Download offline maps on your phone.
One of the first things I do when traveling to a new place is download an offline map of the area I’ll be exploring. Google Maps and Maps.me are two great applications that let you do so. It’s immensely helpful to have this information at your fingertips when without WiFi, especially for someone who is as prone to getting lost as I am!more
Drink much water.
It’s not recommended to drink from the tap in Indonesia so make sure you stock up on bottled water while traveling around the country. My favorite thing to do is purchase a large 2+ gallon jug of water and refill my reusable bottle throughout the trip. Indonesia can get hot so take care to stay hydrated!
Use Blue Bird taxis
Blue Bird taxis are the safest and most recommended taxi company to use in Indonesia – including Bali, Lombok. Jakarta and more. The price is set by a meter so there’s no need to worry about being ripped off. Blue Bird also has an app that lets you pay with credit card and order a taxi to your current location from your phone. If you chose to pay the driver directly, they only accept cash.
Be wary of taxis that look very similar to Blue Bird – a lot of them do! When you arrive at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali you can order a ride from the app once you land.
Consider picking up a SIM card
I’m a huge fan of having a SIM card wherever I travel solo because I love the flexibility and peace of mind it gives me. So in Indonesia I picked up a Telkomsel SIM card with 7 GB of data at a small shop in Canggu, Bali for 150,000 rupiah or about $10. I couldn’t make calls from it, but I was able to access data all around Bali and even had spotty service on Nusa Penida. Trip Savvy provides really thorough information about it here.
If you can help it, avoid buying a SIM card at the airport as the prices are much, much higher than the street price. Go with the expectation of paying around 150,000 rupiah and you should be all set!
Check your visa obligations
Citizens from 169 countries are eligible for a free tourist visa valid for thirty days. Indonesia also offers a free visa-on-arrival to citizens of 61 countries – including the United States – so no need to apply for one ahead of time! This visa is also valid for 30 days and can be extended an additional 30 days if needed.
Anticipate the unexpected
If there is one lesson I learned from my travels in SE Asia, it’s that you can’t control or anticipate everything. Cancellations, missed transportation, weather changes, anything goes. As a control freak this was a stressful experience for me! Eventually I began to love the go with the flow attitude, and I learned the importance of having a loose itinerary. I extended my stay in certain areas and shortened my stay at others because I didn’t really know what I wanted until I was there and saw it for myself! Having booked my accommodation through OTA ( online travel agent ), it was easy to change my plans and take advantage of the free cancellation services they offer. Try to book with places that let you cancel up to 24 hours before without a cancellation fee for ultimate flexibility.
Rent a scooter
Scooters rule the road in Bali and getting around the country is much faster when you join in on the terrifying fun! Technically you need an international driving license along with your license from home, but never once was I asked for it when renting or driving. People tend to turn a blind eye to the rules, but it’s important to understand that this is the law. If you want to abide by the rules, you can obtain a tourist driver’s license from some local police stations in Bali. One last thing, please promise me you’ll protect your noodle and wear a helmet at all times! And real shoes! I personally got into a minor scooter accident and having those safety precautions as back up could have been extremely necessary. The law does also state that you must wear a helmet – although this seems to be another thing that local police let slide. Just protect your noodle folks!
Drive on the left
If you do decide to join the masses and hop on a scooter of your own, prepare to drive on the left side of the road!
Respect the local traditions and beliefs
The Indonesian population is quite religiously diverse. in Bali the majority are Hindu. Keep this in mind as you travel through Indonesia and be sure to check what the local customs are for each island you intend to visit. In Bali, you should keep an eye out for the small religious offerings placed on the ground and all around, and avoid disturbing them. You’ll also need to wear a sarong and (sometimes) a hip scarf to enter temples. And for my ladies, you’re not allowed to enter temples while menstruating.