There are two kinds of guides. Freelance, unofficial guides or touts, pushing tourist-oriented businesses and hanging around Bali's airport, the bus/bemo stations, and ferry terminals. Though they can be quite forward and persistent at times, you do not necessarily have to be paranoid about these men or boys who volunteer their services. They could actually save you a lot of trouble, footwork, and even money if you learn how to work with them and if you are able to sense the good ones from the bad.
Be open. Tour in Bali using guides could lead you to a new accommodation that is really eager to please, may otter discounts to a hotel that wants to attract new clientele, or could help you get transport or performance tickets. Their fee, tacked to the base price if not ridiculously high might be worth it.
The same thing goes for self-appointed, multilingual guides who attach themselves to you at the base of volcanoes and at entrances to temples and museums. These contacts could lead to fresh insights and even exciting experiences. Local guides are a part of the color of a new place. These characters seem to have friends everywhere, might work for a tour company on the side, and have an uncle who will sell you wayang puppets for a special price.
Then there are the officially sanctioned guides who supposedly have been professionally trained. These 300 are registered as guides, belonging to the Bali Guide Association, speak either English, Japanese, German, French, or Mandarin in addition to Indonesian and their own regional tongue. Their services cost more than volunteer guides. You will meet one of these certified guides if you join a local tour. The most talented know the best stopovers for snacks or modern amenities, can take you to places seldom visited, explain landmarks, put you in touch with the local people.
But the government regulation as to who can qualify as a registered guide is highly restrictive. Only people with money can afford to register, and thus they jack up the prices to cover their official fees. Moreover, not all these registered guides get high marks. Some demand fees from art shops and restaurants for delivering tourists; others pocket expenses that were promised as part of your tour price.
Sometimes it is better to employ a nonprofessional, family-style guide, particularly if you are coming for only 10 days or so, do not want to be in a group tour cocoon, and would like to expedite matters so as not to have to find out every- thing on your own without getting ripped off. The price freelancers charge often winds up being cheaper than most tour agencies. A good place to start inquiring about a personalized guide is with your homestay or hotel owner.