1. Invest In A GoPro & Waterproof Camera
As you’re driving around Bali, the fast pace of the scooter means that you have no choice but to hold on to your partner driving. That makes taking photos difficult and, with so much spectacular scenery (waterfalls, mountains, the Ubud, vast expanses of sparking blue waters over the bridges etc.), you can miss out on a lot of incredible images and memories as, once you’ve driven past somewhere, it’s difficult to find the same location on the way back.
We discovered this on the very long journey up the mountains to the Sekumpul Waterfalls, which was a huge shame as the views and scenery from the winding roads, reaching higher and higher above Bali were incredible. Unfortunately, the hill is steep and, although it’s definitely worth the effort, it does take several hours to ascend and a lot of physical effort so, add that to trip back down and, it’s understandable why you wouldn’t go back up again too soon afterwards.
To avoid disappointment, investing in a GoPro is a must. All you have to do is attach it to your helmet and away you go. Whatever you see, it will capture and, with the additional benefit of being waterproof, it’s the perfect equipment to combat the challenging and unpredictable weather conditions of the Ubud and mountains; and to capture adrenalin fueled activities like parasailing, parachuting and more. We’d also recommend investing in a waterproof camera as it’s perfect for capturing underwater moments such as scuba diving with the giant squid, turtles and colorfully exotic fishes on Gili Air.
2. Rent A Motor Scooter
Driving around Bali is not for the faint-hearted. The roads, though they have much traffic, are fast paced, busy and, other than the law-enforcement of wearing a helmet, the only rule is that there are no rules. For example, it’s not uncommon to find 15 scooters jaggedly driving up and down pavements and in between the gridlocked cars in any one space; where, in the UK, you would get 2 cars and 1 scooter. That said, driving around Bali by scooter is by far the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get around so, if you’re relatively fearless and can learn the Balinese ‘rhythm and dance’ of the cars, we definitely recommend renting one.
Renting a scooter costs approx. £10 per day, plus petrol, and a journey that would usually take 30 minutes by cab in gridlocked traffic can be done in 10 minutes.
3. Know Your Facts About Timings & Prices
Outside of the main resorts, when booking trips and excursions, the locals will ‘play with the facts’ to pursuade you to book tickets and, once you’ve paid, don’t argue. Being misled can lead to potentially dangerous situations and the Balinese locals can be substantially more cutthroat than you’re used to so cut your losses and walk away. Being prepared, doing your research and booking trips in advance via a trusted source (e.g. online) will help you to avoid potential problems and give you something to look forward to.
4. Carry A Backpack
Carrying a backpack at all times (over your chest) will ensure that all of your belongings remain safe, particularly when travelling by scooter or visiting tourist attractions such as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is renowned for pickpocketing. In the backpack, we also advise carrying plasters, antiseptic wipes (or cleansing wipes), 2 bottles of water and suncream as the roads can be unpredictable and any cuts experienced whilst travelling off-road should be treated as soon as possible to avoid infection. You also never know where you’ll end up, or if places to eat and drink will be easily accessible, so taking water will protect against dehydration and sunstroke, as will the suncream, which is imperitive. Even if the sky seems overcast, the Balinese sun is extremely hot and the UV rays incredibly powerful so don’t forget to reapply suncream several times daily, especially if you are travelling by scooter as the sun will be directly overhead and you will burn.
You should also carry a phone charger as the days can go quickly and, if you’re travelling far from the hotel, you’ll definitely rely on your phone's satellite and Google Map to get back safely. You definitely don’t want to get caught out.
5. Exchange Most Of Your Money In Bali
Surprisingly, there are many places to exchange money in Bali and the exchange rate is far more appealing than the one offered in the UK so change a little bit here to be safe but delay changing the majority of your money until you’ve arrived.
6. Buy A Balinese Pay As You Go Sim Card
This is a lifesaver. Not only will it prevent you from overspending on your UK contract and coming home to a shockingly high phone bill but buying a Balinese sim card will give you the freedom to travel far and wide, exploring the island safe in the knowledge that a) you can research the best places to go online in advance; b) you can use Google Map to help you arrive there and return safely; and c) if you get into difficulty, you can contact people to help you and, more importantly, the locate app on your phone, if switched on, will provide them with your exact location so, if you get lost, you won’t have to worry.
Don’t worry about paying for internet and phone calls as it’s unlikely that you will use the phone and, if you do need to, there’s always WhatsApp. You can buy an internet only sim with lots of internet for approx. 150,000rp (approx. £9).