Important Bali Travel Info
Everything you need to know to have a great trip
Passports and Visas
U.S. citizens need a passport to travel to Bali, but not a visa. Depending on the latest Bali goverment regulations (which change back and forth!) you MIGHT have to get a visa at the airport in Bali. It is easy and inexpensive.
You are not required to get any shots to travel to Bali. on optional shots you may want -- it's up to you. NOTE: This web site currently shows many COVID warnings. The reason we are planning this trip for 2023 is that we expect that COVID will be behind us.
The currency of Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (abbreviated as Rp). Prices are often written like this:
Note that in this example that would be 1,400,000 rupiah -- in Bali they often use periods instead of commas to break up long numbers.
At this writing:
$1 = about Rp 14,000.
Rp10,000 = about $0.72.
Rp100,000 = about $7.15.
(So that Rp1.400.000 would be about $100).
American credit cards are usually accepted only at large hotels and top restaurants, so you definitely need to carry Indonesian rupiah for on-the-road purchases, shopping, roadside restaurants, and small stores. (U.S. dollars are not usually accepted for purchases, but can be exchanged at banks for rupiah -- see below).
You can use your American debit card to get rupiah from ATM machines at the airport (at honest exchange rates) and in major towns (such as our first-night's lodging) but stock up a bit -- there may be nowhere to get rupiah once we leave town, and if you want to stop for a Coke in the middle of nowhere they will not take your Amex card!
You can also exchange American dollars for local currency at banks in Bali, but only in major cities. (That means at the Bali airport, or at our first-night hotel's town.)
. Note that Bali ATMs (or your home bank) may limit how much you can withdraw with each transaction, and how much you can withdraw per day.
In tourist areas you can also change U.S. dollars for rupiah at stores and stalls on the street advertising great exchange rates, but be careful. I once did this in southern Bali and it was like watching a first-class magician -- every time they slowly counted out my money right in front of my eyes a hundred-dollar bill would mysteriously vanish, then reappear when I balked. We had to do it four times before it was legit. That is in no way a knock at the Bali locals -- just a friendly reminder about street life everywhere.
Getting From the Bali Airport to Our First Hotel
There are a couple ways to do this -- your choice! When we get closer to the ride we will send you the complete address of our first hotel so you can pass it on to your driver.
If You Are Traveling With Your Own Bike
We recommend you use these folks to book your transportation to the hotel in advance online:
Note that the prices on the Suntransfers website are quoted in euros. The prices we show here in dollars are close estimates. You can pay online with your American credit card.
Be SURE to request a mini van or larger (depending on how many people are in your group) so there will be room for your bikes. This will cost about $40 for the vehicle (NOT per person). No extra charge for luggage.
If You Are Renting a Bike in Bali
If you are renting a bike in Bali you can still use these folks
but you won't need an entire mini van! You can request a regular car for about $20. Your rental bike will be waiting at our first hotel for you.
You can go to the official taxi counter inside the airport. The fare will be about $25 total (not per person).
Taxi drivers are usually not tipped in Bali, but it is nice to round up your fare, so if the total is 375,000 rupiah (the Indonesian currency) it's nice to pay 400,000. (That's about $2 extra!)
The local languages are Balinese and Indonesian, but Bali thrives on international travel, and most people who welcome visitors (restaurants, shop owners, hotel staff) speak English as well. Our staff speaks Balinese, Indonesian, and English.
Lovely and hot every day, with very little chance of rain.
Tipping is not expected in Bali. Having said that, most service industry workers earn very little, so a small tip is always appreciated. Do not tip any hotel maids or luggage handlers -- we will take care of that for you.
You should also never tip any of our bike ride staff -- we pay them well and you should not have to reach into your pocket for anything. (Now, if you fall off a cliff into the Bali Sea and one of our crew dives in and rescues you from a giant man-eating clam, I think a few kind words and a very generous tip are in order, but otherwise you should not tip.)
You should NEVER drink the tap water in Bali. This also means no brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice in major hotels and restaurants is made from purified water -- ask if you aren't sure.
This isn't snobbery -- throughout much of Southeast Asia tap water is not intended for drinking -- it is for washing and farming. Everyone in Bali drinks bottled water -- even poor people. Small restaurants may boil their water first instead of using bottled water, and that's fine.
Bottled water is readily available at every store and roadside stand and it is cheap. We will always have a free supply of cold bottled water in our support truck -- just ask or help yourself.
We are staying in nice hotels and some of them may have water purification systems that allow you to drink tap water -- ask if you aren't sure.
Bali is very casual -- no need for formal attire. We will be eating some nice dinners together -- casual clothing is still fine, but maybe not that T-shirt that you used to clean the grease off of your bike chain.
When we visit temples, EVERYONE (men and women) must cover up bare shoulders and legs. That means that you will need a sarong or wrap. You can stuff this in your jersey pocket, or put it in our support van so you can grab it when you need it. This is MANDATORY. (Yes, I'm looking at you, macho guy. All men must wear a wrap too to cover their legs, and you'll fit in just fine.) If you don't already own a wrap there will be a million stores selling them cheap where we are staying our first day. You can also rent a wrap (!!!) at the larger temples, but personally I like to carry my own so I can stop at smaller roadside temples for a quick look -- wraps may not be available for rent there.
Bargaining over prices is expected when shopping, so have at it while still showing friendly respect for the locals. Note that you usually can't bargain in restaurants, or for small items. (So if a Coke is a dollar at a roadside stand, please don't try to work your way down to 95 cents).
Let us cut right to the chase, shall we? In most of Bali you'll find American-style toilets. But in smaller areas you may still find squat toilets. . (Read this now before you need it!)
Phones and Internet
Most of our hotels will have free wifi. (Maybe not as fast as at home, but you'll be OK for email and modest web surfing -- probably not great for streaming a movie.)
We will have digital versions of our daily bike routes available for your smartphone. You will want to download those files to your phone before you leave home. (Complete easy instructions coming your way closer to departure day).
You can check with your local U.S.-based cell phone carrier about roaming and data use in Bali. When I called my cell phone company I was told it would cost $10 per day for unlimited data and text if I signed up in advance for their international plan. Your cell phone carrier may be different. (If you mention Bali and they seem confused, just politely remind them that Bali is part of Indonesia.) Be careful here -- when your cell phone company states "unlimited data and text" that usually does not include any time you use your phone to provide an internet signal for your laptop.
If you prefer, when you get to Bali we can help you purchase a SIM card to insert in your phone. This basically turns your phone into a local Bali phone, with inexpensive data and text. The only thing you need to do in advance is check with your U.S. cell phone company. You want to ask these two vital questions before you leave home:
1. Is my phone unlocked? It should be -- all modern smartphones are unlocked, but it never hurts to ask. (Apparently I once bought one of THE last locked phones from Apple right before everyone switched to unlocked, and all hell broke loose when I was overseas.)
2. Is my phone CDMA or GSM? If you don't know what that means, don't worry! Short version: You can use a GSM phone in Bali; you can not use a CDMA phone. Many new phones are now both GSM and CDMA, and those will work fine in Bali
We recommend that before you leave home you install the free WhatsApp program on your phone if you don't already have it. You can get it for free from the Apple app store or Google Play store. It allows you to send text messages and make phone calls to folks in Bali and back in the U.S. for free... provided that they also have WhatsApp.
We will ALSO use WhatsApp to send you important information in the middle of the trip. ("Before-dinner drinks have been moved from poolside to the balcony outside the restaurant -- see you there!")
If all this seems confusing just download WhatsApp and we will do the rest with you in Bali. Happy to help!
If you decide that after the trip you no longer want WhatsApp on your phone it is easy to remove.