Avoid Common Bali Scams – Embarking on a journey to Bali and Java promises a tapestry of cultural wonders, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable experiences. However, amidst the allure of these tropical paradises, it’s crucial for travelers to remain vigilant against common scams that target tourists.

This comprehensive guide not only sheds light on prevalent scams in Bali but also extends its insights to the neighboring island of Java, offering essential knowledge to safeguard your travels across these enchanting destinations.

This guide highlights the most prevalent scams and provides practical tips to protect yourself during your visit.

Taxi Scams

Navigating taxi services in Bali can be tricky due to meter tampering and longer routes taken by some drivers. Learn how to identify legitimate taxis and avoid falling victim to these scams.

Tour Operator Frauds

Fake tour operators may offer enticing packages that fail to deliver on promises. Discover the risks associated with dealing with illegitimate operators and how to spot warning signs.

Currency Exchange Fraud

Unauthorized money changers often offer unfavorable rates or distribute counterfeit currency. Understand common tactics used by fraudsters and learn how to safely exchange currency in Bali.

Temple Donation Scams

While Bali’s temples are cultural treasures, tourists may encounter scams involving donation collections. Learn about temple donation customs and how to recognize donation scams.

Vehicle Rental Scams

Renting vehicles in Bali comes with risks such as hidden damage and excessive repair fees. Find out how to identify damaged vehicles and navigate rental agreements effectively.

Credit Card Skimming

Credit card skimming is a prevalent threat in Bali, with vendors and ATMs being potential risks. Discover how to safeguard your credit card information and avoid falling victim to skimming scams.

Overpriced Goods and Services

Tourist hotspots often feature inflated prices for goods and services. Explore strategies for negotiating fair prices and locating authentic products at reasonable rates.

Petty Theft

Pickpocketing and theft of personal belongings are common in crowded areas. Learn about common locations for petty theft and effective strategies for safeguarding your belongings.

Time-Share Scams

Tourists may be targeted with time-share presentations promising freebies but leading to high-pressure sales tactics. Understand the risks associated with time-share scams and how to decline invitations safely.

Fake Charity Appeals

Some individuals may exploit tourists’ generosity through fake charity appeals. Discover how to identify legitimate charities and support genuine causes during your visit to Bali.

“During my recent tour in Bali and Java, I had the opportunity to meet with several travelers who shared their experiences with currency exchange scams. One individual recounted their encounter with unscrupulous money changers, highlighting the pervasive issue faced by unsuspecting tourists in popular destinations.”

– the author

How to Avoid Currency Exchange Scams in Bali and Java

Currency exchange scams can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. As a seasoned local guide with a decade of experience assisting tourists in Java and Bali, I’ve witnessed firsthand the rise in scams targeting unsuspecting travelers. In this article, I’ll share valuable insights and practical tips to help you navigate the murky waters of currency exchange, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience during your time in these beautiful Indonesian destinations.

Understanding the Landscape

Before delving into specific tips, it’s essential to understand the dynamics of the currency exchange market in Bali and Java. While both regions boast vibrant tourist economies, they also harbor opportunistic individuals looking to capitalize on unsuspecting visitors. From inflated exchange rates to counterfeit currency, the risks are manifold, but with the right knowledge and precautions, you can protect yourself against such scams.

Tips to Avoid Currency Exchange Scams

  1. Research Exchange Rates: Before arriving in Bali or Java, familiarize yourself with the prevailing exchange rates for your home currency. Use reputable financial websites or mobile apps to stay updated on the latest rates. This knowledge will empower you to identify discrepancies and avoid exchanges offering significantly lower rates.
  2. Choose Licensed Money Changers: Opt for licensed money changers authorized by the Indonesian government. These establishments adhere to strict regulations and are less likely to engage in fraudulent practices. Look for signage displaying official licenses and avoid street-side vendors or unregistered booths.
  3. Compare Rates: Don’t settle for the first money changer you encounter. Take the time to compare rates offered by different establishments. While convenience is important, prioritize reliability and transparency. A slightly lower rate at a reputable exchange office is preferable to potential scams at lesser-known venues.
  4. Inspect Currency Notes: Thoroughly inspect each banknote before completing the transaction. Check for signs of damage, such as tears or stains, as some unscrupulous money changers may attempt to pass off counterfeit or invalid currency. Familiarize yourself with the appearance and security features of Indonesian rupiah to spot potential fakes.
  5. Avoid Street Touts: Be wary of individuals approaching you on the street or at tourist hotspots offering currency exchange services. These unofficial vendors often operate outside the law and may engage in deceptive practices. Politely decline their offers and seek out licensed money changers in reputable locations.
  6. Count Your Money: Always count the money you receive before leaving the exchange counter. Ensure that the amount matches the agreed-upon rate and denominations. In busy or crowded environments, distractions can lead to errors or discrepancies, so remain vigilant throughout the transaction.
  7. Ask for a Receipt: Request a receipt or proof of exchange for your records. This document should detail the amount exchanged, the prevailing rate, and any applicable fees or commissions. In the event of discrepancies or disputes, having documentation can facilitate resolution and protect your interests.

Additional Insights for First-Time Visitors

  1. Cultural Sensitivity: While exploring Bali and Java, embrace the local culture and customs. Respect religious traditions, such as dress codes at temples, and seek permission before taking photographs of individuals or sacred sites. Building rapport with the local community can enhance your travel experience and foster mutual respect.
  2. Safety Precautions: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or tourist-dense areas. Keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying large sums of money or valuable items in public. Trust your instincts and exercise caution when engaging with unfamiliar individuals or establishments.
  3. Exploring Beyond Tourist Hotspots: While Bali and Java offer iconic attractions, don’t hesitate to venture off the beaten path. Discover hidden gems, such as secluded beaches, traditional villages, and pristine natural landscapes. Engage with local guides or residents to gain insider insights and enrich your travel experience.
  4. Environmental Conservation: Respect the natural environment and contribute to sustainable tourism practices. Dispose of waste responsibly, support eco-friendly initiatives, and minimize your carbon footprint whenever possible. By treading lightly and embracing eco-conscious behaviors, you can help preserve the beauty of Bali and Java for future generations.

Insider Advice on Currency Exchange

As an insider with a decade of experience guiding tourists through the vibrant landscapes of Bali and Java, I’ve gleaned invaluable insights into the currency exchange scene. Beyond the common tips and precautions, here’s some insider advice to enhance your currency exchange experience in these Indonesian paradises:

  1. Local Knowledge is Key: Tap into the expertise of local guides or residents who are familiar with reputable money changers in the area. They can steer you away from potential scams and point you towards establishments known for fair rates and transparent transactions.
  2. Timing is Everything: Be mindful of the timing when exchanging currency, especially during peak tourist seasons. Exchange rates can fluctuate throughout the day, so aim to conduct your transactions during quieter periods when rates are more stable. Additionally, avoid exchanging large sums of money at once to minimize the impact of any unfavorable fluctuations.
  3. Utilize Technology: Leverage technology to your advantage by using currency converter apps or online platforms to compare rates in real-time. These tools empower you to make informed decisions and ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal. However, always verify the rates with physical exchange offices before proceeding with the transaction.
  4. Build Relationships: Establishing a rapport with trusted money changers can yield long-term benefits. By frequenting the same establishments and developing a relationship with the staff, you may be able to negotiate better rates or receive preferential treatment. However, exercise caution and ensure that the relationship is based on mutual respect and trust.
  5. Stay Updated on Regulations: Keep abreast of any changes in currency exchange regulations and policies in Indonesia. Government interventions or economic developments can impact exchange rates and the operating practices of money changers. Stay informed through reputable news sources or consult with local authorities for the latest updates.
  6. Consider Alternative Payment Methods: Explore alternative payment methods, such as credit cards or prepaid travel cards, that offer competitive exchange rates and added security features. While cash remains a convenient option for certain transactions, diversifying your payment options can mitigate risks and provide greater flexibility during your travels.
  7. Exercise Caution with Hotel Exchanges: While hotels may offer currency exchange services for convenience, be cautious of inflated rates or hidden fees. Compare the rates offered by hotels with those at independent exchange offices to ensure that you’re getting a fair deal. Additionally, inquire about any applicable fees or commissions before proceeding with the exchange.

Avoid Currency Exchange Services at Hotels

While hotels may seem like convenient options for currency exchange, there are several compelling reasons to exercise caution and explore alternative avenues for converting your money:

  1. Unfavorable Exchange Rates: Hotels often offer exchange rates that are less favorable compared to independent money changers or banks. This discrepancy allows hotels to profit from the exchange process, potentially resulting in lower returns for travelers. By seeking out alternative exchange options, you can maximize the value of your money and avoid unnecessary losses.
  2. Hidden Fees and Commissions: In addition to less favorable exchange rates, hotels may impose hidden fees or commissions on currency exchange transactions. These fees can significantly diminish the amount of currency you receive in return, eroding the overall value of your exchange. By opting for transparent exchange services at licensed establishments, you can avoid unexpected charges and ensure a more equitable transaction.
  3. Limited Currency Options: Hotels may have limited currency options available for exchange, particularly for less commonly traded currencies. This limitation can pose challenges for travelers seeking to exchange currencies beyond the standard offerings. Independent exchange offices or banks typically offer a wider range of currency options, catering to the diverse needs of international travelers.
  4. Lack of Transparency: Transparency is essential when conducting currency exchange transactions to ensure that you receive fair and accurate rates. Unfortunately, hotels may lack the transparency and accountability found in licensed exchange offices. Without clear disclosure of exchange rates, fees, and commissions, travelers risk being taken advantage of by unscrupulous practices.
  5. Potential Security Risks: Exchanging currency at hotels may expose travelers to potential security risks, particularly if the establishment lacks robust security measures or oversight. Carrying large sums of money to and from hotels for exchange purposes can make travelers vulnerable to theft or loss. Opting for reputable exchange offices with secure premises and adherence to regulatory standards can mitigate these security concerns.
  6. Limited Availability: Hotel currency exchange services may have limited availability, especially during non-business hours or peak periods. This limitation can inconvenience travelers who require immediate access to currency exchange facilities. By diversifying your options and identifying alternative exchange locations in advance, you can avoid the inconvenience of limited availability and ensure timely access to currency exchange services.

Here’s an expanded version of the advice for avoiding currency scams in Bali and Java:

  1. Utilize Digital Payment Options: Embrace digital payment options popular in Indonesia, such as QRIS, Shopee Pay, Go-Pay, or similar platforms. These convenient and secure alternatives reduce the need for physical currency exchange, mitigating the risk of falling victim to scams.
  2. Consider Opening a Local Bank Account: While not mandatory, opening a local bank account can provide added convenience and security during your stay. Local bank accounts enable you to access funds directly and may offer competitive exchange rates for currency conversion.
  3. Avoid Currency Exchange at Airports: Refrain from exchanging currency at airports, as these locations may offer less favorable rates or higher fees compared to authorized money changers in city centers or tourist areas.
  4. Avoid Exchanging Money Near Your Accommodation: Resist the temptation to exchange currency at nearby establishments, as they may be affiliated with fraudulent practices. Instead, research and identify authorized money changers in advance, preferably before your arrival in Bali or Java, to ensure transparency and reliability.
  5. Practice Saying No Before You Go: Adopt a proactive approach by declining offers or requests from strangers, particularly those related to currency exchange or donations. Assertively saying no before engaging in conversations or transactions can help prevent direct scams and safeguard your interests.
  6. Check Prices on Online Marketplaces: Prior to making purchases, compare prices on popular online marketplaces such as Tokopedia and Shopee. This allows you to gauge the fair market value of goods and services, reducing the likelihood of overpaying or falling for inflated prices.
  7. Resort to Local Convenience Stores as a Last Resort: In situations where currency exchange or purchasing necessities is unavoidable, consider shopping at local convenience stores as a safer option. These establishments typically offer fixed prices and are less likely to engage in deceptive practices.
  8. Stay Vigilant and Focused: Remain alert and attentive, especially when engaging in transactions or navigating unfamiliar environments. Scammers often target tired or distracted travelers, exploiting moments of fatigue to execute their schemes. By staying focused, you can thwart their attempts and protect yourself from potential scams.
  9. Engage with Locals Responsibly: While fostering connections with locals can enrich your travel experience, exercise caution when interacting with unfamiliar individuals. Be friendly and approachable, but maintain a level of discretion and skepticism. Building genuine rapport with locals can provide valuable insights and assistance, serving as a final option in navigating unfamiliar situations.

List for Authorized Money Changer with Highest Offer by City:


  1. MPB Money Changer
  2. BMC Money Changer
  3. PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima
  4. PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima
  5. PT. Bali Primadana Gemilang

Malang, Surabaya:

  1. Dolarsia Gubeng (Surabaya)
    • Jalan Dharmahusada No 181. RT 01 RW 04 Kelurahan Mojo Kecamatan Gubeng, Surabaya
    • website: https://dolarasia.com/
  2. SmartDeal (Malang)

Semarang, Solo (Surakarta), Yogyakarta:

  1. INTRAVALAS Money Changer (Yogyakarta)
  2. PT Barumun Abadi (Yogyakarta)
  3. PT Desmonda Money Changer (Solo)
  4. Dolarasia (Semarang)

Recommend City Transportation

  • Gojek: Utilize the Gojek app to access a wide range of transportation services, including motorbike taxis (Gojek), car rides (GoCar), and even food delivery (GoFood). Gojek offers competitive rates and convenient booking options, making it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.
  • Grab: Similar to Gojek, Grab provides transportation services via its mobile app, offering both car rides and motorbike taxis. Grab is known for its reliability and user-friendly interface, making it another excellent option for getting around cities in Bali and Java.
  • Maxim: Maxim is a trusted ride-hailing service operating in Indonesia, offering comfortable and convenient transportation options for travelers. With competitive pricing and a reliable network of drivers, Maxim is a reliable choice for city travel.
  • Bluebird: Bluebird is a reputable taxi company with a long-standing reputation for safety and professionalism. Travelers can either flag down a Bluebird taxi on the street or order one through the Bluebird mobile app. It’s recommended to watch for the taxi’s argo (meter) to ensure fair pricing or order through the app for added convenience and transparency.

Digital Payment Options for Seamless Transactions

  1. QRIS: Utilize QRIS (Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard) for seamless and contactless payments at various merchants, including restaurants, shops, and attractions. Simply scan the QR code with your smartphone to complete transactions quickly and securely.
  2. Mobile Banking: Take advantage of mobile banking services offered by local banks in Indonesia. With mobile banking apps, you can conveniently manage your finances, transfer funds, and make payments while on the go, providing flexibility and accessibility during your travels.
  3. Shopee Pay: Use Shopee Pay, a digital wallet integrated within the Shopee e-commerce platform, for convenient and secure payments at participating merchants. Load funds into your Shopee Pay account and enjoy perks such as discounts and cashback rewards on your purchases.
  4. GoPay: Embrace GoPay, a popular digital payment platform in Indonesia, for hassle-free transactions across a wide range of merchants and services. Top up your GoPay balance through various channels and enjoy the convenience of cashless payments wherever you go.
  5. OVO: Consider using OVO, another leading digital payment platform, to make payments and transfers with ease. With OVO, you can pay for goods and services, split bills with friends, and even earn rewards points for your transactions, enhancing your overall travel experience.

*apps are available on the App Store or Google Play

As you prepare to embark on your journey to Bali, Java, and beyond, armed with the knowledge and insights gleaned from this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the vibrant tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and experiences with confidence and resilience. By staying vigilant against common scams and embracing practical tips for safeguarding your travels, you’ll unlock the true essence of these enchanting destinations while minimizing risks and maximizing enjoyment.

Remember, the lessons learned here extend beyond Bali and Java to other cities and regions across Indonesia, such as Lombok, Sumatra, and beyond. Whether you’re exploring the pristine beaches of Lombok, trekking through the lush jungles of Sumatra, or immersing yourself in the bustling streets of Jakarta, the principles of awareness, preparedness, and discernment remain constant. – Bon Voyage!