There are rules, and then there are Bali rules. If you’re making your way to Australia’s 7th state, best familiarise yourself with these essential travel safety tips first.
Cruising on over to Bali, Indonesia is always a good idea. The cool culture, unwaveringly friendly people and scenery make for an excellent holiday destination for any length of time. We especially love how easy Bali is for solo female travel. However, as with any visit to a foreign country, it is important to understand the local laws and culture. Below is a summary of some simple advice to help you make the most of your time on the best island in the world (outside of Australia…).
Scooters and Motorbikes are a convenient and outrageously fun way of getting around in Bali. It is however, the most dangerous activity most travellers undertake. Always take great care when riding scooters in Bali. Insist on a helmet when renting or riding any motorbike. Be aware that most travel insurance policies do not allow you to ride a scooter or motorbike. Even if riding a motorbike is covered, if yourself or the driver are unlicensed or drink-driving, this will definitely cause problems if you are involved in an accident.
1. SCOOTERS AND MOTORBIKES
1. SCOOTERS AND MOTORBIKES
When it comes to travel insurance rules surrounding motorbike or scooter accidents, the rules are really clear. If you’re even thinking about hiring one, read this first.
Be aware that if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Bali – particularly if a person is fatally wounded – you can often be held liable. It is not uncommon for other parties to demand money, and also for the police to request bribes. Accidents involving tourists can unfortunately become an windfall for opportunistic locals. Ideally tourists don’t hire cars in Bali. With the many taxis, UBERs, and shuttle services on offer, why would you? Speaking of UBER, it doesn’t always ‘work’ everywhere, in that local taxi businesses don’t allow UBERS to operate in certain spots, and definitely no airport pickups in Denpasar. It’s hit and miss, so always have a plan B.
2. CAR ACCIDENTS
2. CAR ACCIDENTS
Despite the recent media coverage regarding Arak (locally distilled rice wine), there have been relatively few deaths among tourists from drinking Arak. Nonetheless, poor distillation processes can leave traces of methanol in Arak. Methanol is a poison which can cause severe stomach pain and nausea when consumed in even small quantities, and blindness or death in extreme cases. Caution should be exercised particularly in the tourist areas of the South, where it is common for cocktails to have Arak substituted for commercial spirits like vodka and gin. Sometimes it is better to just drink Bintang!
As Australian’s surely know, Indonesia takes a very dim view of drugs, in particular towards those who attempt to import drugs into the country. Those caught can face the death penalty or long jail sentences. The ‘Hotel K’ – Kerobokan Prison – should not be on your list of accommodation when visiting Bali. It is extremely common in the main tourist areas in the South to be offered drugs in clubs and bars or even on the street. Dealers are often in league with police who will demand large bribes to make the problem ‘disappear.’ The same is true on Gili Trawangan. Drugs are simply not an option in Bali, full stop.
Dealing with corruption is simply a necessity in Indonesia for locals and tourists alike. Most ‘problems’ can be solved with a small bribe to officials. This extends to issues with almost every type of public official, including the police. Be prepared that you may be asked to make a small donation to solve any issues ‘on the spot’ instead of in court. Thus, it is considered wise to carry 100,000 rupiah (approx. AUD $10) in a separate pocket to whip out should the situation call for it. And, any money shown to an official will magically become the amount you will need to pay to clear up the issue – so reach for your hidden stash instead of your wallet.
Bali is an amazing island with beautiful people, activities and scenery. The mistake that visitors often make is to arrive with the misconception that the same rules which apply at home also apply in Indonesia. With the right attitude and a reasonable amount of street smarts, your holiday in Bali will be memorable for all the right reasons.
“Real travel would be to see the world, for even an instant, with another’s eyes” – Robyn Davidson, Tracks