Over Spring Break, I was lucky enough to book a flight to Bali, Indonesia. At first, I was nervous to go to Bali. It would be my first time on my own in Asia and that thought was liberating and nerve racking. Being a child of Filipino immigrants, my parents always warned me about the scams and pickpockets that exist in Southeast Asia. Although wary of the potential dangers I could face, I felt I was savvy enough and prepared to go on the trip.
My friends and I’s first experience was awesome until it wasn’t. We landed at Denpasar wide eyed and eager to see our new environment. After meeting with our driver, we had a great meal at a fish restaurant that served Chinese style cooking. It was great; however, when we looked at the bill, it was way more expensive than we thought. Although expensive, we paid the bill without giving it a second thought. As we got back to our villa, we had a second look at the bill and apparently the restaurant overcharged us on many of the dishes we were served—a rude awakening at the reality of paradise. Over the next few weeks, I learned that scamming is very common occurrence in Bali and Southeast Asia. Although I knew scams were prevalent in Southeast Asia, I never thought I would a victim to them. Even though I ended up losing money from the original scam, I now feel like by getting scammed, I have become a more knowledgeable and sensible traveler.
Below are some tips on staying safe in Bali and avoiding scams
Be Mindful of Scams
I feel like most scammers prey on the fact that many tourists are happy go lucky, are in a new environment and are from very safe environments back home. Always be vigilant on your receipts and the bills you are given. If something is wrong and you notice it, be sure to ask and be skeptical.
Haggle for Everything
Almost everything sold in Bali can be haggled. In general, there is a tourist price and a price for locals. The tourist price often has a mark-up because tourists do not have a frame of reference for goods and services in the country. By haggling, one can almost always lower the price to something like the local price. In my own experiences, my friends and I took a boat to Nusa Penida through a local boat company. By haggling, we lowered the price to almost 40% off of the original deal. When we talked to my other friends who also bought tickets, they paid the full price.
Pat your Pockets
When I studied abroad in Germany my freshman year, my mother was constantly worried that I would lose my phone and wallet while abroad. Because of this fear, she would consistently text me “Pat pat” meaning to physically pat my pockets to make sure I have everything with me. Since then, I have been very vigilant of my stuff. This habit has followed me to this day and has been my saving grace in many occasions. When in Bali, always make sure you have all of your things. Being extra mindful of your belongings will save you from pickpockets and theft and hopefully ensures a great trip.