Changing Money in Bali…….No Money, No Honey!!!

On any overseas trip, the changing of money can sometimes be a little tricky, when it should really be a straightforward process, and there’s no reason why it can’t be, when visiting Bali. It’s always wise to do a little reading on this topic before you head abroad or maybe ask some advice from friends and family. I will touch on a personal experience shortly and offer some good advice on the do’s and dont’s when it comes to changing money in Bali. Hopefully this blog will prepare you with the knowledge and tools for a smooth and enjoyable holiday in Bali. These are really useful tips for enjoying your Bali holiday without any bad stories or hassles.

It was about a year ago that a relative had given me some Australian Dollars which I had to change to Indonesian Rupiah. After living in Bali for several years, I was well versed in some of the tricks, that unscrupulous money changers often try on unsuspecting tourists, to short change them, or even just blatantly steal money, during the transaction process.

I was in a well known tourist area and the reputable money changer that I would normally use was closed so I drove up and down the street on my scooter looking for the best exchange rate on offer from the smaller local currency traders. I spotted one white board on the footpath with the best exchange rate along the strip, so I thought, why not, let’s give it a go. Upon greeting the local man in his little office, I smiled and spoke to him in Bahasa Indonesia, knowing he would think I was just another, regular tourist, his smile quickly changed to a look of suspicion. I said I wanted to change some Australian Dollars and mentioned the rate he advertised out the front, he changed the money and I counted it, it was short of the advertised amount on the white board and I said, no, this is not correct and it was only then he informed me of his commission being deducted. I asked for my Australian dollars back and asked why he didn’t inform me of the commission he deducted as it wasn’t advertised on the white board. He handed my Australian Dollars back and instructed me in a nasty mix of local slander to take my money elsewhere knowing for well his actions were anything but legitimate.

I then found another money changer just down the road with a good exchange rate and also advertising that commission was included. So I thought perfect, this seems legitimate and no hidden secrets here. There was a young chap standing at the small booth just a few meters inside off the footpath that run along the main road. I said hello and he was very pleasant, eager to assist me and once we agreed there was no hidden commission and that the rate was what was advertised on his white board it was time to make the exchange of currencies.

He asked me to wait just a minute as he had to take some local notes from his friend, 2-3 minutes later he returned with his friend, both of similar age, maybe they were in their young twenties. One of them counted out the full amount due a placed a small pile of 100,000 Rupiah notes on the counter in front of me, I watched him carefully and I knew the amount placed on the
counter was correct. At that very moment his assistant standing 2 meters or so to his left took my attention, momentarily showing me a local map. As he did this, I saw out the corner of my eye the other chap swipe some notes from the pile he had just counted out for me and dropped them onto the lower level of the counter on his side, hidden from my view. I was processing this, trying to make sure, I saw what I saw and at the same time tell myself this was really happening.

I still hadn’t touched my pile of 100,000 Rupiah notes so I announced that I would like to count the pile in front of them again, just to make sure the amount now on the counter was still the same amount placed there by this young fellow. As soon as I did this, all hell broke loose, they started to jump and down, became aggressive and knowing their best laid plans had been foiled they announced they didn’t want my business and gave me my Australian Dollars back, I was still shocked at the hide of these two and the trickery they displayed.

So the moral of this story is always, always, always try to find a reputable money changer in Bali. Some of the registered and legitimate money changers to use are PT. Central Kuta, the most number of branches in the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak strip, and is also present in Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa, Ubud, Sanur and Bali’s capital of Denpasar. PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima located in
Kuta, Sanur, Ubud and Tanah Lot Temple. PT. Bali Maspintjinra otherwise known as BMC with locations in Kerobokan, Legian, Sanur and Ubud.