Although the streets and lanes are usually quite safe, beware of a dubious gang linking Poppies Gang I with Jl Pantai Kuta. Scooter-born prostitutes (who may hassle single men late at night) consumate their business here.
Occasional crackdowns mean that it is rare to find any food or souvenir carts in the Kuta tourist area but street selling is common, especially on hassle street, Jl Legion. The beach is not unbearable, although the upper part features souvenir sellers and licensed massage ladies. Closer to the water, you can sunbake on the sand in peace - you'll soon find where the invisible line is. Most annoying are the touts pelting you with cries of 'Transport?'
The surf can be very dangerous, with a strong current on some tides, especially up north in Legion. Lifeguards patrol swimming areas of the beaches at Kuta and Legion, indicated by red and yellow flags. If they say the water is too rough or unsafe to swim in, they mean it.
This is not a big problem but visitors do lose things from unlocked hotel rooms or from the beach. Going into the water and leaving valuables on the beach is simply asking for trouble (in any country). Snatch thefts are rare. Valuable items can be left at your hotel reception.
Please please please lock your suitcases / duffle bags. It doesn't matter how small your bag is, lock it if you're going to check it in. They will open your bags and search through them if you don't lock them! The airport attendants will even try to chalk mark your suitcase. If they see a chalk mark, they'll tell you to open your suitcase at custom in the airport. It's another way for them to get money from you. Either way, it is best to lock your suitcases so they don't steal anything from you!
Yes, you can get better exchange rates from the small shops money changers but beware - many tourists have had their money changed and yet when they recount their monies after leaving the shop, they somehow find they have been shortchanged. We encountered this when some of our travelmates went to one of the small shops in Kuta to change other foreign currencies into Indonesian rupees. When they got back to the van, they recounted the cash and guess what ??? - they were short by at least 200,000Rp. They swore that they have counted the monies before leaving the shop and yet when they reached the van, the money seemed to have "disappeared". Some believed that the money changers have some magical powers to "blind" or "trick" your eyes when the money is being passed from them to you.
Suggest that you change your monies in the bank which is not much of a difference to avoid being conned by the money changers
As the airport at Bali is just next to the sea, please do not swim or do any activities at the beach area around the airport as it is fenced up (see photo) and you may be arrested due to security reason. There are plenty of safer and nice beaches nearby and elsewhere in Bali.
As you know, the terrorist have already struck twice at Kuta with bombs so be extra careful when you are at crowded places, especially in shopping centres, restaurants and pubs. However, you should not avoid going to Kuta because of terrorism or else you would miss out on the friendly people, beautiful beaches, scenery and unique tradition of this place.
The various traditional monuments at Kuta can be very eerie at night, especially those mythical stone carvings with lights shining on them like the one shown on the photograph. Do take note if you are out at night.
There are many 'vendors' hanging around Kuta beach and Kuta Square pretending to be vendors who sell marijuana and other illicit substances. DO NOT FALL IN THE TRAP!!!
First, they are undercover police officers who are targeting westerners and gain a commission for every time they 'capture' someone.
Secondly, even if they were not police officers, you dont know what substances they may be providing you - anything between jungle weeds to and leaves...
Especially in light of the 'Bali Nine' and Schapelle Corby, Bali and Drugs DO NOT go together!
"Bali Belly" as it is known, is common to newcomers in Bali. The usual cause is bad meat, improperly cleaned dishes and utensils, and who knows what else. But, it claims many victims. Symptoms include a very uncomfortable pain in the lower abdomen accompanied by explosive diarrhoea and an overall ill feeling and perhaps a slight fever. The best way to avoid this painful illness is to avoid the street carts and stick to the more frequented restaurants which tend to be clean and relatively safe. If you do become ill, you can buy a treatment called "Lomotil" at any "Apotik" (dispensary) in Bali. The best thing to do is just let it run it's course and replace your body's salts and electrolytes with gatorade and a powdered version of the stuff called "Oralt" in the Apotiks here in Bali. You don't want to prolong your agony by stopping it up and the best way to do that is just let it run it's course. In real severe cases, Lomotil is the call.
On many occasions changed my Rupiahs from one of the changers along Legian and Seminyak Str without hassle and so far it has been OK and reliable. This recent trip, I was nearly fleeced twice.
Along the upper end of Jln Seminyak - Two guys mans the transaction, 1st guy counts big notes and divides them into Rp100,000 lots on the counter – you’re asked to recount, the amt tallies. 1st guy directs you to 2nd guy counting loose small notes, same thing he asks you to recount. Its correct. But meantime, 1st guy picks up the big notes lot left on the counter and passes it to you as you finish counting the small ones.
I did a quick re-count & found the amt to Rp100,000 lesser than the correct total amount. I was just at the door and hvn’t left the office. I returned the transaction and insisted that they return my money. I stood firm as the 1st guy denied any wrongdoing, while the 2nd guy went pale and quiet. In the end, I got my money back.
Another occasion was at another changer along the Legian Str – The changer counts money in rapid Bahasa Indonesia, and then counts it in English correctly. He then proceeds to recount it again in Bahasa ‘just to be sure’ he says. And at the same time, make small talk, ask you where you’re from, etc. He hands you the money. While recounting, he asks you and joked about. I excused myself and recounted again. True enuf, amount was lesser than agreed upon. A lot of excuses such as commission charges etc, are made. I wanted to return the money back but in the end gave me what was due.
Never leave your eyes off the money and never let the changers touch the money after the amount you have certified is correct. Do not let them confuse/make you lose count. Do re-count in front of the changer, twice or three times if nec. If possible, get a receipt before the transaction.
Of course, the good ones are professionals and you can tell by the service and how they handle transactions. But for the sake of convenience, its best to be alert.
The sidewalks could be a real mess if you dont take care - in the night you could easily strain a foot or two, I noticed at least one woman falling at the street - it hurts and could spoil your holiday.
Watch out for the flags and respect the warnings - it is not prohibited to svim outside this kind of warnings, this means that you are to far away from the lifeguards and you could easily get flushed away. Stay at restricted areas if you dont surf.
Watch out for anything. People are selling you weed (probably isn't), friendly girls are hookers, travel agents have little information or lie, and taxi drivers rip you off. Just be damn cautious and bargin a lot.