4 Bali Scams You’ll Want to Avoid
The first day I arrived in Bali, I felt prepared. I had never been to Indonesia before, so I did some research on my destination beforehand. Now that I have lived here for three months, I can say that I had no clue of what awaited me when I arrived that sunny Friday morning. The lengths some people are willing to go just to get a few extra bucks came to me as a total surprise, causing me to look like a fool more than once. If only someone had told me the real scale of tricks that I might encounter, I could’ve saved a penny or few. So here I am, sharing my wisdom with you about four Bali scams you’ll want to avoid:
1. False money exchange
I travelled to Bali through two countries and arrived with three different currencies. I wandered the streets until I found the first money exchange office. I waited for my turn, laid my money on the counter and waited for the clerk to announce the amount I would receive in the local currency. She counted the money for me, and I took the pile of rupias.
Out of an old habit, I started to count my bills before I left the counter. All of a sudden, the clerk gave me a 100k bill and said that I had dropped it. The bill that had “disappeared” was suddenly in my hands again simply because I had double checked what was mine.
At that moment, I also realized that none of the three people before me had counted their money. The old saying, “better safe than sorry” definitely applies when exchanging money on the Island of Gods. And finding a large international exchange office may help, too.
2. Nonexistent entrance fees
Normally tourist attractions have entrance fees. However, not every site in Bali has limited entrance. When we visited Ubud, we most certainly wanted to see the rice fields. Our driver parked in front of the valley where the rice fields lie, and a nice man wearing blue overalls approached, requesting a 10,000 rupia entrance fee. I smiled and kindly paid.
We started looking for the spot to enter the valley, keeping our eyes peels for some kind of sign for stairs that would lead us to the bottom. Then we noticed there were stairs everywhere with no one restricting our entry. People were able to walk in and out without paying any admission fee. Of course by that time the man was gone and so was our money. Asking a simple question like “Why?” before paying can save you a lot of trouble.
3. Lying about bills
A person taking a taxi home after a night out is a goldmine. My friend and I realized this after hailing a cab following a night out. When the cab stopped at our front door, my friend took a 100,000 bill out of her wallet and gave it to the driver in the front seat.
We were already opening the car doors when the driver turned around, showing us a 10,000 bill and demanding that we pay the full price. We were confused but after exchanging a few words between us, we handed him a 100k bill without questioning and went home.
The next morning, I mentioned the incident to my friend. His first response was laughter. In a shocked voice, he begged me to tell him that I was joking. It turns out, it’s common for a driver to switch the bill into a smaller one when you’re not looking so that you end up paying twice for the ride–which we obviously did. I learned to always say out loud the amount of money I’m paying while handing it over. By doing this, everyone in the car is aware of the number on the bill.
4. Lack of change
When you buy a product, make sure to always demand your change back. In the beginning, I didn’t bother to get my pennies back because I thought, I don’t need the small coins in my purse anyway. Then one day, I paid with a larger bill and the vendor told me he didn’t have change. I insisted on getting my change, or else I wouldn’t buy the product. After some minutes of back and forth discussion, he walked to the storage room and came out with my money.
Next time I shopped, I tried the same tactic. I demanded every coin that I was owed and noticed that one vendor after another gave me my change. One even went to the next store to get my money when he didn’t have the exact amount. Afterwards, I realized that no one actually lacked change.
Top Photo By Julien Reboulet