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As a famed destination for relaxation and culture by travellers worldwide, Bali is home to many new sights and experiences to discover.

But as the saying goes, “behind every shiny glow, lies a shadow”.

Also read: The ultimate guide to where to stay in Bali

11 Dangers in Bali And How To Avoid Them

With that, we suss out the 10 tourist traps to avoid in Bali that you definitely need to know, so you can have the best trip yet!

1. Phony commission drivers

Aside from taking taxi rides, some people may choose to hire a personal driver to take them around Bali.

Getting a driver in Bali is cheap and reliable, while the cost of of getting a driver and a huge passenger car will most probably set you back by $40 to $50 a day. If you do hire a personal driver, you may want to keep an eye out for bogus commissioned drivers.

creepy smile

Say no to creepy drivers

These drivers will bring you to restaurants or shops where they have an on-going deal with the owners, where they bring tourists over in order to get their commission. These places where you are brought to will most probably try to rip you off by both the price and quality of products/service that you will get.

Tips from us: Do your own research and be very straightforward to the driver on the places you want to visit.

jim carey keyboard

Do your own research

Do not expect the driver to plan the itinerary for you, or to recommend places to go to even if he gives all sorts of excuses to specifically go to a certain restaurant or shop.

Make sure that the driver is clear on the places you want to go, and if he is able to follow your itinerary – even if it means that it will cost a little more, as most of the drivers earn very little if they forgo the commission.

If you would like to hire a driver with vehicle in Bali, you can look for Pak Wayan (or Wayan Bogler). When our editors visited Bali, he took really good care of them and charges a reasonable rate too – Rp 500,000~650,000 per day (approximately USD 40~50) depending on the type of vehicle, includes parking fees, mineral water and petrol.

pak-wayan

You can email him at [email protected] or contact +62 81236733969. 

PS: He’s an avid explorer, if you would like to explore Bali, he should be one of the best person you can rely on!

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2. Taking taxi rides in Bali

Taxis are a convenient way to travel across Bali to visit the many places of interests in comfort. However, there are some unscrupulous drivers that may take advantage of unfamiliar travellers and impose exorbitant surcharges and rates.

For example: if you are travelling long distances, such as from Kuta to Ubud or Amed, some taxi drivers will try to charge you a “surcharge”.

This is because they may be based in Kuta, and would have to travel from Kuta to Ubud and back to Kuta again (which will take at least three hours in total), and hence may request for a surcharge from passengers.

Make sure he doesn’t give you this face

taxi

Tips from us: We recommend that you catch the always reliable BlueBird Taxi. Simply call +62 361 7011111 for a Bluebird Taxi to be dispatched to your location. Another great thing?

0812-Best-taxi-to-get-in-Bali-at-diving-Sanur-Bali-DPI-0812

Photo via: diveplanit

They always follow the meter and will not impose any additional charges.

And if you travelling long distances, such as from Kuta to Ubud, make sure to ask the driver beforehand and check if there are any surcharges.


3. Be careful when you change your money in Bali

Some of the money changers will indicate a high exchange rate on their whiteboard to attract victims.

dodgy-money-changer-2

One of the dodgy money changers in Bali (Photo via travelgenes, OthCasa1)

Once the victims enter, they will deliberately pretend to be trustworthy by using a calculator to calculate the actual amount of rupiahs, according to the exchange rate. And here’s the trick they will usually employ – they will claim that they only have $10,000 rupiah notes and do not have any bigger notes.

However, after showing the stack of notes to you, they will lower it behind the counter and drop a few notes before handing it back to you. (imagine counting a stack of a few hundred $10,000 rupiah notes)

Tips from us: As a rule of thumb, always make sure to use authorised money changers at Kuta, Seminyak, Tanjung Benoa or Sanur when you want to change money in Bali.

bali-money-changer

BMC authorized money changer in Bali

Photo via islandyossy

Be wary of unauthorised money changers that may indicate a higher exchange rate on their whiteboards to entice people into using their service.

You may also want to look for shops that have a “no commission” sign, as some dishonest shops may charge a high rate of commission (5 to 10%!) for their services.

And always count your money no matter where you change your money at!

4. Tour guides at Goa Gajah (Elephant cave)

Similar to Besakih Temple, there will be a few Balinese tour guides that will offer to guide you through Goa Gajah and to tell you the history of this fascinating landmark.

Goa Gajah-flickr-by-thepocketrocket

When asked, the guides will say that the tour is free, which will entice many deal-loving tourists to take them up on the offer. However, at the end of the tour, the guide will eventually ask for a donation in a pitiful manner that makes it hard to refuse.

Touts for donations

Tips from us: To avoid being caught in such a dilemma, we recommend that you should be firm from the start, and to refuse their offer of a guided tour. On the other hand, if you would want a guided tour, be prepared to pay them a donation.

In turn, the guides will give you a better, and more insightful tour as they know they will be earning from it.

5. Experience an authentic Balinese market

Ubud market has long been a popular go-to location for tourists looking to experience the lifestyle of the Balinese people, as well as shop for interesting souvenirs and knick knacks.

However, thanks to Ubud market being a tourist hotspot, it has unfortunately evolved into a tourist trap over time. The shops sell overpriced items like wooden trinkets and t-shirts that can be found in every other shop.

Expect this when you shop at Ubud market

haggling

Tips from us: If you’re looking to get great bargains and an even better experience of an authentic Balinese market, we suggest you check out Sukawati Art Market instead. Many travellers have yet to explore this local market, and you will be pleased to discover some truly amazing finds.

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Sukawati Art Market

Photo via Tripbuddy

Better yet, the prices for traditional Balinese crafts and paintings are a lot more affordable too! Coupled with shopkeepers that are also more affable, shopping at Sukawati Art Market is guaranteed to be a wonderful experience.

Shopping

6. How to deal with temple touts – Besakih Temple

Across the many temples in Bali, there will be touts who will try to earn some money off you with a myriad of ways. One such example can be seen at the majestic Besakih temple entrance, where a few men may ask you to pay an exorbitant price ($15 per pax) for the entrance fee.

Pura_Besakih_1

Their reasoning for the outrageous charges? That there are religious ceremonies going on, and you’ll need to be guided by one of their guides, even though such religious ceremonies happen daily.

Temple touts meme

Tips from us: In situations like this, always remember the golden rule in Bali – bargain, bargain, and bargain. You can definitely bring the price down to $4 if you bargain and threaten to leave. As long as they get paid, they won’t want you to leave.

Also, when you pay the guide fees, always remember to ensure that the guide is licensed with a pass with a photo that tallies, and take receipts for your payment too.

Another thing to note, always be prepared by dressing appropriately when you’re off to visit a temple. Temples are sacred spaces and especially for the ladies, it is important to keep covered with modest outfits.

To avoid being badgered into renting a sarong for covering up at cut-throat prices, make sure to get a sarong from Kuta or Seminyak before you visit the temple. (It’s also a great excuse to get another lovely Bali souvenir!)

Next, do bring an umbrella in case of rainy situations, where you’ll be drenched and annoyed by the constant stream of touts looking to sell their umbrellas to you.

7. Touts at Kuta Beach

Located at tourist hotspots around Bali – more so at the beaches, there will be “ibus” or aunties that will offer you their services. They will offer to braid your hair, give you a massage or do a manicure/pedicure.

touts at kuta beach-by-bumfuzzle.com

Photo via bumfuzzle

They charge their services or products at outrageous prices, which are usually neatly covered up with lies to make the deal much more enticing.

We have even heard of stories where tourists get tempted by a cheap deal of 30,000 rupiah for a manicure (nail-clipping and buffing), and nail design with a simple flower pattern.

However, after the second coat of nail polish, the tout asked to be paid, and told them if they want the flower design, it will cost an additional 5000 rupiah per finger!

Tips from us: If you don’t want to be ripped off, we suggest not to take up any deals or services they are offering, and just ignore their persuasion with a kind nod or smile.

Remember, when a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

8. Seafood at Jimbaran

Jimbaran is a fishing village and seafood market located at the south of Bali, made popular amongst tourists for the famed seafood dinner by the beach, accompanied by the setting sun.

Jimbaran Beach seafood restaurants - flickr- Kenny Teo

Photo via Flickr by Kenny Teo

However, we came by some bad experiences of restaurants ripping tourists off with expensive and bad seafood. Furthermore, when dawn comes, the famed beach where the restaurants are located, were covered with rubbish, and washing into the ocean. (Not very romantic, by our standards)

Tips from us: Thankfully, we came by Made Bagus (literally meaning “Ma-de Good”) a restaurant tucked away from the others on Jimbaran Beach.

We personally enjoyed their delicious food by the beach while being serenaded by singers who did not aggressively tout for tips like the other bands may do.

Cafe-Made-Bagus-Jimbaran-Beach-Seafood-Bali-4127

Photo via fatboo.com

It’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the neighbourhood, and looking for a nice seafood dinner!

9. Drinking Arak, a traditional Balinese alcohol

If you’re looking for a traditional Balinese drink, look no further. Arak is a traditional Balinese spirit made from toddy palm trees, that is a popular drink among locals during festivals and ceremonies.

arakbali

Photo via Southeastasiawanders

Legal and extensively sold around the island, arak can be found in many places from local drinking holes to bars in high-end hotels and restaurants. In recent years however, occasional cases of methanol poisoning have been happening, due to the consumption of arak.

This problem is caused by unscrupulous vendors that mix methanol in the arak, as it is cheaper than alcohol. Do note that consuming this mixture may cause blindness or death.

how arak will make you feel

How arak will make you feel

Tips from us: we strongly urge that you avoid drinking arak, or only consume it at reputable bars, after checking its source from the bartenders.

10. Police corruption

Corruption is rampant at the more popular tourist hotspots in Bali, where the traffic police are constantly on the lookout for tourists on rented motorbikes or cars.

They will very efficiently slap a fine on you for the most trivial of transgressions, like neglecting to wear a helmet.

These ‘fines’ are mostly in the form of bribes, which you can settle immediately with the traffic police, by paying an amount ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 rupiah.

Police in Bali(2)- by - balimanual.com 2

Tips from us: If possible, try to avoid driving in Bali as the traffic congestion is quite bad, and you may get into trouble as there are local rules that you may not be familiar with.

reckless driver

We had a personal experience, where the caucasian involved accidentally injured a local man, and was forced by a group of locals to pay an exorbitant amount of $200 to $300 for his medical bills!

If you do want to drive however, we urge that you should avoid breaking any rules (wear the helmet! And remember to bring your International Driving License). That’s where incidents with the traffic police will likely happen, and you will most probably be on the losing end, financially or otherwise.

At the end of the day, it helps to be prepared and vigilant in any situation, to prevent being caught off guard in an unfavourable situation. The best way to enjoy your trip is to practise good travelling habits, and be friendly with the locals!

After all, Bali is a beautiful place on earth, with many sights to enjoy and experiences to talk about. Here’s 25 reasons why Bali is so much more than you think.

So why leave this piece of paradise with a bad experience in tow? Stay safe, and have fun! 

Have you personally experienced any tourist traps in Bali? Please drop a comment below so we know what other things to avoid!

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