Should you hire a private guide while in Bali? Is it expensive? Troublesome?
The answer is Yes!
We arrived in Bali during the night. Our driver, who we had booked in advance, was waiting for us at the airport. The arrangements were made from our home via the internet two weeks before we left. The driver was the first Balinese person we’ve met. We spent our entire drive to Ubud, which took us 1 hour, talking about his country and listening to his stories about his family and everyday life.
The next day, I woke up while my family was still sleeping. I decided to take a walk. The streets were fairly empty, but when I saw someone they always smiled and sometimes even greeted me.
I was feeling good and confident. This is Bali – a beautiful and safe place. The nature there is breathtaking. No matter where you stand, chance is you’ll see a beautiful view, almost as if it wasn’t even real. So, what is the best way to see it all? The answer won’t suprise you – find a local guide. Why?
Many of us are used to right hand traffic. And so driving on the left side of the road can be challenging for us, if we want to drive a car. At the same time you should also remember that traffic in Indonesia is quite chaotic. There are no strict written rules. The general rule states that smaller vehicles should be on the lookout for the bigger ones. You can’t be startled by horns either as they help people navigate the traffic.
As a driver you may see some festivals or weddings happening on a road, and there is no app to tell you an alternative route. You have to either drive around or ask a local. Oh, and don’t forget your international licence!
2. Attending a ceremony
Ceremonies in Bali are spectacular events, like Ogoh Ogoh, parade of huge fiercely looking statues or Galungan, a festival which commemorates the battle of good and evil. Some ceremonies are not so prominent but still interesting, as every village and temple organises them.
Every ceremony is a colourful, vibrant feast. People wear elegant attire. Women are in kebaya, kamen and seledang – a fitted laced blouse, a kind of sarong and shawl. Men wear shirts, kamen, selendang and udeng, a fancy head-dress.
Balinese people are open to strangers and don’t mind if someone attends their calebration, even a cremation ceremony. But you can feel like an intruder and it would be nice to understand everything that you see. Locals can help you to feel not like an observer but like a participant. And with their guidance you can avoid making any major mistakes.
3. Looking for information
Talking to locals can teach you a lot and also provide some context. We had an opportunity to talk to our driver from the airport. This kind of conversation will show you things that are not written in books.
4. Experiencing Bali a unique way
Locals know more, it’s obvious. They know places you can’t reach reading guidebooks or blogs. Many private guides know some waterfalls hidden in the jungle or cute lone beaches, where you can spend remarkable time. Sometimes they take tourists home so they can meet their family and feel what the everyday life is.
5. Gaining friends
You spend a lot of time with your guide. Many talks, jokes and it rarely is only a client-contractor relation. You have fun together. Especially when you are climbing a mountain or surfing. Guides and drivers have professional profiles in web where they write not only about their guiding skills but about their hobbies and opinions too. So you can choose person you sense good vibes from. There is a chance that the friendship will last. I have some friends like that that I’ve met in Bali or in India.
6. Feeling safe
Bali is a safe place. People are quiet, humble and trustworthy. Everyone is smiling. But of course a bad thing always can happen. If you don’t feel confident, a trusted guide is the answer.
7. Looking for help in emergency
It’s important, especially if you travel with small children. Sudden sickness? Any special needs? No problem! You have someone friendly, informed and oriented to count on.
8. Not paying much
To hire a driver is relatively inexpensive in Bali and quality of the service is really high.