Balinese Travel Etiquette – What Should You Wear?

Travel Etiquette

Different countries and cultures have different expectations when it comes to appropriate levels of dress, what men and women should wear, and how people should act in public (especially with respect to being intimate in public).

Most expectations stem from religion and cultural beliefs, and you can therefore have some idea of what to expect before visiting a country. Although it is a predominantly Hindu island, Bali is no different. As a visitor to Bali, the respectful thing to do would be to wear appropriate clothing and to act in an appropriate manner when in public places. Wear what you want when you are staying in your Bali villa, but be respectful at other times. Although you probably won’t be penalised for failing to do so – since Bali is a huge tourist destination – it certainly doesn’t hurt to do what you can to fit in with local culture and traditions.

What is expected of female visitors to Bali?

As it is quite a touristy place, visited by millions of people every year, clothing requirements are neither strict nor enforced. However, it is never a bad thing to understand the culture and to try and fit in, rather than standing out as an obvious foreigner.

When you are in Bali, you will notice that most local women wear sarongs, nicely tied pieces of fabric which cover most of their body. Although you won’t be required to wear one of these in most places, they are comfortable, cool, and they look great – so why wouldn’t you!

One of the only times when you will be forced to dress differently is if you want to visit a temple. When visiting temples, all women – even foreigners – are required to wear a neat, clean sarong which is tied tightly and neatly.

Are there any special clothing requirements for male visitors?

As a man, you are pretty much free to wear whatever you want when you are visiting Bali. You will see a lot of tourists walking around the island in nothing but a pair of boardies and thongs. However, this doesn’t mean that you should.

Think about how you would dress at home. If you wouldn’t walk around the city shirtless in your home city, why would you do it in Bali? Even if it is hot, cover up and dress modestly. The locals will appreciate it.

Other things to keep in mind when visiting Bali:

Although Indonesia (as a Muslim country) isn’t known for being LGBTI friendly, Bali actually has a lot of crossdressers and obvious transexuals. Gay bars are relatively common, and you shouldn’t feel out of place dressing as yourself when in Bali. Once again, dress modestly and don’t wear items which are too revealing or offensive and you should be fine.

Final word:

Although you won’t be forced to cover your shoulders or dress ‘like a woman’ when in Bali, you should still respect the culture. Dress modestly and don’t wear clothes which are too revealing. Avoid symbols or patterns which may be offensive to the local culture, and make sure that you cover up when visiting temples.