1. You can’t talk over New Year
NEW YEAR, or Nyepi, as it's known in Bali, falls during March and is a holy Day of Silence observed across the island. During this Hindu celebration, life comes to a complete standstill – no talking is allowed, no lights are turned on at night and the roads are void of all traffic bar emergency and patrol vehicles. For the local Hindu population, the aim is to head into the coming year with a contemplative and relaxed attitude.
As visitors, you're confined to your hotel for the day, however, you are free to talk and enjoy the facilities within the property as usual. Heading to Bali in early 2018? Be mindful; Nyepi falls on March 17.
2. You can get great coffee
Once, good coffee was a rarity in Bali but now theres plenty of choice, particularly if you're prowling the streets of Seminyak.
The undisputed caffeine king is Revolver Espresso, found down an unassuming alleyway along Jalan Oberoi (Seminyaks trendy shopping strip). Coffee here is arguably better than any you'll find at home. Around the corner, Sisterfields also makes a satisfying cuppa while slightly north in Petitenget and Batu Belig, DROP, The Coffee Spot and The Moose Espresso Bar are well worth visiting.
Also worth noting is that Indonesia's traditional brew, Kopi Luwak, is considered a delicacy and is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. While not to everyone's taste, it is cultivated from partially digested coffee seeds, eaten and then pooped out by the cat-like Asian palm civet. Coffee anyone?
3. Not all of Kuta is seedy
It's got a reputation for being a backpacker ghetto–ground zero for drunk and disorderly Aussie bogans. But there's plenty to like about Kuta, especially if you're travelling as a family.
The shopping here is still some of the best (check out Matahari, Beachwalk and Discovery Kartika) and in the heart of Kuta is Waterbom, Asia's best waterpark, featuring tropical gardens filled with rides, food and beverage outlets and attractions for all ages.
You'll also find the best-value family accommodation here too. Take Bali Dynasty Resort, for example. Already boasting family rooms with bunk beds for kids and partitioned spaces for parental privacy, the property recently added its deluxe terrace suite. Designed to accommodate two adults and two children, each features a queen-size bed and separate trundle sofa bed.
Also new is the fully renovated Den Teens Club, including cool graffiti-style wall murals, the latest electronic games and devices, a pool table, air hockey, table tennis, dart board and home theatre facility.
4. There are only four Balinese names
Spend time in Bali and you're sure to meet a Wayan. Or a Made, Nyoman or Ketut. These are the only four official names in Balinese culture and children are given one according to the order in which they're born. Have a fifth child? He or she will be called Wayan, just like the first (or Wayan Balik, which loosely means another Wayan). Balinese known by anything else are usually using a nickname. Sharing your name with a quarter of the population tends to become confusing!
5. Not all taxis are created equal
Taxis are cheap and are literally around every corner in Bali, making them a convenient choice for getting around popular resort areas. But not all taxis are created equal. Many won't turn on the meter, will negotiate extremely inflated rates and claim they don't carry change for larger banknotes. It's advisable to only accept a ride with the Bluebird Group, distinguished by their fleet of reliable light blue cars and dark blue bluebird logo. This company is the only one using a certified meter, making the fares fairer.
6. A sarong is a must-pack item
Sure, a breezy cotton sarong is the perfect accessory for throwing on post-swim, but you'll also find this holiday essential useful if you plan on visiting one of the islands myriad Hindu temples. Visitors are welcomed with open arms as long as their legs – both men and women – are covered with a sarong.
7. You WILL be harassed on the beach. Go with it.
Lined with trendy bars, restaurants and five-star resorts, the beaches in Seminyak, Legian and Kuta are magnets for Australian holiday-makers. They're also the hunting ground for hawkers peddling everything from sarongs to fake watches, sunglasses, local art (of dubious quality) and beaded jewellery. If you enjoy a light-hearted barter, you won't mind being harassed as you sip Bintangs on your beanbag. If you value your personal space and privacy we suggest avoiding eye contact, or better still, staying off the beach.
8. Hire a scooter at your own risk
Hiring a scooter is a great way to get around and is as synonymous with a Bali holiday as Bintang. Scarily however, most Aussies are doing so illegally and uninsured.
Your Australian drivers license isn't recognised in Indonesia, so for starters you need to carry an International Drivers Permit (IDP – available from all state Royal Automotive Clubs). Secondly, like your Aussie license, your IDP only allows you to ride a scooter up to 50cc. Most scooters available for hire in Bali are 100cc or above and to ride these, you need to hold a valid Australian motorcycle permit. Fail to adhere to these regulations and its likely your travel insurance will refuse to pay if you find yourself in a Bali bingle.
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