When you are visiting any country in the world, there are usually a list of unspoken ‘do’s and don’ts’ and the island of Bali is no exception. However, some of these do’s and don’ts are not obvious to the first-time tourist. Read on for things you should and shouldn’t do when visiting paradise.
- Do tip. If you have received good service, whether at a café, bar or tour, tips are a nice way of saying that. Balinese workers do not receive a high salary so any extra tips are always welcome.
- Do be respectful. When entering a Hindu temple, wear a sarong with a sash. If you do not own one, they usually rent them out at the front of a temple. Make sure your upper body is not too exposed either. It is also nice to leave the temple a donation.
- Do use your horn on your scooter or car to honk. It is not considered to be impolite in Bali, but merely a way of letting people know you are there.
- Do make sure you have all your vaccinations up to date. Bali is full of diseases which can be avoided if you are vaccinated against them.
- Do have a realistic expectation of the internet connection in Bali. Some places have a very good connection while others do not.
- Do help a hurt animal if you see one. There are many shelters on the island that help sick and stray dogs and cats.
- Do haggle when visiting the markets. It is expected that prices can be negotiated in markets around Bali. However, many stores outside of the markets have fixed prices and it is considered rude to try and haggle there.
- Do wear a helmet when riding a scooter in Bali, even if you are a passenger. Many Balinese and tourists are a little lax when it comes to wearing a helmet but deadly accidents do happen and a helmet can save your life.
- Do take off your shoes when entering a home or sometimes even shop. It is rude not to.
- Do count your money when exchanging it at a money changer outside of the airport. Sometimes, you can be ripped off if you don’t pay attention.
- Do expect to encounter people smoking in a café or bar. You can ask them to do it elsewhere if it bothers you, but the smoking laws in Bali are minimal.
- Do make sure you carry an international license around with you at all times, especially when riding a scooter or driving a car. The police tend to pull tourists over for random checks and the fines can be heavy if you don’t have your driver’s license on you.
- Do learn some basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia, such as hello: selemat (pagi or malam for morning and night), please: tolong and thank you: terima kasih
- Do smile often. Bali is the land of smiles and Balinese people are often smiling.
- Do address older males by ‘Bapak’ and females by ‘Ibu’ as it shows respect.
- Do be careful when walking back to your hotel alone after 10pm.
- Do take note of the red and yellow flags while on the beach. They are there for your safety when in the water and indicate where you can and cannot swim.
- Don’t bring drugs into Indonesia. Even though this is a given for any country, Indonesia has the death penalty and is not afraid to sentence a criminal to this if they are caught smuggling drugs in or out of the country. This also includes buying drugs of any kind while in the country.
- Don’t walk around scantily dressed. Just because it is hot, doesn’t mean it is socially acceptable to walk the streets of Bali in a bikini or without a shirt. The Balinese are modest people and tourists parading around half naked is not appreciated.
- Don’t step on ceremonial offerings. They are usually scattered throughout the streets, on door steps. If you can avoid stepping on them, do. The Balinese are highly spiritual and these offerings are part of their religious beliefs.
- Don’t touch a Balinese person (or child) on their head. The head is considered a sacred part of the body.
- Don’t drink the tap water in Bali. The water is not sanitary and many tourists fall sick from consuming it.
- Don’t hand a Balinese person something with your left hand, it is considered rude.
- Don’t leave your plate completely empty when eating a meal at someone’s house. A little food is always left over as an offering for the gods and to let your host know you had enough to eat.
- Don’t provoke a monkey to attack and if you do get bitten, go straight to the doctor as monkeys can carry rabies.
- Don’t avoid eating at Indonesian warungs because you are afraid you may get sick. Most warungs are clean and hygenic and offer delicious Balinese food.
- Don’t put your feet up on a chair or table showing the bottoms of your feet. It is considered to be very rude.
- Don’t write a letter to a Balinese person with a red pen. Red ink is considered the colour of anger.
- Don’t hire vehicles unless you have insurance. It can be very costly for you if you damage the vehicle without insurance.
If you stick to these main do’s and don’ts when visiting Bali, you will likely have a positive experience. When it comes down to it, it is also about common sense. Do not behave in a way which you would not like in your own country.