I’m from the Philippines. So I look practically the same as any Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese and apparently, Indonesian. Locals usually treat me as a fellow national – until they talk to me.
In Tanah Lot, we went to a shop to buy two bottles of water and asked “Brapa?” (the local word for “How much?”). A Caucasian couple also asked the same thing in English. The seller told us to wait (at least I assume she did), and said that it’s IDR25,000 for two bottles. She then talked to us (and we weren’t able to answer busting our cover I think) and took IDR20,000. Upon confirmation with locals, yes, there is a different pricing scheme in Bali for locals and foreigners.
Where it Applies
Food – usually. May it be in restaurants, street vendors, etc.
How it Works
From what I hear, it’s not like they maintain two menus. They just keep one and give 40%ish “discount” to locals.
How much do they charge
From what I encountered in restaurants and when buying strawberry, at least 100% more. So when you see the price, halve it. That’s probably the normal price.
To put it in perspective, a set of noodles with all the works in Jakarta is around IDR40,000. In Bali, for IDR60,000, you just get plain noodles and soup. So to get the works, you’ll probably have to shell out more than IDR100,000.
How to avoid it
If you are from South East Asia and look like them, get a guide who will act as a local for you. Avoid going to Bali from August to December. Starting August, Europeans come in droves. Best time to visit to avoid tourists, our driver said, is around March.
If you aren’t South East Asian, assess how much the impact is for you (it might be immaterial so no point stressing over it). Otherwise, get a set tour online (read reviews first) that includes meals already.
Bali is a tourist stop. The locals expect people to go there to have fun – and spend money. So if you are a tourist there to have fun and NOT spend money as much as possible, you ought to prepare. 🙂