Practical information about visa, transportation, health and security in Bali
Visa requirements and immigration rules for Bali and rest of Indonesia are pretty straightforward
Visa requirements for Bali (and rest of Indonesia) are pretty straightforward. Citizens of most of the countries (about 140), including USA, Canada, Australia and many European countries DO NOT NEED VISA when travelling to Bali. They will be granted free entry for up to 30 days. In this case, however, your stay cannot be extended.
Are you taking a loooong holiday and 30 days might not be enough for you? You can ask for Visa on Arrival before pass the immigration counter at the airport. This visa costs 35 USD, it is valid for 30 days but can be extended at the immigration office in Bali for up to 60 days. The extension will cost you another 600.000 IDR (about 42 USD) or a bit more if you decide to use an agency that will take care of the paperwork. Do not forget that you need to get it before entering the country. Once you will have the free entry stamp in your passport.
For both scenarios, a passport with at least 6-month validity is a must!
Do not over-stay
Be sure that you will leave Indonesia before the expiration of your free stay/visa. The fine for overstaying is 300.000 IDR per day and the immigration officer may require further explanation and a solid reason for violating the immigration law. Overstaying for more than a couple of days can result in a hefty fine or even the imprisonment!
To get around Bali can be a bit tricky if you don’t wanna rely on pricey taxis or private drivers
Supposing that you’re arriving by plane to the international airport Ngurah Rai you can:
- take the official taxi (book it and pay it at the taxi desk in the arrival hall to avoid a possible argument over the price with the driver later on)
- arrange private driver or hotel transportation in advance
- exit the airport area and arrange transportation for half of the price (it is some 300 meters walking to get out of the airport)
There is almost no public transportation in Bali so can forget about that. Unless you happen to stay somewhere near one of the stops of Kura-Kura busses. They operate in southern Bali (Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Bukit, Canggu, Sanur) and also go to Ubud.
Online services – Go Jek, Grab and Uber
To order transport on-line is very popular and widely available in Bali. All you need to do is to download an application to your smartphone.
Go Jek is by far the most common and available all over the island. You can arrange a car or just a bike. They are fast, cheap, quite reliable and the cars are usually new. Other alternatives are Grab and Uber. Please be aware that some hotels or even villages do not allow online transportation services to operate within their area.
Renting a bike or car
Traffic in Bali can be chaotic and overwhelming at the beginning but you can get used to it in two or three days. A motorbike is almost always a better choice than a car in Bali. Trafic jams are very common in the south of Bali and roads are narrow in the north. Driving a car can be a painful experience and you might end up spending much more time behind the wheel than you expected.
The motorbike is on the contrary faster and inexpensive alternative. It cost somewhere between 50 and 70 thousand rupiahs per day for automatic scooters and bit more if you prefer to rent a powerful motorcycle. Always check the condition of the vehicle as bald tires, lights that do not work and other problems are quite common.
To stay healthy during your vacation in Bali you should take a few basic precautions.
Tap water is not drinkable so always use bottled water. In order to be environmentally responsible, we encourage everyone to use refillable bottles and ask to refill it in your hotel or to use one of the free stations located in many touristic areas.
Try the local food but check the place at first. Some food can be simply irresistible but take a look around you first. Is the place clean, are there many people? You don’t want to get diarrhoea and spend half of the holiday in the bathroom.
The sun can be more dangerous than you think. Alright, everybody knows it. Yet the desire to get tanned as quickly as possible is so strong, that some of us end up red instead. Sunscreen with SPF 30+ is actually a bare minimum what you can do for your skin.
Pharmacies & Hospitals
Pharmacies widely available in Bali. The most recommended with professional chemists is Kimia Farma.
Hospitals are also easily accessible and if you have good travel insurance you will get a high-quality health care in local facilities. Siloam and BIMC hospitals are oriented to foreign clientele with English speaking staff and western standards. Besides them, Prima Medika and Balimed are renowned clinics.
Bali is a fairly safe destination for all travellers including LGBT people
Pickpocketing is, of course, common as anywhere in the world and thefts from rooms might occur, depending on the security measures of your hotel. However, in general, you don’t need to worry too much when on holiday in Bali. Touristic areas are pretty safe day and night and taking the same precautions as in any other urban area should keep you out of trouble.
Gay travellers are welcome. There is a number of hotels, bars, spa salons and even tour providers – Bali Gay Pub Crawl being one of them – focusing on gay clientele. Men only hotels, some of them clothing optional, are quite common in the south of Bali. Thanks to the majority of Balinese being Hindu it is an open and liberal society. In spite of that, public display of affection is considered being rude regardless sexual orientation.
Exchange offices, payment cards and ATMs
The official currency in Indonesia is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Even though USD, EUR or AUD are also accepted in some big places as well as payment cards it is essential to have enough Rupiahs in cash.
Exchange Offices can be found almost anywhere. You can’t get a fair rate at the airport and most of the hotels. In addition, do avoid small suspicious places, especially in Kuta, with very favourable rate – you will end up with half of the money you would get in an authorized money changer. PT Central Kuta, BMC and Valuta Prima have both a decent rate and good reputation. You will find their offices all over the island.
In most of the big hotels, restaurants and shops payment cards are accepted – Visa and Master Card in particular. However, even if they declare that cashless payment is possible you should never rely on it and have some cash anyway. Most of the other places accept only cash.
There is an ATM at every corner in Bali. It is safer to use those located in banks though. Payment card scams are common in Bali and thousands of cards are copied in adjusted ATMs every year. It is a good idea to set a limit with your bank before travelling to Bali.