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Be Careful when Changing over money in Bali

Careful when changing money in Bali

Here’s the go-to guide on changing money and not getting completely ripped off at the same time.

Updated 12th April 2023

Before reading this article, I just wanted to point out a very important thing about changing money in Bali, so take note: If you are staying in one of our  Bali Villas, make sure you speak to the in-house staff or the villa manager – they will point out the best local money changers – THIS IS the best advice we can give you.

If you are a newbie to Bali and have never changed money here, ask people you can trust, like the villa staff, etc. – they will help you and point you in the right direction. Even in high-density tourist areas like Seminyak’s Eat Street, I can spot dodgy money changers a mile away, but many people walk blindly into the trap. Take care and be alert to these scams.

The local currency is called Rupiah, and it is always shortened to Rp. If you want to change dollars into Rupiah, you must be extremely careful in Bali. Whilst you may think it’s OK and legitimate, there are a lot of shoddy operators out there looking to cheat you out of your hard-earned holiday money.

Changing money in Bali is easy, but you must know what to look for to avoid disappointment or getting completely ripped off.

The best thing to do is to change your money at the airport. As soon as you arrive in Denpasar, once you get through immigration and clear the terminal, there is a money changer right there on the right-hand side. Obviously, you do not want to change a whole heap of dollars into Rupiah here and carry large wads of cash around. So the best thing to do is change a couple of hundred dollars, which should see you over the next few days.

Obviously, the rate here will be a bit lower than outside, where it’s more competitive, but at least it’s safe and completely legitimate here. If you stay in a villa, you will be picked up at the airport, so you do not have to stress about changing money for a taxi or transport once you arrive. There are loads of money changers in Seminyak & Canggu, so you can do it once you’ve settled into your villa.

There are heaps of money changers all over Bali, from hotels, bars, and restaurants right through to actually designated money changers. They are literally all over the place and very easy to spot. You do not have to look far. On top of this, you can go to the many banks all over the island and change your money. Essentially, you do not have to worry about changing your money in Bali.

Except for the many holes in the wall money changers. They are again really easy to spot, and for the unsuspecting tourist, this is a BIG trap that many fall victim to. BE WARNED. Avoid these money changers at all costs, as they are really sneaky at shortchanging you.

Because the Rupiah to the dollar is in the thousands, you are going to get, in some cases, millions of Rupiah when you convert, for instance, Aussie, Euro, US or Singapore dollars into Rupiah. They count the money out in front of your note by note; there may be 50 or even 60 notes. While doing this, they get someone to distract you, and they quickly slip a few of these notes into a draw. You will never notice this. They are so good and skilled at doing this daily that you will never suspect anything. Once all the 100 notes are laid out in a nice neat bundle, they give it to you minus what they have skimmed off the top. It’s a great little scam, and you, the tourist, can lose big time. You can go in there thinking you are going to get 2 million Rupiah, and you end up walking out with only Rp1 500 000 in small notes.

There are now cash machines or ATMs all over the place in tourist areas, so if you do not want to change money, go to any local ATM. They are safe and, in a lot of cases, air-conditioned – this is something you will notice and enjoy when walking the streets. The air-conditioned ones are the best! You can generally withdraw 2-4 million Rupiah in one go, which is an ample amount to keep you going.

You will generally get a better rate of exchange at the legitimate money changers in Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, Ubud, Sanur or Jimbaran than in the hotels. The hotels are a lot safer, but you will end up getting less due to the lower exchange rates. Once you can identify the best local money changers in Bali, you will know where to go daily to change your dollars. Going back to the same one ( and they are probably right outside your hotel) will make it easier and more convenient for you.

An interesting point to note here is that the local currency changers want pristine notes in great condition. Any tear, mark or the slightest blemish in the note may result in them refusing to change this.

You are on holiday in Bali, you want to enjoy yourself, so be aware of these pitfalls, be on the lookout for these scams and go only to money changers that look like they are safe. If you are walking in the street and guys come up to you offering to change money, politely walk away. Also, if you go to a place where the exchange rate looks too high, this is also a scam. What they do is offer a great rate way above the norm, and then they begin to work the scam on you. You walk in there thinking you will get a great deal, and suddenly, you are surrounded by 2 or 3 locals looking on, trying to distract you. The money (in small denominations) is counted out at lightning speed, and you walk away short-changed. So be very aware of this.

Be warned: You get a much better rate at authorised money changers in Seminyak, Canggu, etc. than at the airport. If you change money at the airport when you arrive in Bali, you will get a weaker exchange rate, so wait till you get to your villa, start walking around the area and look for proper money changers. You’ll get between 10-15% better rates outside the airport.

ATMs in Bali

An easier alternative to changing your money in Bali and going through all the hassle is to go to one of the thousands of ATMs throughout the island. They’re safe and convenient and work exactly the same as back home – check it out below!

Best Places to Change Money in Bali

They are all over the island, but here are a few really good places to change your holiday dollars into Rupiah in popular tourist areas.

1. Central Kuta Money Exchange

Central Kuta Money Exchange also has hundreds, if not more, money exchanges all over Bali; the majority being in Denpasar, Seminyak, Kuta and Legian. For most tourists coming to Bali, the one inside Seminyak Square Shopping Mall just off Kayu Aya Street or Eat Street is a safe and really good place to change your money.

2. Money changers along Jalan Batu Bolong in Canggu

There are some large, glitzy, very bright ( especially at night ) money changers in the popular tourist area of Batu Bolong in Canggu. Some of these include BHI ( Bali Hastie Indomalaya ), the money changer opposite Pepito Supermarket & BMC & a few smaller well-known places in the area with a proper shop front.

3. Money changers in Seminyak

There are lots of these places all along Jalan Kayu Aya, leading all the way to Petitenget and Oberoi. The image below will show you the type of place to look out for. Note that these look legitimate and have actual shop fronts and full-time staff.

money changers seminyak

Make sure you change money at these places – they are legitimate. Photo Credit: @ balihastieindomalaya – Instagram


Changing money in Bali FAQs

Is it safe to change money in Bali?

Yes it is and you go to an authorised money changer which are located all over the island. But make sure you only use an authorised money changer.

Where can you change money in Bali?

There are authorised money changers throughout Bali’s main tourist areas like: Seminyak, Canggu, Berawa, Kuta, Umalas, Ubud and Legian

Can I change money at Bali airport?

Yes you can and there are many money changers at the airport at both international and domestic departure and arrival areas where you can change Australian, Euro, Singapore, Malaysian, Japanese, NZ & US currency into the local Rupiah currency.

What is the local Indonesian currency?

The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah.

Are there ATM’s in Bali?

Yes they are and they are all over the island, especially in the main tourist areas like Seminyak, Legian and Canggu. They are mostly in the street but there are also ATM’s in convenience stores and supermarkets.

Can I get ripped off when changing money in Bali?

Yes you can unless you change your money at an authorised money exchange.

Does it cost money to change money in Bali?

No it doesn’t cost you any money to change money in Bali as most money changers will not charge a fee.

How will I know the exchange rate when I change my money?

All authorised money changers will advertise their currency rates outside where you can clearly see them.

Where are money changers in Seminyak?

Money changers in Seminyak are mostly located along Jalan Kayu Aya or Eat Street. There is also a reliable money changer at Seminyak Square.

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About the author

Steven is a die-hard Bali island addict and committed surfie. When he's not writing or taking videos of the latest restaurants or cool places, he's at Echo Beach surfing or riding his scooter around Seminyak, Berawa or Canggu. Steve is part of the Bali Villa Escapes marketing team and has been living in and out of Bali for the last 15 years.