Bali is an amazing island of Indonesia. I visited the island in April and May of last year and really had the best time. It’s good to know what NOT to do in Bali to get the most out of your trip.
Bali has another culture than you’re most likely used to. It is wise to read some information about the culture and the values they have. You do not want to intimidate or offend any of the locals. In serious cases this could even lead to jail time. It’s always good to read some information about the country you are going to visit and it’s a lot of fun too! Part of traveling is getting to know new cultures and to respect other ways of living. However, I can imagine that there’s a lot of information out there and that you might not have the time to do a lot of research. That’s why I made it a bit easier for you and wrote down the don’ts in Bali.
As a first statement, I want to state the obvious. Always be aware of your surroundings whenever you’re traveling in Bali or any other country. There are, sadly, a lot of people who want to take advantage of tourists and you may not even know they’re doing it. Don’t walk with a stranger who’s promising you something. Keep your belongings close to you, especially when you’re walking next to a road. People on scooters will drive by and grab your bag in a split second. You have no chance in getting it back since they are faster on the scooter than you are on foot. Always keep an eye on your drink. Don’t drink it if you haven’t had your eyes on it all the time, just in case. Don’t drink the water on the island because it will possibly make you sick. Please be careful whenever riding on a scooter, there have been many tourists that got arrested after causing a fatal accident. And don’t become a victim yourself. Please be careful!
Don’t spend too much time in Kuta
Kuta is the most touristic place on Bali. It is super crowded with tourists and you’ll hardly find any of the authentic Balinese lifestyles here. Many people think that if they have been in Kuta, they have seen Bali. This is absolutely not true because Bali has so so so much more to offer than just Kuta. I’d advice to either stay one or two days in Kuta. It does have a great shopping mall and Kuta beach is amazing for beginner surfers. There’s enough hostels and cafés and restaurants to keep you satisfied. Don’t avoid it: Kuta is changing for the better.
Don’t just eat western food
I know it’s super tempting to keep eating what you know and most importantly: eat what you know you’ll like. First off, Bali is a really inexpensive island but the western restaurants are pretty expensive.
Don’t forget that the tax is, in 90% of the cases, not included in the price that’s shown on the menu card. So, you have to add about 10-20% extra to the total price of your meal. And secondly, you won’t support the local economy if you keep giving money to international restaurants. And lastly, it so much fun to try new food! It took me a while to be comfortable in tasting new foods, but it’s one of the most exciting things while traveling.
Don’t look around a shop for 20 minutes with no intention of buying anything
This is considered rude. If you’re not liking anything or if you’re not sure, just leave after a few minutes and come back if you decide to buy anything. Follow a good haggling etiquette and you’re good to go.
Don’t touch someone’s head
I’m not someone who will touch someone’s head out of the blue and I’m pretty sure that you’re not like that too. However, the head is considered a sacred part of the body to the Balinese people. They won’t appreciate it if you do touch someone’s head. I don’t think you were planning on doing this, but I’m just mentioning it to be sure!
Don’t push the rules in a temple
Whenever you enter a temple in Bali, you need to wear a sarong and a sash. This is usually provided at the entrance of the temple and it’s to avoid that people are showing too much skin. Your lower body will be covered with the sarong and try to show as little skin as possible of your upper body to avoid offending any of the locals. Another thing to keep in mind when you are in a temple is to NOT point your feet to the altar in the temple. Lastly, to us women, do not enter the temple if you’re on your period.
Don’t point with your index finger
Bali is pretty touristic so the locals have gotten used to Western gestures but pointing with your index finger is considered rude. Like I said, they have gotten used to Western gestures so you will most likely not have any issues if you do it accidentally. Just try to not do it.
Don’t visit the typical places
The photos of the island have been anywhere. It is really popular and many people have gone and enjoyed the island. There are many recommendations about places to go. And yes, I admit: I did visit the typical places. However, it is so much more fun to discover the secret hidden pearls of the island and have a place almost to yourself. Kelingking Beach is amazing and mesmerizing, but you literally have the wait in line before you can get a photo of the view or take a selfie with the view. It is worth the visit, but do try to find some of those hidden pearls as well. I’m sure it will make your journey extra special!
And lastly, just always respect the local culture. There can’t go much wrong if you follow their rules and be respectful towards them. You are the guest in the country so do your absolute best to be a star quality tourist!