1. Riding a Motorbike
While it is a really fun and easy way to get around and explore the island, many travellers end up with devastating injuries as a result of coming off a motorbike in Bali. The locals seem to have little concern for road safety and some roads can get pretty crowded and dangerous, particularly around the tourist areas of Seminyak and Kuta. If you’re not used to riding with 20 other bikes surrounding you and cars zooming past with less than half a foot between you and them, then I would not recommend trying this in Bali. If you absolutely must – stick to the quieter mountain roads around Ubud or in the North and avoid riding around Seminyak and Kuta.
2. Jimbaran Seafood Markets
We were really looking forward to visiting the Jimbaran Beach Seafood Markets in Bali. It was definitely a ‘must do’ item on our Bali holiday checklist. And it came highly recommended by so many people who had been there before. Perhaps our high expectations was the reason we ended up being so disappointed.
The thought of dining by candle light barefoot in the sand overlooking the ocean whilst barbecued seafood is served up to you by a friendly waiter is pretty enticing. And the thought of experiencing this kind of service at Balinese prices makes it even more so. Unfortunately we walked away from the experience feeling pretty disappointed.
Firstly, the freshness of the seafood was questionable. Of course the waiters all tell you it was caught fresh that day, but I have eaten plenty of fresh seafood in my lifetime and what they served up did not look, smell or taste fresh to me. To add to that, the seafood we picked out arrived at our table way overcooked and tough – not happy!
There was a band that walked around to each table and played romantic western songs. It was lovely, but of course they held out their hand after the song finished expecting a tip. Then came the bill… a whole snapper, 8 prawns and some calamari with rice, salad and coconut water came to around US$24 each! By Balinese standards we were expecting to pay US$20 total (for two) at most. The seafood markets in Borneo only cost US$12 for two for a similar size meal!
To top it off the next morning we took a walk down the same beach and were extremely disappointed to find rubbish from the markets littered all over the sand and washing into the ocean – no one had cleaned it up.
3. Kuta at Night
The Kuta night club district is notorious for drugs, violence and crime. Unfortunately many tourists are drawn to the hype of the Kuta nightlife and are considered easy targets. Many innocent tourists have unsuspectingly found themselves in bad situations. Unprovoked attacks and drink spiking are common and sometimes law enforcement officers can be more of a hindrance than a help if you get into trouble. My advice – avoid this area like the plague or at least do some research on the common the dangers and annoyances before you go!
4. Uluwatu Temple
I visited a few temples while in Bali – after all it is known as ’the land of a thousand temples’. Unlike some others, this one didn’t live up to its expectations. The temple is perched high on a cliff overlooking the ocean and looks pretty spectacular in pictures. It was a 50 minute drive to get there from Seminyak and there are very few amenities or other things to do around the temple. When we arrived we climbed about 200 stairs to get to the temple only to be told that we were not allowed in because we were not there to pray (they could have told us that before we climbed up all those stairs). We were also attacked by some very large and scary looking monkeys that lived around the temple, who had no hesitation in attacking us to steal our shoes, jewellery, bags – anything they could get their filthy mits on to trade with the locals for food.
5. People riding around on Motorbikes offering you scratchies
Yes, this is a timeshare scheme! No, you don’t want to go there.
The scheme (scam?) works something like this – a very friendly person riding around on a motorbike stops you in the street and chats you up. They ask you about your holiday and seem really interested and genuine. At this point you should tell them you’re not interested and BE FIRM about it! It will be difficult to blow them off because they are so nice to you.
They will offer you scratchies and you could win a prize – no strings attached. The prizes range from iPads to a t-shirt, cash or a holiday to come back to Bali. You will most likely win the holiday prize, and if you don’t they will keep offering you more scratchies until you do. All you have to do to claim your prize is accompany them to a fabulously expensive hotel where you will also get a free buffet breakfast/lunch – sound to good to be true?
Trust me, there are strings attached! I almost got sucked in to this scheme in Thailand.
By now, you are probably getting suspicious and you start backing out. At this point they will pull all stops to convince you to go with them. If you’re lucky they’ll even pull out the big guns and tell you that they won’t get paid and won’t be able to buy food for their family unless you go to the hotel with them.
If you do agree to go with them, you will be asked to give out all your personal details (address, name, phone number, passport etc) and then they’ll spend the next two hours of your time trying to convince you to invest in a timeshare – which sounds awesome – but is fraught with danger. My advice – forget the iPad and the holiday – it’s not worth it!
Lonely Planet has some good info on timeshares and other scams you may come across in Bali.All thoughts and opinions in this post are, as always, my own. My experiences in Bali were not all bad. There were many things that I enjoyed, like relaxing at Karma Beach Club, visiting the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest (the monkeys there were playful but not as scary as the ones at Uluwatu temple) or experiencing a luxury Balinese Spa Resort.