Bali is a beautiful place with many things to see and do. However, there are a few things you should know before visiting. This blog post will help you prepare for your trip and make the most of your vacation.
Once upon a time, we all lived a life without needing to plan. If we wanted to go on a holiday, we booked the cheapest flight, never looking up the safety standards of an airline or checking sites like “SeatGuru” to view if our seats were in prime positions on the aircraft.
We threw our summer wardrobe into a bag, bought a book at the airport and hopped our flight without thinking of items we might need, like medications, device chargers, even snacks for the flight.
Back then, we never worried about the consequences of not being prepared before a holiday. But the last few years have changed all of that.
Now that overseas travel is back on the menu, thousands of families are flocking back to our island home-away-from-home, Bali! For many of these families, it’s their first time taking their “covid babies” overseas, and for them the thoughts of someone getting sick are more than just an inconvenience, they are genuine issues.
As a very experienced Bali traveller, and having taken my three children to Bali since they were infants, here is my list of what you need to arm yourself with before you even hop on the flight!
iPads — Honestly, who actually travels with children, without an iPad? If you are one of those people, i applaud you, i really do, but you are kidding yourself if you think air travel and children can be done without an iPad! On our last flight into Bali, our Jetstar flight (ok, i know…) had NO INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT!!! 6 hour flight. NO INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT. So praise the heavens above that we took iPads.
Charcoal Tablets — Activated charcoal is thought to offer several other benefits, including lessening gas and flatulence, lower cholesterol levels, and improved kidney function. Some people claim that it helps whiten your teeth, filters water, and even cures hangovers. We use it as a remedy for Bali Belly.
Berocca — Dear, sweet Berocca…..This is my personal must have. Some people love the coffee in Bali. I don’t. So a tube of Berocca helps me wake up, and has also proven to help me get through many bouts of ‘dehydration” from tummy problems… and hangovers….
Hydra Lite — Yes it tastes like a watered down icy pole, but if you or anyone you are with gets sick, staying hydrated is a necessity. Keep a tube of the effervescent tabs with you and pop into a bottle of water and you will be fine.
Sunscreen — Unfortunately 30 + doesn’t cut it here. Thanks to our hole in the ozone layer the sun is very strong in Bali. Even in an overcast day, you can pull up as red raw as a lobster if you don’t slather the 50+ cream all over. It’s very expensive here, and most sunscreen you find in Bali is in a tiny little bottle that might cover one arm, so just buy and pack it.
Stemetil — Get a script of this from your doctor before you leave home and get that script filled. It stops the vomits and does it fast.
Anti-Nausea Meds — again, get the script and fill it. There are many brands, i personally get the Zofran wafers; there have been many an airplane ride where they have been needed, as well as boat rides, car rides, and after dinners.
Panadol — A must have. But also make sure you bring kids Panadol. It’s not so easy to find the strawberry tasting liquid Panadol in Bali, so bring what you know your kids will ingest.
Nurofen — again, always handy.
Ibuprofen — There is a very valid reason i add this to the list. When in Bali, one will be massaged. Possibly daily. As delightful as the massages are, you can end up feeling very sore and achy the next day if your spa treatment has been too rough on your delicate muscles. So you will want some Ibuprofen to help you.
Aeroguard — Bring the Aerogard, or RID. Make sure is has the ingredient “Deet” in it. Do not bring the hippy dippy herbal stuff. The mosquitoes here are not selective about who they bite. AND THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Spray your ankles and elbows and everyone else’s before you leave your room and go out at night.
Kids Mosquito Repellant bands/stickers — When i say the bugs in Bali don’t discriminate, i’m not kidding. Those little fuckers will eat every last living juice out of your veins and leave you with welts the size of golf balls. They particularly enjoy the taste of kids. I have no affilation with this company at all, but jump online and buy before you fly, the anti-mosquito bands, wipes and patches. Cover your kids in them. Get them here https://mozzigear.com.au/
Sanitiser — Pre Covid was good to have, post-covid obvs…
Wet Wipes — Bali is hot and humid. Having a pack of wet wipes on you is super handy to wipe sweat, clean sticky, cocktail covered hands, and wipe up mysterious puddles on your sun lounge or restaurant table! I personally like the Dettol wipes. Clean hands with a side of anti-bacterial, what could be better!
We all know now that the world is open again, if you want to see it, you need to prepare a buttload of documents before you even get to the airport.
You can find many lists for what you need all over the internet, but since i’m giving you the Bali planning hacks, i thought it best to give you a list for the paperwork needed to… (I have provided a checklist for you to download at the end of this article, coz i’m a great person! Or you can download it here ( Suggesterfy Bali Checklist .pdf )
Passport — Super obvious but what a lot of people forget is that they need to have at least 6 months left on their passport from the DATE OF EXIT to travel overseas. Do not leave this til the last minute, check your passport dates before you even book your flights.
International Vaccination Certificates — You need one for each person travelling. You need to get this from the Medicare App (if you are in Australia). You need to have proof you have has 2 jabs. And yes, they do check, so print them out.
Bali Visa (E-VOA)- You can sort this out when you land in Bali, but if you are traveling with young kids, you will be super happy you were organised enough to sort this out, online, before you depart! This was a new thing that i had to arrange since my three-year-covid-break in travelling to Bali. It’s a pretty straight forward process but you will need to concentrate.
Head to this website: https://molina.imigrasi.go.id/
Select Apply. (you will need your passport details and accommodation in Bali details)
Here are some pics to help you:
The details they ask for here may be confusing to a Bali-first-timer, so i’m gonna dumb it down for you…..
Electronic Custom Declaration (ECD) — Again, take care of this before you leave for Bali. You will see people doing theirs on their phones while waiting in line at passport control, but when travelling with a family, you want to avoid any hiccups.
Everyone has their own way of staying organised, but i thought it may be helpful to some of you to show you how i keep all our travel documents in order.
When i travel with my family, i need to have any documents needed ready to present as quickly as possible. Especially with all the extra docs now needed since COVID. So i like to get a bunch of these coloured document pockets and for my last Bali trip i labelled each one with the following:
You can get these document folders here: https://amzn.to/42dNhye
For passports, if you don’t have one already, get a decent passport wallet like this:
*You can get these here: https://amzn.to/3JhZOro
Most airports in the world are pretty much the same, but here is some information you can consider a “heads-up” . If you haven’t been to Bali before, it’s good to know what to expect.
Prepare yourself, it will take ages to get your bags. If its arrives within an hour, you are one of the lucky few. The Luggage carousel area is also pretty hot and stuffy, so if you have young kids with you, make sure you take your bottle of water from the plane as they will want it.
It’s also a good idea every 15 minutes or so to go check and re-check which carousel your luggage has been designated to. It’s happened to us on many occasions that the carousel number will change, and nobody will notify you about it.
Once you are through all the formalities, you will walk through into a large entrance hall. If you need an ATM (surely you arrived with some cash on you?), a Bali Sim Card (I have never needed one, but they are available there) or a currency exchange, there are many to choose from.
If you don’t have any Rupiah/IDR (Currency in Bali), you can get money changed here, but just be aware that the exchange rate will be shocking at the airport. (more on this later…).
If you do decide to get money changed at the airport, make sure you go to one of the bank counters, rather than to a person holding up a sign saying “money changer”, this way you will avoid being scammed. (again more on this later…)
Once this is all done, you get to head on out to exit the airport. No matter what time of day or night you arrive, you will see a crowd of hundreds, holding signs of people’s names or hotels. If you have booked a driver, look out for your name as this is the spot to find them!
There are many airports in the world where one can simply walk outside and find a taxi rank, or call an Uber. Bali is not one of these places. Whilst i’m sure taxi ranks do exist, you will be hard pressed to find it as you will likely be bombarded by many, very nice, well meaning folk, offering you a lift to wherever you are going. Even if you have booked a driver, and are visibly walking through the airport exit with him, you will be hounded for transport. just say “No Thank You” or “Tidak, Terima Kasih” (in Bahasa).
Book a driver. Or arrange a transfer through your hotel. Do it before you depart your hometown. Just for your arrival. After the chaos of landing in Bali, all you will want is an air-conditioned vehicle with a bottle of cold water to get you to your hotel/villa as quickly and comfortably as possible.
The traffic in Bali can be heinous. And if you are staying in Canggu, be prepared to get extra comfy in your car because the traffic there is epic.
There is no need to book a driver for your departing flight. It’s very easy to arrange taxis or cars once you are in Bali. (see Go-Jek).
Now, i realise there is a lot of information to digest so far, but it was important you understood or could imagine how it pays to be really organised when travelling to Bali. So i decided to wait to inform you about Bali Fast Track until now…..
Bali Fast Track is an airport VIP service, which you must pre-arrange before arriving in Bali, that assists travellers to get through the airport in record time. The service eliminates your having to stand in lines at customs/immigration, and you will get personalised assistance from the second you get off the plane, til the moment you meet your driver. You will be escorted through the airport, quickly, and they can arrange your Visa On Arrival if needed. (I still believe it is better to do this yourself, before you arrive in Bali).
Once you have paid online for the service, consider it all arranged. You will be given a WhatsApp number to contact in the event you get off the aircraft and don’t see your assistant. But generally, what happens is this:
You can arrange Bali Fast Track for your departing flight, but to be honest, you won’t need it. I have never used it for departing, as you will need to ponce around the airport for three hours before your flight anyway, so as i see it, there isn’t much benefit.
My last trip to Bali was in January 2023. The day before we arrived it was reported that the Indonesian Authorities had shut down all the Bali Fast Track services. Many of the companies offering the service have indeed shut down, but this is usually only temporary, and they do get clearance to re-open.
The Fast Track Service that i used had no issues at all. In fact we were given an army official as our fast track assistant. The best advice i can give you is make sure you have the WhatsApp details for the company your are using, and confirm your service booking the day before you travel, and again on the day of travel.
Below are some of the companies we have used or have been recommended. It’s always a good idea to cross check the costs as each company may charge different rates for their services.
Once you get to Bali, hit up a Guardian pharmacy (They are everywhere). The items on this “Bali Survival” List will keep you “cocktail fit” once you are poolside!
Placenta cream for burns/itches — This stuff is the bomb! Seriously, it’s cheap as chips and it’s for the management of burns, chronic ulcers, slow healing and slow granulating wounds, decubital ulcers, eczema pyoderma, impetigo, furunculosis, and other skin infections. We put it on mosquito bites, sunburns, ingrown hairs and even pimples!
Herbal sachet stuff- I don’t know the technical name for this sachet of miracles, but you can get it from any Mini Mart, supermarket or pharmacy it’s amazing for body aches and nausea. Hear my warning, it tastes like dirty feet mixed with herbs but it is a fabulous repair for anything internal that you most likely will experience!
Roll on Aromatherapy — I love this stuff. You can easily find this in most mini marts, and i always bring back a few. They are all used to relieve dizziness, headaches, flatulence, colds, travel sickness, flu symptoms, aches and itchiness due to insect bites. But certain scents aid certain ailments:
Insect Repellant — You will need to spray insect repellant each night before you head on out to enjoy the Bali nightlife. Whilst i always bring my Aeroguard from home, you can easily buy insect Repellant from everywhere in Bali.
Hand Sanitiser — Since the pandemic, sanitiser is the new Amex, you can’t leave home without it. Truth be told, you should not enter any airport these days, nor board a flight without a bottle of germ killers ready to squirt!
Tray tables “are easily the dirtiest place on the aircraft, and have been reported to carry eight times more bacteria than the toilet flush button,” says Shamir Patel, a U.K.-based pharmacist and the director of Chemist-4-U.
So best you bring some hand sanitiser and wipe down your tray table, as well as your hands after touching…. anything. Hand sanitiser is also available everywhere in Bali.
There are many supermarkets in Bali. You can also order online for any supplies you need and have them delivered to you (see Go-Jek). But here are a few of my “must buys” when i arrive so that i don’t have to think about anything else apart from what i feel like for dinner!
Pocari sweat drink — Just like Gatorade. Replenishes lost ions and electrolytes, helps aid hangovers, fixes you after diarrhoea and makes you feel better in general. Drink it cold, it’ll be much more palatable!
Coconut water.- A must. I’m a huge fan of coconut water. I drink it all year round and at home, but in Bali you have access to fresh coconuts everywhere you go, and a cold coconut is the best thing to keep you hydrated through the warm Bali days! I always buy a few coconut water in cans and pop them in my fridge in the hotel to grab as i walk around. (Also a great hangover cure!)
Toys — In Bali you will find toys everywhere. i’m not talking about the sort of toys you will intend on bringing home. I’m talking about easy, plastic, crappy toys that will keep your kids amused and if they break you can just throw them out. But from the Supermarkets, i like to grab toys like Uno, which is the best family game to take with you down to the pool, or out to dinner with your kids. (It’s the one family game my brood can do together which doesn’t result in a near murder). You can also buy cheap water pistols, buckets and spades, or any other beach accessory, and they are all really cheap.
Wet Wipes — My kids are not babies, but a packet of pre-moistened wet wipes is great to have on you for when you are walking through the streets and it’s so hot you can feel your knee caps melting. We often put them behind our necks as we walk around to stay cool, especially if you visit in the humid season which is Nov-March. They are also handy to wipe your hands after your cocktail overflows, or wipe a table when you eat out at restaurants. Very Handy!
You can get most things in Bali, but here are some items that are tricky to find or are really expensive:
Sunscreen — It’s crazy that a holiday destination with really hot sun doesn’t have a whole lot of sunscreen readily available! You can get it, mainly from the stores within your resort (if you are staying in one) Pharmacies, Circle Ks or Mini Marts, however, most of the time you can only find small bottles that will cost you are $25AUD. As i travel with my children, i found that a large bottle of suncream only lasted us a week or so before we had to go looking for more…..
Face Moisturiser — Again, you can get this in Bali but it’s likely you won’t find your usual brand. After a day out in the Bali sun, you are gonna want to lather on some face moisturiser before you hit the bed.
Instant Noodles — This isn’t something you necessarily need, but if you have picky eaters like my kids, it’s always good to have a stash of instant noodles in your hotel room. The instant noodles you can get in Bali are often quite spicy, or have flavours that you may not be game enough to try.
Ziplock bags — Confession time. I am a thief. A buffet thief. Every time i travel with my kids and we are staying at a resort that gives us a breakfast buffet, i bring my ziplock bags. I like to “pilfer” a few danishes/muffins/fruit from the breakfast buffet so that when my kids whinge “i’m huuungry”, throughout the day, i don’t have to keep ordering them food. I know it sounds bad, but honestly, so much of the buffet leftovers are going to be thrown out anyway. (And i have asked many times, the resorts do not give it to their staff to eat…).
No one likes to think about getting sick when they are on a holiday. But, it happens. I’m gonna assume you have travel insurance, so if the worst case scenario happens, here is some info on what to do…..
You may be surprised to discover, that Bali has some very good hospitals, even by western standards. But as Bali is a developing country, you need to be aware that for really major surgeries, they may not have the full ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ facilities.
In the event that you do need to go to a hospital, here is a list of the ones i would recommend:
This is considered the best hospital in Bali, based on the facilities they have. It’s located in Kuta.
“Siloam Hospitals Denpasar is fully equipped for trauma and Medical Evacuation with ‘Hospital on Wheels’ ambulance service along with hemodialysis and chemotherapy day care services. The 104-bed hospital was established to cater to both local and international patients. Siloam Hospitals Denpasar has received KARS accreditation from Indonesia Ministry of Health.”
BIMC Hospitals in Bali are a chain of hospitals, owned and run by expats. So you can expect English speaking staff and a high level of medical expertise. This hospital is smack bang in the middle of Nusa Dua, the area for most of the high-end luxury resorts in Bali. They are very used to helping out tourists. Their facilities are very clean. This would be where i would head if i needed to go to a hospital.
This hospital also has a 24 hour emergency service, and also an ICU
There is also a BIMC in Ubud.
If you are staying in a resort, you may have access to the resorts’ in-house doctor. Not all resorts offer this service but many of the resorts in the Nusa Dua area do have a specific medical team that they call on to service the guests staying there. It’s a good idea to check with your resort at the time of booking to see if this is a service offered.
There are many doctors on call in Bali. More often than not, if you experience a medical issue, your hotel/resort/villa assistants will be able to call someone they know. However, here is a handy number to keep on you if you don’t want to visit a clinic, or go to a hospital etc…
This clinic provides medical services to residents, both local and expatriate, as well as tourists and travellers in Bali. They will be able to assist you with:
BaliMed Canggu Clinic — This is a group of medical folk dedicated to giving you professional health services. They have:
Fullerton Health Clinic — https://www.fullertonhealthclinic.com/
Bali Travellers & Expat Health Clinic — +6281338891188 -
*Bali International Hospital — Opening at the end of 2023. In cooperation with the US-based Mayo Clinic, this state of the art hospital will open on Sanur Beach. It will be Bali’s biggest hospital with the most modern facilities and treatments.
Maha Medicentre — https://linktr.ee/Mahamedicare.bali
Located in Seminyak, this medical centre opened up only mid 2022. It’s facilities are brand new, it’s location is perfect if you are staying in Seminyak, and they are open 24 hours a day.
IV Drips — IV drips are all the rage now in Bali. I’m not referring to when you are admitted to hospital and you are hooked up to a drip that will give you the necessary hydration to save your life; I’m talking about “wellness drips”. Fancy drips. Drips that come to your location and poke a hole in your arm, and give you the fountain of youth, or any other concoction you think sounds good from their menu!
Here is an example menu that we got from the company “Renew Me Bali”:
So are they legit? The influencers say yes.
I’ve hit up my Bali people and here are the companies they recommend:
The Dose Bali +62 819 1627 7774
Hangover Lounge Bali +62 812 36573717
BSI Integrative Natural Medicine +62 819 99744986 https://www.bsi.international/premium-vitamin-nutrient-iv-drip-infusions-bali/
It’s likely someone you are travelling with, will get Bali Belly. As long as you are well prepared you should be fine.
Catching Malaria in Bali is unlikely, but catching Dengue Fever is a possibility, especially in rural areas and in the wet season. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination against the disease so prevention is the best cause — avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. We highly recommend bringing along mosquito repellent with DEET as it’s hard to find in Bali.
Let’s discuss changing money in Bali. There is the smart way, and the absolutely moronic way.
The smart way is to change your money at the reputable money changers. You will know they are reputable because they will either be apart of a bank, or the will be inside a shop, on a main street, and not down a dark, narrow alleyway.
These pictures are examples of reputable money changers:
Picture it. You are walking down a busy street in Bali and you see a sign like this:
The exchange rate looks way higher than you have seen anywhere else, and it seems too good to be true.
To go about exchanging your money, you have to head down this alley way:
A few men may be hanging around (not a red flag at all…..). You will be met by a man who will give you “best price”.
You, my friend are about to get scammed.
This is where many naïve folks get scammed because they didn’t do the following:
At this point you begin to question the money exchanger. Of course, he will deny any wrongdoing. You now have a few options……..
The moral of this story is, only exchange your money at reputable money changers.
Whatsapp — Every single business in Bali uses Whatsapp as their means of communication. If you want a restaurant reservation, you Whatsapp them, if you want to arrange a massage, you Whatsapp them. Even if you are one of those “I-WON’T-GIVE-META-MY-DATA” type of people, you need Whatsapp in Bali.
Do not touch the Animals. Seriously. -
Download the app Go-Jek
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Download the app Chope
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Download The App Suggesterfy- https://www.suggesterfy.com
Suggesterfy is a social discovery app where you can find the best suggestions and recommendations from people you trust.
Bali is a fave destination of the Suggesterfy team so just search the map for suggestions in Bali within the app and you’ll find heaps of great things to do, places to eat and other helpful advice!
You can also post questions about absolutely anything that you can’t find or source yourself. Or even if you can find it yourself, perhaps you just want to know what has been suggested, so you don’t end up taking a chance on a place that may be dubious!
The best part about Suggesterfy is that you can bookmark (save) everything. From comments, to questions, to suggested places. You can create your own bookmarks so that you can easily refer back to your saves later.
This is the perfect app to use for when you start planning your holiday, but also super useful for when you are in Bali (or anywhere else)and you want to find things to do, places to go etc…
Suggesterfy is available on the IOS Store and on Google Play
We also have other Bali guides on accommodation, restaurants, activities, beach clubs and shopping. If you would like to receive our guides to Bali, head to our website: https://www.suggesterfy.com and sign up for our newsletter
Make sure you download our App, Suggesterfy , so you can ask, search and find anything you are looking for!