Bali Travel Tips: Do’s and Don’ts of Bali to Remember While You're There

The Do’s and Don’ts of Bali

Make sure you don’t inadvertently offend the locals while you’re on a trip to Bali by reading up on these do’s and don’ts related to etiquette, culture and more.

We all know Bali, Indonesia as one of the top holiday destinations in the world. Picturesque sandy beaches and uncountable surf spots, miles of never-ending shopping streets, luxurious villas, affordable street food… Bali has it all.

While this Indonesian paradise may come across as highly westernised and modern, religious devotion and traditions remain a huge part of the Balinese people’s daily lives, which is why it is such an intriguing and fascinating place to visit. Although nearly 90% of the Indonesian population is Muslim, the majority of inhabitants in Bali are Hindu and their customs and etiquettes differ greatly from their Muslim neighbours.

As friendly and tolerant as Balinese people are, they are extremely proud of their traditions and foreign visitors are therefore expected to respect them as much as possible during their stay.

To get you started, here is a list of dos and don’ts when visiting Bali. Most are related to etiquette, and some of them are simply general tips.

Etiquette-related Do’s and Don’ts

DO dress conservatively outside the main tourist resorts, especially when visiting temples and mosques.

bali travel tips

Image credit: Jorge Lascar

DO obey the rules when entering a temple or any religious sites. For instance, you must wear a sarong and a sash, and leave your footwear at the entrance when entering a Hindu temple. (Also, always remove your footwear before entering a local’s house.)

DO use the local social titles when talking or referring to someone older than you: use “Pak” for men and “Ibu” for women.

Image credit: John Y. Can

DO learn some useful Indonesian phrases; it is always appreciated. For example, “Terima Kasih” means thank you, “Selamat Pagi” means good morning and “Maaf” means sorry.

DO talk with someone at eye level. If the person is seated, you should either sit down or bend down so that you are at the same height.

DO NOT touch the head of a Balinese local. Even patting a cute child’s head is forbidden. For them, the head is the most sacred and purest part of the body.

Image credit: Bindalfrodo

DO NOT use your left hand when giving money or handing over anything else. The left hand is considered unclean so always use your right hand to give, and both hands to receive.

DO NOT point with one finger, and do not touch or point at someone with your feet. These acts are extremely offensive.

bali travel tips

Image credit: Alex Zicco

DO NOT walk over the Canang Sari in the streets. These are daily Balinese offerings to the Hindu god Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, thanking him for the peace given to the world. They can be spotted on the ground, in front of houses, shops and temples so keep an eye out!

DO NOT walk in front of someone who is praying or take pictures of them with the camera flash on. If there is a religious ceremony going on, you’re free to stay and watch but do not interrupt.

Other Do’s and Don’ts

bali travel tips

Image credit: Herman Saksono

DO eat at the warungs, the small restaurants that you see on the streets. The food is absolutely delicious and as cheap as it can get! Do also try out a Balinese cooking class – it’s a unique experience and a great way to learn more about Indonesian cuisine.

DO avoid getting the “Bali Belly”, which is basically what we know as the traveller’s diarrhoea. This is mainly caused by unclean food and water, especially peeled fruits and inadequately-cooked meat and seafood. Enjoy the warungs but only enter the ones that appear to be hygienic.

DO always wear a helmet while riding a motorbike, even if you see plenty of people riding without one. The police can stop you anytime and make you pay a “fine” (the amount depends on their mood).

DO bargain with the street vendors and beach merchants; it’s the way of shopping in Bali. But always be friendly and respectful. Bargaining is part of the culture in Bali, and tourists should see it as a fun experience rather than a war.

DO NOT use or bring drugs into Bali. Indonesian drug laws are among the strictest in Asia and it makes zero difference whether you’re a foreigner or not. The death penalty still exists there and the Kerobokan Prison houses plenty of tourists who thought they could get past the system.

bali travel tips

DO NOT mess with the monkeys on the island, especially those in touristy spots like Uluwatu and Ubud. If you get too close, they might steal everything they can get their hands on – sunglasses, hats, even your bag! If this happens, try to give them a few Rupiahs or ask a local for help. Yes, you heard me right, a lot of the monkeys are trained to take your belongings and make you pay to get them back.

DO NOT drink odd-looking drinks served at cheap bars. Those colourful glowing cocktails? They have a lot of artificial ingredients and will make you ill in no time. Another important thing is to never let your drink out of sight and if it happens, just order another one. There are so many stories of drugged tourists being kidnapped or hurt in Bali.

There you go, follow these do’s and don’ts for an enjoyable time in Bali.

About Author

Skye Hsiao
Skye Hsiao

From a small beautiful island called Taiwan, Skye is a 23 years old full-time travel addict and sucker for anything blue. She grew up in 4 different countries and have been to more than 30 so far, still chasing stories to tell when she’s old. Follow her steps on Instagram @ballerina12111

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