It has come to my attention over and over again, each year, that visitors are not just coming for a vacation to unwind but to enrich themselves culturally. The island has a rich culture and history, and it is one of the reasons for people to visit Bali. To do this the best You can take a guide, a private tour with a driver through the island.
A lot of Indonesians have come to Bali to start working. Either as a driver or guide. There is a big difference noticeable. Have you noticed when you are in a Bluebird taxi or ordered a taxi online Grab / Gojek that mostly they don’t speak English?
Language Barrier between you and the driver/guide
This is often the first thing that happens. Sometimes the drivers do not speak English. They would only know where to pick you up and where to drop you. If this is enough for you it’s fine. But if you have questions about culture, history, then it’s going to be a challenge.
Now there is a lot of information online available, but mostly you get superficial information. Talking to your driver using Google Translate can also cause some miscommunication. You both might understand each other differently. Not only the language is the barrier at that moment, but also culturally. You might have some expectations that the driver is not familiar with.
Some of these drivers come from other parts of Indonesia. Where they themself just hire a car om Indonesia and use a phone to navigate. A guide.
English speaking Drivers
Hurray! you got an English speaking driver. Now communication becomes a lot easier. The expectation from each other becomes clear and the driver understands what you want better. So what’s the disadvantage?
English speaking drivers are great to have. But a lot of questions can be answered with silence. They might not now a specific part. Sometimes they only know one village anecdote or history. But if you would ask specific questions, about what is not in their knowledge, it’s answered with I don’t know or you might even get ignored to avoid further questions.
Doing a tour brings you to places they have been before to drop tourists off. At some of these places you get offered a guide, and sometimes you would say no because you already paid for a driver. While your driver is waiting for you on the parking lot and you are enjoying some sights of a temple, you start getting questions. You take photos on your camera/phone to remember what questions you have.
When you are back you would show these photo’s and have specific questions like: What is the meaning of this animal as a foundation. What is the story behind a painting? What is the purpose of this building? There is a big chance your driver does not know!
TIP: Before going with a driver, ask also what they know about the place and its history. They might be able to satisfy your curiosity.
Sometimes you want to go from south to North Bali with a driver. This requires going through the mountains. Even with Google Maps as navigation the mountains are tricky and a winding route. Be sure to ask your driver if they went to your destination before. I had some negative experience with one who thought it was a rally race.
This is a rare group and not everyone is willing to study and take a test. But licensed guides had to study and take an exam. The course itself is 5 Million IDR(Almost twice the minimum wage). Because of the amount, and also that it requires study not everyone is willing to undertake it. Source: http://dpphpi.org/beranda
The payoff is a big difference. As licensed guides, they know more, even than local guides that did not do the studies. They can answer almost any question related to Bali, Historical, religion and culture. The study is about all the cultures in Bali so they can tell you about it. But it’s also about manners towards tourists.
Licensed guides are also allowed to enter the temples, or areas you want to visit for your tour. That way they can also explain about the place. You would need to ask that though becomes it can become tiring for them a full-day tour is planned.
With a Licensed guide in Bali, you do have more fun on your tours.
TIP: Ask where the local food is
If you are with any guide or driver, they mostly know where the good Indonesian must-try foods are. You will be brought to places you would never normally eat. Little warungs that do have very good authentic dishes and tastes.
So what do you need? A driver or a licensed guide?
It comes down to having a driver or licensed guide actually. A driver that can bring you from your destination to another. This can happen in different languages as some drivers learned French, Japanese, Russian, or another language. This way you can feel comfortable in your own language.
A Licensed guide if you want to get the most out of your journey/private tour. They often understand the needs of the tourist better than any other driver or guide. They will help you with requests. For them, it’s important to uphold a reputation so they can get recommended again for a private tour. A licensed guide is also a bit more expensive (a few hundred thousand rupiah).
I hope this article helps you in deciding what service to use.