Practical Information for Visitors to Bali

Travel Documents: Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your planned departure from Indonesia. Visas for US, UK and some other citizens are issued at the airport on arrival.  New regulations came into force in February, 2004.  Tourist visas now cost about $25 and are valid for only 30 days (counting days of arrival and departure). They cannot be extended. Holders of non-US passports should enquire at the nearest Indonesian Consulate for any special regulations. A departure tax (currently about $10) is payable on check-in at the airport.

 Baggage Allowance: Airlines vary greatly in the amount of baggage they permit you to carry and also in the strictness with which the regulations are enforced. Check with your travel agent or chosen carrier before departure.

 Air Schedules: In selecting a carrier you might want to consider the following points: cost, time and place of departure & arrival, rest stops en route, and baggage allowance. For example, from San Francisco, some flights can include a stop over with free hotel accommodation in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei or Singapore.

Climate: The weather in Bali is pleasantly warm, averaging about 78° F. throughout the year. It is a little cooler at night, particularly in the mountains, where a light sweater may sometimes be needed. It can also be quite humid, but is seldom uncomfortable. Air conditioning is rarely needed. Rain showers, sometimes heavy, can occur at any time, even in the "dry" season , which lasts from May through September approximately.

Health: You will probably leave Bali healthier than when you arrive!  However, it would be prudent to ask your doctor about inoculations.  There have been recent reports of both Polio and Dengue Fever outbreaks in Bali. We suggest you consider boosters for Tetanus, Hepatitis and Polio.

There is supposedly no malaria on Bali, so special medical precautions are unnecessary unless you also plan to visit adjacent islands such as Lombok.

There are competent Indonesian doctors in Ubud, but western doctors employed at resort hotels can also be consulted in emergency.

 Medications:  Pharmacies in Bali are generally well stocked, but it is prudent to bring what you think you might need, together with copies of any prescriptions. You might want to consider taking:  Aspirin or other pain-killer; anti-fungal cream (e.g. Canestan); Hydrocortisone cream; Calamine lotion; antibiotic cream; Imodium or other anti-diarrheal; Band-Aids; Melatonin (for jet lag); sun block; vitamins; prescription medications.

 Clothing: You are advised to dress for comfort rather than elegance. Remember that Bali has a thriving textile industry and you will probably want to make plenty of local purchases. Light, loose-fitting clothing such as shorts and T-shirts are generally acceptable, but long-sleeved shirts or blouses and long pants or skirts should also be brought. These are useful in the evening and when attending religious festivals. A sun hat and sunglasses are often needed. A small folding umbrella to guard against showers can be useful, but raincoats are hot and unnecessary.

 Footwear: Bring comfortable, lightweight footwear suitable for walking. Immersible sandals of the Teva type are very popular. Leather shoes are prone to mold due to the humidity.

Insurance: We urge you to take out travel, medical, and baggage insurance. This will be available through your ticketing agent.

Etiquette: When entering sacred places, you are asked to dress appropriately as a mark of respect. This means having shoulders covered and wearing a sarong or long skirt, together with a temple scarf around your waist.  

Gratuities: Tips to drivers and guides in acknowledgment of special services will always be appreciated.

Communications: Outgoing telephone and postal services are reliable and seldom present problems, although overseas phone calls are expensive. E-mail is increasingly available in Bali through local providers and Internet Cafés.  America-on-Line has local access numbers through AOL GlobalNet.

 Time Difference: Bali is 8 hours ahead of GMT. This means that during daylight savings, 10:00 a.m. in Bali is 6:00 p.m. the previous day in California.

 Electric Current: If you bring any electrical equipment it must be dual voltage. The Balinese supply is generally 240 volts, NOT the standard US 120 volts.  Most laptops are dual voltage, but check first!   Interruptions to the supply because of storms are quite common, and it is always prudent to use a surge protector.

Currency: The monetary unit in Bali is the Rupiah. Exchange rates are volatile at present. You are advised to carry your money in traveler's checks, which are easily cashed.  If you carry dollar bills be aware that the exchange rate is worse for the lower denominations. ATMs are widespread in towns and tourist areas.

 Alcohol: Wine and liquor are readily available, but expensive, so consider bringing your duty-free flight allowance. Good beer (Bintang) is available everywhere at reasonable price.

Security: Theft used not to be a serious problem  but times are changing.  Always excercise prudence. It is safe and acceptable for a woman to walk alone anywhere and at any time in the countryside.

Bargaining: The Balinese love to bargain and expect you to haggle over almost any purchase. Do so with good humor and you can expect to save significantly.   However, remember also that the Balinese are hurting and may accept an unrealistically low price out of sheer desperation.

Photography: Come fully prepared for the excellent photographic opportunities that Bali offers. Film and batteries are readily available. Although prices are slightly less than at home, it is wise to bring most of what you need to ensure freshness. For other than snapshots, film is best brought home for processing.

Before departure, shoot a roll to ensure your camera is working properly. Replace all batteries and take spares. Be aware that if you plan to be in Bali for more than three weeks you should take precautions to avoid mold developing on your equipment.   A ventilated box with a light inside works well.

 The Balinese generally have no objection to being photographed, but it is courteous to ask before taking pictures, particularly of the elderly. 


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Last Update: 20/09/05
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