Bali Travel Tips
Article by our good friend Bruce
Exton for Kiteboarding Magazine…
If you are looking for a winter escape to get some
wind, sunshine, waves, great food and more fun than you had on your last
bucks night then a winter trip to Bali could be just what the doctor
ordered. On the surface Bali looks like a great holiday destination but
it does have underlying problems which can ruin your trip. After
spending a few weeks there each winter for the last three years, we
thought we’d share what we have learnt so far.
Bali does not have good reputation as a good wind
spot but, if you understand what it can offer, you can have a great
time. It is also one of the few spots in the world where you can take a
non-kiting wife or girlfriend and they will be totally happy with the
endless shopping, massages, nice resorts, amazing food and spectacular
The following tips will
help you make your next trip a little bit easier and safer.
Best time to go
There are really only few
windy months starting from May through to September. June-July-August
are the best bet but try and travel outside of Australian school
holidays as it gets tight on airfares and accommodation.
Jetstar flies from Sydney
and Melbourne and Virgin fly from Brisbane and Perth. Singapore Air and
Malaysian are options but you’ll need to change at KL or Singapore and
it makes for a really long trip.
Check also with AirAsia
that has many new flights from all over Australia.
Taking your gear is an
issue and you will most likely end up paying excess luggage. My
suggestion is to buy a Star Class seat on Jetstar and get the 30 kg
baggage allowance. The other option is pre buy extra weight when you
book. Jetstar allows you to buy 5kg units which really help. Be aware
that excess luggage can get charged at $20 per kg on departure and they
will charge you to get extra revenue. Booking early will save you heaps.
This year Virgin was offering early bird fares for around $600 return.
What to take
Kite wise take your bigger
kites. If you are just staying in Bali you can forget about needing your
7m. For surf kiters I would recommend a 13 and 9 and for twin tip
kiters go an 11 and 14.
Don’t take more than 3
surfboards or the customs guys will try and fine you. If this happens
you will have to negotiate a fine. This is totally unofficial but it
does happen. They don’t seem too concerned about the number of kites you
Take a large daypack as
your carry on and put all your heavy stuff in this like your fins,
spreader bar, possibly your bar if it fits. Then pack everything else in
a double surfboard bag. I can get 2 surfboards and 2 kites in a bag to
weigh around 20 kg.
Using padlocks or zip ties
gives you peace of mind that nothing has been added to your luggage and
you can breathe easy when you go through customs.
Bali has the worst
arrivals process you are likely to experience anywhere. On Arrival you
have to purchase a holiday visa for US$10 for 7 days and US$25 for 30
days. Once you pay that, then get in line for the slowest process of
your life while they stamp your visa and enter your details. This has
taken 1.5 hours on my last two trips. Make sure you notice the sign
saying “Drug Trafficking is punishable by DEATH’’ and consider about
what Shapelle was thinking as she was about to go and pick up her bags.
After clearing immigration, go and get your bags and go through customs.
Porters will offer to carry your bags for a few dollars.
Your passport must be
valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia, and
you must have proof of onward passage (either return or through
tickets). If you cannot fulfil both of these requirements, you may not
be allowed to enter the country.
If you haven’t got an
airport pickup as part of your hotel booking then you have to get a
taxi. It will cost about $10 to Kuta and $12 to Sanur and Nusa Dua.
As you can imagine there's
an enormous variety of accommodation available in Bali. It varies from
magnificent five star resorts to simple jungle cabins, depending on the
location. You have the choice of staying at Sanur (east coast) or the
Kuta/Seminyak region (west coast). If you a flat water kiter then
definitely base yourself at Sanur or Nusa Dua as there heaps of good
areas for kiting inside the reef. If you are a surf kiter then stay at
Seminyak where you can kite straight off the beach.
Bali has a range of
accommodation from $10 to $2.000 a night, depending on your budget. Here
are some options that I have stayed at:
3 star - Villa Puri Ayu
from A$ 50 per night :
4 star - Puri Santrian
from A$100 per night
2 star- Puri Cendara
from A$ 65 per night; 150 metres from beach
3 star - Pelangi Hotel
from A$ 90 per night; beachfront
Book your hotel well in
advance. I have used
www.asiarooms.com with good success.
The exchange rate this year was
AS$1 = 8,500RP.
Bali is 2 hours behind Australia.
Credit Cards and Money
Major credit cards are acceptable
in most hotels. The best way to get cash is to use the ATMs and make
sure your card will work overseas before you go. Travellers cheques are
not worth the hassle. Beware that moneychangers on the street will try
and scam you or charge a heavy commission.
Where to Kite
Wind – The wind comes from the
South East and hits Sanur where it is generally onshore and light to
moderate. As it passes over the land it gets compressed and generally is
stronger on the Kuta side but is slightly offshore which makes for gusty
An average windy day in Sanur is
about 14 knots although it can be better, hence why large kites are
recommended. Wind strengths at Seminyak to Canggu can be 15 – 20 knots
on good days. Flat water kiters should stick to Sanur or Nusa Dua.
You can launch in front of the
Sanur Beach Hotel and the Rip Curl Kite School operates from there,
please note that there is a charge to use their facilities.
Bali Kitesurfing School is at Kite
beach, located just around from the hotel strip. This is a better
location as you can access the water even at low tide. Sanur offers a
really big area of flat water inside the reef and if you’re just
learning, the school has boats which can take you upwind and coach you.
If you don’t want to take your kiting gear you can rent gear from the
school for about A$ 70 per day.
There is good surf outside the
reef if you want to head out but I would not recommend kiting by
yourself out there.
There is a good shop right
in Sanur run by Jankie who has a good range of gear to choose from if
you break something or need a repair. Jankie also runs a great Italian
restaurant and a hotel which is good value.
Is a long strip of beaches where
many of the 5 star resorts are based. Kiting is possible inside the
lagoon on mid to high tide and would be a good spot to base yourself if
you were taking the wife and family.
It is possible to do a down winder
from Nusa Dua to Sanur. Its lots of fun and a really beautiful way to
see the coast. There is some surf at Nusa Dua but it is on the
reef and is recommended for experienced surf kiters only. The tide is
critical on this side of the island, so make sure you know what it is
doing to avoid being caught outside the reef when it goes dry.
Kiting at Seminyak – Canggu
It is possible to kite from the
Bungy Tower all the way to Canggu or any spot in between. However, as
mentioned, it is side offshore until you get to Canggu where it is side
shore. The surf here can be pretty solid so don’t overestimate your
skill level. Best spot for waves are in front of Ku De Ta bar and also
up in front of Grand Balisani Suites Hotel.
Canggu is the most consistent wave
spot and does have a crew that kite there.
The beach changes angle the closer
you get to Canggu and the wind is more side shore. Best to avoid Echo
beach as there will be surfers in the water even when is windy. Be aware
of the rocks at Canggu when the tide drops. This spot also has
windsurfers and Euros who will continually get in the way when you are
on waves. Be aware that the wind drops at about 4pm and swings offshore
quickly on this side.
Don’t try and kite anywhere
between Kuta and the Bungy tower at Seminyak as it is too offshore.
There are shops at Canggu for
drinks and you can arrange for a driver to pick you up from there.
Most hotels use 220 volts, 50
cycles and a round, two-pronged slim plug. Bathroom shaver plugs usually
have a transformer switch. We suggest taking an adaptor for your
The traffic in Bali is nuts and
there are no real rules. It is really congested and it can take an hour
to travel 10kms so try and travel outside peak times if you can.
You will find a range of chauffeur
driven limousines, self-drive cars, taxis and hotel courtesy cars. Most
taxis are metered so insist on the meter when you start. Bemos are a
unique form of transport. They are a minivan masquerading as a communal
bus. They park outside most hotels so chat to the driver and negotiate
the fare that suits you both. You can get a driver and a van for the day
for around $40. Motorcycles can also be hired and while it’s great fun
to cruise around on the bike ask yourself if it is worth the risk of
coming unstuck and not being able to go in the water. This year I met
about 4 people who had come off bikes and had their trip ruined due to
injuries. Travelling around Bali is made all the easier because
everywhere you go you'll find friendly people who are only too happy to
give you advice and directions on how to get where you want to go.
If you wish to hire a car or a
motorbike you must be over 18 years of age and possess an International
Driver's Licence. The police love to pull over Westerners to try and get
a fine (bribe) for not having a licence or some weird traffic rule. If
this happens just negotiate the fine and get on your way. 50,000RP will
usually work so don’t have wads of cash in your wallet or they will want
Light, airy, casual clothes are
the most practical and you'll find natural fibres like cotton or linen
are the most comfortable in Bali's often humid conditions. Waist sashes
should be worn when visiting temples.
Eating and drinking
Many people get “Bali belly” from sampling roadside food stalls.
Strict vegetarians should be aware that a lot of Indonesian cooking
contains fermented shrimp paste (terasi) as a basic ingredient. Although
there are many vegetarian options available, please be specific when
ordering food, as often a little chicken is included with most dishes.
Please note you should ALWAYS buy bottled water (even to brush your
teeth). Drinking tap water is not advised and will again result in Bali
is not advisable to eat salads as the lettuce will be washed in ordinary
water and is not safe. The ice in most bars is good and shouldn’t be a
local beer BINTANG is great and cheap. Don’t be tempted to drink arak
which is found in nightclubs in KUTA and is a home brew mix that has
resulted in the deaths of 25 people this year. It is also possible to
get mushroom shakes which send you on an hallucinogenic trip. These are
not safe either and you can be out of your head for up to 12 hours.
After much research by the KBM team we have listed a few spots worth
Kuta nightlife starts around 10 or 11pm so it’s good to eat late.
the Bounty, Embargo or Skygarden for an endless stream of pounding music
aware that the super friendly indo chicks are probably hookers and more
attracted to your money than your good looks. Also be aware that some
lady boys look super hot and it is hard to tell if they are guys or
This is another area that has 2 good locations with much more of a
European and sophisticated feel than Kuta and there are way less Aussies
there too. Get a taxi to Double Six and walk along the beach to find
Dejavu and Bacio. These clubs are nice but only really get going on a
Friday and Saturday night and don’t get busy until midnight. Double Six
gets busy at 3am and goes till dawn. The other area is called Annapurri
St and has a few good bars in it. It’s a short taxi ride from Double
Six. Be aware that you will get offered drugs outside these clubs. Do
not be tempted as they are often working with the police to get a bribe.
Sanur side is totally lame for nightlife so if you want to party stay on
the Kuta side.
you want to visit one of the coolest bars on the planet head to Ku De
Ta, an open air bar and restaurant about the size of a football field
right on the beach, 600 metre north of the Bungy tower. Head there to
watch the sunset along with the all the beautiful people of Bali. It is
expensive but well worth a session. It also hosts some great parties so
check out what’s on there during your stay.
What to bring
should try to pack as light as possible when it comes to Bali. The
weather will be very hot so light clothes are advisable. If you run out
of clothes to wear, it’s cheap enough to go out and buy some new ones.
It is cheaper to buy all your sunscreen needs at home than in Bali. We
highly recommend that you bring a first aid kit and any medication you
water is warm so you don’t need a wetsuit. A 1mm vest is handy for early
morning surfs but there is no need for anything more. Wetsuit booties
are highly advisable as the sea urchins and reef can really spoil your
Crime can be an issue in Indonesia, so we highly recommend that you
leave your Rolex at home! It is best that you be aware of your
valuables, especially your camera, passport and cash and keep them
locked in your room or hotel safe. Keep them out of sight at all times
from the room cleaners.
Using a driver is the best way to avoid being ripped off while you are
kiting or surfing.
Make sure you have some and take the documentation with you so if you
get hurt or need assistance you can call the 24 hour support number and
quote your insurance number.
There are mosquitos and there is dengue and possibly Malaria although
this is not publicised. Therefore take some repellent and use it at
night as well as use the air conditioner in the room and nets if they
have them. Wild dogs are a problem in Bali and there is rabies so avoid
them. If you do get bitten you will need to get medical attention
ocean is pretty dirty so if you are prone to water in your ears take
some aqua ear to avoid getting an ear infection.
Reef scrapes are pretty common so booties will help but if you do cut
yourself clean it well with peroxide and treat with something like
Bactroban, available from a doctor.
you do ride a motorbike wear a helmet, shirt and shoes.
Bali is a shopper’s paradise and there are some good deals to be had.
There is of course lots of fake merchandise such as watches and
sunglasses and clothing. Be prepared to haggle and be nice when you do
it. Basic rule of thumb is to settle on half the original asking price.
I reckon its good karma to always give them a bit more.
Most people stock up on pirate DVD movies which are about $1 each. These
are available everywhere and the quality varies from good to
average worker gets about $100 per month so if you can give them an
extra 20,000RP ($3) when you get a massage or have lunch then it will
really help them out.
you are not getting a massage everyday then you are not living!
can get a full body 1 hour session at the local beauty shops for about
$8. So why not treat yourself and you feel great every day.
Phones and Internet
Your Australian mobile will work here in Bali if you activate global
roaming before you go. It gets really expensive to use your Australian
phone both for receiving and making calls so the hot tip is to by a
cheap phone in Bali and get a Bali number. Internet is widely available
in hotels and restaurants so taking you laptop is an easy way to access
When your trip is over and its
time to hit the airport give yourself plenty of time and allow for
traffic. I would arrive about 3 hours before departure to make sure you
make it through ok. Airport Departure tax is 150,000RP so keep some cash
Bali can offer a really varied
holiday. Don’t get too obsessed with the wind and if it’s not blowing
then go and experience all that the island has to offer.
Useful Bali info guide
Kite & Surf Bali the
ON LINE Pro Shop -
Ambulance : 118
Police : 110
Search & Rescue : 51111
Red Cross : 26465
Operator Assisted Calls
Within Indonesia : 100
International : 101
Bali : 108
Indonesia : 106
Taksi Bali : 701111
AEA International (Medical
Evac) Jl. Hayam Wuruk 40, Denpasar. Tel : 228996
“Bali International Medical
Center Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai 100X Denpasar. Tel : 761263