Bali is one of the most known indonesian localities, loved and visited by foreigners; over the years this allowed it to grow and focus its economy around tourism. This means equipped beaches, souvenir shops and local craft markets, the possibility to practice water sports by renting all the equipment on site, lots of bars and restaurants, organized excursions by sea and by land and much more. Bali for many people is the emblem of the perfect holiday with the right mix of fun, nature and relaxation. A place so touristy it is true that has many pros, but unfortunately also hides several pitfalls. If you do not want to be disappointed, there are some things you need to know before embarking on your journey.
1- The cost of living.
Who arrives in Bali with a direct flight, or rather, without stopping in other indonesian places, probably will not even realize it. At first it will seem in fact that life costs as in the West, every price will be comparable to what you are used to pay in your country for the same good or service, but be careful because it is not so. If it is true that thinking in another currency can easily lead to confusion, it is also true that on the other side there is someone who is trying to sell you something at least four times its real value. A representative example? A 45-minute taxi ride in Jakarta, from the airport to the city center, costs you exactly as a car transfer to Bali, from the center of Ubud to your hotel, lasting 10 minutes. In order to avoid that the holiday costs you much more than necessary, the advice we can give you is to always negotiate the price, most of the time you will be able to win. Suffice it to say that you are in a place where you can sleep it the hotel with less than 10 EUR per night, try using it as a comparison to evaluate the price of what you are buying.
2- The movements
There is no way to be autonomous. For those who love to go around and be independent it will be a bitter bite to swallow, even more because the places of interest can be several kilometers away from each other. In Bali you have to necessarily get in contact with a driver. Taxis in the central part of the island disappear to make room for private drivers, which obviously cost a lot. You will have to negotiate and say “No!”, you will see that in the end they will be subject to your conditions. But what is the right price to rent a car with a driver? Approximately 600,000 IDR a day, which is about 35 EUR. You will hardly find cheaper rates, but you may still try to haggle. If you are thinking of bypassing the obstacle by renting a scooter to move in a more economic and casual way, we advise against: the drive of the locals is completely without rules, turists would be seriously in trouble to juggle in the tangle of cars, especially in high season. The indonesian drivers have their own way of understanding each other and, despite their lack of discipline at the wheel, during our stay there has never happened to see accidents. A honking for them is the passepartout, it means everything and nothing. In addition, Indonesians are used to driving with extreme ease on their winding and narrow roads, be very careful if you decide to move by feet outside the towns, it could be dangerous if there is no full visibility.
3- High season
You are going to Bali dreaming of a holiday of calm and slow paced, where the lush nature is the main character, in the undisputed realm of yoga and zen. Forget about this heavenly atmosphere in high season! In August, Bali is chaos, traffic and thousands of tourists everywhere. If you really can not do it, at least avoid staying for long in the area of Kuta/Denpasar, the most animated, busy and noisy part of Bali, where the nightlife of the island is concentrated. Unless this is exactly what you are looking for from your holiday, that is, nightclubs, high music until late in the night and lots of young people. However, there is a no real pedestrian walkway, worthy of the most exclusive tourist destinations, and you will have to stay on the narrow sidewalks, also making sure that some scooters do not cut your way. In the high season, the area of Ubud, in the central part of the island, is quieter, although it is not free from the traffic of the locals, drivers and especially that due to the shuttles of the numerous hotels that rise outside the inhabited center . To give you an idea, at peak times you could take almost 1 hour to travel a stretch of road that under normal conditions would barely take 10 minutes by car.
4- Food, save those who can
Differently from what it is said, we have found that local food is rather poor. If you can, avoid the barbecue by the sea: the fish is fresh, but has an anonymous flavor, sometimes disgusting, they try to camouflage brushing it plenty with a sauce based on oil, herbs and spices, in which the preponderant flavor is garlic. Changing the restaurant does not change the result. The rest of the cuisine is mainly based on spices: garlic and/or onion are present in every dish. The allergic persons can only take refuge in white rice accompanying almost all dishes, or directly in international cuisine. For the bravest, there is the street food, with dishes based on meat or fish skewers and vegetables, in some cases to be cooked at the moment, in other cases already ready to eat.
5- AAA, heavenly beaches wanted
Let’s say it once and for all, Bali is not really the most suitable destination for beach fanatics: being an island of volcanic origin it is difficult to find the flat beaches of fine white sand, with crystal clear water that laps gently ankles, inviting you to lay down on the seashore. The sea of Bali is rather ideal for water sports lovers, as well as a real paradise for surfers: access to the sea is often abrupt and the strong difference in depth near the coast causes the formation of high waves, which are fed also from the strong southern winds. In order to find the paradisiacal tropical beaches, that will evoke the envy of your friends, you will have to travel to the nearby Gili Islands. In addition to being beautiful islands, they are also on a human scale: you can move entirely by feet or bike. We advise you to concentrate here the days of your holiday that you want to dedicate to sea and relax.
Our personal opinion about Bali is that of an island with a very high potential, unfortunately not managed in the best way. It seems a tourist place left at the mercy of individuals, incompetent entrepreneurs who try to emerge chasing the mirage of easy money at the expense of the community. We had the feeling that Bali was not ready to welcome the waves of tourists during the high season; nevertheless it has not become such a popular destination from one day to the next. We wonder why over the years services have not been improved and why a good system of public transport, to which tourists could rely at least for travel between the main destinations and attractions, has not been introduced. We have paid much for poor services, at the limit of decency…where do all our money go to Bali? This is the disappointing context of a place where nature, in terms of beauty and prosperity, has not been spared and for centuries men have lived in perfect harmony with it. You will understand better what we mean in the next articles, as we will address the individual aspects of the holiday. In the meantime, we hope to have alerted you to those little things that few people tell you, but that could make you disappointed about your holiday.
See you soon