When you step off your flight and into Denpasar (DPS) airport, you will have access to their free wi-fi. This will help you to make contact with your driver to inform him or her that you’ve arrived and where to meet.
Beyond the airport, wi-fi is offered in most establishments, but there are some things to bear in mind while in Bali.
The Wi-Fi Landscape
Even though most places offer wi-fi, there can be some issues. Some can be painfully slow while others are at normal speeds. Another point, having data on your phone becomes critical when in transit or if you’re potentially lost. You’ll want to have access to Google translation, maps and What’s App to communicate with your driver or to the other members of your group.
Here are some options travelers have taken to ensure they have data on their phone:
Enrolling in an International Plan per your Phone Provider: Some do this, I don’t because I don’t like surprises with my bill. Also, I’ve also been disappointed in the service not working when I’ve been in other countries. However, your experience may be different.
Installing a Local SIM Card: This is the simplest and cheapest approach. If your phone is unlocked, you can easily get a ~5-12GB SIM card for ~$7-10. Check with your provider to confirm that your phone is unlocked. If not, they will walk you through the quick process to do so. When you’re ready to install the local SIM, be sure to keep your original phone’s SIM card stored in a secure place. You will want to re-install your original SIM when you leave Bali. Be sure to have a SIM card removal pin with you. It will come in handy if you don’t have an earring to eject it. Safety pins are tough to use.
Pleases note: If you want to enable local calling with the SIM card, you must register it. The store where you buy your SIM card can tell you where the nearest location to do so. If you do not register, know that you can still accept calls (i.e. Go-Jek food delivery driver). Just know you can’t initiate any. One workaround is using apps such as Skype, Facebook or What’s app, but that would require the business or individual to have that app also.
I personally haven’t registered mine as I haven’t had a need for it.
Update! 3-11-2018 It appears that all SIM cards are now enabled with local calling. I suspect this is a result of the recent earthquakes which has devasted some of the islands here. It makes sense to do that to allow those with a SIM card in danger, to reach someone. I can’t confirm if this is a permanent lift or temporary. However, if they were to reinstate the local calling ban (due to not registering it), I may consider registering it now.
Reloading Your Phone
The traditional approach is to visit one of the local cellulars stores. Their packages vary from store to store and by brand. Unfortunately, their data is usually per month so this visit won’t be your last. However, I was lucky enough that one of my friends found this gem site that makes reloading your data super easy. You can pay via PayPal or your debit credit card, unlike the local cellular brand’s site. They seem to require a local card and the number of packages they offer is endless in Indonesian. Visit Recharge.com to reload your data in minutes without having to go anywhere.
Ubud Probably Has the Crappiest Wi-Fi
The town is in the middle of the island, deep in the jungle. Some places have great wi-fi while others are slow. No matter what, with so many digital nomads concentrated in the little area, coffee shops and restaurants reach maximum bandwidth often. Plus, Ubud doesn’t have very many towers.
Ubud is where you will utilize a great portion of your data.
Hands down, the local co-working spot will usually have the best wi-fi signal strength especially if you need a place to download or upload your media or software. If you haven’t joined one in the past, they usually offer different amounts of wi-fi hours packages to purchase. The smallest packet I’ve seen is around 25 hours by Dojo Bali. For Ubud, many go either to Hubud or Outpost.
Be sure to know how to stream media and the required workaround once you’re situated in Bali.
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