I wanted to visit Bali for like, forever. It was definitely one of the destinations at the top of my list. In fact, it used to be the second destination on my bucket list. You can read about all of the other places I still want to visit if you just click here.
The first destination was Japan by the way. Which I’ve already been to last year. You’ve probably seen posts about this country on my blog already but I’m case you haven’t, you can find them right here. Those blogposts are actually some of my most read ones haha.
Anyways, this blogpost is about Bali. And about the things you should really know before you go here. I know there are many other blogposts that cover this subject. I know, because I read them. The thing is, they didn’t cover the things I’m about to tell you. I personally would have really liked to know these things beforehand, that’s why I’m sharing them with you now.
Here are 10 unconventional things about Bali that you definitely need to know before you go!
Just for your information, I was in Bali from the 14th of March untill the 9th of April. It’s still rainy season at this time of year, and also still low season. Even though there are still lots of tourists. The first two weeks I was with my sisters and after that I was on my own.
1. They drive on the left side of the road
In case you didn’t know yet: in Bali they drive on the left side of the road. Not anything particularly special, but if you’re planning on renting a car or scooter, you should know. – it’s always good to start of with the basics and then work your way up to the more different ones, right? –
2. The wall outlets are the same as in Europe
So I’m from the Netherlands, and I didn’t research this subject at all to be honest. I just assumed that in Bali they would have different wall outlets than in the Netherlands, because you know, Asia. So I brought my world wide power plug. Or adapter. I don’t really know what to call those things. But yeah they are the same. Just a circle with the two holes. – I had to bring this adapter anyways because after Bali I’m going to visit some other places, but if you’re just going to go to Bali, you probably don’t need one –
3. It’s easy to refill your water bottle
So you probably already know that you can’t drink the tap water in Bali. And if you didn’t, well, now you now. – seriously, don’t drink it!-
You can buy water bottles everywhere in Bali. All kinds of brands and sizes. They sell it at the supermarkets, in restaurants, on the market.
What’s better though, is the fact that you can refill your water bottle at a lot of places. So just buy one water bottle and reuse it for a while. Or, even better, bring your own water bottle from home, a glass one for example. It’s way better for the environment.
4. Traffic is crazy
And I don’t just mean it’s busy. There are rules, but it’s not like anyone sticks to them. I wouldn’t even know what those rules would be.
For example. When you’re in a car, at a crossing, and you put on both of your blinkers, which most of us would probably only do when there is something wrong, it means you’re just going to go straight.
Moreover, motorbikes can overtake you on both sides. Sometimes they even use the sidewalk.
Also, mtorbikes always get to the very front of the line when waiting for the lights to turn green. Some don’t have any patience and just go when the light is still red, but only of they are going in the same direction as the cars that have green light.
What I find annoying, is that people honk with many different reasons. When they are overtaking, when the light is almost green, when there is a corner and they can’t see if anyone is coming from the other side they honk to let other people know they are coming, when people want to cross the street and they shouldn’t, when they know someone, when they are angry at someone, when they want to let someone know they can go first. Oh and taxis honk at you when you’re walking down the street, to let you know they are available. So yeah… up to you to figure out why someone honks at you, lol.
Safety, by the way, is not really very important here I guess. You are obligated to wear a helmet, but that’s about it. You don’t need to wear protective clothing, you can even just wear slippers. 2 adults and 2 kids on one bike is normal here. But the bikes do go really fast, so make sure you wear something that wil protect you if you are in an accident. It happens. I’ve seen it.
5. Special motorbike highway
Okay, last traffic related one. This one stunned me actually, they should have this at more places.
There are many main roads in Bali, where people drive fast. I don’t even know the speed limit because everyone just goes how fast they want anyway. However, there is one highway that goes through Bali. We used it to get from Kuta, near the airport, to the southern part of Bali. I believe you need to pay to use it.
The funny part about this highway, is the fact that motorbikes have their own lane. Not even their own lane, just a completely separate highway next to the highway for cars. I found this quite funny to see because I’d never seen anything like it. I think it’s way better safety wise because cars often don’t see bikes coming and accidents happen because of it.
6. Kids selling stuff
I know that in every city there are poor people. Usually homeless people too, people that don’t have enough food. Especially in Asia I feel like this is a problem, since most countries are no first world countries.
So lots of people will try to sell you stuff. They open up tiny stores in the alleys, will braid your hair, people carry huge bags with food or sarongs or anything on their head and walk around trying to sell it. I was prepared for most of this. – not for the incredibly huge amount of people trying to sell you something though, dear Lord it’s annoying –
What I wasn’t prepared for though, was the fact that poor people use their kids to try and sell stuff. I haven’t seen this before actually. It’s usually bracelets. The kids just walk around the city on their own trying to sell you one. A lot of them don’t even speak English. Some try to make you feel really bad for them. One of the kids that did speak English, I told her no many times, then she pointed at my belly and said ‘baby’. Lol. No baby here. Definitely not buying anything still.
7. There are so many places that are better than Ubud, Changgu and Kuta
Honestly though, these were actually the places I liked the least. Not because the people weren’t nice and not because there was nothing to do – even though there really isn’t anything to do in Kuta besides surfing – but because those places are just so overly touristy. I travel to experience different cultures and see a different way of life. I don’t travel to see shopping malls or to eat western food like at home.
If you are like me, skip the three places named above. Or just visit them shortly. Go to the North or the East instead. There are tourists there too, but less. And there is more to see and explore.
8. Online taxis are only available in the south of Bali
This I definitely needed to know before coming to Bali. Because I found out the hard way. Apps like Gojek and Grab, which you really need to download if you’re coming to Bali by the way, don’t work anywhere besides the south of Bali. Like the whole touristy area around Denpansar.
If you go anywhere else, so the East, West or North, you will have to make sure you have your own scooter, or you need to use the local taxis to go places. Which is a lot more expensive than having your own scooter, but it might also be safer. Especially if you’re like me and you never drove a scooter or motorbike before. There are a lot of steep mountain roads, sharp corners, etc.
9. Online taxis are not allowed in the most touristy places
Those places have got kind of a taxi mafia I guess. They would never call it that themselves, but it is definitely the case. I’ve heard that if an online taxi does business in a place where it’s not allowed, the driver will get beaten up. It’s ridiculous.
So in Ubud, no online taxis at all. In Kuta, there are signs that say only online motorbikes are allowed, but it’s easy to get a car too. I didn’t go to Changgu, but I believe online taxis are not allowed there either.
Random fact by the way: when booking a ride through Grab or Gojek, you always need to select where you want to be picked up (that’s where you are or close to where you are) but still the drivers always send a message asking where you are. JUST LOOK AT THE APP.
10. Whatever you do, don’t flush the toilet paper
It’s like this in a lot of countries in South East Asia actually. You can’t flush anything that your body didn’t produce. Not even the toilet paper. The sewers are just not built for it. I know it’s strange, it was for me too when I went to South East Asia for the first time, but you’ll get used to it.
The good thing is. Almost everywhere in Bali have the people gotten used to the fact that tourists use toilet paper. So there is a toilet paper roll at almost every toilet you go to.
I’d still advise you to bring some toilet paper with you where ever you go though, just in case. Especially if you have Bali belly (from eating the wrong kinds of food).
I feel like I just covered all of the things that I would have wanted to know before going to Bali. There are, however, some other things you should also know. I feel like all of these are in every ‘what to know about Bali’ blog though, so I’ll just quickly name them.
- The animals might give you rabies and you can die from that
- Don’t drink the tap water, it is not clean
- ALWAYS bargain the price when buying something. Except when you are in a store with fixed prices. Renting a scooter? Bargain. Buying a dress? Offer 1/3 of the price, check out the quality really good and point out the weak points of the item. Want to get more than 1 item? Ask for a discount! ALWAYS BARGAIN. They see tourists as walking ATM machines.
- Download gojek and grab. Grab goes longer distances, but gojek is a lot cheaper and has motorbikes. My experience is also that they drive pretty safe.
- Don’t rent a motorbike if you don’t have a or the proper licence. You need a motorcycle licence, an international one. If you don’t have it and you crash, you need to pay for all of the damage. Including the damage done to your own body.
- Get a local SIM card. Super cheap. It just doesn’t really work in the mountains, but for the most part it’s perfect.
- If you’re a girl, don’t go out the door on your own late at night. And if you’re a boy, don’t so that when drunk. You’ll get robbed.
- You most probably need to get some shots before going to Bali. You can get rabies shots too if you get them at least a few months before you leave.
- If you go at the end of the rainy season, it is less busy (which also helps with bargaining) but it usually only rains in the evenings. Or it might start later in the afternoon.
- A lot of information on the internet tells you not to eat raw veggies or pre cut food, but honestly, I did (in a warung) and didn’t get sick.
Alright that’s it for today guys! Let me know if this was helpful. Or maybe I missed something? Comment your best Bali tips down below!
I also have more blogposts about Bali, check out the ‘Bali’ tab in the top menu! You can read about the East, the North and the South.