Do's and Don'ts in Bali

Do's and Don'ts in Bali

  1. Do not disturb people praying or meditating.
  2. Do respect the Balinese People & their unique traditions.
  3. Do not take any photos of people without their permission
  4. Do not take photos of people bathing
  5. Do not take photos of Priests praying
  6. Do smile first (Balinese when visiting a new village offer a smile first.)
  7. Do not allow the bottom of your feet to face or point at another person.
  8. Do wear the correct clothing when visiting religious sites (see more below).
  9. Do take your shoes off when entering someone’s home or a small shop (warung)
  10. Do not touch anyone on the head
  11. Do not put your feet up on any chairs while sitting (or to apply sunblock, tie your shoe etc.)
  12. Do dress modestly (women travellers are very safe in Bali if dressed modestly).
  13. Do not kiss in public places.
  14. Do not call someone over with your palm up (calling with your finger up means calling for a challenge)
  15. Do please learn local customs before visiting small remote villages.
  16. Do understand Bali is a cultural destination.
  17. Do not give only to individuals (If tourists wish to help the people of Bali, they should consider the creative way to contribute communities, not to individuals).
  18. Do not give money or sweets to the children.
  19. Do not use drugs (is illegal in Bali, Indonesia, serious penalties apply, including the death penalty).
  20. Do not buy antiques (to maintain Bali’s unique heritage do not buy antiques, buy arts & crafts locally and recently made instead). Antiques can never sold by families or communities so they will be stolen products
  21. Do help us keep Bali clean (set an example to the people by taking your rubbish with you if you cannot find a rubbish bin)
  22. Do practice safe sex (prostitution is illegal and AIDS is a major problem).
  23. Do not go where you are advised not to go.
  24. Do not enter Temples without appropriate clothing
  25. Do not enter Government buildings (immigration, police station) without a collared shirt and long pants (or skirt below knee)
  26. Do not raise your voice in public, that's with anger or joy, it is culturally unacceptable in Indonesia
  27. Do relax and enjoy your holidays.
  28. Do not discuss the Indonesian/Balinese government/corruption with locals, it is a sensitive topic that is not discussed
  29. Do show respect to all elders, a simple nod of the head while passing in the street will suffice.
For courtesies in Social Life in Bali scroll down

Some Courtesies in Social Life (these should help on your visit but there are many more)

    • Balinese people are very friendly, modest and expect the same of guests.
    • When Balinese visit another village, they dress quite formally to show respect
    • When we pass near or in front of the elder people, we bow our head in terms of showing respect.
    • We do not show overly public displays of affection to the opposite sex
    • We always give or receive things with the right hand, the left hand is used for dirty things such as the toilet.
    • We do not touch the top of a person’s head
    • When we shake hand hands we offer our right hand, palm up (never our left), we do not squeeze firmly and we then touch our heart (this symbolizes I will keep you in my heart).
    • We never put food in our mouth with our bare left hand, the left hand is used for dirty things (such as the toilet)
    • If we eat at someone’s home, we never finish all on our plate to show our host they made us enough
    • We take our shoes off when we enter someone’s home or a small shop (look for lots of shoes at the front to know when you should do this)
    • You do not need to remove your shoes in a Government building but please ensure you are wearing long pants/skirt (cover the knees, midriff and shoulders, a collared shirt is preferable)
    • When we enter a government office or someone’s home we knock and then say “Permisi”(excuse me) before entering.
    • When we enter school or someone’s home we greet with our hands together in prayer position and we bow our head (we use a Balinese greeting but tourists may just use “Permisi).
    • When asked to sit down we sit, we do not wait for the host to sit, it is quite rude to remain standing in someone’s home
    • Men will touch men and woman will touch woman, this is very common so a friend may place their hand on your leg while talking to you

    When we enter a warung or walk down the street and see someone we know who is eating or drinking coffee we do not talk to them, a simple nod to acknowledge them will suffice

    • Balinese (Indonesians) do not raise their voice or show anger in public (shouting or showing anger in public will be considered that you lack in intelligence/or raised with no manners, so won’t get you anywhere)
    • Balinese also consider those that raise their voice and make too much fuss are insincere, so keep calm when you wish to discuss a problem (if the toilet is leaking, ask nicely for it to be fixed, and be patient if in a non-tourist area as they may not see the toilet being fixed as a priority like you do)
    • Balinese may smile or even giggle at you if you confront them, this is a sign they are uncomfortable with your approach, it is not a sign they do not care or that they are laughing at your complaint.
    • Try not to use the word Maybe, locals will take it as a yes and it can become confusing, especially when shopping
    • When out shopping if you want to use "No Thankyou" then do it with a shake of the head, no thank you with a nod and a smile is confusing as Thank you with a nod and a smile means Yes.
    • Try not to use the word no, if asked a question such as have you been to… or do you have….,”not yet’ is always a better answer, the Balinese live in hope that you will go there one day or you will have (for example, children, it saddens the Balinese for you to say we have no children)
    • All Balinese/Indonesians believe in God so best not to mention if you do not, it will make a very uncomfortable situation

We at C.Bali believe responsible and Sustainable Tourism is when Tourists adapt to the place they visiting and do not expect the place to adapt to them.

Some Courtesies at Temples

Bali is the land of Temples, which overwhelm the Island, forming the fascinating landscapes.

When we visit the temples, which are considered the most important, what is worn is not a matter of choice, nor is it a fashion statement. It is a symbolic gesture with a function. It is compulsory attire for everyone for visiting the temple.

Temples are a place of worship, just like Churches and Mosques respectful clothing is required at all times and there are some rules on what to wear in Balinese temples. However, unlike churches, Temples cannot be entered by the General Public at all times. There are some Temples in tourist areas where you can enter the courtyards, signs will be on the Temple with instruction on what to wear, photography etc.

Please do not enter a Temple in a village if there is no sign or without a Mangku's (Village Priests) permission or by invitation by a Balinese for a ceremony.

If you wish to enter a temple (or temple grounds, gardens etc), while there is not a ceremony in progress, any visitors of any religion that wish to enter are welcome to some temples (look for siganage, do not enter if there is no sign saying you may enter) but just as Balinese, must dress appropriately:

Men

Do not enter a temple if you have an open wound.

  • Please wear long pants, a sarong is more appreciated, a sash (scarf) around the waist is a must and a plain shirt (it does not require a collar)

Women

  • Do not enter a temple while menstruating (or an open wound)
  • Please wear long pants, a sarong is much more appreciated, a sash (scarf) around the waist is a must and a plain neat shirt (it does not require a collar)
If you wish to enter a main temple while a ceremony is occurring you must wear the appropriate traditional clothing, the minimum a guest should wear is as follows:

Men

  • a Collared Shirt (white preferrable), a Sarong tied in the middle, a second shorter cloth around the thigh area,  a sash around the waist, a Udeng (men’s head dress), ask a local to help with all of this.

Woman

  • a Kabaya (long-sleeved, lacy blouse), a Sarong tied at the left, a sash around the waist, the hair is generally placed up in a formal manner and kept very neat.

Temple Etiquette during a large ceremony

  • Prayer is done on your knees but if you cannot sit like that for a long period of time then sit with your feet away from the Priest (The feet are the lowest part of the body; Do not point your feet at somebody)
  • Do not stand up during prayer, wait for it to finish, this is very disrespectful and no-one should stand higher than the Priest.
  • Do not walk up any steps to take a photo from a higher point.
  • Do take a blessing if you wish, the Priest will show you how it is done (you will be required to drink the Holy water, so if you do not wish to do this then it is best you do not have a blessing or it would be disrespectful to refuse to drink.
  • It is possible to take photos in the temples (except of Priests praying from the front, or the people without their permission (do not use a flash in a Temple). However, it would be better to ask permission if you want to take any photos.
  • Indicating something with the foot is not the polite manner; please take care not to lay down the feet toward the priest or even to other people.
  • When we speak with the Priests (or Mangkus), the elder people or high rank persons, we should maintain the attitude of humble respect. (We bow our heads and place our hands together in front of our heart when we greet).
  • No kissing or public displays of affection in a Temple

Temple Etiquette - taking photos in the Temple

  • It is possible to take photos in the temples (except of Priests praying from the front, or the people without their permission (do not use a flash in a Temple). However, it would be better to ask permission if you want to take any photos.
  • Do not stand up during prayer, wait for it to finish, this is very disrespectful and no-one should stand higher than the Priest.
  • Do not walk up any steps to take a photo from a higher point.

Temple Etiquette - taking photos in front of the Temple

  • It is possible to take photos in front of the temples, however do not walk/sit/stand on the entrance stairs unless dressed appropriately - see above
  • Some entrances are only for God, so ask a Balinese first if it is okay to walk the steps for a photo (appropriately dressed)
  • Do not pose for a photo in front or on Temple Steps in an inappropriate way - this includes kissing
  • Do not pose with the Statues in front of Temples in an inappropriate way - this includes hugging the statue, kissing the statue or climbing on the statue
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