While we love Bali there are some things that are useful to know before your trip as not get "sucked in" to common scams that happen to tourists. We've put together a list below of things we know of that you may want to steer clear of from your trip! Please feel free to share any other things for tourists to be wary of when travelling in Bali....
Don’t be tempted to change your money with the peddlers on the street advertising extra high exchange rates. These moneychangers can be like magicians and magically make your money disappear! It’s best to stick to the trusted moneychangers such BMC, Money EX and Kodak Shops.
You should always be the last person to touch your money. Genuine moneychangers will count your money out on the bench in front of you and leave it for you to pick up and recount.
You will always get a better exchange rate if you wait to change your money in Bali rather than converting it before you go.
ATM card skimming if rife throughout South East Asia (and other parts of the world) at the moment, it’s something that needs to be considered when arranging you money for Bali. The only way to completely avoid having your card skim is not to use your card while in Bali. If this is not possible then to try to only use ATMs in “safe” places such as resorts and shopping centres. Have a card with only a little amount in the account and transfer money over to the account as needed. This way if your card does get skimmed they can’t clear you out of all of your money. Always inform your bank that you will be travelling to Bali so they know to keep an eye on your account.
People handing out scratchy cards in the street
Usually within your first day of being in Bali you will be stopped at least once one the street by someone handy you a scratchy card. Everyone is a winner here! What you will win is something like a free holiday or at least a free lunch. They will want your hotel details to arrange a pickup to collect you for your prize. You will be taken to a resort and they will come good on their offer of a prize, you will however need to sit through a 2 hour time share presentation where they will try to pressure you into buying timeshare holidays. These guys are just doing their job, but it’s best to just say “no thank you” (or better still in Indonesian - Tiduk Terima Kahsi) when being handed a card.
You should always ask your driver before you sit in the cab if they use their meter. Meters will ALWAYS be cheaper than any negotiated price with the taxi driver. Meters should start at 7000 IDR. If it is late at night however it may be hard to find a taxi driver who will turn their meter on, this is the one occasion when we resort to negotiated with the taxis.
Another tip is to always keep your small notes for your taxi rides. Drivers will often plead that they have no small money in the hope that you will leave without worrying about your change. A good way to avoid this is to always carry small money with you to accommodate for taxi fares.
100,000 IDR notes and 10,000 IDR notes
The 10,000 IDR notes and the 100,000 IDR notes are both a shade of red/pink/purple (they used to look much more similar than they do now). It is an old trick for some shopkeepers to quickly change your 100,000 IDR note for a 10,000 IDR note and insist you gave them the wrong note in the first place. As they can look similar tourist often doubt themselves and take back the 10,000 IDR note and give the shopkeeper (another) 100,000 IDR note.
When you collect you bags off the carousel in Bali airport and again when you exit the airport there will be “porters” wanting to take your bag for you. This is their job, however be aware that if you let them take your bag for you (no matter how short the distance) they will expect payment of this. Most porters expect at least $5 AUD per bag. They can be very helpful if you need a set of extra hands, however they do prey on the fact that the tourist doesn't want to offend by not letting them take their bags and spring the surprise payment on them after they've carried the bags.
Be very of places where you seem to be forced very close to people. Often you're just being herded so they can achieve their purpose of emptying your pockets. Watch out for crowding by numerous sellers on the beach, all of them coming very close to you. Rubbing up against you sometimes.
Also be wary of 4-5 guys standing on the street, forcing you to squeeze past them or walk onto oncoming traffic. The best way around this is to wear shorts/pants with either velcro/zipper pockets. Or if you have to get close to people, just put your hands in your pockets.
The Kuta nightclub strip is notorious for pickpocketing of money and phones. If you go to party here try and only take the amount of cash you need and be aware when you are out on the street of hands going in or near your pockets or bags.
Happening mostly on the streets of Legian and Kuta at the moment (but they can pop up elsewhere) are the fake monks. These guys look like and dress like monks and will walk the streets stopping people and “blessing” them and place a bracelet on their arms. Many tourists are delighted by this “spiritual” experience; before you get to walk away they will expect payment of 100,000 IDR per person. Of course you don’t have to pay them, many hand the bracelet back and politely say no thank you.
We hope these tips help you avoid some of the not so fabulous parts of Bali so you can spend more time enjoying all of the wonderful things the Island has to offer!
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