When you are a tourist in any country there are common tourist traps that you should try and avoid. We have listed some of the most common tourist traps and scams in Bali that we have noticed.
Knowing about these things before you visit a country can keep you and your valuables safe and save you money and time!
Don’t be tempted to change your money with the peddlers on the street advertising extra high exchange rates. These moneychangers can be like magicians and magically make your money disappear! It’s best to stick to the trusted moneychangers such BMC, Money EX and Kodak Shops.
You should always be the last person to touch your money. Genuine money changers will count your money out on the bench in front of you and leave it for you to pick up and recount.
You will always get a better exchange rate if you wait to change your money in Bali rather than converting it before you go.
ATM card skimming is rife throughout South East Asia (and other parts of the world). It’s something that needs to be considered when arranging your money for Bali.
The only way to completely avoid having your card skimmed is not to use your card while in Bali. If this is not possible then try to only use ATMs in “safe” places such as resorts and shopping centres.
Have a card with only a little amount in the account and transfer money over to the account as needed. This way if your card does get skimmed they can’t clear you out of all of your money.
Always inform your bank that you will be travelling to Bali so they know to keep an eye on your account.
People Handing Out Scratchy Cards in the Streets
Usually, within your first day of being in Bali, you will be stopped at least once on the street by someone handing you a scratchy card.
Everyone’s a winner here! What you will win is something like a free holiday or at least a free lunch. They will want your hotel details to arrange a pickup to collect you for your prize. You will be taken to a resort and they will come good on their offer of a prize.
You will however need to sit through a 2-hour timeshare presentation where they will try to pressure you into buying timeshare holidays.
These guys are just doing their job, but it’s best to just say “no thank you” (or better still in Indonesian – Tidak Terima Kasih) when being handed a card.
You should always ask your driver before you sit in the cab if they use their meter. Meters will ALWAYS be cheaper than any negotiated price with the taxi driver. Meters should start at 7000 IDR. If it is late at night however it may be hard to find a taxi driver who will turn their meter on, this is the one occasion when we resort to negotiating with the taxis.
Another tip is to always keep your small notes for your taxi rides. Drivers will often plead that they have no small money in the hope that you will leave without worrying about your change. A good way to avoid this is to always carry small money with you to accommodate taxi fares.
To avoid negotiations and miscommunication, we always use the Grab app.
100,000 Notes and 10,000 Notes
The 10,000 IDR notes and the 100,000 IDR notes are both a shade of red/pink/purple (they used to look much more similar than they do now).
It is an old trick for some shopkeepers to quickly change your 100,000 IDR note for a 10,000 IDR note and insist you gave them the wrong note in the first place.
As they can look similar, tourists often doubt themselves and take back the 10,000 IDR note and give the shopkeeper (another) 100,000 IDR note.
When you collect your bags off the carousel in Bali airport and again when you exit the airport there will be “porters” wanting to take your bag for you. This is their job, however, be aware that if you let them take your bag for you (no matter how short the distance) they will expect payment of this. Most porters expect at least 50,000 Rp (USD $3) per bag.
Be careful of places where you seem to be forced very close to people. Often you’re just being herded so they can achieve their purpose of emptying your pockets. Watch out for crowding by numerous sellers on the beach, all of them coming very close to you. Rubbing up against you sometimes.
Also be wary of 4-5 guys standing on the street, forcing you to squeeze past them or walk into oncoming traffic. The best way around this is to wear shorts/pants with either velcro/zipper pockets. Or if you have to get close to people, just put your hands in your pockets.
The Kuta nightclub strip is notorious for pickpocketing money and phones. If you go to party here try and only take the amount of cash you need and be aware when you are out on the street of hands going in or near your pockets or bags.
Massages on the Beach
There is nothing wrong with getting a massage on the beach, but be sure to negotiate the price BEFORE your massage starts.
The beach workers are very clever, if you haven’t agreed on a price before your massage starts you will be asked a high price at the end.
They are also known for adding an extra service while you’re being massaged. For example another therapist will start to file your feet and expect payment also at the end.
Be clear about what you are getting and paying before agreeing to any beach spa treatments.
Surfboard and Bike Rental
When renting a surfboard or a motorbike in Bali it is advisable to take photos or a video when you first rent the item and send it through to the “renter”.
This way you both have a record of the condition of the items at the start of your rental. If you don’t have this and there is existing damage to your rental, it is not uncommon for the renter to ask for you to pay to fix the “damages” when you are returning it.