Bali’s DOs and DON’Ts

Here’s a local tip on how to navigate your way through Bali’s busy streets and rich sacred cultures.

Let’s start with a more positive notes. So here are the DOs:

  • Do throw in some local lingos like “Matur Suksema” (read: Ma-toor Sooks-mu, which means “Thank You”) or “Punapi Gatra?” (read [and don’t laugh!]: Pew-na-pee Gah-tru, which means “How are you?”) in your convo.
  • Do wear more appropriate clothes and sarongs when you enter temples and other sacred grounds


  • Do haggle when you go shopping in markets and street shops, but don’t get too serious about it but also don’t haggle just for the fun of it.
  • Do take your shoes off whenever you enter a temple or a person’s house
  • Do wear helmets when you go around the island on a motorbike


  • For the love of everything that is good on this blue planet, do please keep your shirt on. We know it’s hot outside and you have a great body and all. But we don’t necessarily want to see it as you walk down the street. If it’s on the beach we totally get it, but on the sidewalks? Nope. We’re good thanks!
  • Do wear sunscreen. Being located right on the equator, the sun here could be really harsh from time to time. So, suncreen might save you from the annoying sunburn, should you apply them continuously.=


  • Do be a bit more adventurous when it comes to food. Sample the local street fares presenting flavours that would rock your world! However, be a bit smart about it as well, because you might catch the Bali Belly–a street lingo for upset stomach.
  • Do be patient when it comes to the internet here in Bali. Well, for the main destinations around the island, the internet is considerably good. However when you get to the inner or northern part of Bali, that is where the internet will slow down, or even stop all together.
  •  Do realise that people are not joking when they are called Ketut. Most Balinese share the same names– Gede, Wayan, Made, Nyoman, Putu, Komang, Kadek, or Ketut.


Now on on the DON’Ts, here is the list:

  • Do not step on canangs! A canang is that small little trays of flowers you’d spot everywhere on the island and is the Balinese Hindu offerings to the Gods. So, make well sure that you don’t step on any of them.


  • Do not EVER touch the head of a Balinese person, not even a child. The head is considered a sacred part of the body.
  • Do not point with your index finger. Should you need to point at some thing or someone, use all five fingers. Better yet, try not to point at all.
  • Do not throw your rubbish into the sea. It’s an obvious one, but some still do it. So please help us keep our sea and beach clean by throwing your rubbish in the nearest rubbish bin, even if it is kilometres away.


  • Do not get annoyed when you get hassled at the main tourist destinations. Remember they also need to make a living. Try saying “no” with a smile.
  • You don’t have to give tips as most places would have service charges are already included in your bill. Then again, if you can afford a holiday in Bali, you can definitely afford to be a little bit generous.
  • Do not be too obvious when you are ordering your transport from an online transport provider. The topic is a little bit sensitive here on the island. Should you need a transport, grab a legit cab instead. Here’s a hint, the cab colour is blue, it has a bird as a logo, and the company has a ‘group‘ in the name.
  • Do not EVER be involved or even think to do drugs here on the island. Why? Because when you get caught, it will be firing squad for you.
  • Do not drink the tap water. That’s why you can find bottled water being sold everywhere on this island. In fact, do not drink the tap water anywhere in Indonesia.
  • Try not to use your camera’s flash whenever you want to take a picture of some ceremonies you might stumble upon during your sojourn here in Bali. You wouldn’t want to disturb a sacred ceremony.