Our Communication Manager at Prestigious, Méganne, spent two months in Bali between August and September 2018. Based on her own experience, we asked her to share some of the more surprising insights about Bali that we hope will help you have a more enjoyable and memorable time on this paradise island. Bali is a dreamy place for sure if you know what to watch out for!
Tip 1: Pay attention to the monkeys – at all times!
We know they are pretty cute, and crossing paths with them everywhere may surprise you if you’re not used to seeing some at home. Of course, you may want to take a photo of them, but please remember – do not approach them! These monkeys are intelligent wild animals, who can also become suddenly aggressive and bite you. I have witnessed many tourists going to the emergency room to receive a preventive treatment against rabies, all because they absolutely wanted a photo with a monkey. Trust me, it’s not worth it!
Not to mention, monkeys are clever little thieves. If they smell food on you, they will not hesitate to open your bag to steal it. They just happen to love water bottles, cellphones, and sunglasses. So when you find yourself surrounded by monkeys, keep an eye on your belongings too! Do not say you were not warned!
Tip 2: Do not buy anything before entering a temple!
Whenever you arrive in front of a temple or any touristy place, you will probably come across many street vendors who will try to make you buy something, in particularly, sarongs. Sarongs are traditional Balinese clothes, much like pareos, which can be tied at the waist and covers your legs. In most sacred places, it is mandatory to wear one, whether you are a man or a woman. What most tourists don’t realize is that at every sacred place, you will be lent one for free during your visit, as it is usually covered by the ticket price.
So when street vendors or sellers try to convince you to buy their sarongs by telling you that you have you to have one before entering inside, don’t believe them! They can be very convincing and persuasive but just remember, you can borrow one inside for free!
Tip 3: If you are a woman, do not forget your hair tie and something to cover your shoulders and knees
There are still many rules that apply to all visitors in Balinese temples. Women are unfortunately the target of most of them. Always plan to have a sarong to cover your legs, a scarf to cover your shoulders, an elastic to tie your hair. Some temples forbid access to women who currently have their periods, but fortunately they have no way of checking this information!
Tip 4: Never pay for parking
Similarly, at the entrance of tourist places, when you have to park, beware of men who will certainly ask you to pay them a parking fee. Do not do this because they do not have the right to be here, much less to be charging for parking. If they do not stop bothering you, simply park a little further, even if you have to walk a little bit more.
Tip 5: Do not participate in the business of coffee (kopi) luwak
If you don’t know what luwak coffee is, it’s a Balinese specialty made from coffee cherries found in animal excrement. Sounds crazy right? But it really exists, at an over inflated price too. While it sounds exotic (and certainly not our cup of ‘coffee’), be aware that majority of what is on the market is fake. If you can find real luwak coffee, it most likely comes from an industrial factory that cruelly keeps various types of animals in cages, force-feed them coffee cherries and uses them as animal ‘washing machines’. Do not be fooled by the facade, where charlatan sellers spin a tale of this legendary coffee and encourage you to take pictures with the animals. Always remember that this is an exploitation of animals and it might even be a fake product. You are better off spending your money on something else!
Tip 6: You can climb Mount Batur without a guide
When I was in Bali, I found that the trips to Mount Batur were always marketed by guides and the fees can get quite expensive very quickly. Keep in mind that you can easily climb Mount Batur alone, without having to pay for a guide. We recommend that you avoid talking about your Mount Batur plans with Balinese people and be very careful when you meet other people along the way. If they ask questions, just tell them that you have lost your guide. This is because all of the Mount Batur excursions are managed by a local organized mafia who makes everyone pay for everything and does not appreciate it when someone manages to avoid paying them.
Tip 7: Beware of “false workers” in the rice fields
When you visit the beautiful Balinese rice fields that have become iconic on this island, beware of some “workers” dressed in traditional clothes, who are in fact doing simply posing, waiting to be photographed by tourists and then they will demand a fee in exchange for that photo you just took.
Tip 8: Those iconic Instagram photos in Bali are definitely not free
Remember that Bali photo you saw on your friend or influencer’s feed that looked so dreamy, beautiful or incredible? You probably want to take that same photo too while you’re in Bali. However, don’t be surprised to find a queue and fee to take a photo just like the one you saw. Those iconic photos in Bali come at a certain price. And you probably are not the only one so expect a long queue, of up to easily 1 hour if not more. If an instagrammable photo is not that important to you, we recommend that you do not waste your time and instead, create memories that you will remember of your travel experience in Bali!
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