Rest of Asia Message Board

Money saving messages plus live (and uncensored) Tweets for countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore can be found below. Leave your own tips using the Message Box provided.

For specific advice and locations click on the 'Tags' link, or on the city names and logos next to each message.

Please post your own money-related advice on: Airports & Visas, Banking, Business Advice, Food & Drink, Hotels, Health (getting sick or hurt can be very expensive), Scams & Safety, Shopping, Tradesmen, Transport, etc.

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Jakarta - Indonesia
Getting from the airport: The easiest way to get from Jakarta airport to the city is to take a 'Silver Bird' Taxi, waiting right outside arrivals. Despite the name they are black in colour and a safe, reputable brand. Their budget range is called 'Blue Bird', but you have to wait longer. Silver Bird from Airport to central Jakarta is about 330,000IDR.
ATMs are now available in the luggage collection area of Jakarta Airport.
Once you get to the city (or if you have an internet connection on arrival) Uber is by far the best and cheapest way to get around. You will not be waiting longer than about 10mins for a pickup. An Uber from central Jakarta back to the Airport is only 130,000IDR.
200,000 with Uber

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Bali - Indonesia
Try Balangan beach if you want to get away from the usual Kuta haunts in Bali. Excellent for surfing but also a nice beach in its own right.
Try 'Serangoon Road' for somewhere to stay at reasonable price in Singapore. It’s in the Little India area and not far from Orchard Road. Accommodation
Bali - Indonesia
You need some more posts on Bali. Here are my best ideas for first time visitors, taking you through from when you arrive to when you leave.
I’ll start with the VISA.
If you don’t have a visa already, like most people, you have to pay the Visa On Arrival fee BEFORE you go to the immigration queue. If you don't pay and just walk straight to the Visa on Arrival queue, like a lot of first time visitors, you'll be sent back to start all over again. The price is 25 USD for a 30 day stay.
Unlike the departure tax, you can pay this fee in just about any currency. Once you’ve paid you take the receipt with you to the Visa On Arrival queue.
The booths to pay the visa fee are on the left as you enter the main immigration room at Bali (DPS) airport.
Visa Information

Bali - Indonesia
AIRPORT SCAM I’ve been to every country in Asia but have only seen this scam at Bali airport.
After getting your visa and collecting your suitcase, and just before you go through customs, you will sometimes be approached by young men who will ask where you are from and if you have filled in your customs declaration card.
They are dressed relatively smart and look semi-official. Natural to assume because of where they are - a restricted area – and what they ask that they work for customs or immigration. They’ll say ‘this way please’ and wheel your suitcase through to the x-ray machine, then tell you to give the customs card to the official.
But after you clear customs, which is only a walk of about 10 meters in total, they will take you to a money change booth, ask if you want to change any money - and also ask for a massive tip of 100,000 for helping you! They are just touts! Ashamed to say I fell for this once. Didn’t pay the big tip they wanted, just a small tip to avoid any problems.
It’s amazing these touts are allowed INSIDE what should be a secure customs area. They could plant drugs in your bag while they are ‘helping you’ and then ask for a payoff. Anything. Scary. Someone is letting them into the area so there’s cash changing hands with officials.
If anyone approaches you that isn’t in full customs, military type uniform tell them you don’t need any help.

Bali - Indonesia
TAXI FROM AIRPORT Turn right as you go out of the airport and the official taxi booth is along the wall on your right. It’s small with a blue sign that looks like all the other booths in the line.
Taxi prices are fixed at about 50,000 to Kuta and 60,000 to Legian. Taxi drivers will shout these prices at you as you leave the airport, so you may think why do I need to queue for a ticket? But ticket is still the best because the other drivers will soon start upping the price once they have hooked you in.
TIP Take a photo of the official taxi price board inside the booth with your phone. It'll serve you well in any taxi negotiations during your stay and is good to refer back to. You can judge any taxi prices off the price from the airport.
Pay official taxi prices

Bali - Indonesia
HOTELS The two Tune Hotels (Kuta and Legian) or the Amaris are among the decent budget hotels to book before you arrive, then you can look at other accommodation once in Bali. Tune is the cheapest of these, but Amaris has WiFi, air con, TV, breakfast thrown in, plus a swimming pool.
Save money on laundry by using local shops not your hotel (a lot of budget hotels don't even offer laundry anyway). 20 mixed items will be about 50,000 including ironing. They work quick. Ready next morning.
Cheap hotels to start from

Bali - Indonesia
SAFETY Bali has virtually no streetlights and not many street signs either. It’s a joke. Get your bearings in the day or you'll soon get lost at night. Note also that some of the shortcuts to get to the beach are very narrow, quiet and run between high walls. If you are hiring a motorcycle be careful and go with the flow at junctions. Safety

Bali - Indonesia
ATMs You should have no big problems getting bank cards to work in ATMs although use common sense in not choosing one in the back of a minimart at 3am. The “BRI” bank, which is blue and white, says it has no charge to withdraw. ANZ is another big brand. Be aware that many ATMs have a 1 million withdraw limit, which is not a lot if you have a hotel to pay for in cash. Have a phone with you to call the helpline if the worst happens and your card gets swallowed.
Bali - Indonesia
MOTORCYCLE TAXIS are an easy way to get around. Tell them to go slow if you are not used to riding bikes. They will ask for high prices but 20-30,000 should get you most places. Most bikes will just take you and be happy for whatever you pay them at the end.
Most of these are just locals with motorcycles. They are not official so be smart. Use only when you will be sticking to busy roads. Same goes for when you think you are negotiating for an official car taxi, often it is just a local with a car! Ask to see the taxi first.
Allow up to an hour to get from downtown to the airport if traffic is bad, which it usually is. (Luke)
Prices to pay for motorcycle taxis

Bali - Indonesia
NIGHTLIFE Main party street in Kuta has jams every night. So either get a bike or be prepared to get out of a taxi car and walk once you hit the jam. Otherwise you'll be sat there for hours. The Bomb monument area is where most of the main clubs are still located. Sky Garden is one of the most popular clubs these days. Outside Kuta most areas can get really quiet after about 11pm and a lot of shops close early. Night spots however stay open until 3-4am. Nightlife

Bali - Indonesia
DRINK SAFETY Drink Bintang the local beer for safe alcohol. Spirits are often fake and dangerous so only buy in reputable places. Steer clear of “Arak”, which is like a home brew the poor people drink. Sky Garden says its spirits are all imported, no local arak and filtered water for ice.
A lot of the coca cola bottles being sold seem to be ether refilled and sealed with local cola or very out of date. The coca cola logos on the side say dates like 1996!

Bali - Indonesia
SHOPPING Sellers start their prices crazily high. 3 x plus. Shorts, Shoes they will ask for 150,000 but happily accept 50,000. Prices

Bali - Indonesia
BEACH PRICES Beach chair on its own 20-30,000. 50k for two. Best negotiating tactic is to say you only want an hour or two, or that it is already the afternoon so half the price. Prices

Bali - Indonesia
SURFBOARD SCAM All of the beach chair people have Surfboards for hire from about 50,000 for a half day. But there will be no insurance and, like jet skis in Thailand, they can hit you with a bill for fake damage or breakage.
Hire from official Australian run surf schools if you want peace of mind.

Bali - Indonesia
BEACH SAFETY The Kuta beach waves are big for Asia. There are red flags to mark rips that say no swimming. Asian tourists seem to ignore these or don't understand. Between the yellow and red flags are the lifeguard patrolled areas. Safety

Bali - Indonesia
SCAM The booths you see everywhere in Bali offering “Tourist Information” are just tour companies. They’ve learnt if they put ”information” they get more business because people think they are official or impartial. They are not. Scam

Bali - Indonesia
SCAM but a funny one. There are endless people offering massages on the beach or in shops all over Kuta. If the staff have uniforms it usually means they are “really” massage shops and not something else......
But if you see anyone with a small plaster (as you would put over a cut) on their forehead, arm or hand don’t ask what happened. That’s when you get a tale about how they had a big accident and need to pay a doctors bill of 300,000 - despite the tiny plaster - so “please give me a good tip”.

Bali - Indonesia
TOUTS These are everywhere, mainly motorcycle taxis that ride around constantly shouting at tourists. Walk on the side of the street that is against the flow of traffic to limit the hassle. If you walk the same way they are riding they will slow down and move along with you, pestering you for longer. Touts

Bali - Indonesia
AIRPORT Exit tax. You must pay 150,000 in LOCAL currency at the airport when you leave, using special counters located on the way to immigration, after you have checked in. Unlike the Visa on Arrival fee counters you can’t miss these as they are literally across the centre of the walkway.
They put a sticker on your boarding card to say you've paid. Immigration is just after where they check and stamp your passport as usual, but unlike most places they do not take the departure card from you until you go to the gate just before boarding the plane.

Bali - Indonesia
AIRPORT SCAM Check prices before ordering if you are eating in the airport before departure. I once paid 40,000 ($4) for a cappuccino at an ordinary looking cafe by the time fees were added! My fault for not asking to see the menu first.
There is free WiFi in the airport so no need to go to a café to get online.
Overpricing at airport

Bali - Indonesia
This is in reply to Mel's post [in the Malaysia page] about how to get the Promo prices at Tune Hotels.
I'm also staying in a Tune Hotel right now (LCCT, KL) and picked up a leaflet about a special offer for the Tune Hotels in Bali. The leaflet was at reception.
Mel is right. You must have a discount code to get the Promo deals online. Just booking early won't get you the best deal.
The leaflet says the two ways to get the Promo price for Bali are:
1. Book online at " and enter the Promo code".
2. Walk in booking, "Present this flyer to our friendly hotel staff".
This fits with what Mel said, as Mel got the surprise Promo price by doing a "walk in booking".
But this is why I am really writing... Get ready!
The promo codes you need to get the Bali Hotel special offers when you book online are printed in the leaflet I picked up. Here they are:
Tune Hotel Kuta, Bali - Promo Code = KUTAWALK
Tune Hotel Legian, Bali - Promo Code = LEGIANWALK

You need to stay in the hotel between now and 30 April 2013.
I tried the codes to see if they worked. They do. The Promo price is 86,000 ($9) for a single room in either hotel at the end of March.
If you do not enter the Promo code the normal price is 150,000 a night.
I won't leave my name in case Tune don't like me writing these Promo codes online, but I don't think it's fair for people (like me) who always book online and don't have access to a code to now find out that we have been paying double the price. Grrrr....
Now the magic question - Does anyone know where to find discount codes for other Tune Hotels?
Discount Codes for 50% off Tune Hotels in Bali

Fantastic country, but be aware of the child beggers. Not because they are dangerous, just because they are extremely good at pulling the heart strings and also because it's something of a business. This includes the mothers asking for you to buy milk. Tough to turn down and you may not care if you are being scammed to buy milk.
A mate of mine went for this, was taken to a supermarket to buy said milk, and the girl tried to pick the biggest, most expensive packet there was! I've heard they keep the receipt and get a refund, but if it doesn't break the bank you might not care. But at least you are aware...
Milk scam
Bali - Indonesia
I would recommend the Three brothers Hotel in Legian. Around 30 min to airport with taxi... Then rent a board and go surfing, there is an easy beach break 400m away - Padma.
Bali - Indonesia
If you are in Bali and business minded have a look at things like local wood carvings. I know people that go to Bali each year and import back a container full of them to sell in a furniture shop in Canada.
Profit margins are so large that they work 6 months and then when the Canadian winter arrives they travel in Asia for 6 months looking for new stock to send back when the snow is gone. They also buy stock in Vietnam. Hope that helps.
Vientiane - Laos
A bit grim after being to Thailand, but there are some sites in Vientiane worth a look including the Pha That Luang temple 'complex' and the mock 'Arc de Triomphe'. You can actually climb up inside this and take some good pictures from the roof.
Not sure why, but Laos as some really unusual sunsets, the cloudless sky goes an unusual colour. So sunset is a really good time for pictures.
What to do
Border - Laos
When you arrive at the border there are lots of people who will offer to help you get across (for a fee).
I don't normally bother with that side of thing, but if you can get the price cheap enough it's worth thinking about as you will get through the form filling and waiting quicker. They will tell you where to go at each stage and help you fill the forms in.
Mine also arranged a taxi to Vientiane and took me to a hotel (I had nothing booked). I think it was about 500 baht in all (from Thai side to Vientiane hotel).
More money but less hassle
Border - Laos
Some words of advice if you are arriving in Laos over the 'Friendship Bridge' from Nong Khai in Thailand.
Get a taxi to the Thai side of the border then you pass though 'immigration' (a kiosk) and then get on a bus that drives you over the Mekong to the Laos immigration.
The Laos side is Communist queuing at its very best. Lots of pointless forms, a fee, waiting around and then a huge visa that takes up a whole page. There is no aircon and the border guards do nothing to stop the pushing in by some locals. So be prepared to be patient...
That said Laos is cheap compared with Thailand and has some great countryside.
How to get across
Vientiane - Laos
If you are a backpacker or tourist one place to head for in Vientiane is the riverfront area, where there are lots of restaurants and hotels aimed at foreigners. You will meet a lot of like-minded people in this area Where to stay
Cebu - Philippines
Good place to go if you are looking for a beach holiday outside of the cramped, craziness of Manila etc. As with all the Philippines, check which airlines flies where.
The Singapore F1 Grand Prix is on this weekend. Prices inflate massively when F1 is in town, but this is how I got a great deal. It also works for any big motorsport event - F1, MotoGP or whatever.
Keep an eye on the specialist motorsport websites at this time of year and be ready to book as soon as the first version of the race calendar for next year is announced. Hotels will put their prices up by 2 or 3 times when they know the F1 is on. This happens everywhere in the world. But the hotels don't get advance knowledge of the exact race dates until they are made public. So if you book quickly, you just pay the normal weekend fee and not the special F1 weekend rate.
Best to choose hotels that allow you to change dates or cancel without big penalties, just in case the planned race calendar changes after you book (rare but not impossible).
Sentosa Island is dedicated to tourism/leisure. It has all sorts of things, including butterfly parks, dolphin parks, 4d cinemas, rides etc. Read up for more. If you are going to Singapore it's worth a look. There are also several beaches, inc. clubs and bars. Place to go
Singapore is an expensive city so do your homework before you go. Turning up without accommodation already booked is risky and you could be left with a big bill. Don't go when the F1 race is on, unless that's your reason for being there, as prices rocket for the Grand Prix week. Otherwise it's a great city, Weather can be harsh for Europeans but it's really safe, clean and tidy.
My must see for Singapore would be the night zoo and make sure you also see the animal show. Unlike many zoos in asia this place really seems to take care of the animals and the tricks they do in the show are not of the cheezy circus variety - otters sorting recycling! Brilliant! The Night Zoo is one of the best known attractions so easy to sign up. Most trips include transport to and from the zoo. Must see
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