How to plan a perfect Bali vacation

80% of Bali's economy is driven by tourism. So, the place is going to be jam-packed. Plan ahead!

by John Horan
bali vacation planning

In this article, we will put together an ultimate Bali travel guide for anyone who is planning to travel there in the coming weeks. We are going to go over everything you need to know before leaving for a holiday in Bali. This guide is definitely going to make your trip a lot easier.

Planning a perfect Bali vacation

Airport Arrival

Airport Arrival

Airport Arrival

Let us start with the very first point, and that is arrival at the airport. After passing through immigration on arrival terminal at the airport, you might need to take some money from an ATM to get a taxi or get your own SIM card. However, we would recommend you not do any of those things at the airport, if possible.

You need to schedule your driver before arrival at Bali. This can be done with the hotel you are staying at. Most of the hotels in Bali offer this pickup service. You need to text them that you want somebody to wait for you at the airport. They have their people ready for this and are more than happy to help you in this regard. Moreover, it is much more affordable than getting a regular taxi. Taxi drivers waiting in front of the airport are overpriced, as everywhere else. Also, SIM cards are at least 3 times more expensive at the airport than in town. So, we would recommend that you wait for the sim card until the next morning and then purchase it from somewhere close to your accommodation.

SIM Cards

The second thing we would like to discuss is SIM cards or mobile network providers. By popular opinion, we would recommend Telkomsel. It is used by most of the people traveling to Bali. It has got the greatest coverage and also provides the best speed. Telkomsel is not the most affordable network provider, but you get exactly what you are paying for when you are using Telkomsel.

Telkomsel SIM card costs a hundred thousand Indonesian Rupiahs. You also get 25 GBs of internet, unlimited calls, and unlimited messages. You can do so for only 85 thousand Indonesian Rupiahs whenever you want to extend the data package, which is around 6 dollars. You get the same top-up every month. So, you basically buy a SIM card with internet data for a month, and then you can recharge your account every month from a local store. All of this is really affordable.

Money Exchange

Money Exchange

Money Exchange

After buying a SIM card, the next logical step is to exchange your currency for Indonesian Rupiahs or take money out of an ATM. The current exchange rate is 10 thousand Indonesian Rupiahs for 70 cents. Whenever you want to exchange your currency, you need to make sure that you are doing so in a legitimate money exchange approved by the local government. Most of the approved money exchanges are on the main roads in Bali. They are bigger, cleaner, and you may want to ask for a certificate of approval from the money exchange personnel.

If the money exchange does not look okay and is located in a shady street or a clothing store, it probably isn’t legitimate and must be avoided. Never exchange currency from an exchange that does not look professional. Make sure always to check the exchange rates and ask if the exchange charges any commission fee. Keep in mind that authorized money exchanges do not charge any commission fee. Anyone who is asking for a commission is trying to make extra money out of your pocket. They may sometimes scam you as well.

If you use an online bank account that lets you withdraw foreign currencies without any extra fee, then you do not have to go to a money exchange at all. You can use your card at any ATM around Bali to get Indonesian Rupiahs. This option is much more secure and straightforward. Also, you will always get better exchange rates at the ATM than at a money exchange. This is because ATM rates are usually regulated from MasterCard or VISA. Therefore, they will always give you the best possible exchange rate at the time of withdrawal.




Whether you will stay in Bali for a weekend or are there for several months, you will need to arrange accommodation. In any case, you will have the following options: guest house, homestay, resort or hotel, shared villa, and private villa. When you are on a budget, you will always have to go with the guest house. It will cost you anywhere between 200 USD to 400 USD per month. You can easily get a great guest house at a great location with this price range.

The other most popular option for many travelers is a two-bedroom private villa. With this, you will get your own swimming pool, a kitchen, two bedrooms, maintenance services, and more. This will cost you anywhere between 650 USD to 1000 USD per month. When you go for a higher price, you can sometimes get a private cook as well. Because these villas are in high demand, you will get plenty of variety to choose from.

Once you have decided which option you will be going for, the next step is to book one. For this, you will have to give yourself more time than you think. You may need to join Facebook groups, schedule viewings, and join house renting platforms. It is essential to see the place in person because often, pictures are way better than the actual residence. The pictures were usually taken when the villa was first built. If you want to base your choice on the current situation of the villa, always schedule a viewing appointment. Moreover, it will also be better to deal directly with the owner or the manager taking care of the property. We would once again recommend Facebook groups because they let you communicate freely with many people who can help you in this regard.




Now let us talk about the different options for transport after you have arrived in Bali. By far, the most popular transport option is scooters. Three main types of scooters can be rented in Bali. The first one is the Honda Scoopy. It is mainly for girls. Then comes the Honda Vario and the Yamaha N-Max. The Yamaha N-Max is the most comfortable scooter that you can find over there. However, they are a bit bulkier and are difficult to ride if you have no prior experience. We would recommend always starting with a simple and cheap scooter, checking your skills, and then upgrading if you want.

The rent for Honda Scoopy is around 40 USD per month. The Honda Vario is rented at around 60 USD per month. And the Yamaha N-Max may cost you around 100 USD per month, depending on the model year and condition. You can purchase petrol from any local store on the roadside. Most of the shops have a stand with tons of petrol-filled bottles.

If you are not comfortable riding a scooter yourself, you can use the Gojek App. It is mostly similar to Uber. You can call a driver to your pickup location, and they will get you from one location to another at a fairly reasonable price. Gojek riders provide a really amazing service. They usually arrive within a few minutes after your call. This costs you around 1.5 USD for a 20-minute ride. Many Gojek riders are available all around Bali, so you usually do not have to wait for more than 2 minutes for your ride. In fact, when you calculate the cost over a month, it is almost similar to that of riding a rented scooter on your own.

Roads all over Bali are hectic at all times. Bali is notoriously famous for how busy it is. Therefore, you will have to adjust yourself to the traffic. If you are riding a scooter, make sure to wear a helmet and have a driving license with you at all times.

Useful Apps

We have already talked about Gojek App, but that is just one of many useful applications you can use in and around Bali. We would also recommend having these apps on your phone before you arrive in Bali so that you can get used to the user interface and navigation panel.

Without a doubt, Gojek is the most common application in Bali. It is used for ride-hailing services and is in use all over Indonesia. Apart from transport, Gojek also provides food delivery services, just like Uber Eats. The next application that must be installed on your phone on a foreign trip is Google Maps. We cannot highlight how important this app is in times of dire need. You will find yourself using it all the time when you are in Bali. Moreover, Google Maps also allows you to download a particular area, which can then be used without the internet. This is useful when you are going to a location that does not have internet connectivity.

Another application that is really useful when you are in a foreign land is Google Translate. Balinese people do speak English pretty well. But when you go to a rural area around Bali, you will find it difficult to converse in English. Therefore, it is always handy to have Google Translate on your phone. It can be used to talk with people and be put to use when reading menus and road signs. With that being said, you should also try to learn the basics of the local language. This will allow you to carry out most of the routine activities without a hitch. Furthermore, whenever you greet local persons in their own language, it will not only be appreciated as a sign of respect. Still, it will also put you at an advantage as they open up more freely to you than a person who can only speak English. Like Google Maps, Google Translate can also download an entire language, which can then be translated into and from that language without an internet connection.

If you do not have WhatsApp already installed on your phone, make sure to do it before you arrive. Just like everywhere else, it is the most common communication app in Bali. In fact, Balinese people and businesses prefer WhatsApp way more than any other mode, including emails. However, when it comes to booking accommodations, Agoda is the most popular application. You can also use it to compare properties all over Bali.




Now, let us talk about something famous among the tourists and Balinese people—Balinese Food. Indonesian food as a whole is just amazing. Balinese food is a bit spicy sometimes, but it is always so fresh, and there is just so much to choose from. You will get all the options from a very budget-friendly menu to high-end fine dining.

One of the most popular options in food are local restaurants. They are known as Nasi Campur. They have pre-cooked meals on display. So, you have to pick a base, which is usually rice or noodles or potatoes. After that, you point and select what you would like as a topping. It is either served with fish, meat, or vegetables. Basically, you can create your own combination every time. The food at these local restaurants is very often vegan friendly as well. These are the places where locals go, and that is the best way to experience local cuisine. If you are concerned about safety or hygiene in these restaurants, we would like to mention that they are spotless and hygienic. There are no issues whatsoever.


Many of you guys may want to visit Bali for a party. Of course, with a party, the next thing that comes to mind is alcohol. First, you must be notified that alcohol in Bali is expensive. Since Indonesia is a Muslim country, almost all alcohol that comes into its borders is charged with a very high import fee. There are some local options in alcohol as well, but you will want to stay away from them as much as possible. They are way cheaper but are not safe to drink at all.

However, one local beer that strikes out is Bintang. It is the most popular beer on the island and costs anywhere between 2 and 3 USD. Considering the quality of local alcohol, we would recommend you to always go for imported drinks. They will be pricey, but you will enjoy your time with no hygiene concerns at all.


Toiletries are widely available in Bali, but the options are minimal. Therefore, if you are comfortable using only a particular brand or variant, you will have to bring it to Bali. You can get what you are looking for most of the time, but it will be much pricier than back home. For example, a small pack of tampons would cost you around 7 to 8 USD. So, if you are coming to Bali for a longer period of time, please stock up on toiletries. We also want to mention that people who love perfumes and scents may get fairly disappointed. Perfumes in local stores are very rare. You will have to travel for around 30 minutes to a massive shopping center if you need one.

Drinking Water

Here, we would like to mention that no one should drink tap water in Bali once and for all. You might get something very well known, called Bali Belly. The tap water here is not safe to drink. You can use it to wash your face, take a bath, and brush your teeth. We would not recommend putting tap water to any other uses apart from these.

You will have to buy large water bottles for drinking purposes. Most of the villas or hotels where you are staying will provide you with clean drinking water. Everywhere you go, you will find water dispensers. Through them, you can have cold or hot water at any time you want. Many guesthouses have also installed their private water filters. If this is the case, you can use filtered water for all purposes, including drinking.


Now that you have got pretty much everything sorted, there are just a few other things that you might want to think about. First, start putting together a packing list at least a month before your arrival. You may want to do one more thing before moving to Bali is to check out the Instagram hashtags. This will allow you to see what others are doing in Bali these days. You may get to see a lot more when you know a lot more. We hope that you found this article useful. With everything sorted and planned, the only thing left to do is buy a ticket and have the time of your life.

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