’m going to Bali in a few months and haven’t done much research yet. Should probably get a rabies shot…

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Danielle,


      As for rabies shots, it really depends. Unless you’re going to really remote areas of BAli and will be walking around in the jungle or rural farming paths, I doubt you need one.

      IN addition, rabies shots take a series of injections and cost a lot of money. The preventative shots don’t actually prevent you from contracting rabies! They just slow down the virus, should you get an infected bite, so that you have more time to get to a hospital for…more injections.

      So, if I were you I’d read up on rabies vaccinations first, decide where exactly you’re going in BAli, read up on rabies in Bali reports, and then decide if you want the injections or not.

      If you do decide to get them, MUCH MUCH cheaper in SE Asia than in USA or UK or Europe. Bangkok has a fantastic place to get inoculations.

      Happy travels!

      cheers, Lash

  5. Regina Wendelgaß

    Dear Lash,
    I want to visite Bali for traveling and diving.
    One thing I could not find in the internet and perhaps you can help me.
    Is there a season for moscitos? We travel at the end of may and moscitos
    like me very much.

    Looking forward to your answer

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Regina,


      Going to visit Bali and dive, eh? Great choice! I hope you love it here as much as I do!

      As far as mosquitoes, they are around all year. They’re not bad in the daytime (except in dark, cool rooms) ONly at dusk and night time. You’ll just have to use the normal procedures to keep them at bay – mosquito lotion, mosquito coil, fan or long pants & sleeves.

      I wrote another post about avoiding mosquitoes at night here – http://www.lashworldtour.com/2012/02/travel-tip-8-strategies-avoid-mosquitoes-sleeping.html

  6. Sue Tancheff

    Hello Lash

    My love for Bali has grown even more after reading your blog, especially the part on the Tjamphugan Hotel and the Cave Grotto Spa. We will be staying in Ubud for 2 nights during part of our 3 week trip to Bali in May and I was wondering if you can just show up at the hotel and book for a spa/sauna or do you have to do so in advance? The information you gave on the Campuan Hill Ridge walk was fantastic and it was during my search about this walk that I stumbled upon your blog. This will be my 6th time in Bali and I feel the same as you and would love to retire there. My husband & I sponsor a young girl in Singaraja and have been doing so for many years. One of the highlights of our trip will be spending time with her. Thanks so much for all the invaluable information your have put out there for all of us to benefit from. Thanks again, regards Sue (Melbourne, Australia)

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Sue,


      Thanks so much for reading and for adding your comments & experiences here. Sounds like you love Bali as much as i do!

      As for the great Tjampuan Spa, no need to book in advance. Just go there when you want to enjoy the spa. The day visitor pass allows you to stay several hours, so there’s plenty of time to luxuriate in all the crazy pools…and even sneak a visit to the hotel’s swimming pool if you want. :))


      cheers, Lash

  7. Sue Tancheff

    thanks so much for your reply, Lash. One more question if I may, can you give me some suggestions about when is the best time to visit Tegallalang ricefields and is it a good idea to get a guide if we want to walk through the ricefields? I have heard so much about this and apparently there is a fab craft market near here as well. Any information would be much appreciated. I look forward to reading about more of your world travels of which I am so envious. Take care, Sue :-)

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Sue,

      Welcome back.

      Oh, dear. I’m sorry I don’t know anything about those particular rice fields. However, I only think a guide is neccessary anywhere in Bali if you want to get their insider views, comments and interaction with a local. Not really needed for purposes of getting lost, danger or such.


      cheers, Lash

  8. Farhaana

    Hi Lash

    Thank you for the useful tips. Thinking of going to Bali for our honeymoon end Jan/beginning Feb 2016 and linking it maybe with a trip to Dubai. Will definitely check out your site in depth to weigh my options. As choosing a destination is quite a challenge. Happy travels :-)

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi Farhaana!


      Great, glad my tips are helpful to you. Thanks for letting me know. :)

      wow, enjoy your honeymoon!

      cheers, lash

  9. Zhelle

    Hi Lash,

    Great Tips you have here! I am planning my first time visit to Bali early May next year and I am thankful that I’ve stumbled on this page of yours. I have gathered a lot of information on what to do and what to see in Bali! :)

  10. Property renovations Melbourne

    Great website. My wife and I travel to Bali regular and always love it. We love bikes but Bali is dangerous so make sure you always take safety advice and wear a helmet all the time even though it might be really uncomfortable

    1. Lash WorldTour

      Hi there,


      Yes, I’ve actually written a guidebook to Cycling Bali. In addition to the detailed cycling route, I give heaps of advice on safety, health, what to take for a cycling trip, etc etc.

      thanks for stopping by!

      cheers, Lash

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