Avoiding Scams in Bali - Essential Tips for a Safe Stay
Bali is a pretty safe island as long as you follow basic safety measures. There are many kind-hearted people here who are ready to help you, like returning keys or a phone forgotten in a bike, for example. However, just like in any other country, you can also come across those looking to take advantage of tourists.
In this article, we'll talk about the ways tourists might be deceived in Bali and how to avoid ending up in such situations. The chance of encountering these tricks during your vacation is small, but it's always there. So, being informed means being prepared!
Trickery at Currency Exchanges
You've just arrived in Bali and head to a currency exchange to convert your money into rupiahs. They offer you a great rate, and the exchanger carefully counts your money in front of your eyes, neatly stacking them into equal piles. Trustingly, you take the rupiahs and, unsuspecting of any deceit, leave the exchange. However, later at your hotel, you realize you received a significantly lesser amount than expected. But how could this happen? You watched them count it! Currency exchange scammers have a whole bag of tricks: they skillfully and subtly drop notes under the table while counting, hoping that the tourist won't check the money themselves, trusting the exchange process.
How to avoid falling for this?
Try to exchange money at official exchange spots like Central Kuta Money Exchange, BMC, Dirgahayu. The chance of being deceived there is close to zero. Always count the money yourself before taking it and leaving. Don't hesitate to be cautious and recount the amount in front of the exchanger's eyes."
Hunters of Tourists at the Airport
You've just landed for the first time on the island of Bali: got your luggage, exchanged money, and now, eagerly anticipating your long-awaited vacation, you head towards the exit, thinking about how to get to the hotel. There, you're greeted by friendly and enterprising taxi drivers who aren't shy about trying to make a hefty profit off you. They offer to take you for a price that's 5 or even 10 times higher, hoping that you don't know how far your hotel is and how much is reasonable to pay for such distances.
How not to overpay?
In many countries, the airport is a hotspot for taxi drivers looking to capitalize. Therefore, it's better to avoid them. If you have a local SIM card, you can download apps for local taxis like Grab or Gojek; they'll take you for a reasonable fixed price. You can also arrange a transfer with us. The driver will meet you with a sign and comfortably take you to your hotel.
Guides of Goodwill
You arrive at a temple where a caring local resident welcomes you, ready to show you around and share interesting facts, mostly borrowed from Wikipedia. However, after the temple tour, you discover that the "free" tour isn't exactly free. The friendly guide expects a donation from you and, in some cases, is even prepared to provide a receipt. These guides start the tour without mentioning any cost, creating an appearance of goodwill to avoid refusal.
How to avoid such situations?
If someone offers you their services or guidance, start by asking about the cost. If you're genuinely interested in exploring temples and Balinese culture, it's better to use the services of an experienced guide. On our website, you'll find plenty of tours to the most interesting places in Bali.
Buy a Sarong
You're planning to visit a temple, but before entering, a group of sarong sellers surrounds you, claiming that without this clothing, you won't be allowed into the temple. They insist you must buy a sarong from them to avoid offending the believers. Indeed, without a sarong, entry to the temple might be denied, but usually, the entrance ticket includes sarong rental or it's provided for free.
How to avoid falling for it?
Simply ask the temple attendant at the entrance or at the ticket counter if they provide sarongs for rent. You can also purchase a sarong beforehand at a regular city market, rather than at tourist spots where prices are often inflated.
Monkeys in Cahoots
Hardly a week passes without a new video appearing on Instagram from Uluwatu, where a nimble monkey tries on sunglasses or attempts to inspect someone's phone. What's really happening there? The monkey deliberately steals something from an inattentive tourist, who then seeks help from a temple employee. The employee offers assistance and implies a reward. They exchange the stolen item for a banana, and the cunning macaques memorize that this gets them more delicious treats.
How to avoid becoming a victim of these thieves?
When visiting places where monkeys reside—like Uluwatu Temple or the Monkey Forest—it's better to remove expensive jewelry and glasses. Don't leave bags or backpacks unattended, as these crafty creatures have learned to open them. Hold onto your phones and cameras tightly. Try not to attract unnecessary attention, and if a monkey shows interest in you, it's better not to interfere—otherwise, it might bite.
A Kind Stranger
Imagine this situation: you return to your scooter on the streets of Ubud and find the tires deflated. Your task is to get back home. Suddenly, a stranger appears with a pump, willing to help, but for a fee. Perhaps, they might have intentionally punctured the tire to later offer their services. This scheme isn't uncommon, but proving their guilt will be difficult.
How to avoid such a situation?
Try to park your vehicle in guarded parking areas or near shops and restaurants.
In Bali, people gather seeking spiritual growth, and there are also those aiming to profit from it. Among the numerous spiritual gurus, there are charlatans and "experts" who might not realize that their methods could cause more harm than good. They make loud promises to bewildered tourists, claiming to "cleanse chakras" or unlock a flow of financial energy, offering unclear and unsubstantiated techniques. Of course, none of this comes for free.
How to avoid such traps?
Avoiding deceit from pseudo gurus who claim to possess true knowledge is quite challenging. However, it's crucial to maintain critical thinking and not fall for tales of magical healing or easy paths to wealth. Always verify information and approach such promises with common sense.
Yes, of course, in Bali, there are indeed many open-hearted people who see you first and foremost as a person in a foreign country, not just a wallet. However, be vigilant—don't leave your belongings unattended, don't trust overly pushy strangers, and book taxis and tours from reputable places. By doing so, the risk of having unpleasant experiences during your vacation will be minimal.