CURRENCY AND BANKING
The local currency is the Indonesian rupiah (‘Rp’ or ‘IDR’). There are Rp100, Rp500, and Rp1,000 coins and Rp1,000, Rp5,000, Rp10,000, Rp20,000, Rp50,000, and Rp100,000 paper notes. Compare the exchange rates on offer before changing money at money changers or banks. Although banks may offer an added measure of professionalism and security, it’s not uncommon for money changers to offer better rates. There are usually different rates for cash and non-cash instruments such as travelers checks. Also, be aware that both banks and money changers can be very picky about the cash notes that they will accept; they often refuse notes that are in anything less than near-mint condition.
Major credit and charge cards are accepted in most major stores and hotels. Smaller merchants often add a small surcharge to card transactions.
Many — but not all — banks’ ATMs in Bali are linked to major international networks such as Cirrus, Plus, Visa, and MasterCard. As a result, this can be a convenient and cost-effective way to obtain local currency; such ATMs are widely available throughout Bali (though not in rural areas).
Balinese show respect by dressing neatly and modestly. Very informal dress can be considered offensive and is prohibited when visiting government offices or temples. Given the tropical climate, it is best to bring suitably light clothing. If you plan to spend any time in the mountains, however, it would also be wise to bring some warmer clothing; it can get somewhat cool at night at the higher elevations.
Be aware that it is customary to take off one’s shoes before entering someone’s house.
Indonesian law forbids visitors from bringing weapons, illegal drugs, or pornography into the country. Penalties can be severe and include death for weapons or drugs. You may bring a maximum of two liters of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco, and a reasonable amount of perfume with you. Visitors must surrender a signed customs declaration in order to clear customs inspection upon arrival.
The export of certain products — such as tortoise shell, crocodile skin, and ivory — is prohibited. Permits are generally required to export live animals.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Indonesia uses the metric system of measurement.
Electricity in Bali is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Plugs have two round prongs. Adapters and converters are usually available in major hotels but may be hard to find elsewhere.
OFFICE HOURS AND HOLIDAYS
Most offices are open from 0800 to 1700, Monday through Friday. Bank teller windows, however, often close as early as 1400. Some offices are also open Saturdays until 1300.
The major holidays of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism are all officially recognized in Bali, and offices will be closed on these days.
Driving is on the left side of the road. A variety of cars — with and without drivers — and motorcycles are widely available for hire in Bali. The majority of cars have manual ‘stick-shift’ transmissions. Traffic regulations are widely ignored, so driving yourself may prove stressful unless you’re used to wild road conditions. Since a road accident — common in Bali — could spoil your trip and ensnare you in unpleasant proceedings, consider hiring a driver along with your car. Nevertheless, International Driving Permits are recognized in Bali.
If you intend to rent a motorcycle, helmets — which are mandatory — will be supplied by the hire company.
If you are driving yourself, remember that you must take the responsibility to avoid all other road users, as vehicles will pull out in front of you abruptly and expect you to avoid them. Drivers in Bali rely on audible warnings, so use the horn regularly to let them know of your presence and when overtaking. Likewise, other drivers will use their horns to let you know of their presence. Such horn use is not considered rude. At night, the use of the horn is replaced by flashing one’s high beams. Remember to be extra vigilant as many bicycles and carts are not illuminated and street lighting can be minimal or absent. In cities, there can be complicated networks of one-way streets that can be confusing to navigate; take care not to turn the wrong way on a one-way street!
Dogs, cats, monkeys, and similar animals can be imported into Bali from the following countries only: Australia, Bermuda, Brunei, China (Hong Kong only), Cyprus, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia (Sabah & Sarawak only), Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Hawaii only).
Permission must be obtained in advance. For further information, contact the Bali Animal Authority by telephone at +62-361-224184 or by FAX at +62-361-225368.