Travel scams to avoid in Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia is one of the most reasonable destinations that offers extravagant relaxing get-away full of beautiful temples, beaches, flavorful Balinese cuisine, dynamic Balinese culture, and surreal sunsets.

Bali is a heaven for people looking for wonderful waterfalls, jungle filled with monkeys, shopping on streets or luxurious shopping centers, or relaxing on a beach with a drink in their grasp. Additionally, there are numerous adventurous activities one can do here.

With all that being said, Bali also has a different side to it. With Bali being one of the destinations that draw in millions of tourists, it is simultaneously known to draw just as many scammers and travel scams.

It is just as easy for us to fall victim to these scams so, it is always good to acquire some knowledge ahead of time. We all love to believe that it will never happen to us but we never know when we might fall prey to a costly scam.

In order to ensure that our trip remains just the way it is, we need to stay alert as there are quite a few scams to watch out for. So, knowing about a few of the most common travel scams in Bali might save us some money, frustration, and disappointment.

Also, I have no intention of scaring you away from visiting this amazing destination and most of the people that you encounter on your trip here are actually genuine and helpful. However, you must always be careful of the goons.

Just know about these travel scams in Bali and you will be fine!

1.Fake bluebird taxis

Bluebird Taxi Company in Bali has developed a good reputation in the transportation sector. The other taxi companies and drivers replicate this companies’ logo and also paint their taxis blue in order to fool tourists. They do this in order to benefit from this company as travelers prefer these taxis over the regular ones.

The official bluebird taxi drivers clearly display their identification cards, dress up in a blue patterned shirt that has the Bluebird logo on it and they also take you on the meter without having to say. However, you will find the same characteristics being copied by the other fake drivers and pretend to be from that very company. The only thing that they do differently is they do not agree to take you on a meter.

Whatever be, don’t just randomly hop into any taxi at the airport because this is one of the most prevalent travel scams in Bali. To add, some of the taxi drivers have mastered the art of avoiding the use of meter in order to ridiculously over-charge their customers. Some, on the other hand, have altered their meters to run faster therefore, in order to avoid this scam, keep an eye on it.

2.Currency exchange scams

It is shocking to witness how the staff at the currency exchange in Bali have mastered the art of skimming the notes. They are experts at the sight of the hand. You might think that you are getting the right value for your money as they also boast that they take no commission or fees for the exchange but do not trust them!

These currency exchange shops display and advertise an attractive deal outside of their stalls on the main street. Now, how this exactly works is they count the money in front of us and it appears as if we are getting all the money. However, they have the tendency to drop some notes behind the desk without you noticing. And with a thick stack of notes, we do not bother to count the money. Plus, even if we do count and find the mistake, they can easily apologize.

Some staffs also insert damaged and invalid banknotes in the middle. Some are also famous for picking pockets by drawing customer’s attention to the calculator. Therefore, stay alert and always inspect and count the money that you receive before leaving the counter.

An alternative to this is using ATMs that are available just about anywhere. Unlike other destinations, Bali is popular for having reasonable ATM fees and many banks have no fees at all. Also, international transaction fees are as low as one percent.

3.Fake police travel scam

The police in Bali strictly state everyone to follow all the traffic rules and it is the right thing to do. It is good to always follow all the traffic rules such as carrying a driving license, putting on a helmet, and keeping the speed limit.

Regardless, the officers have the tendency to stop the tourists even when we are wearing a helmet. They additionally ask for our driving license, and even if you show them the international license, they say that it isn’t valid in Indonesia. In this situation, you are bound to pay some money to the policeman on the spot.

On top of this, you might also have an encounter with fake ones. What they do is wear a fake uniform and they stop you in order to get some money for themselves.

If you, unfortunately, meet such a situation, just pretend to not understand the language and start blabbering in your language. If this trick fails, you could just show them a small amount of cash as there is no fixed fine and they charge you according to the money they see.

4.Entrance fees and guides

Don’t believe everything you are told in Bali as in a lot of instances people will ask you to pay an entrance fee to enter a temple or a tourist spot even when there is no entry fee. These people are not associated with the place so, always research if you need to pay in order to enter a certain spot.

This scam also includes scammers trying their best to be your free guides. But avoid this because at the end of the tour they will insist on a tip or a donation. You will also be taken to an expensive souvenir shop and they will convince you to get some stuff as they earn a commission from these supposedly authentic souvenir shops.

5.Scooter and surfboard rental travel scams

Scooter scam is one of the travel scams that are prevalent all over Southeast Asia and Indonesia is no exception. Scooter renting shops might cause you to land into a lot of problems.

They charge you for already existing scratches and damage on their scooter. Some also let the air out of the tire when you are away and ask you to pay for a flat tire. Worst case scenario, some vendors have a spare key and they secretly retrieve their scooter when the traveler has parked it somewhere and claims that it has been stolen.

In order to avoid this scam, always take a picture of the scooter before you take it for a ride so that you can use it as proof that the damage existed beforehand. Just to be on the safe side, avoid hiring a scooter or a surfboard from a street shop; rather ask for your hotel to arrange one for you.

6.Additional parking fees

Another scam that Bali is famous for is tourists having to pay for parking. Bali has lately become a popular destination among travelers and has been drawing millions of travelers. In this scenario, parking has become really competitive and this situation has been misused by a lot of scammers.

At a lot of popular sites, visitors are asked to pay for parking when there is actually no parking fee. Scammers usually set up a chair in such an area and collect parking fees from visitors so, be careful about this scam.

7.Sarongs additional fee

In Southeast Asia, we give immense respect to our culture, religion, tradition, and cultural sites. So, it is quite obvious that we need to dress appropriately in order to enter these religious sites. What appropriate means here is covering our legs and shoulders.

Similarly, temples in Bali require all the visitors to cover their legs and shoulders. If we don’t dress up adequately, we will be asked to drape a sarong. The sarong that we get is free of cost but some shop keepers and stalls charge you for this.

I myself have fallen victim to this so be careful and be reluctant to paying anything for the sarongs. The best way to avoid this kind of travel scams is to dress appropriately.

Another scam you will face at a religious site is locals asking you to purchase some things from vendors to pray. But it is optional, so affably leave if you have no interest.

8.Guides taking to overpriced places for commission

The tourist guides and taxi drivers are those people who we trust on our trip. Some do their job right but at the time of our meal, these tour guides and taxi drivers take us to the eateries that belong to their friends and they make a commission out of it.

The same goes for buying souvenirs. They insist on getting some souvenirs back home and claim that they are authentic when they are not. They just use this method in order to scam us and make money out of it.

I have gone through such an experience myself during my trip to Kintamani. The drive took us for the view of Kintamani Volcano Mountain which is also popular for its lunch with a view of Lake Batur and Mount Batur. However, the place demands you to pay 13 USD per person for the buffet and there is just no alternative to that.

9.Arak scam

One of the most dangerous scams in Bali is switching alcohol in drinks for Arak. Arak is a clear, home-distilled spirit in Indonesia that is used in the bars and restaurants to increase the profit margins in alcohol.

These Araks are cheaply produced and the batches are contaminated with Methanol which is proven dangerous for our health. Reports have shown that a lot of deaths in Indonesia are caused by Arak. It is so dangerous that even little Arak can cause blindness, kidney failure, organ damage, or even death.

On the other hand, it is very disturbing to know that this scam is a secret as tourists are a major source of Bali’s economy and alcoholic drinks contribute to the economy in a vital manner.

Now that we know about this scam, the best way to avoid it is by sticking to non-alcoholic drinks. If you have to get a drink go for a beer instead.

10.High prices for tourists travel scams

We understand that vendors work really hard and they have the right to charge the amount that they find appropriate for a particular item. But that does not take away from the fact that it is not ethical to charge way more when it comes to a foreigner. There is a perception among vendors that if we can afford a trip to Bali then we can afford to pay a huge amount for any item. Well, that is not the case.

With this misconception, tourists are charged 50 dollars for a bag that looks like it’s worth 10 dollars. We understand that haggling is a thing in Southeast Asia but, there is such a great margin that we do not bother to haggle even once.

If you really like the item then the best thing you can do is see that stuff in a lot of other shops and compare the prices. Then at the cheapest shop, you might give a go at haggling.

Along with these popular travel scams, Bali has other scams that you should be careful of.

-A lot of hotels are popular for stealing guest’s property so, take proper care of your belongings.

-In case of renewal of your room, even if you had booked your room online, you will be charged a walk-in rate in some cases.

-Most restaurants only offer cash so, carry enough cash. Also, those accepting credit cards charge you an extra 3-5% service charge thus, skip this.

-Locals also pose as police and ask for your passport and when you hand it over they demand some money in order to hand it back to you so, firmly refuse such requests.

-Some airport porters are popular to overcharge so, be careful.

-Another significant scam in Bali is drugs. At night, locals try to sell you magic mushroom and say it is legal but it isn’t and in Bali, drug possession will give you years in prison so, stay away from it.

It’s a wrap!

So that is it! I hope you understood how locals in Bali try to scam visitors. What do you think of the list? Also, do let me know in the comments below if you have had encounters with such scams and scammers.