Balinese wonders. How not to get into trouble?

People who come to Bali can be divided into those who believe that the island fulfills wishes and works miracles and those who haven't yet believed in it.
Upon arrival in Bali, many people realize that they need to be cautious with their requests to the "Universe." Bali can grant a wish, but sometimes not yours... but rather the wish of local scammers.
Be careful with the desire to "understand that money is not everything." The Universe may fulfill this desire in its own way.
If you uncover a scam by a fraudster, most often they will say "sorry" with a friendly smile, and there will be no negativity.
So, what tricks can local scammers demonstrate to you? How to handle such situations with a smile, without spoiling your mood, and keeping your positive attitude during your vacation?
You may not encounter such a problem, but it's real, so read and be attentive!

1. Currency exchange

Let's imagine: you go to a money exchange office, and they offer you a very favorable exchange rate, which seems incredibly high. It's your lucky day, you think...
The exchange office employee gives you Indonesian rupiahs in very small denominations, making it difficult to hold all the money in one bundle. You count the money, spread it into different piles on the table in front of you, and the employee "helps" you count it, double-checking the total each time. You leave the exchange office, some time passes, and you realize that a significant portion of the money is missing.
What happened?
This guy counts the money after you each time to discreetly take some banknotes from the pile and hide them under the table. Usually, tourists get tired during this process due to the heat, so they may not recount the money thoroughly. They might go shopping and spend part of the money, so they won't remember the exact amount they received at the exchange office.
How to avoid this situation?
Try to exchange money at official exchange offices on the island. Bali has well-established, reputable exchange chains where encountering such scams is unlikely. Some of them include Central Kuta Money Exchange, BMC, and Dirgahayu. When you receive the money, always count it yourself. Count the money last, after the exchange office employee, and don't let them touch the money again after you.
If you still find yourself in such a situation with a fraudulent exchange, and you only realize it upon returning to your hotel, go back to the exchange office. They will likely remember how much they took from you and, after a discussion, will return your money.

2. Chaos in the store

You walk into a regular, nice-looking supermarket. There are surveillance cameras, and the staff is very friendly, which instills trust. However, there's one drawback: many items in the store don't have price tags. As a result, you end up buying a lot of products and head to the checkout counter, where you're told the total is much higher than you expected.
What's happening?
Stores in Indonesia can be chaotic. Prices may not be displayed, or they may be outdated. You're confident in one price, but when you bring the items to the counter, the price is higher. Prices for many fruits and vegetables are listed not per kilogram but per 100 grams, making the product on display seem ten times more expensive.
How to avoid this situation?
Understand that this often happens not because Indonesians are trying to deceive you. They live a very relaxed life, sitting, chatting, joking, singing, dancing, and don't always take the time to arrange products properly on the shelves. People live pleasantly and happily and don't always find the time for numbers and price tags.
Simply try to keep an eye on everything in the store if the cost of items matters to you. If there's no price on a product, ask a store assistant. When the cashier rings up your items, watch the cash register and verify the accuracy of the prices. Also, count your change.
Don't get angry if you're given the wrong change. Very often, this happens due to the laid-back nature of the Balinese people.

3. Restaurants in Jimbaran

Scenario: A Balinese driver recommended an excellent restaurant to you and is willing to take you there and pick you up after dinner. You order lobster, shrimp, and fish and have a wonderful romantic evening, but you end up with an unexpectedly high bill.
What's happening?
Most restaurants in Jimbaran work on commission. This means that if your Balinese driver brings you there, he will receive a percentage of your order after your dinner. That's why these "commission" restaurants are so expensive.
Prices are displayed in thousands of rupiahs. For example, 80k doesn't mean 80 rupiahs but rather 80,000 rupiahs.
How to avoid this situation?
Choose good, well-established restaurants in Jimbaran that are frequented by most tourists. Among them, you can mention Lia Cafe and Menega. If you don't want to encounter unexpected surprises regarding the price, avoid ordering fish and seafood by weight – opt for set menus that have a fixed price for a specific quantity of seafood delicacies.

4. "Airport Sharks"

You've just received your luggage and set foot on the land of Bali, ready for a wonderful vacation filled with adventures and delights. You are a naive tourist, not yet familiar with the local currency and taxi rates.
In such a situation, falling victim to airport taxi drivers is very easy.
What's happening?
The behavior of taxi drivers at the airport can sometimes be aggressive. They often demand exorbitant fares and can be rude when conflicts arise.
How to avoid this situation?
There are several ways to order a taxi:
  1. At the taxi counter as you exit the terminal. They will show you a price list and provide you with a clear fare to your hotel.
  2. Through a transfer service provided by your hotel.
  3. Using a ride-hailing app like Grab. Install the app in advance and use the airport's Wi-Fi to request a ride.
It's best not to use the services of baggage handlers who grab your luggage without permission. This is a paid service, and if you didn't plan to pay for it, simply decline politely. If a porter grabs your suitcase and tries to carry it despite your polite refusals, be more assertive but remain non-aggressive in demonstrating your refusal.

5. Airport Entrance

You're taking a taxi to the airport to depart from Bali. The driver passes through a gate with a barrier, takes a ticket with something written in Indonesian and a sum of 50,000 rupiahs on it. Naturally, the driver asks you to pay nearly 3.5 dollars for entering the airport.
What's happening?
In reality, the amount of 50,000 rupiahs mentioned on the ticket is a penalty for the loss of a parking ticket, and this is stated on the ticket. However, the driver knows that the tourist doesn't understand Indonesian and won't comprehend what's written on the ticket. The driver rushes and doesn't want to pay attention to the details. In fact, the entrance fee to the airport is 4,000 rupiahs, which is ten times less.
How to avoid this situation?
If you feel upset about being deceived, you can tell the driver, "bapak itu denda kehilangan karcis bukan harga masuk," and give him 4,000 rupiahs. This means "Sir, this is a penalty for a lost ticket, not an entrance fee."

6. Tips for Online Taxis

You install the Grab and Gojek apps to order online taxis. You call for a ride, confident that you won't be deceived. The app finds you a driver who sends a message claiming that the fare displayed in the app is too low, and you need to pay more.
What's happening?
Taxi drivers in Bali often believe that the prices on Grab or Gojek don't match their demands. They may start bargaining and sometimes request a fare several times higher than what's shown in the app.
How to avoid this situation?
You can either cancel the ride and request another driver or negotiate with the assigned driver. In either case, you can take a screenshot of the conversation and send it to the app's customer support to report the driver who is violating the pricing policy.

7. Fake Blue Bird Taxis

Chances are, many tourists who have been to Bali have told you that you can easily catch a reliable Blue Bird taxi on the street. "They are a trustworthy company known for their quality service, and their cars are blue, making them easy to spot." So, you're standing by the roadside and see a multitude of cars ranging from light blue to dark blue, all with similar yet different names.
What's happening?
In Indonesia, there has been a reputable and very reliable taxi company called Blue Bird Group for several decades. Their drivers have special identification numbers, use meters, and tourists prefer them.
The company became so popular that clones began to appear. These taxis have a similar color, a similar logo, and drivers wearing similar uniforms. The key difference is that the service doesn't always match that of Blue Bird. These taxis often don't use meters, and their fares are significantly higher.
How to avoid this situation?
Pay close attention to the distinguishing signs of a genuine Blue Bird taxi.

8. Local Taxis

You've installed Grab and Gojek apps on your smartphone. However, when you try to order a taxi, the driver tells you they can't come to your area. Local taxi drivers approach you and explain that online taxis are prohibited in this area, and only they are allowed to operate here. Their services are 2-3 times more expensive than Grab or Gojek.
What's happening?
In reality, it's not a scam but an inconvenient feature of Bali's transportation system, tied to the Balinese self-governance system. Bali has a strong and influential local self-government structure consisting of family members living in a particular area who make decisions related to that territory, including transportation matters.
The price for such taxis is indeed 2-3 times higher.
How to avoid this situation?
If you plan to visit remote areas closed to online taxis (such as the Bukit beaches or Uluwatu Temple), consider renting your own transportation or hiring a private driver for the day. You can also walk to a central road where an online taxi can more easily pick you up.

9. Drivers on Commission

You found a driver online who is willing to take you around Bali for a small fee, around 500,000 - 600,000 Indonesian Rupiah per day. What a great deal, right?
However, on the day of the tour, you find out that the driver is taking you to silver and souvenir shops that you had no intention of visiting. You also realize that you won't have enough time to visit the places you initially planned.
What's happening?
The low price offered by such drivers is because they take tourists to places where they receive commissions.
If the driver is friendly and convincing, you might let your guard down, trust their "good advice," and follow their recommendations. Consequently, you easily accept changes to the itinerary. The shops, restaurants, factories, workshops, spas, and attractions your driver takes you to are not necessarily the best places but the ones where they have agreements to receive a commission from the money you spend there.
Due to this, the prices in these shops are often inflated, as they include both the cost of the item and a commission to the driver, which can sometimes be as high as 70% of the price.
How to avoid this situation?
Clearly discuss with the driver the places you want to visit. If you don't want to spend your time at shops and workshops, let the driver know. It's possible that after this discussion, the price for your trip will increase, but you'll be sure that you won't waste your time.

10. Non-working Vienna Convention

You're riding a rented motorcycle or car in a busy tourist area when the police stop you for a license check. A few moments later, they tell you that your licenses are not valid in Bali. What about the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic that Indonesia signed almost half a century ago? Haven't the police heard of it? Or are they pretending not to, just to impose a fine?
The police show you a list of fines where the amounts are over a million rupiahs, and they say that if you don't pay half a million right away, they will confiscate your vehicle and you'll face a trial in Denpasar.
You start imagining a court, a guilty verdict, a ruined vacation, and you agree to pay any amount just to be released.
What happened?
The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was indeed signed by Indonesia but was never ratified. This means that the Vienna Convention does not apply in Indonesia, and for driving in Indonesia, you need an international driver's license. If you're riding a motorcycle, you specifically need an international motorcycle license.
How to avoid this situation?
There's good news: the document the police show you lists the maximum fines for violations. The actual fines paid in court can be much lower. You won't be sent to jail, paraded into a courtroom in handcuffs, or have a judge read a verdict and give you a criminal record.
You'll be given a receipt. After some time, you can take it to the Denpasar courthouse, submit the receipt, pay the fine, and retrieve your documents.
However, it's even better to obtain an official international driver's license before traveling to Bali.
Always wear a helmet, obey traffic lights, and don't cross the stop line at traffic signals. These are also common reasons for tourists to be stopped and fined.

11. Taxi Drivers in Padang Bai

You've traveled to the Gili Islands, returned to the Padang Bai port, and are heading to the bus provided by your transport company (they told you the return transfer was already paid for). But there's a taxi driver nearby who asks, "Where are you going? To Canggu? Oh, your bus will take 5 hours to get you to Canggu. Traffic is terrible everywhere! You'll be waiting for passengers for an hour. But I can get you there quickly and cheaply."
He accompanies you to the official buses of your transport company, continues to deceive you in the presence of the official drivers, and they just remain silent.
What happened?
A tired traveler is very easy to persuade. Taxi drivers take advantage of this fact.
On the return journey, tourists are not dropped off at every hotel (even if they carefully picked them up at any location on the way to the Gili Islands). On the way back, tourists are usually left at some popular points.
But the claim that the return journey takes 5 hours is untrue. Taxi drivers use this tactic to try and steal passengers.
How to avoid this situation?
Hold your free transfer voucher firmly, go to the bus parking area with your transport company's logos, and only hand over the voucher to the company's staff member dressed in the official uniform with the official logo. If taxi drivers hassle you, just smile and tell them, "I'm all good."

12. Fake Guides

You arrive at a temple to immerse yourself in Balinese culture, to let the harmony and tranquility enter your heart.
People around you smile and show kindness, and a friendly person offers to show you around the temple and accompany you on the premises.
In the end, it turns out that this "care" was not an act of kindness but a paid tour, about which you were not informed, and the price was kept secret.
What's happening?
These guides exploit human psychology and understand that in such a "trap," a person would feel uncomfortable not paying, especially in such a sacred place as a temple. They deliberately don't mention the price in advance. This scam most often occurs at Pura Besakih temple and Goa Gajah cave.
How to avoid such a situation?
If someone offers you their services, ask in advance how much it will cost. If the person says you can make a donation, clarify whether it's a voluntary amount or a specific price. If you genuinely want an interesting narration about Balinese temples, culture, and traditions, consider hiring a reputable guide for the whole day in advance. They will take you around the island and accompany you to interesting places.
And if you truly enjoyed the local temple guide's narration, you can choose to tip them accordingly.

13. Special Ceremony, "Today Only"

You arrive at a temple, pay for the entrance ticket and parking. Someone approaches you and tells you that there is a special ceremony in the temple today, and you need to pay an additional fee directly to them for visiting the temple. This kind of situation often occurs at Bali's main temple, Pura Besakih.
What's happening?
In reality, ceremonies take place in major temples every day, and such individuals take advantage of tourists' lack of knowledge.
How to avoid falling into such a situation?
Simply show the adventurer your entrance ticket and tell them that you have already paid for entry. Then proceed to the temple.

14. Donations

You visit a newly opened temple. There's a priest at the altar. You entered just to take a look at the temple, but the priest gestures for you to come over and conducts a blessing ceremony with holy water. After that, he shows you a donation book where you can sign to make contributions.
Despite the early hour, the book already contains entries from a large number of guests who have left significant amounts (hundreds of Indonesian rupiahs) in the temple. You feel awkward about giving less, so you also leave a substantial amount of money.
What's happening?
Most likely, those are fake entries meant to influence your psychology.
How to avoid falling into such a situation?
You can participate in the blessing ceremony or politely decline it. You can leave any amount you wish as a donation to the temple. Just make sure your actions come from the heart!

15. Renting a Sarong

You're planning to visit a Balinese temple, and as you approach the entrance, you're surrounded by a crowd of women selling sarongs. They claim that you can't enter the temple without a sarong and ask for a large amount of money for their goods.
What's happening?
It's true that you can't enter a temple without a sarong. However, it's crucial to know that in temples, the sarong rental fee is either included in the entrance ticket price or doesn't exceed 20,000 rupiahs.
How to avoid falling into such a situation?
Purchase your own sarong that you can use for temple visits. The simplest sarongs are inexpensive (70,000 - 80,000 rupiahs).
Avoid sarongs that look like beach pareos; they are not suitable for temples. Instead, opt for sarongs with traditional patterns. Alternatively, you can use the sarongs provided by temple attendants near the ticket counter.

16. Beach Spa

You're enjoying the sun on Kuta Beach, and every few minutes, nail technicians, henna tattoo artists, and massage therapists approach you. They promise you a very favorable "price."
While you're getting a massage, another person starts doing your nails, and in the end, they present you with a bill for a substantial amount.
What's happening?
Bali locals understand that tourists on vacation are often easygoing and kind. They offer services, expecting that tourists won't protest and will accept the charges without question.
How to avoid falling into such a situation?
Order services at reputable establishments with clear pricing. Avoid beauty services on the beach, as no one can guarantee the quality and hygiene in those situations.

17. Monkey and Glasses

We all love photos with cute monkeys and dream of taking a funny picture with them for Instagram. But sometimes, this process ends with your phone being stolen. And it's usually the adorable monkeys themselves who do it.
What's happening?
Monkeys often steal things in the Uluwatu Temple. There is a belief that monkeys in Uluwatu are trained to steal.
A monkey steals something, and the person seeks help from a temple worker. They find a bait to exchange with the monkey. The person gets their item back, whether it's a camera, smartphone, glasses, jewelry, bag, or backpack, and then pays money to their savior!
How to avoid getting into such a situation?
Before entering the Uluwatu Temple Monkey Forest, remove your expensive jewelry and put them in your bag. Keep an eye on your belongings, as monkeys can open bags. If you obstruct them, they might even bite you.
If you want to avoid any trouble, try to minimize attention to yourself. Don't leave valuable items unattended, avoid wearing expensive jewelry, and don't make loud noises with plastic bags.

18. "Cocaine-Cocaine"

When you stroll along the main street of Kuta - Legian, you may encounter Indonesians holding strange packets and whispering "cocaine-cocaine." Could it be that cocaine is so easily sold on the streets of Kuta, despite Indonesia's strict drug laws that include the death penalty?
What's happening?
It's not cocaine but some white powder that only visually resembles cocaine. If you buy this "cocaine," shortly after, a police officer will approach you, detain you, find the substance, and demand a bribe.
How to avoid getting into such a situation?
First and foremost, remember that drugs are harmful. This is a fact, but trying them in Bali is even more foolish than doing so in other countries. Just steer clear of all kinds of drugs in Bali!

19. Expensive Medicine

You fall ill and are looking for medication. You go to a fancy store like Guardian, Watson, or Kimia Farma, where instead of the required medicine, they offer you either vitamins or the necessary pills at an exorbitant price, like 100,000 rupiahs for a pack of 6 tablets.
What's happening?
Without a doctor's prescription, the pharmacy staff won't sell you strong prescription medications. It's much safer and more profitable to sell you vitamins, as they pose no harm. Many expensive pharmacies sell locally manufactured medications, some of which are imported from abroad. Therefore, medication with the same active ingredient but from different manufacturers can cost 4-5 times more than in a regular pharmacy.
How to avoid getting into such a situation?
Try not to buy medications from Guardian, Watson, or similar stores. Consider them as cosmetic shops.
If you need medications, search for an "Apotek" or "Farmasi" on Google Maps and visit a local, non-chain pharmacy. Another option is to install the Go Life app from Gojek and order medications with home delivery.

20. The Good Samaritan with a Pump

You've parked your bike in a dark alley in Kuta or Seminyak, had dinner, or went to a club. You return to your bike and notice that the tires are flat, making it difficult to ride back. It's late, and it's unlikely that you'll find a nearby workshop that can patch or replace your tire. Suddenly, someone appears who offers to help with the bike's repair.
What's happening?
This friendly and helpful person might have intentionally waited for you to leave and then punctured your tire to ensure that you become their customer upon your return. Such a scam is quite common.
How to avoid getting into such a situation?
Try to park your vehicle in secure parking areas. If you have a flat tire, you can ride the bike back to your hotel, and in the morning, you can address the repair. If the repairman doesn't demand an exorbitant amount of money and you're in a good mood, you can pay them.

21. Exterminating Roaches, iPhones, and iPads

A local with poor English and a canister knocks on the gate of your villa. He says there's a cockroach problem in the area, and he's come to exterminate them. When he enters the premises, he shows you that the gas he's using is highly toxic, so you need to move to another room or floor.
What's happening?
There's a chance that after your place has been "treated," the exterminator might leave and, along with the non-existent roaches, take your mobile phone, iPad, laptop, camera, and other valuable items.
How to avoid getting into such a situation?
If you've rented a villa and any pest control or extermination activities are planned, the villa manager is obliged to inform you in advance. Even if you were warned, do not leave your valuable items in the same room with unfamiliar people.
We hope that this article will be useful to you! 
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