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Bali Information


Weather

Climate is tropical, with two seasons,  the wet (monsoon season) and the dry. The monsoon season is officially from October to April,   Temperatures  average maximum of around 32o Celcius with a low of approx 23o during the night, in the cooler season of June, July and August.  Humidity averages around 80 - 90%.  Cooling breezes make for a pleasant climate during June, July and August.  During the middle of the day it can be quite hot and humid. While the monsoon season is officially October to April, in recent years this has been unpredictable with the world wide climatic changes, and bouts of rain can occur during the dry season or vice versa.

Currency

Indonesian currency is Rupiah.  The daily exchange rate against the U.S.A. dollar fluctuates, sometimes from hour to hour, due to many circumstances, both internal and external.  US $ cash, travelers checks, and Credit cards accepted in resorts, major restaurants and major shops.  Roadside spending  necessitates Rupiahs. 

Credit Cards

Depending on how much the exchange rate is fluctuating at the time, clients could lose if paying by Credit Card. All Credit Card Sales Drafts are issued in Rupiah (banks do not allow issue in US$) and the rupiah rate is calculated according to rate of exchange on the day.  Should there be a significant difference between rate of exchange on the day of payment & day client's bank actually DEBIT their account, client could lose a considerable sum.  Thus, for the time being, we recommend pax travel with travelers cheques and US $ cash, as well as credit cards. NOTE: when paying in U.S. cash, or travelers cheques, change is normally given in Rupiah, NOT foreign currency. Larger denominations of US cash bring higher exchange rates than smaller denominations. i.e. US$100.00 OR US$50.00 notes bring more per $ than US$10.00 or US$20.00 notes.  US$1.00 notes are generally not accepted by banks, or in rare cases are accepted at low exchange rates.   jan's tours accepts:  Visa, Master Card, and Amex.   For prepayment per email, known as "Signature on File", we are able to accept only Amex, as the other merchants do not have this setup in Indonesia. For this method we require copy of client's passport, copies of both sides of Credit Card, and  require a CCAF (Credit Card Authorisation Form) to be filled in. The latter is to be on our letter head and will be forwarded by ourselves when requested.

Money Changers

When changing foreign currency at Money Changers, visitors need to carefully check the  daily rate. Should also ask if rate advertised by the Money Changer is  net or if they deduct commission, prior to transaction. It is recommended for  client to check all calculations, & count money carefully, BEFORE leaving Money Changer's office. We strongly recommend using Money Changers which provide computerised transactions. One in particular worth recommending, being Kuta Central Money Changers, which have offices in not only Kuta but most other tourist centers.  Cashiers at major Resorts also provide money changing facilities but conversion rates are better at money changers.

Dress Code

Dress is largely informal in both Bali and Lombok. Sarongs and beach wear (bathing costumes etc) should be worn only on the beach or pool areas of resorts. In respect for local custom, visitors should cover up more when leaving the resort area, on tours, visiting villages etc.  Shorts for men are acceptable wear outside hotels, and knee length shorts for women acceptable. Brief shorts or bikini tops for women should be avoided outside beach & pool areas. For entrance to temples, legs should be covered, at least to the knees. Most temples have sarongs available for hire for use during temple visit. For dinners in resorts, neat  casual shirt & trousers for men & neat casual top and skirt or frock or top and trousers for women. The population of Lombok is a mix of Hindu Balinese and Muslim Sasak peoples, so respectful coverup is advisable outside hotel or beach areas.  In other islands, such as Java, Sumatera, Sulawesi etc, with a majority Muslim population, it is advisable to cover up more when venturing outside accommodation, preferably with long sleeves and long trousers or long skirts. It is not acceptable for women to wear sleeveless tops in these areas.

Courtesy

It is impolite and insulting to pass or receive with the left hand, as this hand is reserved for personal toilet ablutions. It is also considered impolite and very insulting to touch the head of a local person, (including ruffling a child's hair). When passing in front of anyone sitting, it is polite to walk slightly bent over, and say "excuse me". It is impolite to stand beside someone sitting (on chair, or on ground at ceremonies).  It is also considered a sign of anger to stand with arms akimbo. To point with one's foot is insulting and to sit with one leg balanced on the other knee, therefore with the foot pointing at someone is also not acceptable.    Fortunately, most Indonesian people are accommodating and make allowances for ignorance of the visitor  committing these actions, but some may take offence, and it is always preferable to endeavour to respect local courtesy and custom. In the case of any problem incurred usually a soft voice will bring more results than anger, which local people find difficult to handle.

Drinking Water

Bottled mineral water is available at supermarkets, restaurants, resorts & wayside stalls, in the more developed islands. Do not accept if seal is broken. Bottled soft drinks, beer, wine etc. are readily available in a variety of stalls and stores, and safe. We recommend requesting chilled bottles where available , rather than ice placed IN drinks.  Tea & coffee which have been made with boiled water are acceptable.  Juices are tasty, but we recommend order juices only from resorts or upmarket restaurants.   Major resorts have water purification plants or provide purified drinking water in bottles. Wine is an expensive item to purchase locally. In the less developed islands, more care needs to be taken with drinking water, and bottled water and drinks should be the answer.

Hawkers

In certain areas (in particular Kuta and Legian,  but also in other areas frequented by overseas visitors) hawkers may approach and hassle clients with articles for sale. Bargaining is the acceptable method. If not interested it is better not to get into conversation with hawkers, as they can be pushy. Avoid eye contact, be polite and firm with "no" if not interested..  If interested & bargaining takes place, offer one third of asking price & slowly work up until an agreement is reached. While  Hawkers can be bothersome, it helps to bear in mind that the unemployment level is high & whether they eat or not that day may depend on whether or not a sale is made. It is easier to accept hassling if bearing this in mind. Once bargaining is established & price agreed upon, client must buy (cannot then cancel purchase or reopen bargaining). Remember if not interested, to say a firm no and walk quickly away, do not look at the goods or the vendors may continue to follow and hassle.

Photography

While many local people are happy to pose for pictures, it is not acceptable to photograph priests conducting ceremonies, nor to stand close to someone sitting on the ground for photography. Clients photographing a ceremony, should avoid using flash in a priest's face. In certain villages it is considered that photography takes a person's soul. It is advisable for visitors to discuss with tour guide when  wishing to take photographs.

Shopping

Shopping is fun, and cheap compared with overseas. In Bali in particular there is a  great variety of articles, ranging from superb sculptings, paintings, silver and gold jewellery,  and other handicrafts, to up to date designer clothing, accessories, handbags, shoes, furniture, household decor etc. Many upmarket shops are available for high class good quality purchases, and open markets where bargaining prevails can still be found. As well as the latter traditional beach markets and roadside stalls, there are many air conditioned shops, and certain areas have modern western style malls.  Most air conditioned stores, and all supermarkets or malls have fixed prices, and shoppers may not bargain in these outlets. Certain of the other islands have their own arts and crafts and often very beautiful fabrics, especially in the Eastern islands, where their weavings are world renowned.

Electricity

Voltage is 220-230. Resorts usually provide converters if required. However, if traveling with laptop, hair dryer etc it would be advisable to bring own adaptor to avoid disappointment. Plugs here are two pin (pins are round). In the less developed islands electricity may be available only certain hours, this is something beyond our control, but candles or kerosene lighting is usually provided in those areas.

Gratuities

Tipping is not obligatory, but is appreciated.  Restaurants and resorts mostly show a service charge on their checks, instead of tipping. Other services outside hotels and restaurants do not include service charges, and it is up to client whether to tip or not. As a general rule if someone has provided a good service, and particularly if they have gone over and beyond duty, it is nice to show appreciated with a tip. Tour guides and tour drivers are  usually tipped, but there is no hard and fast rule on amount of gratuities

Transport

Public transport (Bemo) are not recommended. Metered taxis are available through hotels. We personally recommend Blue Bird taxis, as they are meterised and their drivers are selected for courtesy, honesty and safe driving.  Moonlighting taxis operate with no set costs, must be bargained,  and are not recommendable. Van owners often station themselves in tourist accommodation areas and offer themselves and vehicles for hire, this is not recommended, as one has no way of knowing how careful the driver is and how worthy the vehicle. Additionally they usually do not have insurance cover.  jan's tours can provide airconditioned vehicle with driver, (and guide) if requested in advance. We recommend client contacts  our tour guides or office, or the Resort's concierge for transportation requirements, if wishing to go any distance. In Bali new public buses are being introduced and are cheap but currently running only one route.  In less developed islands transport can be difficult and it is preferable to arrange with the company we organise package with.

Self drive

Driving is on left hand side of the road. In Bali and the larger cities of Java,  Busy, narrow ,and crowded roads, with no real road rules make for stressful driving, espedially with a huge number of motorcycles who weave crazily in and out of traffic. For those who do wish to drive themselves, an  International license is required. Client should also bring their U.S. license with them, and should be careful to hire only insured vehicles, and to ensure there is sufficient petrol/gas in the tank to get them to the nearest gas station to fill up prior to traveling round. To be frank, we do not recommend self driving on our roads.

Insurance

We recommend all clients purchase comprehensive insurance which includes Health and EVACUATION insurance before travelling to reduce problems in the event of an illness or accident.

Medication

Client should be equipped with any specific medications they require, plus general things such as tablets for diahhorea and nausea, cream for topical infections, broad spectrum antibiotics for respiratory tract, and other infections, mosquito repellents, paracetamol or Ibuprofen or similar for pain and fever, bandaids etc. Anyone with very specific health problems, such as Diabetes, Heart problems etc, should carry a letter from their own Doctor which can be presented to health practioner here in the event required.

Doctors, Health Clinics or Hospitals

Doctors are on call at major hotels.  Consult with concierge or our staff for Health Clinics, hospitals etc, for minor problems. For more serious health problems, B.I.M.C. (Bali International Medical Center) is an International Standard hospital with a number of Specialists on call, and they deal with various internation Health Insurance and evacuation companies.  Apotik (Chemists or Drugstores) are located in most tourist centers.

Vaccinations

Malaria is still found in certain islands, and it is recommendable to check with ourselves and your Dr regarding anti malaria precautions. Rabies is found in Bali and Java and an anti Rabies vaccination is advisable, though it is unlikely you would be attacked by a dog, but always best to take care.

Swimming

Resort pools have pool lifeguards.  Inquire about beach safety conditions before beach swimming.  Beaches in front of resorts are often but not always,  manned by lifeguards. Some beaches have flags, please stay within. Do not leave belongings unattended on beaches.



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