Experiences - Asia

Etiquette Tips for Travellers in Bali

Although Bali comes across as highly modern and western, it has a rich native culture which provides a firm and tangible bedrock on which Balinese behavior and relationships are built.

Without proper knowledge of traditions and cultural traits of the Balinese, travelling through Bali can be a difficult experience.

Etiquette Tips for Travellers in Bali - nyepi
Image Courtesy: data smog used under the Creative Commons Licence

Here are some etiquette tips for travellers in Bali:

Behave and dress modestly

The locals are far more conservative than they appear which makes them frown on public displays of affection. If the history of Asia is any evidence, modesty in dressing is a must in Southeast Asian countries. Dressing neatly will help you earn brownie points from the locals.

When entering temples

Modest dressing is much appreciated especially when visiting temples. Both men and women are expected to wear shirts that cover the shoulders and a part of the upper arms. Flip-flops are fine. Before entering a Balinese temple, people compulsorily have to wear a sarong around the legs and a scarf around the waist.

Avoid the left hand

Balinese traditionally don’t use toilet paper. Instead, they use water and their left hand to wash. Therefore, for hygienic purposes, they do not appreciate the use of the left hand for many things unless both the hands are being used to offer or give something to someone.

Interrupting religious processions

These processions are fairly regular especially during high holy days like Nyepi. These Balinese religious processions take precedence over the roads and traffic at times. So have patience and wait for it to clear. Do not honk and cause a ruckus. Also avoid flash photography as it is very disruptive.

Make room for a second serving

During dinner, always make room for a second serving as you will most likely be asked for one and it is considered impolite to reject. Always leave some food as an offering to the gods. Let the host know you had enough and are satisfied with the meal.

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