VISA: As of on the day of writing this blog, Indian Passport Holders do not require to apply for visa prior to travel to Indonesia. Visa formalities are only a stamp away. Photographs, visa fees, none of these are required. At the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, all one needs to do is head straight to the Immigration Queue. Keep your return ticket handy – the Immigration Officer may or may not ask to see it. It is highly unlikely that they would want details about your insurance or travel itinerary or hotel bookings. There have been random cases where people have been questioned about these things. So make sure you know all about your trip.
Let it be known that the queues are long and can take forever. Use the free wifi to catch up on the latest news and to communicate with your pick up driver about any delay.
GEOGRAPHY: Bali may look like a dot on the map, but it is a big island and not all flat. It is quite a hilly region with active but dormant volcanic mountains too. Just because it is an island, do not expect that the coast in its entirety is a beach goers paradise and you are only a few steps away from a good swim. Different sections of the sea have different personalities – so there are areas that are good for snorkelling, diving, surfing, lounging, whale watching, etc. There are coffee and tea plantations, water falls, paddy fields, treks to go on, etc.
DRIVING: Even though distances look small you cannot drive fast in Bali. So, say a distance of 40km from the airport to Ubud can take about 1.5hours. The minute you leave the bigger towns your speed reduces further due to the road conditions. So you tend to cover lesser ground than you would think is possible. So try to schedule your itinerary so that you have time to relax and breathe.
If you love to drive, then you must rent a car 🙂 That is an experience too 🙂 An Indian driver will be at ease driving in Bali. In fact the traffic is much better than in India. They do follow more traffic rules than us! While on one hand Balinese drivers do follow rules, they do tend to jump traffic lights, join a main road from a side road when you least expect it, etc. Lots of two wheelers to deal with. So you need to keep your Indian driving instinct at the highest level 🙂
I drove through heavy traffic on the Amed-Sanur stretch in October last year, at the time when the seismic activity on Mount Agung was just about starting and people were asked to leave the areas around Agung. There were curvy and hilly dual-carriageways to drive on and I must say that the traffic was very disciplined. No rash or dangerous driving.
Use Googlemaps. There is a lack of road signages once you leave the bigger towns.
One other thing to remember is to fill up the tank before you leave the bigger town because in rural areas finding a petrol station is not easy. Small shops sell petrol in bottles and I didn’t want to fill up in these places.
CARRY YOUR INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT. Do not drive without it. It is not the right thing to do when visiting another country and it reflects badly on your fellow countrymen. Make an effort to procure your IDP before your trip.
SIM CARDS: you can buy one in the airport or in one of the stores or mobile shops.
Many restaurants offer free wifi when you dine with them.
MONEY EXCHANGE: Take USD with you and change as and when you need IDR. INR won’t get you the best exchange rates here or there and IDR is not a frequently traded currency here, therefore the exchange rate is dependent on availability.
DIVING: You need to know to swim and must have a certain level of swimming ability to dive. For diving – scout around – make sure that they have PADI certified instructors.
The East Coast (including Sanur, Amed and many more), Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan are very good for diving.
If you DO dive, please remember to give yourself 24 hours before hopping on a plane.
FOOD: Eat in ‘warungs’, which are small family owned cafes and/or restaurants. The food is cheap, filling and tasty. Food in warungs is mostly non-vegetarian, therefore vegetarians need to look elsewhere. Italian, Mediterranean, Vietnamese, all have something vegetarian on their menu.
If there is anything else you want to know about, give me a shout out and I will try to help.