BALI GENERAL INFORMATION
Bali has a tropical climate, because it’s only a few degrees south of the Equator. Except for being humid and hot most of the year it also means that the sun rises at around 6am and sets at 6 pm, every day of the year. Temperature variation is very small, it’s always around 26- 30 degrees Celsius, and Bali doesn’t have 4 seasons, but rather a Monsoon/ “wet season” (usually from September to February) and “dry season” (March to August). At the peak of the wet season it is normal to have about a 30 minute to 2 hour of heavy rain in the afternoon, with the rest of the time it being a nice, warm temperature. If you are staying in Ubud or Kintamani (both central Bali and more up North) it is best to bring a sweater just in case as it can cool down at night.
Volunteer Guide Member Tip:
Because Bali is so hot it’s easy to get dehydrated without realizing it. Symptoms of (mild) dehydration are: headaches, tiredness, apathy and lack of appetite. There are easy ways to prevent this, you will see local people drink ‘Pokari Sweat’ which is a good source of electrolytes, or you can drink a yummy and wholesome coconut every other day to keep those electrolytes up! Also use sunscreen or long sleeved clothes to keep you from getting burned ;).
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the currency used in Bali. You can get them by either exchange your money here (at authorized changers of course!), or you can take money from one of the many ATM’s around.
All banks have a limit of how much you can withdraw per transaction (maximum is 3 million IDR). When you take a large sum of money from the ATM, try not to bring all your money with you, but leave some safe at your accommodation.
Money problems- skimming
Skimming is a modern way of pick pocketing- and is done on a huge scale all around the world. Bali is unfortunately no exception. What is ATM skimming? ATM skimming is like identity theft for debit cards: Criminals hide electronics in the ATM machine so that they can scan and steal the personal information that is stored on your card. Then they find way to record your PIN number. When they have collected all this information they remake your card and can then access all that hard-earned cash in your account.
Knowing this, what can we do to prevent this? The answer is to be aware and be cautious. If you notice anything suspicious about the machine, don’t use it, but find a different ATM. Always cover your hand when you enter your PIN so their cameras can’t pick up your number.
Volunteer Guide Member Tips:
- only take money out from a secured ATM: an ATM that is connected to a bank.
- Make sure your bank allows you to withdraw money overseas/ Indonesia before you leave!
- Depending on how long you are staying in Bali and how much money you will spend you can also consider bringing your local currency and exchange it when you are in Bali (at a trusted exchange office of course!).
Number 1: Don’t break the laws. Number one offender for foreigners is still either drugs possession or smuggle, driving illegally (get an international driver’s license) and working illegally. Smuggling drugs can result into death penalty…don’t do it!
If you have traveled before we won’t need to tell you this, but in case this is your first time abroad: remember, just as in any place in your home country, use your common sense to evaluate situations and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do back home.
There are plenty of hospitals in Bali, but the ones that come close to the standards you are probably used to are really expensive. Should anything happen to you, you will have to pay serious cash before they will help you. Please be smart and check what kind of insurance you might already have and what you would need to get to cover at least the most basic health care. You never know what might happen, and since you will be in the tropics, simple infections can quickly turn into something more serious.
Before coming to Bali, you may want to visit your (travel) doctor to see if you need any vaccinations. Depending on where you will be volunteering you also may need certain vaccinations like rabies.
In general Bali is considered a safe place with very friendly people who will go out of their way to help you if you ever have any trouble. But just like any other place in the world, it pays to be alert and to use your common sense to ensure your safety.
Are you a woman travelling to Bali? Please note that single women may attract a lot of attention from Indonesian men (and other travelers!), but overall, the attention is harmless. Use your common sense, and if you feel uncomfortable, just say so and/or remove yourself from the situation. We recommend to not walk around by yourself after midnight.
Beautiful and peaceful as the people are in Bali, realize that occasionally break-ins and bag snatchings do happen. Make sure you lock up your valuables when you leave your hotel, and try not to carry all your worldly possessions on you when you go out!
Safe sex is always important, note that Bali has a lot of HIV positive people and sexual education is not standard (resulting in high amount of people with STI’s).
There are over 700 living languages spoken in Indonesia. Most of them belong to the ‘Austronesian family” and some of them are Papuan. Indonesian, locally called “Bahasa Indonesia” – Bahasa means language- is a variant of Malay. The language was created with the intention to create a unity within the archipelago making it easier to do commercial trades, administration, and education as well as manage media. The language has borrowed heavily from local languages such as Javanese, Sundanese and Minangkabau, however if you carefully study the language you will also hear influences of Dutch and Portuguese. Most books printed in Indonesia are written in Indonesian. Although Indonesia does not officially recognizes any other language other than Bahasa Indonesia, most Indonesians would still call Indonesian their second language and their local language (for example Balinese, or Javanese) their first.
In Bali you will find Balinese and Indonesian the most widely spoken languages. The majority of Balinese people are bilingual or even tri-lingual. In the touristic areas of Bali you will find that the common language spoken among the local people is Indonesian, this is because there are a lot of migrants –from Java, Lombok, Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia- working in those areas as well. English and Chinese are the next common languages.
On this website you will find basic Indonesian videos that will help you get started in the language and have common conversation skills.
Examples of differences:
From the airport:
There are no trains of public buses scheduled from the airport to the rest of Bali. That means you will need to use a taxi or a driver arranged by your accommodation. The prices vary tremendously based on the location of which you are going. Prepare for prices anywhere between 250.000 (Seminyak) to 700.000 (Lovina).
On the island:
When it comes to transportation on the island the above means still apply. A majority of visitors choose to work with a driver for the day, or plan 2-3 day trips to explore the island on their own pace and choose the sights according to their preferences. The rest of their stay they walk everywhere, or take (motorbike) taxis.
If you are staying for longer than 3 weeks, you may want to get your independence back by arranging your own transport. Some people choose to rent a bicycle, but we have found that after a while in Bali, you may want to do as the Balinese do: drive a motorbike!
Motorbikes are the main means of transportation here in Bali. They are used for all kinds of transport: people, animals, goods and all of those at ones!
There is no going around it, they are everywhere! You will see anything from 1 person with helmet to 2 adults without helmet and 2 children and 4 chickens all on 1 motorbike. Motorbike rentals are available everywhere on the island.
Member Tips for renting a motorbike:
Every day there are severe accidents happening on the Bali roads, and every year a lot of people die in traffic. However following these suggestions you may reduce some risks:
» Check the motorbike carefully before you agree: some motorbikes are in very bad condition.
» Know how to drive and remember: In Bali everybody drives on the LEFT side of the road.
» Always carry the motorbike’s registration papers while driving (they usually keep them under the seat), and bring an international driver’s license to avoid having to pay a fine.
» ALWAYS wear a helmet (that fits you!). You will always get a helmet when you rent a motorbike, but they can be a bit dodgy. Depending on the length of their stay some people decide to buy one of their own (around $20-25) and leave them for the owner when they go.
» Get Travel Insurance: Make sure you have a travel insurance (that will cover motorbike incidents), because unfortunately accidents do happen.
» Feel like you know what you are doing: If you are feeling a bit insecure about driving in Bali’s traffic, you could start of by driving a bicycle and starting to practice your driving skills in the evenings when the roads are a lot less busy.
What Bali’s streets look like:
Other forms of daily transport:
Bemo (local bus):
Kura- kura bus (cheap comfy tourist bus route):
Taxi/ Driver/ Uber:
Bemo (local bus):
this is for people wanting to go local. A bemo is the most common form of public transport in Bali for local people. A bemo is a generic term for any vehicle used as public transport, and in Bali you will most likely find it in the form of a minibus or small van with a row of low seats on each site. Bemos usually carry 10-12 people. You’re best of to ask your accommodation for the nearest bus stop (don’t take ‘we don’t have one, you better take a taxi’ for an answer, just ask someone else). An example is Ubud, Ubud has 2 bemo routes. Orange bemos travel from Gianyar to Ubud and larger brown bemos from Batubulan terminal in Denpasar to Ubud. From Ubud it continues on to Kintamani via Payangan. Ubud doesn’t have a terminal, but it has stops near the market in the center of town (Jl. Suweta). A bemo is great when you are looking for adventure and want to travel like locals do, expect to pay anything from 15.000 IDR to 35.000 IDR (depending on where you are going)- note: prepare to be sweaty since there is most likely no air-conditioning on board!
Kura- kura bus (cheap comfy tourist bus route):
this is a relatively new minibus service. There are several routes all through the main touristic areas. They have really good prices (starting at 20.000IDR) and the buses are clean and air conditioned. Great for the independent traveler that doesn’t mind paying a bit more than for the Bemo (not- air conditioned minibus) find more information on their website (insert link to www.kura2bus.com).
Taxi/ Driver/ Uber:
In the main touristy areas like Seminyak, Kuta, Canggu, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Ubud, Lovina, Padang Bai you will find drivers and taxis around offering their services to take you out for the day on a tour. It pays to compare prices before agreeing to anything. In the South the only reliable taxi company is “Blue Bird”. Recently you can also use the applications “Uber” or “Go-jek” or “Grab”. However there has been controversy about those as they are a lot cheaper than the local private taxi drivers (the drivers community feels threatened by these apps and try to have them banned from Bali).
Bali is often lovingly called foodies paradise! You will find all sorts of wonderful Balinese and Indonesian dishes and depending on where you are staying Western food alike. The Indonesian kitchen is influenced by the Chinese and the Indian cuisine. Every island has its own signature dishes and flavours. This is also true for Bali. Some Balinese dishes will not be found anywhere else in Indonesia. Since the Balinese are predominantly Hindu, there are a number of dishes that are mostly eaten at certain ceremonies. In general, rice as used as a staple accompanied by vegetables, meat and/or seafood. Over the years more and more western style restaurants have opened their doors in Bali, so you will also have no trouble finding a delicious pizza, pasta, burrito or salad.
Below you will find tabs that help you differentiate the different dishes:
Hmmm, if you are into barbeque, then you love this dish! Skewers…You will find them all around Indonesia with every island giving their own taste and style to it. You may find the satay with out of chicken (ayam) or goat (gambing) or vegetarian (with tempeh or tofu). In Bali the traditional version originate from the Tabanan regency. The meat, fish or vegetarian options are skewed on a stick and the sticks are then cooked/ grilled over charcoal made from dried coconut shells, on a small ceramic grill, which gives them a delicious smoky flavour.
Satay is served as a main course with rice, or as a side dish. It is also served as an offering to the Gods during ritual ceremonies. It is better served right after grilled (while it is still hot) and traditionally served with Lawar.
Lawar is a well-known traditional food, and you will be able to find in many Balinese restaurants. Lawar is a dish that consists of mixed vegetables with chopped meat, spices, and coconut. There are various Lawar dishes based on the ingredients, such as Red Lawar (made of vegetables and meat), and White Lawar that are largely made of coconut meat. The most commonly used vegetables that are used are young bean fruit and jackfruit. Then there is pork lawar is made of pork meat and Padamare Lawar, which is made of many kinds of Lawar. Lawar is usually served with rice and other dishes. The Balinese absolutely love Lawar! It is their most favouritedishto prepare before a religious ceremony, family rituals or any family occasion. If there is a ceremony or any event of Bali tradition, Lawar is first up in the cooking activities.
Suckling pig. That’s right: suckling pig. It is a very famous and very loved dish amongst Balinese and it has become a prominent item on many a tourist ‘bucket list’ for Bali. Babi Guling is better known under the name ‘be guling’ in Bali. Although it can be confusing as ‘be guling’ can be made of other meats such as duck or chicken. Babi Guling is made of a whole suckling pig. It is cooked by taking out its bowels, by then stuffing the inside of the pig with a spice paste and vegetables such as cassava leaves. Then the piglet is put on the grill, and rolled over a charcoal made from dried coconut shells until it is well-done. Babi Guling was originally made as a ritual offering in Balinese traditional ceremonies as well as religious ceremonies. But nowadays, it can be found in many restaurants and certain hotels all throughout Bali. Apparently Gianyar area is the place where you are best off trying this dish.
Betutu is the name of a this particular spice paste mixture (‘bumbu’ in Indonesian). The mix consists of turmeric, ginger, kencur, galangal, onion, garlic, salam leaves, and chillies. All these spices are mixed with the chicken. Ayam Betutu is usually served in Balinese ceremonies such weddings, and is widely available in restaurants around Bali.
Nasi Kuning is Indonesian for yellow rice. You will find yellow rice on different Indonesian islands, usually for a celebration of some sort (birthdays, or holy ceremonies). Nasi Kuning Bali is the Balinese version of this dish, the difference is in the spices they use and the way they prepare the rice. Nasi Kuning is served with fried chili spices, kemangi leaf, and green-peas. You might have a hard time finding this dish in local restaurants as they usually only prepare it for special occasions.
Jajan Abug is a Balinese traditional snack made of sticky rice with various shapes: cube, triangle, round, etc. It has many layers in red and white colours. This snack is specially made for Balinese rituals or traditional ceremonies in which they are offered to the Gods. After the ceremony the snacks are eaten. However the snacks are also prepared directly for people’s consumption.
Satay Lembat is made of crushed meat mixed with grated coconut and spices. The meat is usually pork, chicken, duck. Sate Lembat is served in Balinese ritual and traditional ceremonies. It is also available in many Balinese restaurants, along with Urutan, Babi Guling, and Lawar.
There are many ways to look at Bali: as a tourist destination: a honeymoon destination, backpackers paradise. Or as a spiritual place: a place to ‘eat, pray, love’ and ‘discover yourself’ and from a more up close perspective. The later is asking of us to look with a critical and honest eye, which means we get to see things we don’t necessarily see in first glance and might be things we don’t really want to see.
We believe that in order to get a good and honest perspective on the problem area’s of Bali (which is where you will probably volunteer) you need to have a close look at those aspects as well. That is why we present those here on this website next to the touristic information.
Beauty of Bali:
Up close and ‘critical’ look at Bali:
Past volunteers say:
There is so much to learn about Bali, so many places to discover, I will need to come back!
I love Bali! The culture, the people, the atmosphere! I love it all!
Let us know:
Share your experience of volunteering in Bali with us here: email@example.com