C’mon, who hasn’t seen this picture-perfect destination on Instagram?! As beautiful and tourist-friendly as this little Indonesian island is, here are a few things to know before you go.


1. Getting Around

There’s no public transport on the island.

Download the Grab app. It’s a really fun way to go town to town (and beach to beach) if you choose the motorbike option! The price is — when you order, so there’s usually no haggling, and usually no misunderstanding as to where you’re going. For some of the more popular attractions in Bali, the scooters aren’t allowed through the main entrance so they have to drop you a couple of minutes away. But it’s exactly that, a minute or two walk.

There are also drivers along the street who will offer you a ride, and while they’re cheaper than the regular taxis, they’re still considerably pricier than Grab and there’s no guarantee they won’t ask for more money when you reach your destination – especially if you’re going to a beach club on a Saturday night.

The taxi desk at the airport is a lot more expensive, and there’s a Grab stall when you get across the car park.


2. Queuing At The Gates of Heaven

I feel like this isn’t talk about enough. I did my research before going and this totally surprised me. We chose a tour which a included a stop at the Gate of Heaven, I’d seen photos and thought it looked so beautiful. I couldn’t wait.

Our driver brought us there, even he said nothing, and we covered up to enter the temple. The area was full of people, and I mean FULL. We were given a ticket and asked to wait. Ok, what, 10 minutes, 30 minutes? No. 3 hours.

Now, I understand that it’s popular and that the photos you get are stunning. But I would’ve appreciated knowing the wait was so long beforehand. I would have been a bit more prepared and less confused and annoyed. Another thing, just so you know because I didn’t and I felt a bit stupid – the reflection you get is a trick. The photographer uses a mirror to get that effect. It does the job and looks amazing, but I was under the impression that there was a lake or something.

What it actually looks like                                                                               vs.                                                                  The souvenir photo 


3. Going For A Drink

Night clubs, hotels and high-end restaurants are the safer choices for enjoying a few drinks.

As Indonesia is a strict Muslim country, Bali imports their alcohol which can be expensive. To save money, some places may “water” their booze down with methanol. If you want to avoid all risk, only buy pre-sealed or bottled drinks, and don’t have any cocktails.

My friend and I went to a Chinese-owned restaurant in Kuta for dinner. When our second cocktail arrived, we noticed a strong smell (they say methanol doesn’t smell but something definitely wasn’t right). She had a sip of hers, shook her head and handed her drink to me. I tried some too and it was awful. When we sent it back the waiter honestly didn’t seem surprised.


4. The Infamous Bali Belly

When we went to that restaurant, we had been preoccupied with making sure the ice was safe, rather than the alcohol. Yeah, you feel silly checking with the staff about the ice when you order a coffee or soda, but the Balinese are sweet and they laugh and reassure you. We didn’t get the dreaded Bali Belly the whole two weeks we were there, and we didn’t try particularly hard. I even brushed my teeth with tap water which is a usual no-no. Speaking of tap water, be wary of fresh fruits and salads which may have been washed in the kitchen.


5. Pack A Scarf!

…or buy a sarong from one of the many markets you’ll find.

You have to dress respectfully at temples and sacred sites – and there’s a lot of them!

Knees and shoulders must be covered, so I found it best to either wear “elephant pants” (if you’ve been to South East Asia before, you know what I’m talking about!) and have the scarf around my shoulders, or wear a t-shirt and wrap it sarong-style around my waist. You also have to remove your shoes, so a pair that are easy to slip on and off would be ideal.