“Is Bali safe for a single woman to travel by herself?”
Understandably, safety remains to be the main concern for female travelers, particularly for women traveling alone.
Let me put your mind to ease right now.
If you are planning a solo trip to Bali, do it!
I traveled solo to Bali in 2009, then again in 2013.
I loved Bali so much that I ended up making it my home.
Bali solo travel is becoming increasingly popular, as the ever-growing tourism improves the transportation and accessibility, and the number of budget-friendly accommodations flourishes throughout the island.
Bali is without a doubt, gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and heart-warming. You may have to get off the beaten path to explore some hidden gems but there is a wide range of activities you can do in Bali such as trekking, yogacizing, snorkeling/scuba diving, temple hopping, beach bumming, cliff jumping, shopping (yup, I say that’s an activity!) and just about anything else you can think of.
I’m not sure that there’s anything you can’t do on this island.
So if you are a single traveler wondering if Bali is the right destination for you, worry not. Not only is Bali safe for solo female travelers but also efficient, convenient, and budget friendly!
After spending many years visiting and living in Bali, I learned a thing or two about getting by on this island.
So in this post, I put together 10 travel tips that I hope will make your trip to Bali as stress and hassle-free as possible, and your best solo adventure yet!
By the way, if you are traveling to Bali alone and looking for destination ideas, check out the post on Bali Solo Travel Itinerary. It includes awesome tips like what to see and do, as well as the best place to stay in Bali for first timers!
1. Surviving that "Time of the Month"
Let’s get straight to business.
Every girl hates having to worry about their period during their travels! Worse is not being prepared.
Since Balinese women do not use tampons, tampons are not commonly sold in your local convenience stores. The likely places that will carry tampons are pharmacies such as Guardian or Kimia Farma (you can find both branches throughout Bali).
Since tampons are imported items, the prices are hugely inflated. I have seen them being sold for nearly a dollar a piece.
That’s right, for ONE tampon.
Once on Nusa Lembongan, I saw one being sold for USD 1.5.
Many travelers will recommend that you pack as light as possible since you can buy most necessities abroad.
They are right, except when it comes to monthly feminine products in Indonesia.
2. Much To Do About...Toilet Paper
When you visit Bali for the first time, you will notice that a trash bin is placed in every toilet stall, accompanied by a sign that reads “please do not flush any paper or napkins.”
It is a custom in Bali to not flush toilet paper. Do not ask me why – I don’t know if this is due to the inadequate plumbing system, or a waste management issue.
The inability to flush toilet paper is actually common throughout SE Asia. Due to this practice, some public toilets do not provide toilet paper at all. Instead, there is a “shower” or a “hose” that is placed next to the toilet so you can rinse yourself clean.
Yet in other places, you will find toilet papers placed on the wall in a common area of the bathroom, rather than inside the stalls (see photo).
When you enter the stall, have a look around first. If you don’t see any paper, try to look around for a “community toilet paper roll.”
Carry your private stash of toilet paper just in case. The accessibility to toilet paper is never reliable in Bali.
3. Visa 101
Here’s a quick lesson on Visa to Indonesia.
If you have a passport from one of the 140 countries exempt from visa requirement, you can enter for up to 30 days for free. Once you enter Indonesia with this free 30-day visa, your stay is NOT extendable.
If there is a chance that you will want to stay longer, (but no more than 60 days), you’d be safe to buy Visa On Arrival (VOA). You can buy it at the International airport for USD 35 (there is a counter before you get in line for the immigration agent).
If you buy this 60-day VOA, you must go to the immigration office to extend your visa around seven days before you hit the 30th day in the country.
Note: the arrival day and the departure count as one day, so make sure you count your days correctly! You will be penalized Rp300,000/day for overstay.
You can hire an agent for about USD 50/IDR 650,000 to take care of your visa extension, which will require you to go to the immigration office only once. DIY extension saves you about USD 25, but you will need to visit the immigration three times. It is obviously your choice, whether you’d prefer to save your time or money.
I use an agent, who picks up my passport and takes care of all the paperwork. The agent informs me when I need to get to the immigration office.
On the day of the appointment, I spend about 30 minutes at the office (waiting to be called, taking photo & fingerprints) and it’s all done. Once the extension is approved, the agent drops off my passport at my apartment. For me, the convenience has been worth the extra USD 25.
4. Don't Follow the Crowd
I have heard many visitors express their disappointment in Bali, claiming that the island was overcrowded, beaches were not as beautiful as they expected, or that the “local” experience was lacking.
If you follow the Lonely Planet or Tripadvisor reviews and go where everybody else is going, you will inevitably be disappointed with the massively commercialized aspects of Bali.
Despite what you may read in travel guides or travel blog posts, avoid Kuta and Legian areas like the plague.
That is, assuming you want to experience an authentic Balinese culture, lifestyle, and landscapes.
If instead, you want to join drunks slamming Bingtangs for breakfast and getting hammered on the beach, then Kuta is your home.
Kuta, Legian, and Nusa Dua have become commercialized and not much of “Balinese vibes” remain in these areas. I love Seminyak for the boutique shops and amazing food options, but I would even categorize Seminyak is a bit touristy.
Ubud is also a very popular spiritual center for yoga retreats, yoga classes, and healthy eats. Most visitors cannot resist the Monkey Forest during their Bali travel, but I have to warn you that Ubud Center is very busy and crowded.
Aside from lacking authentic characteristics, another reason to avoid these tourist hot spots is that these areas are increasingly becoming targeted for pickpocketing, theft, scams and other crimes.
So stay clear of touristy destinations. I am a fan of and a believer in discovering your own path and finding your own adventure.
Explore off the beaten path Bali!
Believe me, there are countless breathtaking destinations remaining in Bali! There are stunning hidden beaches, sunset spots, local villages, and waterfalls that are not widely known (yet!) and you can still enjoy the quiet, peaceful Bali without the massive crowds!
If you cannot resist the temptation to see what the hype is all about, make a day trip to Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, and stay in hotels that are NOT in a city center so you can enjoy the beautiful natures around Bali.
You can check out some of my Bali guides (as I hate following the crowds myself) or hop on a scooter and go discover remote parts of the island yourself.
Sometimes blind adventures are some of the best ones 😉
5. Why You Need to Know about Nyepi
Nyepi is an annual Hindu holiday that is celebrated only on the island of Bali in Indonesia, and it is a huge event. So huge in fact, that the entire island shuts down for 24 hours.
This much-anticipated event falls in the month of March, but the exact day varies year to year, as it follows the lunar calendar.
The “Day of Silence” is meant to effect self-reflection, meditation, and seclusion. Use of power/electricity is forbidden, and some people go as far as fasting the entire day as a means of “cleansing.”
There is to be NO activity on the entire island from 6 am to 6 am.
Why should this day matter to you?
Because if you happen to be on the island on Nyepi, you will not be able to go anywhere or do anything.
All businesses are closed for 24 hours including the airport, day tours, ferries, buses, museums, beaches – everything on the island is closed.
If you happen to stay in a resort/hotel, you will have access to the property facilities – but only within its confines.
So plan your trip to Bali carefully, especially if you are thinking of visiting in March!
I think Nyepi is something you should experience at least once. It’s a fascinating celebration, especially the Ogoh Ogoh parade on the eve of Nyepi. If you ever want a REAL cultural experience, that would be one of them.
Some people intentionally try to avoid Nyepi so that they are not “stuck” on the island without any means to get out and about. But it is only 24 hours and I think the Ogoh Ogoh parade makes up for the “silent day.”
I say check it out!
6. Please don't Be THAT Tourist
Please, ladies, respect the local culture when visiting Bali.
I have seen many women sunbathing topless or in a thong – which is perfectly fine if you were in Brazil or on Miami beach.
I used to hang out on nude beaches in New York, so I personally don’t have anything against being naked. But there is a time and a place for everything. Bali is just not the place for being half naked.
Bali is predominantly Hindu, and the people are conservative and modest. You will never catch Balinese women in bathing suits – if you ever see them in the water, you will notice that they wear clothes such as T-shirts and shorts without revealing too much.
I am not suggesting that you don’t wear a bikini or cover yourself from head to toe. But as a visitor in a foreign country, you should be sensitive to your environment and acclimate accordingly.
Aside from being in the water or sunbathing in the sun, it may be wise to cover yourself up in a sarong.
If you are a solo traveler, it is even more critical that you avoid drawing attention to yourself. To travel safely is to be aware of your surroundings and make smart choices. Please be mindful and respectful of the local traditions, customs, and expectations.
If you are craving some beach time during your travels, check out Nusa islands or Gili islands nearby – these islands are your ultimate paradise, with turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches!
7. Avoid Police Fines
Renting a motorbike in Bali is easy and convenient; perhaps more so if you are traveling solo. For about Rp 60,000-70,000/day, you can have access to your own transportation without relying on someone else to drive you.
Even though you are required to possess an international license to rent a motorbike, the renter will not enforce this. Be warned, however, that if you ever get stopped by a police and you do not have an international license, you will be fined.
The police often set up roadblocks to stop unsuspecting drivers and collect fine.
If you don’t possess an international driving permit, you can obtain one online prior to your trip and have a peace of mind.
If you are new to riding scooters, seek other transportation option. The services are relatively affordable (compared to western taxi fares), and much safer than driving yourself around on a scooter, particularly around some crowded areas of Bali.
Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise every year over the last several years, and getting in a crash and risking your health (or life, for that matter) is not worth it, especially over a few bucks.
Whether or not you rent a motorbike, it is always wise to have travel insurance – I have been using World Nomads since 2013.
8. If It Seems Too Good To Be True, IT IS.
If you ever need to exchange currency, be aware.
When you walk around and compare exchange rates, you will notice a few places that stand out for offering higher exchange rate than others. Well, it’s because they are scammers.
One scam that happened to a friend went like this:
My friend “A” gave USD to “the guy” behind the counter.
“The guy” counted rupiah equivalent and placed the bills on the top of the counter for “A” to see. Then as “the guy” collected the bundle of cash and made a motion to organize the bundle on the countertop, he swiftly and sneakily dropped bills towards his side of the counter. It happened so fast that “A” did not see this action behind the counter.
When “A” returned to his hotel, he realized that the amount of rupiah in his possession did not match the exchange made at the counter.
Avoid money exchange counters that offer a higher rate than the published exchange rate (check on XE). This is a sure sign of a scam.
Always count your money on the spot, even if the other person just counted the money in front of you. Count it again yourself and confirm.
Also note that the money exchange places in Bali only accept USD bills printed after 2009.
9. Hacking the Outbound Ticket Rule
Indonesia is one of many countries that requires proof of outbound travel before entering the country. This can be a dilemma for some women who are traveling on an open ticket and do not yet have the itinerary figured out. I have been in this exact scenario many times.
Unfortunately, the airline personnel or customs agents do not care about your exciting one-way adventures. They are paid to enforce the rules.
So, what do I do to get around this?
The day of your departure to Indonesia (to be precise, within 24 hours of your arrival to Indonesia), go to Expedia and buy a ticket out of Indonesia that has a “free cancellation within 24-hours.” This feature allows you to cancel your booking within 24 hours. As soon as you arrive in Bali, cancel the booking.
When you land at DPS (Ngurah Rai International Airport), you will have immediate access to free wifi at the airport. You can cancel your booking straight away if you are cutting close to the 24-hour mark.
10. Avoid the Airport Mafia
Your initial excitement of arriving in the exotic land of Bali can quickly fade when you walk out of the International Arrivals gate.
A wave of taxi drivers starts to swarm toward you, and it can feel overwhelming especially in a jet-lag daze on foreign land.
Fear not. You can follow one of my tips and survive this mayhem without getting ripped off by the Bali Airport Taxi Group.
Or, you can hire a private driver online prior to your arrival and avoid the hassle altogether.
A private pick-up service can run higher than alternative budget options, but it does save you the stress and the aggravation.
Just to give you a comparison of estimated taxi fares:
While it is not as easy or efficient as hiring a private or airport taxi driver, it is possible to save 50-70% on your airport transfer to your hotel.
Pick up a local SIM card (it’s cheap!) at the arrival hall and read the tips included in the Guide to Bali Airport Transfer. You can easily avoid the taxi mafia and find your own transport including Blue Bird taxis at the airport!
Or you can always arrange a private pickup prior to your arrival to avoid the hassle altogether.
Final Word on Bali Solo Female Travel
More and more solo female travelers are heading to Bali for the tropical weather, endless beaches, and nomad hubs like Canggu to get their hands on some cheap and delicious smoothie bowls.
Bali is like any other travel destination for female travelers – use common sense, respect the local culture, and stay aware of your surroundings. Those tips are universal and you should always be alert, particularly as a single woman traveling.
Aside from that, all there is to for you in Bali is to have a great time! Enjoy!
Do you have any additional tips? Please feel free to share in the comments below!
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