The Culture Guide: How to be Respectful in Bali

Dec 13, 2021
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Bali is a tourist hotspot but it is also a very sacred land. Balinese are a mix of Hindu-Buddhist which can be a more conservative approach to lifestyles versus Western customs. 


How do you respect local customs whilst keeping your own integrity?


Awareness of PDA

 

Public displays of affection are not always accepted by the Balinese people. Too much kissing or being overly affectionate is not acceptable by the locals who find it disrespectful. Holding hands is acceptable, but anything beyond that should be left behind closed doors.

 

Nudity

 

Even though the temperature is hot and there is beaches everywhere, nudity is not allowed. Topless is even not allowed in Bali. When it comes to swimming or sunbathing, women should leave their bikini tops on. 

 

Even though the Balinese will rarely complain, it is also advised to pop on a t-shirt or a cover-up before going to a restaurant or beach bar. Although it might feel overdone, the custom in Balinese people is to keep covered up as much as possible.


Modesty at the temple


When visiting a temple, there are even more strict dress codes. Women must wear a sarong or something to cover their legs past their knees. You’re free to buy and adorn traditional wear into the temple, which is encouraged. 


Another strange rule for the temple is that women who are on their period are not allowed in. It might seem foreign or a little rude, but it is an ancient custom. 


Wear a helmet


Borrowing and riding a scooter in Bali is part of the fun and tourist experience. It’s easy to get around, cheap to rent and gets you to places easily. BUT it’s essential that you keep the safety the way you would at home. Although it is not policed as hard, it’s so important to wear a helmet. The Balinese people can be offended over the confidence of tourists and their disregard for road safety.


Don’t touch


Balinese people aren’t very physical. It’s important to not touch them. Particularly on their heads. Traditional Balinese belief is that our soul is lives in a person’s head and it is a very bad custom to touch someone’s head.


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