Staying Street Smart In bali

There are a lot of scams everywhere in the world, some of which have been going on for hundreds of years. It’s a fact that tourist are easy prey, especially when they step foot on the unknown  looking lost or nervous to the local eye. I could write about every scam on earth ever created by the hungry crook in this article. The fake Blue Bird Taxis that try to charge you an arm and a leg, the taxis that charge the tourist high rates as soon as you get off the airplane, The beach vendors that charge whatever they want to make a living. in my opinion those are not scams, they’re just trying to make a living. and to be honest I have never encountered one in almost 3 years. It’s easy for us to just say, no thank you and move on. I will just jot down a few for you to be aware of.  The bottom line is, walk with confidence, know where you are going before you get on a motorbike, and if you need to open your phone for Google maps then pull over. keep an eye on your belongings and all transactions at all times. Be aware just like you would anywhere.

Buying gasoline or petrol at the gas-station.

Make sure you roll down your window and watch the attendant while they pump.Some stations will short the fuel when you are not looking, So if you give them a 100k make sure the meter says 100k before you drive off. They will fill it half way and keep 50k.


This is more of a crime than a scam but it should be something to be aware of while riding your motorbike in Bali. Recently, there have been cases of people getting their purses or phones snatched from them while riding their motorbike. These crooks are better known as  the “Jambret” which means “snatcher” in Indonesian. They prey on tourist who are caught off guard  while either navigating with their phone app, filming their journey, or taking selfies.
There have also been a number of instances of women getting their purses snatched. The Jambret will grab the strap from your purse or cut it with a knife causing their victims to crash, before they know it, their purse is gone.
I would suggest pulling over when using your phone and not extending your phone out like a baton to the Jambret. Try to resist taking selfies and try not to wear purses with straps, instead maybe wear a fanny pack under your shirt.

 Instead put your purse under the seat compartment or carry your belongings in your pocket.  So even though it takes a lot of concentration to navigate through the streets of Bali, try to always be on alert and hold on to your stuff.

Currency Exchange

Here is a old one….. you walk into a currency exchange to swap good American dollars for Rupiah. You expect to get what their sign says outside. Instead they charge you a hire rate which is normal but not the scam., (this is just a tip). Know the exchange rate before you walk into a currency exchange booth. You can bargain with them. After you agree to a good exchange rate watch the tellers hands, don’t ever look away until your money is in your hand. Then count the money twice and check it again. Tellers have been know to drop a few hundred Rupiah on the ground before handing you your money.If you notice this and tell them they will pretend like it was a accident.Sometimes damaged or invalid banknotes are passed on to tourists. Inspect the money you’re given before walking away.I personally do not accept torn money the same way they don’t. Get your money, walk away, and say thank you.

You can check online for the most up to date exchange rates but keep in mind, If you’re going to check websites like XE: The World’s Trusted Currency Authority then be sure to note, these are mid-market rates, that are NOT available to people like you or me.


Also, do not make the mistake of checking for rates in your own country before departure, those rates usually don’t matter and would most likely be bad.Also, do not look at the rates that money transfer companies offer, again, those would not be applicable to you.As someone who nearly travels all the time, I usually look at XE for purposes of getting a rough idea of what the conversion rate is, but that’s about it. After that I will usually look at what the bureau de change would be quoting in popular tourist locations in the country I am traveling to. I usually avoid doing any changes at the airport.

Unless you have a very large amounts of cash to be converted, the rates on the street, barring the hotel and airport, would most likely be the best rate you can get.

I also use an app called Elk (for iPhone only) that is extremely handy for converting between two currencies. Go for the pro version of the app.

Children Selling on the streets

I know this is a hard one to walk away from. especially when you just left your luxurious private villa to pick up a few snacks and a 22 oz.  Bintang. Children will often approach you and offer you a wide array of items for double the price they sell for at the store. With their dirty face and sad eyes, it is hard to say no, but keep in mind you are probably supporting a bad member of their family or bosses that keep them out of school and might even sell them if they don’t sell enough on the streets.

If you do wish to help local children, do so by contributing to a local organizations

Street Hawkers & Hustlers

Many visitors regard street hawkers and hustlers as the number one annoyance in Bali . Visitors are frequently, and often constantly, hassled to buy things. The worst places for this are Jl Legian in Kuta,  the Gunung Batur area, Lovina and the temples at Besakih and Tanah Lot.

Use the following tips to deflect attention.

  • Completely ignore hustlers/hawkers.
  • Don’t make any eye contact.
  • A polite tidak (no) actually encourages them.
  • Never ask the price or comment on the quality of their goods unless you’re interested in buying.

Keep in mind, though, that ultimately they’re just people trying to make a living, and if you don’t want to buy anything, you are wasting their time trying to be polite.

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Halo Bule is a community of everyday people who have fallen for the magic and the madness of this beautiful island Bali. Always continuing to find ways to protect and give back to our playground - the mountains, ocean, waves, beaches, and people that provide us so much enjoyment.
Gerald Winik
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