Bali is fast becoming the go-to holiday destination for many young people in New Zealand. The weather is incredible, the island boasts amazing activities and everything is very affordable. An already insanely popular destination for Australians, the island has no shortage of familiar faces. I went for the first time this year and I loved it!

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did if you go to Bali.

Before you go

Get your travel injections and medication. For these you can see a travel doctor who offers student prices.

For your first night, look for accommodation that can offer an airport pick-up. This will save you time and money at the airport. The closest centre is Kuta, the busiest hub of Bali. This location offers travel to any other part of Bali you desire.

Have some money exchanged to Indonesian Rupiah to pay for your accommodation, travel and food for the first day.

At the airport

Before you leave the international terminal, buy a SIM card; you can get a 4GB or 8GB card from the Telkomsel store for cheaper than in the cities. Once you enter the airport, avoid long conversations with the swarm of drivers offering rides. These are often overpriced; one should never pay more than 250,000 IRD for a taxi.


Bring New Zealand cash with you to exchange. Every street has exchange booths with better rates than banks here. Look for no-commission exchanges; high rates may look appealing, but with commission you lose a lot. You shouldn’t exchange too much money at once, otherwise the wad of cash will be larger than your head.


It isn’t necessary to book all your accommodation before arriving, but having the first night after you land booked will make things a lot easier. For hostels, hotels and villas, look up prices and availability online before arriving. Nothing worse than showing up with all your bags to find it full. It can be cheaper when you’re at reception but if not, they will match online prices. For resorts, third party partner websites offer cheap packages, so do your research!


When shopping, it is expected to barter in Indonesia. You can everywhere, barter at shops and taxis. Store owners deliberately kick up prices for tourists so don’t be afraid. A rule of thumb is say half the original amount and barter till you reach an agreement. This can be lower depending on what you think the product is worth. The best I bartered was 600,000 IRD down to 100,000 IRD. But be considerate, a dollar difference for you won’t mean anything but for many, could change so much.

Food and Drink

In Indonesia you can’t drink any tap water, all water you drink should be filtered or come from a sealed bottle. To avoid the not-so-envied ‘Bali belly’, be smart about what you eat. Assess how many flies are present, and how is food being prepared. And please do not buy meat off the back of a scooter. This doesn’t mean just eat at restaurants; buy at local markets and stalls – the food is authentic and delicious!


Bali by Jess Suo.

Surveying the surrounds. Photo by Jess Suo.

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