1. Join the queue nearest to the one for Indonesians
Since Bali is such a popular tourist destination, the immigration queue in Ngurah Rai International Airport is really long almost all year round. To get through it faster, head to the 'Foreigners' queue nearest to the one for Indonesians as it's usually shorter than the ones on the right.
Ignore the signs that say you need to present an Immigration Entry Form as this no longer applies to tourists after April 2015. Malaysians also don't require a visa to visit Bali, so you can skip the Visa-on-Arrival counters too.
2. Fill in the Customs Declaration Form while you're in the customs queue
You read that right - fill in the forms while you're queuing. If the queue at the immigration counters is long, then you can expect the customs one to be the same too. You can definitely complete the form before your turn.
There are two forms available: English and Bahasa Indonesia. You don't necessarily have to submit the English one as both forms can be used by all tourists.
3. If you need a local sim card, DO NOT buy it from the telco counter at the airport
The cheapest prepaid sim card package you can get at the airport is probably 8GB data for IDR350,000 (about RM109.45). You can easily get one that gives you 5GB for IDR150,000 (about RM46.91) at any telephone shop near your hotel.
4. Ask your hotel to recommend or arrange an airport pickup service for you
Like most popular destinations around the world, there's bound to be taxi touts waiting for tourists at the airport in Bali.
It's better for you to arrange for an airport pickup service with the hotel you're staying in, which is cheaper and safer than trying to bargain with the taxi drivers at the airport. Your designated driver will be waiting for you at the Arrival Hall with your name printed on card.
You can use the taxi rates listed in the airport's website as a guide to estimate the fare needed to get to your hotel. For reference: a car for two to Kuta area will cost you between IDR70,000-80,000* (around RM21.95-25.08).
*As of September 2017.
5. Or get a cab from the Bali Airport Taxi counter
The Bali Airport Taxi counter is located outside the Arrival Hall. This is not the same as the Ground Transfer Service that you see after clearing immigration and customs (this is for private cars).
Follow the sign that says "Airport Taxi" till you reach the outside of the Arrival Hall - you should see the counter right in front of you. The staff will hand you a piece of paper with the taxi rate stated, a taxi driver will then lead you to the car. You only need to pay the driver at the end of the journey.
6. Be extra careful if you're planning to use Grab or Uber to get around
Both ride hailing apps are banned in most areas in Bali, especially Seminyak and Ubud. It's not just the taxi drivers, but restaurant and hotel operators are also against it. They might even stop a driver from driving into the hotel to pick you up.
7. Blue Bird Group's taxis are the most reliable ones on the island
Blue Bird Group is well known for two good reasons:
- The cars are in great condition.
- The drivers use the meter.
8. Bring a sarong if you plan to go temple-visiting
Both men and women will need to wear a sarong that covers their knees when entering temples or any holy place. Most of the temples provide free sarongs that you can rent for a few hours, however, do note that supply may be low during peak season. So it'll be great to bring one from home if you have any.
9. Always get your rupiah from authorised money changers
Many money changers will advertise their exchange rates on whiteboards placed outside their shops. The rates may look very attractive, but not all of them are from authorised money changers.
Non-authorised money changers will usually charge you a hefty "commission" on top of the rates advertised. There were also reports of rigged calculators being used in these shops.
To avoid this, look out for known companies such as Money Exchange, Dirgahayu Valuta Prima, and BMC. Remember to always use your calculator and request for a receipt.
And that's it! Now you're ready to enjoy that hard-earned holiday in Bali :)
Water sports at Sanur and seafood dinner at Jimbaran, here we come!