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Bali Travel Tips

Bali Travel Tips

Currency and Exchanges
The rupiah is the basic unit of money, normally abbreviated to Rp followed by the value. Denominations of Rp 50,100 and 500  are in the form of coins, Rp  1,000 is in either coins or bills, and Rp 2,000, Rp 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 , 50,000  and 100,000 are only available in bills. Values below Rp 50 are rarely seen except as change and are often substituted by sellers with sweets in lieu of change. In Bali, carry a handful of coins or Rp 1000` notes and do not exchange large sums of money even if you plan to be there for a long time. Take note though, due to the volatility of the rupiah, most mid-range hotels, all top-end hotels and restaurants, and some tourist attractions, car rental agencies and tour companies list their prices in US dollar. The rupiah is still acceptable but the exchange rate is usually more advantageous to the vendor than the tourist. The postal service in Bali has a type of postal traveler’s check called cek pos. You can exchange your cash for these checks at a main post office and use them throughout Indonesia as traveler’s checks or cash them at any post office. However, these traveler’s checks cannot be accepted by individuals.

Foreign currency, whether in banknotes or traveler’s checks, should be exchanged at major banks or authorized moneychangers. Exchange rates offered by the moneychangers are generally better than the banks, they stay open longer and transactions are quicker. Look around for variable exchange rates advertised on boards along the footpaths or windows outside shops. Always ask about any commission imposed before the exchange as many moneychangers with better rates often charge a small commission.

A few companies that are recommended to exchange your bank notes or traveler’s cheque – it has a few offices along the road of Kerobokan – Seminyak.

Most  banks have branches in the main tourist centers and cities. But it would be difficult to find banks in smaller towns, and even if there were banks, the exchange rates may be much lower than the ongoing exchange rate. Banking hours are generally from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Credit Cards
Many shops, large and small, accept credit cards as the payment method.  There are some surcharges between  3-5 percent added to the bill. Cash in  advances can be obtained in all major tourist resorts – Denpasar, Kuta, Sanur and Ubud. Automatic Teller Machines are easy to find, all over the place, especially at shopping and restaurants area as well as bank branches. Most of them are connected to international banking networks, thus making it possible to look for machines that are affiliated with your own ATM network. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted by most of the ATM Network and Companies. The amount signed for is in rupiah and the bill is then converted to your domestic currency.

To ensure security and convenience, bring most of your money in traveler’s cheque, despite getting better exchange rates for cash. Backing this up with a credit card for major purchases is a good idea. US dollars are the most negotiable currency, particularly in remote areas. It would be a practical way to change as much as you can and feel safe carrying before heading into more remote regions.

Weapons, narcotics, pornography, and radio-cassette players are prohibited in Bali. Yes, it is strange that cassette players are not allowed into the island but this law is rarely enforced. Anything with Chinese characters written on it is forbidden. The same rule applies to fresh fruits, plants, animals, exposed films, and videos. Pets are strictly banned to prevent the spread of rabies. But if you insist on taking your furry friends along, an official letter is needed from your veterinarian stating that your pet is disease-free but this would not guarantee a quarantine. Feel free to contact your local Indonesian consulate/embassy for details.

You are only able to bring a maximum of one bottle of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco, and a reasonable amount of perfume into Bali. Photographic equipment, typewriters and radios are admitted, provided that they are taken out on departure. All these must be declared via a customs declaration form that must be completed before arrival. Another subject is the import and export of currencies, one is not able to import or export the Indonesian currency exceeding Rp 5 million. In addition, export of national treasures are frowned upon – tortoise shell, crocodile skins, and ivory are not to be taken out of Indonesia.

Visas and Passports
One Month (30 days) tourist visas will automatically be issued to visitors from 46 countries, which include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, and most of western Europe. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months upon entry into Indonesia or you will find yourself on the next plane out. You will be given a 30-day tourist card as long as

(i)  your passport is valid for at least six months, and

(ii) you have a ticket out of Indonesia or have enough money to fund your trip and departure.

This card has to be returned when you leave Indonesia, so please do not misplace it.

Extension of tourist visas is easy; you would only have to leave the country and come back in again. This is as simple as going to Singapore and returning the same day. Paperwork is involved for extending business and social cultural visas, and this can be done only once per visa. Contact your local Indonesian embassy/consulate for more details or the immigration department once in Bali.

Travel Insurance
It is essential to have a travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems. Some companies offer a range of medical expense options, but the small print must be scrutinized. It is preferable to have a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. Check that the policy covers ambulances and emergency flights home. Numerous policies also specify exclusion of dangerous activities such as scuba diving, renting a local motorbike on Bali and even trekking. Take note that locally acquired motorbikes are not valid under certain policies.

If you are entering Bali from an area infected with smallpox, cholera and yellow fever, an international health certificate will be required. The further off the beaten track you go, the more necessary it is to take precautions. Plan ahead when getting your vaccinations as some may require more than one injection. It is recommended that you seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. Typhoid and paratyphoid vaccinations are advisable and if your stay in Bali is long, go for gamma-globulin injections as the risk of hepatitis could be reduced. Many people might get the notorious “Bali Belly “but the symptoms can stopped by taking Lomotil and Imodium. At the first sign of discomfort (diarrhea and cramps), drink strong, hot tea and avoid all fruits and spicy food. Charcoal tablets, a brand named Norit, will help alleviate the cramping. If a fever occurs with the above symptoms, go to a doctor for a course of antibiotics. Be sure to rehydrate yourself by taking mineral replacements salts such as Oralite and drinking as much liquids as possible.

Malaria may not be a major threat in Bali, but dengue fever is. Protect yourself with long sleeves and trousers or use insect repellent to keep the Aides mosquitoes at bay.Remember to bring along sunscreen and sun block to protect yourself from the harsh Bali sun. A wide-brimmed straw hat is also useful around noon, when the tropical sun is intense.

You should also ensure that you have adequate health insurance and that your teeth are in perfect order before you travel, as dentists are hard to find in Bali.

It is an important rule to be careful of the water, especially iced. If you do not know whether the water is safe, assume the worst. If unsure about tap water, drink bottled water or soft drinks. Just be certain that you use water from containers with a serrated seal, not tops or corks. Be cautious with fruit juice, particularly if it has been added with water. Boiling water is the simplest way of purifying but at higher altitudes, boil longer to kill germs.

All fruits should be peeled before its consumed and raw vegetables should not be eaten. Watch what you eat, where you eat and always wash your hands with soap.