The preparation for going on a vacation covers a lot of things. It involves getting your personal things ready and well packed for the road, making sure you have the right stamina, and also, learning one or a few tricks in getting around your new destination.

Bali is a dream destination filled with endless experiences and travel highlights unlike any other places in the world. Nevertheless, just like any other part of the world, there are also dishonest cons who are looking to take advantage of innocent travellers looking to have fun.

During your traveling everywhere, not just in Bali, it is important to be aware enough to avoid scams. Some tricks are quite obvious, while others work in a rather convincing ways. The best way to not fall trap into the hands of these cons is to use your common sense and reject suspicious offers politely.

To avoid the possibilities of having your vacation ruined, look out for 5 of these scams in Bali to avoid:

1. The Currency Exchange Service Scam


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Money changers are everywhere in Bali, especially in tourist spots or busy lanes. You’d think that a simple task like exchanging money in any of these currency exchange service will be just harmless as it is swift.

The common trick that these dishonest money changers uses happens in a blink of an eye. As soon as you’ve agreed to the exchange rate, the clerk will counts the sum of money to pay out to you. Only thing that is wrong is, when he hands over the money to you, he will have taken out a note without you realizing. Their trained hands will somehow managed to let slip one or two notes behind the counter. You will walk away with less money than you have bargained for.

How to avoid:

  • Use recommended money changing service. A simple search using the internet will give you a list of trusted service around the place.
  • Avoid shabby and suspicious looking kiosks.
  • Look for “ Authorised” sign, although you can never be entirely sure, you may evaluate their business traffic and the overall look of the stand.
  • Don’t be tempted by cheap exchange rates. Figure out the general rates and compare with what they offer.
  • Usually, there is a commission rule. Verify if their exchange rates are included with commission or not.
  • Prepare your own calculator to avoid rigged ones provided from the stall.

Once you landed in the Ngurah Rai International Airport, you will see the many money changing services offering competitive prices. These are all official business money changers that are reputable and trusted. Exchange some money in advance to avoid the hassle of having to do it else where.


2. The Taxi Trick


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Not all taxi service in Bali will give you the standard way of commuting around, especially the not official ones. Several common problems using these taxis are : no running meters, longer routes, no change and extra charges.

Some drivers will seem eager to help you with their service, as far as rushing to help you and get all your luggage in the trunk. It is best that you proceed to the counters just outside of airport arrival.

How to avoid :

  • Arrange for shuttle services provided from your hotel/ villa. Some even offer this service for free, including airport transfers or commuting around the area of your stay.
  • Go for meter taxis only.
  • Get to know the average amount of taxi fee, thus , if the need to haggle arises you know the rough amount of money you should spend.
  • The reputable taxi company in Indonesia is Bluebird. Always try and go with official companies.
  • Prepare small change so you won’t be forced to pay extra when they reason that your note is too big.
  • Luggage ride is free.
  • Be firm and know your fares around.


3. Accidental Guides


When you go to the tourist spots, chances are there will be plenty of unlicensed guides offering to show you around. He will do it in very friendly manners that it may seem like he’s another local Balinese helping to show a fellow tourist around. In the end, he will drop a service fee on you. Worse, he will show you places to “recommended” shops or restaurant alternatives, aiming to take commission off your purchase.

How to avoid:

  • Pre-arrange for driver and guide service in Bali. Go with trusted ones who are recommended and know their way around Bali.
  • Ask the concierge/ desk about the normal fees to pay for temple entrance or other services such as guides or sarong rent fee ( a sash around the waist)
  • Find out the average amount of tips for local services that you might need incase you haven’t arranged for guide before.


4. The Marketing Scam


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The one thing you don’t want to be doing is wasting your time listening to a bunch of marketers offering you some investments or multi-level-marketing companies benefits.

They will be friendly and unassuming while they stop you on your way somewhere, then luring you to a comfortable small office to talk about investment opportunities. One of the most popular scams they like to use is: Timeshare.

Timeshare is a worldwide trend where new members are required to pay an amount of money to join the system for great holiday offers. For a certain amount of money, you will be given a lifetime traveling freebies, great hotel deals and so on. While all might seem good on the outside, there is rarely any legit investment opportunity in this kind of business.

Other scams include: Giving you free coupons of some sort for some “lucky scratch and win” or asking you on some survey promising you rewards after. In the end, you will be invited for presentations while they record your name and contact details and pitching ideas taking a great chunk of your precious time.

How to avoid:

  • Proceed along. Be polite and refuse. Don’t stop on your track and keep carry on your schedule.


5. Common Extortions


Image Courtesy of Joanne Wan

Here are some of the scenarios where you are unknowingly being extorted:

Visiting temples like Uluwatu sometimes may involve little incidents like mischievous monkeys stealing your items such as sunglasses, hats, or camera. A local will appear and help you in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

Taking photos around the locals who in the end will ask for “modelling” fee.
Renting out diving or scooter properties, only to be ask for rental damage after use.

How to avoid:

  • Avoid wearing loose or any valuable items when visiting Uluwatu. Keep certain distance from the monkeys.
  • Photograph still objects or scenery instead of people like children or old women.
  • Before renting out anything such as diving gears, car, scooter, jet ski, be sure to thoroughly check its condition. Point out any dent or scratches, take pictures if necessary before making a deal.
  • Don’t leave any rental item unattended.

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