10 Dos and Don'ts when visiting Bali

When should you - and when should you not - enter a temple? What is the correct way of giving and receiving something? As most Balinese probably are too polite to tell you when you break their customs, take a look at the below Dos and Don'ts to make sure you do as the Balinese would do when visiting Bali.

Dos And Don'ts in Bali

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Do's and Don'ts

Entering a temple

DO wear a Sarong or long clothes when entering a temple – The Balinese are very serious about their spirituality, so please be respectful.

DON'T enter a temple menstruating – also if you have an open wound you shouldn’t enter.

Shopping

DO haggle in markets and street shops - Humor and a smile can get you a long way, that goes for bargaining too.

DON'T haggle too hard or for the fun of it - Be polite. 5000 rupiah probably won’t make much of a difference to you, but it might do to the seller.

Mind the head

DO wear a helmet when driving a scooter – Both for protection and to avoid getting stopped by the police. Insider tip: Wearing an “udeng” (The traditional Balinese headwear) exempt you from wearing a helmet

DON'T touch people’s heads – That goes for kids too, even if they are really cute. The head is considered the most sacred part of the human body.

Drinking water

DO drink bottled water - Bali is hot all year around and you don’t want to dehydrate.

DON'T drink tap water - It does not taste good and will almost certainly give you stomach problems.

When giving and receiving

DO use both hands when giving or receiving - It is a compliment to use both hands when you give or receive things like money or a business card.

DON'T hand over something with your left hand – It is considered impolite. Using both hands is still ok.

When driving

DO honk the horn shortly when overtaking - It is a common way to let other people know you are passing.

DON'T hold the horn down – Being aggressive in the traffic is frowned upon everywhere, even more so in Bali.

Getting attention

DO wave with your palm facing down - When asking someone to come by, stretch your hand out, palm down and move your fingers toward yourself.

DON'T point with your index finger - That is considered offensive. Use the entire hand if you want to point out something.

When invited to dinner

DO make room for a second serving – you will most likely be asked for one and it will be impolite to reject.

DON'T empty your plate – Leave a little food as an offering to the gods and to let the host know you had enough to eat.

Partying

DO enjoy an ice cold Bintang - Balis’ no. 1 beer and it comes in large bottles!

DON'T do drugs! - Indonesian drug laws are extremely strict.

Watch your feet

DO take of your shoes when entering - When entering a home or temple take of you shoes. Helpful tip: Whenever you see a row of flip flops outside a building, you should take of yours too before entering.

DON'T touch or point at someone with your feet – It is considered very offensive.

Comments

  • January 26, 2013 05:06 Daleen says :

    Hi Stefan, I'm a foreigner living in Jakarta and we often go to Bali and surrounds for short breaks or longer holidays. The list you wrote is great!! I stumbled upon your article after reading another do's and don't list, which got me so angry! The other writer wrote the most crap I've ever read on travel blogs about Bali...like no public display of affection, cover arms and legs at all times etc... This is how writers tarnish the reputation of a country. Because the Indonesian people - particularly the Balinese - are some of the most tolerant people I have ever met. Thanks for your fair comments.

  • January 26, 2013 07:50 Stefan says :

    Hi Daleen

    I couldn't agree with you more - The Balinese are some of the kindest people you're ever going to meet.

    I am glad you liked the list.

    Stefan

  • April 24, 2013 12:58 lizzy says :

    Hej Stefan!

    Will you be in Bali in June/July :)

    Kind regards,

    Lizzy

  • April 25, 2013 05:41 Stefan Russel says :

    Hi Lizzy

    I don't know my plans for June and July yet, but let me know if there is anything we can do for you.

    Stefan

  • October 5, 2013 11:38 jacob says :

    thank you!

  • December 24, 2013 06:30 Kennedy JP says :

    Thanks for the note!
    I already booked the ticket and hotel in Bali, I want to go there for 10 days but i just read some writings on the internet; and met someone in Sydney. They said: must be carefully in caution in Bali because the laws are very strick and strange there??? that make me feel unconfrtable and want to cancel my trip there insteads I will go Philipine ..sound is better country laws and more on western style.???
    KP:
    PS: people can put drug in my drinks and I may have been set up for the jail...? is it that corruption country?

  • December 28, 2013 09:58 Stefan Russel says :

    Hi Kenny

    I am not sure what you have read about Bali, but I wouldn't worry if I were you. Bali is as safe as any country in South-East Asia and the Balinese are some of the kindest people you are ever going meet.

    You mention strict laws. When it comes to drugs, Bali has some very strict laws, so I will definitely recommend against getting involved with drug in any way, but apart from that laws aren't much different from anywhere else.

    I am certain you will enjoy Bali and my advice would be to stick to you original plan and I am sure you won't regret it.

    Stefan

  • January 10, 2014 01:21 Jayremy says :

    Hi Stefan, thanks for your great write up. This would be my 2nd trip to Bali since 2008...Definitely so many changes there and I'm so looking forward to be there. Hopefully this trip will be smooth and enjoyable for me and my friends.

    Jay

  • January 10, 2014 12:38 Stefan Russel says :

    Hi Jay

    Bali is definitely changing in many ways, but it is still a very special place if you ask me. I am sure you'll have an excellent trip.

    Enjoy! :)

    Stefan


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