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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.