People had been asking me for a while from the start of this year , where are you heading next. Yes , I do have my bucket list but with limited vacation days , I really wanted to chose a destination that would suffice my hunger for greenery, beaches , tranquility and most importantly relaxing. SO i am happy to report to all my readers - Bali is everything you will expect and even more :). It is magical and has something for everyone - backpackers , thrill seekers , luxury lovers. Really the island is big enough to offer beaches, towns, jungle, scuba diving, mountains ,waterfalls and much more. To give you a better understanding of what to expect when you visit Bali I have put together a list of fun and interesting facts that will give you a sense of things to consider before planning trip to Bali.
Traffic is Crazy :
Oooh I am addressing this right away because when I landed in Bali after 26 hrs of flight , I was hoping to reach my villa quicky as google maps showed it 26 mins with no traffic but it ended it up being 2 hours drive. Yes traffic is crazy. Specially around 9 am ( office time) and 5 pm ( when people just want to reach home after day's work). That being said , I will like to mention that it is not as bad as traffic in India with continuous honking and people cutting their way from every possible direction. Balinese people are incredibly patient and even at worst traffic times I never witnessed deafening honking. You definitely require good driving skills considering the roads are a little narrow and there are too many two wheelers on the road. Traffic will definetly add to your travel time. I continuously struggled in reaching my destinations on time and felt like I wasted too much time on road . But hey it is something that is unavoidable. Just embrace the chaos and you will learn to love the traffic in Bali.
Dollar Vs Rupiah :
For the first time in my life I had this moment that i was unable to count the cash in my hands. I really felt like a millionaire. I mean think about it - 1 USD = 13,700 IDR and getting the exchange done for thousand dollars... yes more than 13 million in cash :P ....hellooooo isn't that cool. I will highly suggest to get the exchange done in Bali rather than getting it from home country. The exchange rate at airport might be a little less but as you will go in the city , almost all money exchangers give a very good exchange rate. For most part you can pay in dollars in all big restaurants , hotels and shops . But as you go in more interiors of Bali , you will need the local currency.
Bali is all about Hinduism :
Even though Indonesia as a country is refered as the world’s largest Muslim country. But amazingly it’s most popular island; Bali has a Hindu majority population. Hindu mythology is depicted in Bali on walls, on cross-sections and Balinese people highly believe in trinity of God. As an Indian who knows a little bit about Hindu mythology, worked wonders for me to break a conversation with Bali's local people. For non- vegetarians ( yes you all :) ) , this is the only island where you can enjoy suckling roast pig which is otherwise off limit in other parts of the country. Yay!
Watch-out for Silent Festival aka Neypi day:
Bali is usually filled with vivid sights and thumping sounds that makes it lively and irrestible for the travelers. However once a year , the whole island temporarily shuts down during a sacred Balinese celebration called Nyepi.This means no work, no travel, not even electricity; basically no noise.People spend this day meditating and self – reflecting. In a way it is Bali’s private Earth Hour.You must be wondering as to how does it affect you as a tourist. Let me break this down. Nyepi is the day when locals do not go out of their homes for 24 hours and all routinary activities including work operations and recreational activities are put to a complete halt. This means no restaurants , no beaches, no transportation . A lot of times your hotels will not even let you check-in or check-out on Neypi day.
You must taste Kopi Luwak ( Coffee from poop) :
I was shocked when i first heard the coffee from poop and i was more shocked when I actually tasted it - mind blowingly tasty. It was smooth, balanced and the flavour is incomparable to any other type of coffee. Kopi Luwak is worlds most expensive coffee ( costs around 50$ a cup) and one of the specialties of Bali. The coffee harvesting for Kopi Luwak goes something like this - Luwak ( Civet Cat) roams around in coffee plantations and eats best of coffee cherries. While it picks the best of cherries and eats , the Luwak is unable to digest the coffee seed and defecates it. The coffee seeds are then cleaned from the poop and processed and made into actual coffee to consume. Trust me , it may sound weird , but a cup of this coffee will blow you away :) . Do try it :)
Beware of Monkeys :
So many people go to Bali to walk in Ubud's monkey forest - to see monkeys live in action in their natural habitat. I personally skipped that because i had no intention of having my stuff being stollen or being bitten for nothing. But hey here is the good news ( actually not so good for me) , you don’t need to go to the Monkey Forest to have your stuff stolen – it could happen anywhere. I saw monkeys snatching purses and hats almost in every temple i visited. Encouraged by travelers who feed them and take selfies with them, monkeys at any Bali tourist site may try to snatch your bag/hat/sunglasses/food. It is advised that you do not look them in the eye , appreciate them from a distance and if they try to snatch anything , just give it up. Fail to follow these guidelines will definetly result in an attack or a bite from monkey. Also remember that smiling at them with bared teeth is basically challenging one to fight you. Sooo keep your lips sealed and ignore them :) .
Wooden Penis is for Good-luck:
I could not believe when I first saw penis shaped souvenirs in a gift shop in Bali , just had one question - WHO THE HELL IS GOING TO BUY THIS? Actually more importantly , WHY ARE THEY SELLING THIS ? Yes it can get a little weird seeing penis shaped bottle openers , neck pieces and possibly souvenir shops full of all kinds and sizes of penises but as our local guide told us , there is a significance for this. In old days when medicine was not advanced and many kids used to die as a baby , Balinese people believed that dying of little boys before reaching the manhood is all due to evil spirits. To dodge these evil spirits , they would tie wooden penis to kids waste think that this will be-fool the evil spirits and they would not kill the baby boy. Fast Forward to 21st century and even today Balinese people think of wearing penises as sign of good-luck. SO if you need some good-luck or you think evil spirits are following you ,buy these souvenirs.
Bali is vegetarian heaven :
Thinking that Bali is an island and you will only find seafood , will be a big mistake. Bali specially Ubud is a heaven for vegetarians. You will find vegetarian, vegan and raw food cafes and restaurants abound, with an emphasis on locally grown organic fruits and veg. The food is delicious and for once I can say that I did not starve on my vacation :) . Look out for my blog on all the restaurants we tried in Bali and our best picks :) .
Bali is safe for all kind of travelers specially solo :
I happened to meet so many long term travelers in the cafes of Bali and they had one thing common to say - Bali is safe . I personally was surprised people parking their two wheelers without locking them up and leaving their helmets without any locks. No thefts, no crime - Bali is an ideal destination for any kind of traveller. That being said do take the same precautions you would in any urban area - Secure money before leaving an ATM (and don't forget your card!) , don't leave valuables on a beach while swimming , double count your money before leaving money changers, use front-desk/in-room safes and do not roam around at odd hours at night.
Do not drink the tap water :
The tap water in Bali is not belly friendly. So to stay hydrated , bottled water is the only choice. Even in restaurants when asked about water , do not forget to mention specifically bottled water. They will charge you a bit extra but better than getting your stomach upset in middle of your vacation. Ice on the other hand is government regulated and quality controlled in Bali. So no need to have your drinks neat :).
If you are visiting Bali anytime sooner , I hope these facts and tips help you . Stay tuned for my Bali itineraries and do share with me in comments below which fact did you find the most interesing one. If you have visited Bali already - care to share any more interesting things with me :) Thank you so much for stopping by.