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Do’s and Don’ts in Bali

Whenever you are traveling to a new destination, do some research to make sure you are prepared and act as a responsible tourist. It is the same for Bali. Even though the island has been opened up for tourism, the Balinese reserve a strong religious belief and are very proud of their beautiful culture. Check out the Do’s and Don’ts in Bali to make sure you’ll have an enjoyable time here.

Do’s

  • Do be respectful. When entering a Hindu temple, wear a sarong with a sash. If you do not own one, some temples also have the sarongs and you can borrow it before entering. Make sure your upper body is not too exposed either. It is also nice to leave the temple a donation.
  • 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. You’ll meet smiling people everywhere. Your personal smile can open many doors! Indonesians are often friendly, caring people.
  • Do address older males by ‘Bapak’ and females by ‘Ibu’ to show your respect.
  • Do realise that they are not joking when everyone says they are called Wayan or Ketut. All Balinese males share the same four names – Wayan (the eldest), Made (2nd eldest), Nyoman (3rd eldest) and Ketut (4th child syndrome). If there is a 5th boy, they start again at Wayan.
  • Do remove your shoes when entering a private house, no matter how modest it may be.
  • Do be careful when walking back to your hotel alone after 10 pm.
  • Do tip. If you have received good service 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 can help a lot.
  • Do use your horn. It is simply just a way of letting people know you are there in Indonesia.
  • Do make sure you have all your vaccinations up to date.
  • 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 you go shopping. It is expected that prices can be negotiated in markets around Bali.
  • Do try out the food at Indonesia warungs, the food is usually hygienic, fresh and delicious.
  • Do wear a helmet when riding a scooter in Bali, even if you are a passenger. Accidents do happen and a helmet can save your life.
  • 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 carry an international licence with you at all times, especially when riding a scooter or driving a car in case you pulled over by the police. You may end up with a heavy fine without a licence.
  • Do take note of the red and yellow flags while on the beach. They are there for your safety, indicating where you can and cannot swim.

Don’t

  • Don’t bring drugs into Indonesia. Indonesia has serious punishments, including the death penalty for those who are caught smuggling drugs in or out of the country, the same goes for buying any kind of drug. It’s best to refuse any offers for drugs with a “no, thank you” and walk away.
  • Don’t walk around scantily dressed. The Balinese are modest people so show your respect to the local culture by dressing suitably.
  • Don’t step on ceremonial offerings. They are usually scattered throughout the streets and on doorsteps. 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 even with a gentle pad. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body.
  • Don’t point at or hand a Balinese person something with your left hand as it is considered impolite.
  • Don’t wring somebody’s hand when you are greeting them with a handshake. It’s not very polite to do so.
  • Don’t put your feet up on a chair or table, point at someone with your feet or walk on temple walls/temple statues. The feet are considered the most unclean part of the body.
  • Don’t litter. Bali has been dealing with the waste management crisis due to the high number of tourists, so a small action like bringing a reusable bottle or youw own shopping bag means a lot for the island’s nature and locals.
  • Don’t be upset when people are a bit late in Bali, it’s part of a very elastic nature, which is called jam karet. Gracefully accept it with a smile and carry on with your day.
  • Don’t overshow your emotions or burst out in public. The same goes for loud talking, scolding and swearing in public! This will only put you in a bad light.
  • Don’t leave your plate completely empty when eating a meal at someone’s house. A little food is always left as an offering for the gods and to let your host know you had enough to eat.
  • Don’t drink tap water in Bali. The water is not sanitary and you may fall sick from consuming it.
  • Don’t enter a temple if you are menstruating (look for any signs or boards outside a temple which may indicate this).
  • Don’t provoke a monkey or any wild animals you come across, they can attack and some of the animals like monkeys may carry rabies.
  • 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.

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