Bali workation guide - visa, costs, attractions, food, and more

Gourav Goyal

Gourav Goyal

Oct 18, 2022

I worked remotely from Bali for ~2 months (August - September 2022). Below you’ll find information about visa requirements, costs, places to visit, things to do, commute, food, stay, and more.

Overall vibe

It was such a pleasant surprise when I first landed and noticed how friendly and welcoming Balinese people are to the tourists, irrespective of race or country! I kid you not; I never saw those many smiling faces in my entire life than I did in those two months.

There’s a ton to do in Bali. It has incredible parties, sightseeing, yoga and meditation, trekking, beautiful beaches, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports, etc. More on this in the section: Places to visit and things to do.

Crowd

Bali is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world (Credits to eat, pray and love and surfers community) so expect to see tourists from all over the world. And, If you’re like me and like hanging out with people from different cultures and nations, Bali is a gold mine. I met Javanese, Australians (Bali is Australia’s weekend gateway), Germans (of course), Dutch, British, Belgium, Americans, Italians, and French. I didn’t meet many Chinese because the Visa was not open in their country yet.

Religion

The majority of Indonesia is mainly Muslim; however, the predominant religion in Bali is Balinese Hinduism (similar to Indian Hinduism).

Best time to go

Avoid going from October to March; you will face heavy rainfalls. The rest of the months (April to September end) is dry weather and the best time to go.

What kind of clothes to bring?

The island is quite hot in the dry season, so bring summer clothes, sunscreen (spf 50+), and swimwear. If you’re planning to trek like on Mt. Batur, bring a lightweight jacket, track pants, and sports shoes.

Bali temperature throughout the year
Bali temperature throughout the year
Rainfall in Bali throughout the year
Rainfall in Bali throughout the year

Source: Bali weather throughout the year

Visa requirements

The below details are applicable for Indian passport holders visiting Indonesia on a tourist visa. For other types of visas or passport holders, check their official website.

Do I need a visa to visit Indonesia?

Yes, but you need not apply one in advance. Indonesia has Visa-on-arrival for Indian passport holders visiting for tourism purposes.

How long can I stay on a tourist Visa?

maximum 60 days

Can I work remotely on a tourist Visa?

Legally you can’t, but many people are working remotely on a tourist visa. Just don’t tell the immigration officer that you’ll be working. If they ask about the purpose of your visit, tell them it’s tourism.

Tourist Visa details

Indonesia has Visa on Arrival, so you don’t need to apply for any visa in advance. Just show up at their airport with the below requirements and pay USD 35 for VoA (cards are accepted).

  • Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • return ticket (flight date should be within 60 days after your arrival, you need not be back to India, you just need to leave their country before your visa expires)
  • covid vaccine certificate (2 doses at least)
  • They didn’t ask me for travel insurance, but it’s highly recommended. I bought DIGIT Insurance from Policybazaar.
  • They didn’t ask me for a hotel booking, but booking one in advance with free cancellation is recommended.

This visa is initially valid for 30 days. You need to return before the 30 days are over. However, you can also extend it for another 30 days. (more details below). The overstay penalty is IDR 300K / day.

Visa extension for another 30 days:

By default, VoA is valid for 30 days. Upon arrival at the airport, you need to tell them that you’d be extending your stay beyond 30 days (but less than 60 days in total), and they’ll give you a visa extension slip. Take this slip, and you can exit the airport. Enjoy Bali!

Around your 20th day (10 days before visa expiry), you need to apply for a Visa extension so that you can stay for a total of 60 days in Indonesia.

Process for visa extension:

  1. Find a visa extension agency in your area (google it) and give them your passport and that visa extension slip. You need to pay around 800k IDR. From now on, you’ll be communicating with the visa agency folks via WhatsApp.
  2. After ~10 days of giving your passport, agency folks will ping you that you must go to one of the immigration centers for your fingerprint and photo. One is in Denpasar, and the other one is in Jimbaran. The Jimbaran one is better. You can request them to reschedule as well. Agency folks will also forward you a billing photo on WhatsApp.
  3. At the immigration center, show that forwarded billing photo at reception, and they’ll give you a ticket.
  4. Wait for your number; they'll take your fingerprint and photo and stamp that ticket.
  5. Whatsapp them (agency) a photo of that stamped ticket
  6. After another 7 days, the agency should ping you that your passport is ready, and you can collect it from the agency’s office. Some agencies like Baliviza | Ubud also have free passport delivery in Bali.

Visa reference links: Indonesia Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens, welcomebacktobali.com

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Flight options

Find the cheapest flight from Skyscanner or Google flights.

Vietjet Airline

If you end up picking Vietjet, then here are some more resources:

  • I found the cheapest deal by directly booking from the Vietjet website.
  • My flight duration was approximately 11 hours from Delhi (one layover at Ho Chi Minh City for 1.5 hrs).
  • To save more on booking, select eco option that has 7kg carry-on luggage allowed and then purchase 15kg additionally for INR ~2k (purchase beforehand because it'll be costlier at the airport)
  • ticket refund might not be applicable. check the latest policy
  • You can reschedule your flight by going to search flight, fill details (enter your first name in the family name field and vice versa), and click on the edit icon at the top right
  • Some handy links: online check-in, fare rules, fee and charges, customer care

Imp. info about Bali

Local currency - IDR

Thier currency is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Many currency exchange offices are located on the island for your convenience. Avoid converting currency at the airport as they don’t give good rates. You can buy their local currency in advance from India via bookmyforex.com (they’ll deliver to your doorstep).

Rough conversion rates:

1 INR = ~180 IDR

1000 IDR = ~5.3 INR

1 USD = ~15000 IDR

Things start costing from IDR 1000 onwards, so people prefer to say 1K instead of 1000, 35K instead of 35000, etc.

Mental math for IDR → INR conversion:

To calculate the rough conversion from IDR to INR, forget the K and multiply the remaining number by 5 (1K IDR = ~5.3 INR). Ex: if Nasi Goreng costs 30K IDR, then in INR, it should be around (30x5 =) Rs. 150.

Throughout this post, I’ll be referring to any amount in IDR unless a different currency is mentioned.

Sim options - mobile internet

If you have an available physical slot in your phone, buy a 4G Telkomsel sim (best coverage) from Airport. IDR 150k for 10GB, which is valid for 30 days. Calls are not allowed (people use WhatsApp for calls), but you can receive SMS. Other plans are also available. You can top-up it later at grocery marts or telecom shops.

Another option is to buy an eSIM from Airalo though it’s costlier.

Tip: convert your home sim to eSIM and use the physical slot for local sim when visiting a country.

Wifi connectivity

Almost all cafes, restaurants, and other facilities have good Wi-Fi.

With regards to stay, Canggu has the most reliable wifi. If you book a place to stay, there’s a high chance that you’ll get good-speed wifi (>20mbps) so that you can look pretty on Zoom calls. The rest of the areas are hit-or-miss. Some places have good wifi, and some don’t. You need to go there, check the wifi speed from inside the room and then book or extend your stay. The process is a real PITA.

Mode of payment

Cards are accepted at restaurants and other facilities in popular areas, but that’s not always the case. Always carry some cash with you. There’s also a scan and pay option at some places, but you’d need to load money to your Gojek wallet from one of the grocery marts.

Tip: get a forex card with zero markup fee. See: Best Indian forex cards with zero markups to carry when traveling abroad

Socket plug type

Don’t forget to bring right adapter plug. You don’t wanna end up in this situation (click here)

Plug types C and F are supported in Indonesia. Indian travelers would need this type of adapter plug for the best fit.

Timezone

Bali (Central Indonesia Time, GMT+8) is 2.5 hours ahead of IST (Indian Standard Time).

Average cost

It, of course, depends on many factors like food preference, place type, etc., but here are my rough estimates excluding any leisure activities:

  • A private room: IDR 150K - 250K / day
  • Scooter rent: IDR 70K / day
  • Meals 3 times: IDR 40K x 3 = 120K

= ~ INR 2000 / day

= ~ USD 25 / day

For a more accurate picture of costs, go to booking.com for stay and regional restaurant menu pictures on Google maps for food prices.

For flights, I booked 3 weeks in advance, which cost me INR 60K for a round trip (the inflation!).

Airport information

City/Area name in Bali where the airport is: Denpasar

Airport name: Ngurah Rai International Airport

Airport code: DPS

The airport is 50 mins away from Canggu and 1:30 hrs from Ubud.

How to commute

Rent a vehicle

Don’t bother renting a car; you’d get stuck in traffic. The entire island runs mostly on 2 wheelers.

Rent a scooty (they call it a scooter, but it’s gearless 😐 )

  • IDR 70k / day everywhere in Bali. Sometimes you need to negotiate for this price. Cheaper if you’re renting for weeks.
  • An international driving license is legally required, but locals would let you rent a scooter even if you don’t have one (most tourists don’t have IDL). Police won’t stop you randomly, but just don’t give them a reason to do so, like not wearing a helmet or riding with a phone in one hand. If you get caught without a helmet and IDL, you’d need to pay a fine of up to 1.5 Million IDR (~USD 100).
  • Bali is generally safe; people put their helmets without locks on their parked scooters.

Fuel:

  • There are two types of petrol available: green and blue color. The blue one is more efficient. There’s no harm if you mix petrol.
  • Price of fuel:
    • green petrol: 8k-10k IDR for 1L
    • blue petrol: 12k IDR for 1L

Cabs

You can book your ride (Car or Bike) from Gojek or the Grab app. Prefer the ‘Bike’ option for shorter routes to beat traffic and save cost. You can even take a backpack with you on the scooter if possible.

How safe are these

Generally safe even for women and even at night. It’s customary to call a Gojek bike at 2 am after coming from a party hammered.

Living

Stay options

Private rooms:

Instead of directly going to booking sites like booking.com, agoda.com, etc., search on Google maps, and it’ll show you the prices from all booking sites so that you can select the cheapest one. Booking.com claims to be always the cheapest, but that’s a lie.

The average cost of a private room per day: 150K - 300K

Hostels:

Hostels are available at all popular places and also on nearby islands. check hostelworld.com and booking.com.

The average cost of a bed in a 6-bed dorm per day: ~100K

Many hostels in India have become remote workers friendly, but that’s sadly not the case in Bali. I couldn’t find many hostels that also have a co-working area. The ones I found are Draper Hostel near Canggu and Lushy hostel, Tribal Bali in Canggu. None in Ubud or any other area, as per my knowledge.

Coliving:

There are also co-living spaces in Bali. Google: Bali coliving

Laundry

For laundry requirements, there are ample laundry marts on the island. Just ask at your hotel reception.

Fitness

There are many gyms with daily, weekly, or monthly pass. (wish this daily/weekly concept existed in India)

Medicines

Meds for common health issues are available without prescription though it’s relatively expensive compared to India. It’s wise to bring generally used meds with you.

Places to work from

  • you’ll be most productive when you work from your private room
  • many co-working spaces come with a day or weekly pass. (Google it)
  • Cafes or quiet restaurants. Most of the places have good wifi.
  • If you are staying in a hostel and don’t want to go out, then work from the common area or dorm bed :P

How to socialize

Many ways to socialize:

  • Stay in a hostel dorm
  • Enroll in group activities like snorkeling, trekking, city tours, futsal, etc. You can book activities via klook - bali.
  • Meetup apps like https://nomeo.io/meetups , meetup.com
  • Dating apps like Tinder or Bumble
  • Visit clubs, bars, and restaurants with live music, etc

Places to visit and things to do

There are so many places worth visiting in Indonesia, and here are some top ones:

On Bali

Canggu

Party area with many clubs, western restaurants, and cafes. It attracts all the young white party crowd. Canggu is also a good place to take surfing lessons.

Seminyak

Again, the party area with even more clubs, western restaurants, and cafes. Seminyak beach is the best spot in Bali to learn surfing. (surfing costs: ~350k for 2 hr session including surfboard and lycra)

Pererenan

Quite, posh, and 5 minutes bike ride away from Canggu.

Kuta

everyone said to avoid Kuta, and only “old white men” live there 😂 so I didn’t go. However, Kuta beach is also popular for learning to surf. Asia’s largest and the world’s 2nd largest waterpark Waterbom is also located in Kuta (Ticket: 500k IDR).

Ubud

It’s very touristy, and there’s so much traffic, especially around the Ubud central area. It’s also where I saw the most amount of Indians (hint: there’s a huge-ass street market). Everyone I met here had this nice spiritual picture from eat, pray, and love before coming, and when they arrived, that got shattered into million pieces 😆. I mean, there’s even a hilarious meme account on Insta for trolling Ubud Ubud On Acid | 🌈 (@ubudon.acid). It’s also the area that gets the most rain in Bali.
Criticism aside, there are actually many attractions like monkey forest, ATV ride, rice terrace, that insta-famous giant swing, Mt. Batur night trek, waterfalls, Kecak dance, street market shopping, cafes with live music, pottery, spiritual cleansing, yoga, meditation, etc.

Uluwatu / Jimbaran

It’s near the Denpasar airport, so people plan it on the last days so they can skip the traffic when catching the flight. Uluwatu is a world-class destination for experienced surfers. Although Uluwatu is not recommended for beginner surfers, you can learn surfing at a few spots like Baby Padang Padang, Dreamland beach, and Jimbaran beach.

Uluwatu is popular for its beautiful beaches, cliffs, and sunset points (Google it). There are also world-famous clubs like Savaya and Single Fin, where international EDM artists come to play.

Nusa Dua

It’s near Uluwatu (30 mins ride), and you can do water sports here.

Amed

Less touristy, with good beaches and snorkeling.

Denpasar

that’s where the airport is. Nothing much in this area, but relatively cheap.

On nearby islands

You can book ferries online to commute between islands. Just google from and to place. Ex: “book ferry ride from Bali to Nusa Penida” and many booking sites will pop up. Mobile internet works fine and there are also ATMs at islands.

Gili Trawangan (also called Gili T)

It’s the party island of Indonesia and very lit at night times. It’s 1.5 hr ferry ride away from Bali.

  • Commute: Gili T is quite small, so no cars or scooters are available. People rent bicycles (how cute), and you can cover the perimeter of the whole island on a bicycle in 1hr or so. There are also horse carts available (poor horses).
  • Magic Mushrooms: This place is also popular for magic mushrooms (Psilocybin mushrooms). Locals on this island will sell “magic smoothie” made from those mushrooms. A “medium effect” smoothie should cost around 200K IDR, and I heard the effect lasts for ~4 hours.
  • Attractions:
    • There’s a turtle beach near the island’s harbor (Google it) where you could swim with turtles. Those turtles are used to seeing people, so they are no longer shy and swim with you. It costs nothing unless you want to rent snorkeling gear.
    • Snorkeling trip to see 48 life-size underground statues and 3 more spots. It should cost around 100k IDR.
    • Clubs and bars with live music.

Gili Air and Gili Meno island

Small laidback islands with chill vibes and not that touristy. Just 20 mins from Gili T via boat.

Nusa Penida island

30 mins ferry from Bali. Probably the most beautiful island in Indonesia. Every corner of this Island is breathtaking. This is also the place where I saw the most Indian couples on their honeymoon trip 🌝. It’s a big island; you can rent scooters or hire a local taxi. Sorry, no Gojek or Grab is available as of writing this post. If you’re a backpacker like me, the Bintang hostel is a good place to stay. 2-3 days are enough to cover the main attraction spots. Do not miss the snorkeling with 15ft long Manta rays (chill! they feed on plankton).

Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan

(Nusa Ceningan is pronounced as “nusa cheningan”)

Laidback islands with chill vibes and a few tourists. 20mins from Nusa Penida. These two are small islands connected via a bridge so you can cover both via rented scooter. Here, you can kayak in mangrove forests, watch the sunset at Devil’s Tears, or do cliff jumping at Mahana point. If you’re a backpacker and looking for a good hostel to stay, Lembongan hostel is highly recommended.

Komodo Islands

3 days boat ride from Bali. It’s an island of (unsurprisingly) Komodo dragons. On the way to the island, you could also snorkel with whale sharks (chill! they feed on plankton).

Food options

Most of the island eats rice or noodles. Western food is available as well if you stick to the touristy areas. Indian food is also available in some areas but is relatively expensive.

You can order food, groceries, and even liquor from Gojek or the Grab app.

Around late at night, you can also visit those 24x7 open marts and have ramen noodles, hotdogs, snacks, etc.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, use https://www.happycow.net to find veg. Restaurants.

Local Indonesian food I tried:

  • Nasi Goreng - It’s their most popular dish. It means fried rice (fried = goreng, nasi = rice). It mostly includes chicken / beef / pork / seafood
    • cost: varies from 20K to 50K IDR from place to place
  • Mie Goreng - Fried noodles (noodles = mie) with chicken / beef / pork / seafood.
    • cost: varies from 20K to 50K IDR from place to place
  • Nasi Campur (pronounced “naasi chaampur”) - Personal favorite and a heavy meal. There’ll be a bit of rice, varieties of dry chicken, veggies, some chutney, and whatnot on a plate. Very fulfilling.
    • cost: varies from 20K to 50K IDR from place to place
  • Rendang - It’s probably the 2nd most popular dish after Nasi Goreng. It’s the thick gravy of slow-cooked meat served with rice. Meat is either beef or pork. Not readily available in all places, unlike Nasi Goreng.
    • cost: varies from 30K to 80K IDR from place to place
  • Chicken Satay - Chicken on sticks and served with non-sweet peanut sauce. Must try!
  • Ayam Bakar - Food for all my gym bros. It’s grilled chicken served with rice and some spicy sauce or chutney like Sambhal Matah.
    • cost: varies from 30K to 60K IDR from place to place
  • Sambhal Matah - It’s a very spicy chutney made from sliced onions, cut chilies, and oil. Try it with rice.
  • Es Buah - Ice Dragon Fruit Juice

Liquor options

  • Bintang is the local beer everyone drinks, and it’s available everywhere on the island. I mean, even at the ports, locals will approach you to buy chilled Bintang so that you can enjoy it on the ferry ride. It costs IDR 26k at marts and 35k to 70K in clubs/restaurants.
  • Arak - That’s what locals drink. It’s locally produced booze from rice or palm and contains 40–63% alcohol. People either take shots or make cocktails like Mojito. Avoid drinking it if you’re not sure that the source is trusted. Stick to reputable brands that sell arak cocktails, like Jack Ajax.

Local vocabulary

Their primary language is Balinese (Bali Bahasa), but most Balinese speakers also know Indonesian Bahasa.

Many local people understand basic English used in day-to-day life, so you’ll do just fine.

Tip: Download Google Translate app for iOS / Android and download the offline translation.

Greetings:

  • Hello: Halo
  • Thanks: Ma kasih
  • Thank you: Terima kasih
  • Thank you, sir: Ma kasi Pa
  • Thank you, ma’am: Ma kasi Bu
  • Welcome: Sama Sama

Negotiations:

  • Can it be lower?: Bisa kurang
  • Final Price: Harga Aakhir
  • Total Price: Harga Total
  • what is the price of this item: Bara-pa

Food:

  • Ayam: Chicken
  • Babi: Pork
  • Kambing: Goat
  • Daging sapi: beef
  • Nasi: Rice
  • Goreng: Fried
  • Tanpa: Without
  • Pedas: Spicy
  • Bakso: Meatballs
  • Kopi: Coffee
  • Roasted: Bakar
  • Kebab Ayam: Chicken Wrap
  • Es Kopi: Iced coffee

Other imp. things to know

  • Carrying or consuming weed (THC or CBD vape, edibles, etc) or any other drug is strictly illegal in Indonesia and can legit put you in jail for a long time (on a positive point, you’ll have an episode of Locked up Abroad about you in a few years). Locals might approach you to sell drugs in some places like Seminyak or Gili T; simply refuse!
  • Do not drink tap water.
  • Always carry some cash.
  • Reddit is banned in Indonesia, but Tiktok is not. Tiktok search works excellently to discover cool cafes, restaurants, and activities in the nearby areas.
  • Google maps works fine. Download offline maps for peace of mind.
  • Bule means Foreigner.

🙏 If some information is outdated or incorrect, or any other feedback, please let me know at hey@gourav.io, and I’ll update the post.

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Gourav Goyal

Gourav Goyal