The thought of traveling to the exotic land of Bali, Indonesia is exciting. I can still vividly remember my first trip. Here are a few things you should know if you are planning on visiting Bali for the first time.
1. Passport Requirement. As required for traveling anywhere out of the US, you will need a valid passport. However for entry into Indonesia, you will also need to meet two additional requirements. First, your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Indonesia. Secondly, you must have at least two blank pages in your passport. If your passport does not meet these two requirements, you will be denied entry to Indonesia. This is a strict rule. Be sure you follow it to save yourself trouble and frustration.
2. Visa Requirement. One great thing about traveling to Bali as an American is that you don't need a visa. Under the Visa Exemption Rule, American citizens are not required to have a visa to enter Indonesia if staying for tourism for 30 days or less. Entry under the visa exemption is for free, however, it may not be extended. U.S. citizens visiting family or traveling for other purposes may apply for a 30-day visa on arrival.
3. Time Difference. Indonesia is literally is on the other side of the world from New York. It is a far and exotic place in many ways. Bali is 13 hours ahead of NYC time. Thats a big time difference. It is important to get ample sleep on the flight to Bali to help your body adjust to the time difference. Generally speaking daytime in Bali is night time in New York.
4. Flight Time. Bali is 10,000 miles away from the United States. As a result, the flight will take roughly 24 hours to arrive! This means you will literally spend about a day in the air. But don't fret, this flight is usually broken down into at least two flights with one layover in China. As a person who has taken this trip numerous times, I would say its not as bad as it sounds. The trip is a good time to watch movies, read books, sleep, write in your journal, chat with your friends or stroll around the plane to get some exercise. The airlines try their best to make your flight as comfortable as possible. The China layover can also oftentimes be 13 hours or more. You get free hotel in China to rest or go site seeing. Think of it as two trips in one.
5. Currency. The basic unit of currency used in Indonesia is the Rupiah (Rp) which similar to the American dollar. 1 American dollar is equivalent to roughly 14,285 Rupiah. The Rupiah Notes are 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and Coins 25, 50, 100, 500, 1000. When bringing American currency to Bali for conversion, please remember that the following terms of US currency with a Series Number of CB or DB code will not be accepted. Currencies older than 2004 are not accepted. Currency where there is a streak or words illegally written or in a state of tearing is not accepted. When converting funds it is best to convert using higher bills such as crisp new $100 bills. Also, its good to shop around sometime for better conversion rates as they fluctuate.
6. Electricity Requirements. Electric power supply in Indonesia is usually 220 volts/50 cycles in the big cities, but 110 volts are still used in some areas. Normal outlets are plugs with two rounded prongs. It is good to purchase an international power converter that allows both 220 and 110 volt conversions. For a good option from Amazon click here.
7. Haggling. Like many tropical countries in the world haggling is the preferred method of commerce. This means that generally speaking, there is no set price on items you buy when purchasing from local vendors. Most prices are negotiated. For this reason it's good to have a little skill in the art of negotiation. Bargains are possible. However, haggling generally doesn't apply to convenience stores or more established western style stores. There the prices are usually set and pre-printed on the products already.
8. Sarongs and Temple Protocol. Bali is literally filled with beautiful ancient temples. And most if not all of them are active. Its one of the major tourist attractions. Generally speaking tourists are welcomes to enter but some quick points should be remembered. One of main rules is that sarongs must be worn but all while in the temple. It doesn't matter if you are a Balinese Hindu or not. A sarong is a traditional ceremonial cloth which is wrapped around the waist and worn in the temples. They are pretty easy to purchase and many styles are available. Also, its important to be respectful towards worshippers while in temples. Taking pictures of devotees without permission is discouraged.
9. Left-Side Driving. One of the major cultural differences you will notice right away while in Bali is that in Indonesia they drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the cars. This is very important when crossing streets to ensure you are looking in the right direction for traffic. For safety sake it's just best to look in both directions before crossing. Unless you are experienced in left-side driving, you should not drive while in Bali, however motor bikes rentals are pretty common and pretty easy to drive if you have a little practice.
10. Vaccinations and Health Precautions.
There are a few health risks which you should be mindful of when traveling to Indonesia. Malaria is always a risk although many never get it. Malaria is primarily transported by mosquitos so its important to avoid getting bit by mosquitos. Buying a good topical mosquito repellant will help as well as getting some malaria pills from your doctor. Not all mosquitos carry Malaria so if you are bit by a mosquito, it doesn't mean you will automatically get malaria. Another potential health risk is getting typhoid fever through contaminated food or water in Indonesia. The CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.