You’ve made it to Bali!! Now it’s time to start your journey on this incredible island. Check out the list below to see my recommendations for the first 5 things you should do to get settled in Bali and set yourself up to make the most out of your trip!
1. Exchange Money
It is helpful to bring cash with you on your trip and exchange some at the airport to make sure you have money to pay your driver to your Airbnb/Hotel. I recommend exchanging $100 at the airport. This will be enough to pay your driver and leave you with some extra cash. You don’t want to exchange all your cash at the airport because generally the exchange rate is lower than other places.
Once you have exchanged your money, find your driver at the airport. If you booked your stay through Airbnb, the host will likely have reached out to you to see if you need a ride from the airport. This is the best way to go about getting to your destination because you will know the cost of the trip in advance and you will have a driver there waiting for you. If you don’t set up a driver to pick up at the airport, there are plenty of taxi’s that will be there and you can take any of them and give them the address of your hotel.
Once you have arrived at your destination, unpack at get settled! Get on the wifi and pull up your google maps to get an idea of where you are.
(One of the beautiful AirBnB's we have stayed at in Bali)
I would then go exchange more of your cash so you have what you need for a while. There are places all over Bali to exchange money, just be careful and count your money.
Tips for finding a place to exchange your money:
Find a place that is indoors (there are many little huts on the side of the road and these are notorious for scamming people). Look for something like this:
Don’t exchange too much money at one time. I would suggest exchanging $200-$300 at a time. The reason for this is because the exchange rate is around 14,000 Rupiah to every 1 USD (the exchange rate changes often though). Therefore, if you are exchanging $200 USD you will be receiving 2,800,000 rupiah. The largest bill in Bali is 100,000 so you will be receiving a large stack of bills back. There is a common scam in Bali in which money changers trick foreigners when handing them their money . They will count and re-count the bills to confuse you and in the process take some of the bills back.
To avoid this – watch the money changer very closely as he/she counts the bills. Once they hand you the money, count them yourself and at this point do not let them touch or recount the money again.
It’s worth spending a little extra time and making sure you have all the cash you exchanged. It is not fun to get home and realized you have been ripped off (I learned from experience!)
Tip: I like to bring only $100 cash (total) with me to exchange at the airport. Once I get through that cash, I prefer to take money out of the ATM so I don’t have to deal with the money changers. If you are staying in Canggu, I recommend using the ATM outside of Finn’s Beach Club. You can get 3,000,000 Rupiah cash at once (the max from Bali ATM’s). Also, there are some ATM’s known for skimming your card number and this one is generally reputable. **Make sure to ALWAYS ask for your card back on the ATM after you get your cash out. The ATM’s don’t always automatically spit your card back out, and if you forget it the machine will eat it (also happened to me a few times! Haha)
2. Go get a motorbike
Not everyone feels comfortable riding a motorbike when they get to Bali, but if you DO feel comfortable riding, go get yourself a bike! Getting around Bali by motorbike is definitely the most fun and convenient. It can be dangerous though, so make sure to get a tutorial on how to use the bike and do some practice in an unpopulated alley. Make sure you are on the correct side of the road (the LEFT) when you are riding and ALWAYS wear your helmet. If you are a beginner, just go slow and stay all the way on the left side of the road so people can pass you. When you are making right turns, prepare by getting into the middle of the road, turning on your signal, and go as soon as you have the opportunity. The motorbikes are fast here so you want to be decisive and swift when you ride.
Okay, all of that being said, I like to rent my motorbikes from a shop in Canggu called “Smart Bike Rental”. As a general rule of thumb, it is about $5/day to rent a motorbike. The longer you stay, the better discount you can get on your rental. When I come for one month I generally pay 800,000 rupiah which comes to $56. You can WhatsApp Smart Rental and they will often come bring you a bike at your Airbnb. You can also typically rent a motorbike through your Airbnb, which is probably the easiest option if you aren’t staying for an extended period of time.
3. Get a Local Sim Card and Phone Number
If you don’t want to get charged an arm and a leg for data when you are in Bali, it is helpful to get a local SIM card and load data on it. This will ensure that you can use google maps and look things up when you are not connected to WiFi. It’s also helpful to have so you can download the app GoJek. GoJek is the go-to app in Bali for everything you may need. You can book rides (use this and not Uber for rides – it is much more reliable and safe in Bali), order food to your Airbnb, and much more.
You can load your data at any cell phone shop on the side of the road. You will look for a sign like this one to indicate it is a cell phone shop:
They will ask you how much data you want to load on your phone and you will chose your plan. These are the options you get to choose from:
I always go for the max amount just to ensure I have it. The largest plan comes to $12 and is worth it to make sure you have data for your entire stay.
4. Prep for your activities
People come to Bali for all different reasons. The top 3 reasons I have found are for yoga, surfing, or co-working. Here are my top recs for planning/prepping for each of these 3 (these are specific to people staying in Canggu):
If you are coming to practice yoga, sign up for a package at a yoga studio! My personal favorite studio is called “The Practice”. It is on Batu Bolong and a beautiful studio with incredible teachers. Head over there to get the schedule and sign up for a package of classes.
If your main focus is coming to Bali for a surf trip – head to the beach by Old Man’s bar/restaurant to rent a board. There is a parking lot directly in front of the bar where there are multiple stands you can rent boards from. They generally run about $5/day. If you are coming for a surf trip, make sure the motorbike you rented has the surf board holder on the side (many of them do). It will make it easy to ride to the beach every morning with your board!
Many people also come to Bali to get work done and meet like-minded entrepreneurs. If this is the focus of your trip – head to the Dojo to sign up for a membership. The Dojo is an amazing co-working center that you buy a monthly membership for. The lowest package is for 25 hours and will cost you 800,000 rupiah for the month ($57 USD). The Dojo has super high-speed internet, tons of power outlets, and is a beautiful place to come work. You will also meet amazing entrepreneurs to connect with. Once you become a member, you will be invited to the Dojo Facebook group where people share all kinds of advice and give/ask for favors and work opportunities. If you are looking for a website designer, photographer, SEO expert, etc. just write that in the Dojo community FB group and you will get responses from people wanting to meet for a coffee and discuss. Dojo people love helping each other out so generally you will get a better price than finding someone outside of the community or you can always do a skill exchange with someone. One of the best parts about Dojo is that every night of the week there are different events/workshops/lectures that you can attend. This is a great way to learn about different aspects of business, get advice and meet people!
5. Plan an Itinerary
Last but not least, I always like to plan a LOOSE itinerary of my trip. I emphasize loose because I think it is super important to be flexible when you travel. It is also great to be spontaneous and to just explore and see where the trip takes you. However, coming to Bali you may have some hot spots that people recommended or things you are dying to do. You don’t want to miss out on making those things happen so I always like to make a list of the restaurants/activities I don't want to miss. Look at the calendar and map out certain days to try those things. This will allow you to book anything that requires booking in advance.