8 common scams in Bali + how to avoid them
Discover the most common scams in Bali and how to avoid them, so you can enjoy your trip to Indonesia.
Anyone who has been subjected to a scam knows how it feels. That humiliating feeling that someone managed to fool you good and now laughs at your expense. And the frustration that you can’t do anything about it.
You feel like a moron.
No matter where you go, there will be scammers trying to rip you off. They are smart. They know all your weak spots. And while some scams have been around forever, others are new and so clever that you won’t even see them coming.
I’ve been scammed on some of my trips because I underestimated the lengths these people would go for a few pennies. When I came to Bali alone however, I was laser focused and constantly on guard, which helped me spot these scamming douchebags from afar.
No one wants to get scammed, but if you know what to look for, you can better avoid it!
I hope with this post to show you the most common Bali scams so you can be prepared and actually enjoy your vacation. Bali is a gorgeous island, but it’s surely not without its flaws.
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How to avoid scams in Bali
Below, I’ll share some useful tips on how to avoid scams in Bali. Knowing the common scams and the methods used by scammers can help you to be better prepared and more aware of your surroundings during your trip.
- Always agree on a price before you buy something, get into a taxi or drink/eat something in a shop
- You are not required to be polite to someone who won’t leave you alone or demands a donation
- Don’t let anyone bully you into giving them money. It’s your money, just tell them no.
- Hold on to your belongings in crowded places to avoid pickpocketing
- Don’t provide personal information (hotel, name, etc.) to strangers
Read next: 27 essential travel safety tips everyone should know
💸 Bali travel insurance
I highly recommend having travel insurance because let’s be real — the last thing you want on your trip is for accidents to get in the way.
I recommend Safety Wing — they offer affordable prices, great coverage, and a reliable 24/7 on-call service.
The most common Bali scams
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common tourist traps in Bali to watch out for. Awareness is key to staying safe and avoiding bad experiences – so let’s dig in and check out the worst scams in Bali.
Read next: 10 common travel scams and how to avoid them
1. Airport scams
Arriving in a new country can be confusing, and the porters at Denpasar airport know this all too well. At the carousel, they will take your bag and insist on carrying it for you through the airport. You’re tired and pleasantly surprised by the free help, but at the exit, they demand high amounts of money.
The actual fee for a porter is 2,000 rupiah (20 cents) and the trolleys are free, so if you want help with your luggage, make sure to agree on the price beforehand.
Another typical airport scam in Bali is overcharging the taxi fare outside the airport terminal. My advice? Pre-book an airport pickup.
That way you’ll avoid the hassle with taxi drivers and different companies trying to sell you their services. Your driver will stand in the arrival hall holding a sign with your name on it. Most hotels also offer airport pickup as a service.
2. Corrupt police pull-overs
The police in Bali is notorious for pulling over tourists to earn a little extra. Even though you haven’t done anything wrong, they will give you a ticket and tell you to come down to the police station or pay it on the spot which will be cheaper.
You deal with it by carrying a 50,000 rupiah note in your pocket, and if you get stopped by the police, don’t show them your wallet – just hand over the 50,000 bill. Most times that will do.
3. Fake taxis
Like most other places in Asia, the taxi drivers are notorious for scamming tourists. You can find the most common taxi scams here, but in Bali they take it to another level.
Bali has one reliable and professional taxi company called Blue Bird Group taxis. They always display identification and use the meter. They also dress professionally.
However, other taxis and fake drivers know all about this, so they’re trying to look like them to scam you. They paint their cars blue and use a similar blue bird logo and sticker.
To avoid this, download the Blue Bird taxi app, which works a lot like Uber in Bali. If you’re hailing a car at the airport or the road, always ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter.
Again, I'm a huge fan of private drivers in Bali, because it's so cheap, convenient and hassle-free. With a private driver you can make your own itinerary - you decide when and where to go.
4. Unlicensed and overcharging guides
At the temples in Bali, hustlers will try to convince you to hire them as a tour guide. But the man approaching you is most likely not a licensed guide and he will overcharge you.
They’re not all straight forward. Some of them will walk next to you and just start chatting in a friendly manner, but then later they’ll demand a donation.
This particular scam is popular at Besakih temple, which I’ll share more about below.
5. Currency scams
This Bali tourist trap is known anywhere on the island.
This is how it goes: Most locals will say 10 when they in fact mean $10 which can easily lead to confusion. If you’re at a market, they will shout out “10 for this T-shirt”. You’ll ask if they mean rupiah, they nod, and if you decide to buy it, they will wrap it up and ask for $10. I saw this several times and tried it myself in Ubud.
The whole point of this is to make you feel uncomfortable and pay up, but you shouldn’t be afraid to point out the misunderstanding and walk away!
Wrong place to do this – not that there’s a right place. Indonesia has death penalty for drug traffickers plus huge fines and long jail sentences for those caught with as little as a few ecstasy pills.
Expect to be offered magic mushroom and other drugs in tourist areas and night clubs, but assume that such offers come from people trying to get you arrested. Street dealers are often working with the police.
7. Dangerous arak drinks
This scam is particularly dangerous.
See, a common Bali scam is to switch clear spirits, like vodka, with arak – a local “moonshine” that’s cheap to make and therefore often contains methanol. Methanol is extremely dangerous as it can cause organ damage, kidney failure, blindness, and even death in some cases.
Several people have died from drinking arak-spiked cocktails in Bali and Gili Trawangan. As little as 10 ml can cause blindness.
So, my advice is to always ask if your drink contains arak (although bars are likely to just say no) or simply avoid mixed drinks all-together and stick to beer.
8. Temple scams in Bali
If you visit one of the temples in Bali, watch out for the notorious temple scams.
Most times, the scam is about donations. They will ask you for a donation, show you how much everyone else has paid (which are often huge sums!) and then intimidate or trick you into paying because you’re led to think it’s mandatory. If you refuse, they will shame and guilt-trip you.
I tried this and it was super uncomfortable, which you can read about below.
How I was almost scammed in Bali
I went to Bali as a solo traveler and visited Besakih temple with a private driver. I’d been looking forward to exploring this temple as it is one of the largest and most important temples in Bali and everyone had spoken highly of it.
After paying the entrance fee, they showed me to a small room with four local men and a so-called ‘temple guardian’. He informed me that I couldn’t enter without a guide and that I had to pay the donation to him. He then showed me a book with names, nationalities and how much everyone had donated.
There were amounts of up to $100!
When I saw those insane figures, I knew it was a scam. No one in their right mind would donate that much to a tourist attraction unless they had been tricked into it! I wanted to pay the guide for his time, so I put down 100,000 INR ($8) – the lowest amount – on the list.
The temple guardian (whom from now on will be called the scammer) glared up at me and snorted his disapproval….
THE SCAMVERSATION Scammer: [Looks offended] That is not enough, miss. You have to pay as much as everyone else. Me: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said this was a do-na-ti-on? Scammer: Yes, yes, miss. It is a donation. Up to you. Me: Fine. Then I will donate 100,000. Scammer: Nooo, miss. That is not enough. You are not very generous. But up to you. I don't want to pressure you. Me: [Slams the 100,000 note on the table] Then don't! [End of awkward dialog]
Obviously, these men and the small room was the perfect setup to intimidate me, and I can see how they could have scammed all these other people.
I was assigned a guide and when the tour was halfway through, he had the nerve to ask me for yet another donation, which I flat-out refused. I left Besakih temple early and unimpressed.
How to deal with scammers
The best way to call a scammer’s bluff is to pay attention.
Most times you can figure it out just by listening to what they say. Like the Besakih scam – he tells me that I have to pay a donation, but as we all know: donations are voluntary. In other words: you don’t have to donate anything if you don’t want to!
Don’t feel intimidated
These people are trained to make you feel uncomfortable. They know that asking for a donation or tricking you to buy something will make you feel unease and they take advantage of it. You should never be afraid to walk away or say “no”.
Don’t feel obliged to be nice. Be firm. Call their bluff.
If the scammer threatens to call the police, just beat him to it! Walk towards a crowd and raise your voice. He will be out of there in no time.
Always use your intuition
Dealing with Bali tourist traps is a pain, and most times calling their bluff is enough for them to stop. However, you should always, always read the room before you react. Although scammers are after your money, you never know what type of person is standing in front of you; if he’s desperate or aggressive.
So, use common sense and your intuition to choose the best approach. If it’s a corrupt police officer, use extra caution.
Stay safe ♡
Have you been scammed in Bali? How did you react?
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- How to Plan a Yoga Retreat in Bali
- 10 most popular temples in Bali you have to visit
- How to spend 3 days in Ubud – Itinerary for first timers
- Tips for visiting the notorious Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali
Thanks for the post, Miriam. Tak Tak! I’ve had my share of avoidable and unavoidable scams too. In many places you should definetely call their bluff, but in some places you shouldn’t for your own safety. Cool blog by the way. Chris
Selv tak, Chris 🙂 You’re absolutely right about using caution. Some of these people are dangerous, corrupt or involved with the police so it is important to be sensitive. Thanks for the advice!
I have to admit I got scammed while changing money in Bali, we had just come off the plane and was totally caught off guard. The police were in on it too!
Thanks for sharing, Becky. I think we all have been scammed one way or the other at some point. The money changing scam is definitely also one to look out for in Bali and as Chris mentioned, it probably won’t be advisable to make a scene if the police was in on it, too! I hope you got out of it alright.
I’m glad I have not been scammed when visiting Bali last time :). I’m too smart for that, but thanks a lot for great tips x
Ha, I’ll be able to say the same next time 🙂 Thanks for reading x
I remember quite a few times that the police in Bali set up road blocks. Everyone knows they are looking for payoffs. Beware the end of the month.
They should be ashamed of themselves – thanks for the warning, Linda! I hope you weren’t caught up in their scam.
I’ve gotten sacmmed more than a few times by cabbies … I always to take a meter cab when I can!
I’m sorry to hear that, Ian. That sucks. Cab drivers are some of the worst scammers and it’s so easy to get tricked. As you mention, it’s always a great idea to ask them to turn on the meter or simply agree on a price before you get in. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for this 🙂 If you travel more you will learn recognize a scam. As everyone I had my share as well – in Tunisia we bought some sort of clay jugs from a lovely old man… and later we found out we paid a fortune. Haha, it was on first day of our 2-weeks stay. But you live and learn 🙂
Oh that’s a classic. Scams usually happen at the beginning of a trip so that’s when we all need to pay extra attention. I hope you didn’t give him too much 🙂
I hate that. So glad you stood your ground. They seriously think they can take advantage of tourists and it’s so wrong! Thanks for the great post – haven’t yet been to Bali but I’ll keep this in mind!
Me too, Meg! I’m really ticked off that people take advantage of tourists like that.
Great advice Miriam, while in Bali I was offered ‘something’ by the dodgy drug dealers nearly everytime we went out on the streets. I simply had to keep saying no. We also found that there are certain areas where unlicensed taxi drivers run a little bit of a mafia whereby they don’t let the legit Bluebird taxis into an area so we were trying to negotiate down from $20 fares from some secluded beaches! It’s quite sad that some of the locals simply see tourists as someone to scam and deceive… 🙁
Thanks, Andrew! That’s so sad. I met several travelers, mostly guys, who got offered drugs in Bali and Gili. Considering the penalty, I’m surprised that anyone dare to say yes!
This is really good advice. Going to Bali soon so this is very helpful.
I’m glad to help, Rafal! Scams are definitely something to be aware of in Bali – especially around airports, touristy places and temples.
Researching potential honeymoon spots and while it would not scare off Bali for a second, it just goes to show that no matter where you go, even paradise, there are going to be a few bad apples out there looking to ruin it. I have been burned by not agreeing on a price first many times, and just keep on forgetting the next time, hopefully this serves as my final reminder, lo. Great post!
Yeah, scammers are everywhere – especially in paradise. But it definitely helps to know what to look out for!
I was totally scammed by my driver… because he knew I was desperate. I was traveling alone with my baby and it’s really hard to find a driver with a carseat! He overcharged me on multiple occasions and I just grit my teeth and took it, but still tipped him in hopes of buying his loyalty.
At the end of the trip, it kinda paid off. My debit card got stolen and there was a miscommunication with my hotel (still iffy. I think they were supposed to pay for my airport transportation). I was short cash. The driver kept telling me I had to pay him more. I gave him the amount I would’ve tipper him anyway (3/4 of the charge) and said “you overcharged me for the tour and for my husband’s transportation and I’ve tipped you over 300,000 rupiah over the last week. That should cover the charge.”
He seemed really grateful after that and we parted on good terms. I think I just had to be direct
The taxi drivers are the worst and you definitely have to be firm! I’m sorry you got scammed, but glad to hear it worked out. In the end, all that matters is how you feel about the situation. I recently paid a taxi driver in Russia $3 more than I should have, only because he had great humor and made me laugh when we argued about the price.
Quite a shame, really! It’s such a beautiful place and especially reading about scams in temples annoys me! But then, Indonesia is quite infamous for being corrupt, so you can never rely on the police forces here.
Since I am half-indonesian myself, I never got into any scams, but all of my friend who have been there have made plenty of experiences with those. My mom (born and bred in Jakarta) said, she’s never met an honest Indonesian police man.
Bali is still one of my favorite places on this planet, though.
Thank you for your very honest comment, Michelle. I love Bali too, despite the corruption and scams. I think every country has a less attractive side, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid visiting. We just need to know what to look out for.
Yes i totally agree. Even though i live in Bali (im aussie by the way) and see corruption on regular basis. I still love indo and there is some beautiful people in your country.
It was our second day in Bali and we visited at temple. We were a family of 6 and a ‘tour guide’ decided to show us around and we assumed it was free until he told us he needed payment once we had finished at the temple. He became very pushy when we explained to him that we didn’t want to pay for a guided tour as nothing had been said when we first arrived and would have been happy just to wander the temple by ourselves. We quickly learnt to be aware of being scammed.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Chelsea. Unfortunately this is a common scam, not just in Bali but also the rest of Asia. I think we’ve all fallen for it at one point, but at the same time it helps us remember what to look out for in the future.
There was a new scam on our trip last year. Immigration were keeping arrivals cards with names and hotel details and passing them on to scammers who then phone your hotel and tell you “you have been selected for a special prize…..”. We just had the one call, we told them they were scamming and hung up the phone.
Nothing to stop me going back to Bali though.
Wow, they just keep coming up with new scams! I’m glad it didn’t ruin your trip or your will to return. Bali really is an amazing place and it’s such a shame if these scammers keep people from visiting or having a great stay there. Thanks for sharing your experience, Jan.
I have live in Bali for 5 years and traveled pretty much most of Indo. I can honestly say that Bali is “king for scams” it a constant here, one must be on guard all the time. Sometimes i get so tired of it, but that’s life here.I think for me its the corruption by authorities that sets the standard. Whilst your law makers are scamming people, why not everyone else then. Pick pocketing and grabbing a females bag especially but males on a motor bike has increased so much, i hear about this constantly.
It’s a real problem that there are so many scams in Bali, and it’s the ‘scammiest’ place after India! My only hope is that people will know what to look out for before visiting so they won’t have their vacation ruined. It would be such a shame if people stopped visiting because of this.
Great advice! Honest people are often too embarrassed to make a fuss, even though they suspect things are not quite right.
I guess if you use the maxim “If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t” you’ll not go too far wrong.
Exactly, and that’s how the scammers take advantage. In these places we just have to be extra weary!
Great article. It’s funny… I’ve never been to Bali, but reading through this it becomes obvious that these sorts of scams are now universal all over the world! I’ve been targeted for the exact same scams in India, Thailand and other countries. Just today I wrote my own blog about how to not fall prey to taxi scams in the Philippines! I was asked for a donation at an Indian temple recently where the guy even knew the exchange rate of the Australian dollar and tried to guilt me about how “little money” my offer was in my own country… Unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse at times.
Although you’re right, you can’t be intimidated and need to stand your ground. The more tourists who succumb to these scams, the worse it gets for everyone else!
Thanks for sharing this!
It seems that SE Asia has the most and possibly worst scams. There are lots in Thailand too, but so far I’ve experienced the worst ones in India. I don’t think they’ll ever go away, but we can learn how to avoid them. That must be the first step.
hi thank you for your post, I am planning on a going to Bali next summer. I was in Thailand this summer and whilst in Bangkok I got scammed by an Indian fortune teller. Luckily I only handed over 8 dollars but he wanted much more…in the region of 20-30 dollars. When I refused he proceeded to tell me I had been cursed by a lady and that he could remove the curse and became really insisant and quite aggressive in nature when I walked away. How awful that people will go to such length, initially I was left really upset. Mainly because I felt so silly as to put myself into that situation. I pretty much have zero tolerance for things of this nature now.
I know exactly what you mean! I had a similar experience in India where an alleged holy man first lured me to tell about my family to bless them and then afterwards he and his companion tried to bully me into paying up. This is the worst scam I’ve experienced, because it got so personal, and it’s also the reason why I – like you – have zero tolerance for these kind of people.
We are planning a trip to Bali soon. Reading about all these scams kind of scared me. The funny thing is I have been living in India for the past year and visited Thailand last winter. So, if I can handle it here and Thailand with no major issues I will be fine. I’m so glad you mentioned the comparison. I feel so much better about the Bali trip now. 🙂
Bali is nothing compared to the scams in India so I’m sure you’ll be fine! 🙂 Just know that they’re there, especially around temples and public places (airports, etc.).
Have a great trip!
I’m starting to plan my trip for November 2016. I’ve been eyeing Australia, New Zealand, & Indonesia. This is one of the first articles I’ve come across. As a hispanic male (with darker skin) with a thick beard, I found for the most part people to have left me alone when I went backpacking around Europe this year. I can only imagine that I would stick out like an outsider in Indonesia and feel nervous/sad about the culture of scamming there. I think I’m rather socially aware/street smart but hearing that police, exchange rate employees, and taxi cab drivers are so pushy makes me feel like I would have “no chill” with them and just get verbally loud with them lol.
This article is super helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. 🙂
You’re welcome, Enrique! 🙂
You shouldn’t put up with scammers or shady taxi drivers, but be cautious when dealing with officials, especially in Indonesia. They won’t think twice about hauling you to jail! I absolutely LOVE Southeast Asia, but scams are a big thing there and they’re almost impossible to avoid. Stay on your marks and be aware of taxi drivers and around touristy places.
Scams shouldn’t keep you from visiting, though. There are dangers everywhere, but they are easily avoided if you know what to look out for. You’ll have a great time in Indonesia, it’s amazing!
I have been to bali last year and I observed all these points you have mentioned here, One more thing was that d tourist guide we hired was also scammer. She had wasted our two days n was least interested in showing us places, rather took us to some places n insisted to buy things.. Like coffee , wooden stuff, paintings n all..
Ugh, that’s so annoying, I hope it didn’t ruin your vacation. Bali is just one of those places where you have to watch out for scammers everywhere. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
I got scammed into buy a 100K sarong (it is really nice) at a lesser traveled temple. Of course afterwards the ticket lady led me into the back entrance of a better temple for free.
Related question – What is an acceptable rate to pay for a local guide? Preferably in IDR/hr since I do a lot of hiking. I don’t mind paying (when a local guide is helpful) but would like to pay a fair price.
Hey Kirk, it depends on where you’re going and where your starting point is. From Ubud, you should be able to find a guide/driver for 350.000-400.000 IDR per day. Remember to negotiate the price, and try to find a guide who’s also a driver, so you don’t have to pay for both.
Major turn offs
Word. But that’s the reality in many countries.
Thanks Miriam for the post. I think we were almost scammed at a Maliaboro market in Yogyakarta. Now that I look back at it, it seems like a combination of tee shirt and some “other” scam. So this rather persuasive guy approached us in the middle of the market while we were looking at some tee-shirts. He told us that there were some students from Sumatra , Bali displaying some tee shirts. He escorted us to a shop which we thought was safe considering it was in a crowded market. Once in the shop this guy showed us a poster pointing upstairs. My partner had almost reached the top of the stairs when a lady started closing the shutter of the shop. This would mean we would have been locked in. Thankfully, I raised my voice and asked my partner to come down. And we got out of the shop. We don’t know what this could have led to.
I suppose any offer from a stranger that’s too good to be true should be viewed with suspicion.
That definitely sounds suspicious! As a rule of thumb, I never go to the backroom or upstairs of a market store because these places are usually shady. You did the right thing by getting out of the shop. One can never be too careful!
hi, even another common scan is to create fake website, in france, a lot of them are created in bali, trying to take your bank account and other thing. But when you see the website is in bali , you know something get wrong.
Thanks for the tip, Bernard! I hadn’t heard of this particular scam so I’m glad you’re sharing it.
I had long heard about the Besakih temple scam and opted to leave out this beautiful place due to the scammers there during my visit at Bali. Even my driver warned me about the place. What a shame! But overall Bali is a friendly place and I would not let these scammers spoilt my beautiful memories of the place!
Very true! Bali is a beautiful place and luckily there are many other (and more beautiful) temples there!
Been to Bali many many times yes all of the above has happened to me and more not listed – such as my Verry costly laptop stolen by a cleaning lady hired by the family where I was staying , it locked it in a linen closet hidden I between sheets myself and her were the only two with a key. Nothing was done , she was not arrested .
That’s terrible, gT! I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you 🙁
We got scammed by a rude and obnoxious unwanted guide at the mother temple.
Sad that some people must ruin others experiences in this magical place.
I know exactly what you mean. It seems so fake and double-standard to scam people at the country’s holiest place. I’m sorry it happened to you, Francis.
Excellent write up and some great advice. You just have to have your wits about you and read up on some advice like this before heading to Bali. For every type of scam service there is in fact a genuine service nearby… you just need to find out which are trustworth and which to avoid x
Had the same experience in Besakih and did the same as you. Left a very bad impression and spoiled the trip. When you get to the temple there are women who pressurise you into buying offerings. They are unnecessary. If you do choose to buy them, they will sell you a bag each but there are 2 in a bag.
Sorry to hear about your experience, Andrew. Scams are always uncool, but they’re just ten times worse when done in a holy place.
Hi, We have experienced the same thing in Besakih, the place is so famous for scams, actually. First they tried to sell us expensive sarongs, but we told them we have ours. Then they told us it is not allowed for tourists to enter without a guide, but we said it is a nonsense, because it is a sacred place and everyone can enter. We were sure we were not going to pay for the guide as it is a temple and everyone can visit it. So they tried to make a scene that I am not dressed properly which was not true, but we put more clothes on. Finally we just agreed on giving him a dollar or two so he stopped bothering us.
It is really annoying and I wouldn’t be surprised if tourists will stop to go there, if this continues. Hopefully they will control this somehow in the future.
Maybe that would be the only and best way for them to learn. But hopefully it doesn’t have to come to that.
I was just in Bali! I highly recommend a cross body purse and if you are walking close to the street, put your purse on the inside of the sidewalk or hold it in front of you. Also, watch texting on sidewalks. The bikers snatched a phone right out of one of our friends hands. Still a great country to visit despite the scams!
Thanks so much for your input, Ashley. I really appreciate it! The phone tip is particularly helpful since so many of us walk and text these days.
Very informative and helpful information. Thanks for sharing it with us, Miriam 🙂
You’re welcome, Val. I’m so glad you found it helpful 🙂
This is really good advice. Going to Argentina soon so this is very helpful.
Have a great trip to Argentina!
This is awesome advice. I was wondering, when guides talk to you, do most speak some English?
Glad you found it helpful, Ashley! Most speak English, but if you book a guide at the entrance you should always make sure that his English is good.
What incredible advice – in the article, and in the comments. I almost didn’t click through to here from Pinterest, but I’m really glad I did. I’m heading to Bali in a couple weeks for the first time, and now I’ll know to prepare myself and be on high alert. Probably won’t visit that temple after reading everyone’s experiences, unfortunately.
Great to hear that, Krista!
I wouldn’t say you shouldn’t to Besakih, though – it’s the biggest and most important temple in Bali after all (although some of the others are more impressive, if you ask me). Now you’re aware of the scams and how people behave there so you are prepared. I wasn’t, and that’s why my trip was ruined.
I visited Bali(seminyak) Aug 2017. i went to a money exchanger who offered me quite a good exchange rates.I got exchanged $500.Exchanger counted notes in front of me and handed over to me for counting,I counted myself the amount was OK.Exchanger asked me to hand him over the bundle of notes for putting in an envelope.he tossed the notes on the table two to three times corrected the notes,put these in the envelope and handed me over.Once I came back to my hotel,I started counting the amount again.To my surprise almost 25% amount was less.I immediately rushed to police station which was not far away from my hotel.Police man took out his bike and on my guidance we entered money Exchangers shop,who handed over my $500 without asking a single question.I asked Exchanger to give me the remaining amount in local currency I don’t want $, I need local currency to which he state away refused. I critically examined his table which had thin slot from where the deficient notes go into his hidden chamber.Exchanges use new Notes so that these could slip down easily.
He really knew what he was doing! I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that the police was so helpful and that the scammer actually paid you back. Way to go, Ikram!
Had a similar experience back in 2015/16. The fake exchange shops tempt you with really good rates and count on you being careless, especially when in larger sums. The only reason I got suspicious was that the guy insisted on counting the notes three times in front of me, then asking if it is ok. After handing over the local currency to me I thought it was weird and started to count the notes myself. He literally grabbed the money from my hands and insisted that he made the count. After about 3 rounds of this when he saw that I insist on counting myself, he just gave my money back and said he doesn’t want to exchange anymore.
I was on really good terms with the hotel, and the manager guided me to the nearby local bank with realistic exchange rates. Everything was fine and processed in less than 15 minutes. Just go to the local banks, and if something is too good to be true, it usually isn’t.
It happened to us last year! Just as soon as we got off the plane, the taxi driver asked us for 750,000IDR, for transportation from airport to ubud. Then when we arrived at the hotel he’s asking for 950,000IDR! Imagine? Then we asked the hotel representative how much is the fare from airport to the hotel and they said maximum fare with gas and all the fees is 350,000IDR only! I was so upset.
I’m so sorry to hear that, Era! Those scammers got so much nerve you almost can’t believe it. I hope it didn’t ruin too much of your trip or your overall impression of Bali.
Fantastic thread, thanks to Miriam and all the commenters for sharing experiences. We’re planning a trip there now and feel much better equipped to deal with situations now.
I’m so glad to hear that, David. That’s exactly what I aspired to do with this blog post. All the best to you, and have a great trip to Bali.
Scammers are in every tourist destination. Recently went to Egypt and got scammed multiple times! Some I realised while there and some I realised after coming back home! First of all after paying for the whole tour to a tour agent, our guide and and driver still expected tips! The camel owners at Memphis quickly grabbed us when we walked nearby for a photo shot and later demanded atrocious amount of payment! I and my hubby practically got scammed everyday for the 10 days that we were there! The worst was the perfume sellers that sold us a few bottles of perfume for usd400 and We find out it is not actually pure 100% fragrance oil like he claimed. Unfortunately, we realised it only after coming back home and unpacking the bottles! Such scammers! Make me feel so foolish. Anyway, thanks for this post as I’m going to Bali this September. At least, I can try my best to be not made a dummy there!
Hi Priya, I’m so sorry to hear about your experience in Egypt! I’ve heard the scammers there are really aggressive 🙁
You shouldn’t feel stupid though, just learn from your mistakes. We have all been scammed at some point so we’re in the same boat. In Bali you should be careful around the temples and expect people to ask for tips and donations like in Egypt. But just stand your ground and say no! Also, be vary at markets and always negotiate the price before buying.
I’m sure you know what to look for now. Take care and have a great trip to Bali.
Thank you for pinning this on Pinterest! My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon there and are hoping that 2 weeks will be enough as we want to visit north and south bali, lambok and gili islands. Do you have any tips for avoiding scammers for booking the fast boats? I read somewhere that it’s best to NOT book your fat boat online before we get there as there’s fake websites. And then is it pretty easy to find a driver to take us from north to south?
These scammer tips help A LOT!!! Thank you!!
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding – how amazing for you! 🙂 Bali is a great place for a honeymoon, very romantic!
My advice is to book the fast boat or ferry once you get there (or ask your hotel for help beforehand). I got my hotel to book the ticket and driver for a very small fee and I think it was worth it!
Once you get to Gili remember to confirm your return ticket one day before you leave (I think it’s one day, but you should better check!). It’s very important in order to get a seat.
Have a great trip!
Wow, this is real, good and valuable information. God bless you for putting this together for us.
Aw, thank you so much! I’m glad you found it helpful.
I thank you for your post. I have been dreaming of going to Bali for a couple of years now. After reading your post and others comments I’ve decided I don’t want to go to Bali anymore. It would be one thing if the scammers were just the occasional corrupt resident. But to discover that it is also the government and other officials and the tourist places we are already supporting with our tourist dollars, I could think of better things to do with my money.
I’m sorry to hear that. It wasn’t my intention to make you not want to visit Bali. In fact, I love Bali and recommend it to everyone who think of going.
The scamming and corruption – I’m afraid this is something most countries have. Some are more visible of course, but my point is that if you’re prepared, you can avoid it.
I really hope you’ll reconsider and go anyway. Bali is an amazing island and it has so much to offer, which makes you forget about the scammers.
Thank you for this. We were in Bali recently and Bali is such a nice place to visit and these scammers would be the only negative reasons that make the experience a tad bit of a nightmare. First, when I had to withdraw cash from the ATM, a group of men managed to divert my attention and I looked away from the machine for a few seconds while another person quickly snatched the money that was dispensed by the machine. I tried to talk to security officers for help but it was in vain. Then, two of my friends went to have their US dollars exchanged on 2 different occasions with the same guy which we only learned about when we met again during our trip as we stay in different hotels. The man who was counting the money was a talker and while counting by piece as he presents the cash on the table, he would expeditiously slip some of the bills off the table and onto his lap. My first friend reported but she didn’t get any help. On the second time that another friend was scammed with the same method, she caught the person redhanded. She and her boyfriend and he immediately returned the money that he purposely dropped off the table. You have to be firm with them. They are tricky and our guide cautioned us that they use some hypnotism spells on tourists to get away with their scams. While on our departure, an airport porter offered to HELP us with our luggages – he was insistent though we refused him a number of times. He just grabbed our luggages from the floor, put them on the trolley and hurriedly wheeled towards the check in counters. We were like running after him. He was a few steps ahead of us because the man was over 6 feet and so he has bigger strides. When we almost reached the counters, I told him we’re fine and that we don’t practically need assistance. The porter demanded that we pay him up for his services. We argued that we didn’t ask him for it and that he took our luggages without our consent. He was furious and was a bit hysterical. He picked up our luggages from his trolley and threw them on the floor to our shock and dismay. We had no time to report to the airport security but when I got back home I immediately sent an incident report to the airport admin via email. They reverted back with an apology and a promise to look into the matter. I got photos of the man and sent them. I just hope that they’re true to their words that they will seriously resolve the issue with their porters so their tourists don’t get turned off at how the locals treat them.
Oh, my goodness, Py. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It sounds like a nightmare and not what you want to face on a vacation.
I hope for everyone’s sake that the airport takes your report seriously. Because like you said, this shapes how visitors think of Bali as a whole.
Oh and here is another scam by marketing agencies there who would send out people (predators) on the streets and show you card invitations and without any obligation you can win a prize. We obliged though we could already sense something deceitful about the entire drama because he said it was his first day on the job and we would be a great help to him if he could register a number of names. We scratched a card and won shirts the card said. Then he said we need to go with him to claim it. To make the story short, we claimed the shirts but even before that they offered discounted membership to a time sharing company with hotel affiliations world wide. We didn’t go for it of course. We got free shirts and lunch but it was not enough to compensate for the time lost of our trip. We’re just the wiser now and hope this exposé will make visitors aware.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Py. Hopefully, this will help anyone going to Bali not to fall victim to the same scam. They’re sneaky, those scammers!
You don’t need to go to Money Changer when u need cash.
The best thing to do just go to ATM machines in the Airport, big BCA bank , Mall,etc
You will get Rupiah from the ATM without worrying they or money changer fee or someone rip you off
Good tip, Aay! I would avoid money changers as well. Best to stick with ATM’s.
The ATM machines are also not safe our last trip to Bali one yr ago used these machines often thinking it’d better than money exchange shops -we get home and find out someone stole money out of out account using our credit card
Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you got it covered by insurance!
Hey Danish traveler and fearless adventurer (sort of) , thanks for sharing this wd others,,, i m planning to go to bali wd frnds , Hope i ll be avoiding some scamms after reading this,,
thanks again Miriam
I hope so, too! Have a great trip, Abhilash!
Just bumped on to your blog waiting for my connecting flight to Bali. Wow. Wealth of information. Thank you Miriam.
Looks like being an Indian wouldn’t help much. People tend to get innovative with their scams. Will watch out however.
Any suggestions on currency conversion? As someone said ATMS are not safe either and the last time I used my card elsewhere in Indonesia, my card was deactivated by the bank and a new one was issued once I got back home.
I hope you’re enjoying Bali – aside from the scams, it really is a lovely place.
I didn’t have any problems with ATMs. If I were you, I would just make sure to use only those within or connected with a bank. And be careful that no one is watching when you enter your PIN. I always cover it with my hand.
About your card – talk to your bank about it. It happened to me in Guatemala a few years back. My bank closed my card (without asking me first) because they thought someone had stolen it. You can avoid this by telling them in advance if you’re travelling abroad.
All the best from Denmark
I think this post should be updated. I live in Jakarta and am frequently in Bali. I’ve lived here for 6 months during covid.
Many of these issues are no longer… I’ve lived in Indonesia for 5 years. Airport porters have do not pay written on their uniforms. There are no more taxi scams if using metered cabs or applications like Grab or Gojek.
At temples they no longer pressure for tips and donations. A mere entrance fee and rental of a sarong.
I think this post 6 years on does more harm than good.
Worst scams are when the police is involved! When the law keepers become the law breakers, things go ugly really fast!
Agreed! Luckily, I’ve never encountered it myself, so I can only imagine.
Great info guys . Good advice and feedback.
Thanks, Kiki. It’s just me here, though. No guys.