Bali is a popular destination for many people, especially for Singaporeans and the Caucasians staying in Singapore. However, do you know what you need to avoid if you want to have a fun and scam-free trip to Bali?
There are many different scams and traps for tourists in Bali and you will thank us after reading what we have to offer.
There are many money changers in Bali, especially in the touristy areas such as Kuta Beach, or Ubud Monkey Forest area. These moneychangers will lure you with ridiculously high exchange rates but they will rip you off by giving you lesser than you have changed for.
They are very fast and will pinch a few bills of the stack of money that they are handing to you without you even knowing it. Therefore, always count your money again and again after changing at any moneychanger. To be safe, only change your money at independent moneychangers, and not those attached to a shop.
2) Taxi counter at Airport
Always use the taxi counter at the airport when you arrive at the airport. The porter will usually assist you to the taxi counter where you can easily buy a voucher to get a taxi to send you to your hotel. It is a safe and secure transaction and the price will be a fair bit cheaper than the touting taxi drivers outside at the drop off point.
3) Be safe when you book local tours
There are a lot of local tours that you can book while you are in Bali. When booking such tours, it is best for you to instruct them to pick you up at a convenient store near your hotel instead of asking them to pick you up at the hotel directly. This will give you added security against any scams or robberies. This is especially important if you are staying in a posh area.
4) Discount for Tours
Relating to the point above, tours will usually give discounts to tourists who book with them. However, they will flat out reject you if they know that you are staying in a posh hotel and hence considered “rich” to them. Do not reveal your hotel’s location to them.
5) Street Beggars with young babies
Do not believe these beggars. They are part of an organisation who disguise themselves as the poor and helpless in order to make you part with your money. They would neglect babies in order to make them look sickly and some would even drug the babies in order to make them quiet and unconscious during the day.
These people would even ask for bigger notes if you give them your small change. The best thing to do is to ignore these people as they are making use of your compassion to feed their dishonest lifestyle.
If you self-drive, be alert when you pump petrol at the local petrol stations. It is true that petrol is a lot cheaper in Bali, but keep your eyes on the meter or you might just be taken for a ride by paying double or triple the amount you are supposed to pay.
7) Scratch Card Scams
There will be people who will offer you “free scratch cards” on the road to determine if you have won something. Once you accept these cards, they will provide you with a coin to scratch it and you will definitely “win” something, either cash, a prize or some bigger, like a free hotel stay at a 5-star hotel.
If you trust these people, they will send you off to the hotel on a free cab ride to collect your gift. Once you arrive, they will usher you into a room filled with sales people who will pester you with “time-share” stays packages or any other low-quality items for sales. The prize would also disappear, and all that is left will be the purchase that you are forced to make.
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8) Shopping and Bargaining
Never shop without bargaining! Things in Bali do not have a price tag at their local market, and you will be sure that the owners quote their own price—that is, any price.
They will surround you and pester you until you buy something from them. Some of them are downright dishonest and refuse to pay you back any change if you do not have enough small notes.
Always shop around first fishing for prices before deciding on a shop to purchase from, and always bargain with a smile. Always start with 50-75% lower as the price they quote you. Be firm and walk away if they are uncooperative and most of these shop owners will usually agree with your price after that.
9) VAT / Service Charge
All restaurants in Bali has VAT/Service Charge. The prices on the menus and the shops are without VAT, so they appear cheap. Once you add in the VAT, it is no longer as cheap as you would want it to be. Be careful when you visit any restaurants and always ensure you take note of the prices before ordering.
10) USD Prices
Some hotels and tourist areas will quote you in USD prices. If possible, avoid these places as they are out to con you. The exchange rate for these places is way above the market rate and they will “charge” you a fee for conversion.
These are actually not allowed by the government of Indonesia but it is rampant in Bali. Do not be cheated into paying 2-3 times the price you should be paying.
11) Drug Dealers at Kuta Beach
There are drug dealers all over the beach areas in Bali, especially Kuta Beach. Be careful of these people and stay clear out of their sight.
Should they approach you for a hit, politely reject them and quickly walk away. These dealers are well known to the police, and if you buy from them, the police will be waiting for you. Be very careful for the highest penalty for drugs in Bali is the death penalty.
12) Touters selling sarongs
There will be a lot of women carrying sarongs and sell them to you at all the touristy places. Some of them will be at the temples, telling you that you cannot enter a temple without a sarong. Do not be fooled by them for the temples provide sarongs for you to go in for a visit. You do not need to own a sarong just to enter a temple for touristy adventures.
13) Unwanted Guides at Kedisan, Kintamani
If you are visiting Kedisan in Kintamani, be wary if you find guides following you into your hotel. Be sure to tell these guides that you have a prior booking with the hotel and do not need their services in front of the hotel staff.
These guides are smart enough to pretend that they are the ones who brought you to the hotel. They will then force the hotel to give them money for the “referral” and insist on being your guide for the whole time that you are there, pestering you to let them bring you around in exchange for a fee.
14) Shopping in Kumbasari in Denpasar
When you shop in Kumbasari, avoid or ignore the women who will follow you around and offer to show you around. These people are out to look for gains and they will bring you to shops which they have a prior agreement with.
They will take a commission from the seller based on what you buy and the seller will usually charge you much higher than what they will usually charge.
15) Temple Besikih
If you are visiting this temple and face an issue with the guide, be sure to insist on a receipt for the payment for the guide and also ask to see the authorization card of the guide. The guides are there to rip off tourists who do not know better. They might even pass a kid off as a guide who will not be able to speak proper English and you will literally be paying for nothing.
There are more scams in Bali then what we wrote here, but these are the 15 most common ones that we think you should know. Now that you have an idea of what to deal with, go and enjoy Bali with all its charming beauty.
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