Do’s and Don’t’s in Bali – Indonesian Culture and Respectful Behaviour

Do’s and Don’t’s in Bali – Indonesian Culture and Respectful Behaviour

We’re pleased you’ve found this post about Do’s and Don’t’s, and it’s become very popular.

We see a lot of people coming from many different countries who are completely unaware of culturally-appropriate behaviour, the acceptable way to behave in Bali and Indonesia.

In this brief post, we’re going to talk about proper behaviour when visiting another country, specifically Indonesia and its island of Bali.

If you pay attention to local etiquette, how the locals act and what they consider to be acceptable behaviour, you will have a much better and safer time here, and your presence here will be much more appreciated than someone who doesn’t care for the local culture.

The Balinese are very protective of their culture, and although they are tolerant of tourists, this only goes up to a certain point. The rest of Indonesia is much less tolerant of tourists, and behaviour that is considered out-of-line can be met with a variety of responses, not many of them positive. We know that you probably don’t like to be told what to do, so we’ll put this positively for you:

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  • If you wear a top that covers your shoulders, like a blouse or t-shirt, and if female, a bra under your shirt, then locals will really appreciate not feeling offended by your lack of adequate coverage, and you won’t get a sunburn.
  • If you wish to go around in swimming clothes, be sure they are well covered by regular clothing. Swimming clothes are perfect for the beach, and if you plan to go to town, be sure to change first.
  • Accepting free alcoholic drinks from anyone, anywhere, of any kind has led to alcohol poisoning and severe internal injuries and possibly death. You can google for more information about methyl alcohol poisoning in Indonesia.
  • Drinking into the evening with people of the opposite sex that you do not know may get you into a situation that you wish you did not have to experience. Leave the situation as early as possible.
  • Driving around without a helmet on is a good way to get a fine, or be sent to the hospital with a serious head injury, or worse, never seeing the trip back home again. Despite what you may see around you, a helmet is legally required.
  • If you are female, driving home alone after 10pm invites unwanted sexual advances, robberies or worse. It is much safer to travel with a friend or as a group. Don’t assume men will respect your boundaries.
  • Crossing the road and expecting vehicles to stop like they do in your home country might get you injured.
  • Putting your feet up on a chair and showing everyone the bottoms of your dirty feet is one of the most disrespectful, and disgusting things you could do anywhere in the country.
  • Giving anything with your left hand is considered the same as sharing fecal matter, as most people do not use toilet paper but instead use water to clean their backside. If you must give anything with your left hand, apologize first.
  • Honking if you are waiting in traffic behind a religious procession is a good way to get all the people around you very upset with you.
  • Responding to aggression or interfering in a fight is a good way to have a bottle broken over your head, or your head broken by a bottle. Stay out of it, get away.
  • Practicing humility, being humble, and getting away from a bad situation is a good way to keep yourself safe and uninjured.
  • Do listen to your intuition and get out of a situation which could go bad.
  • Do learn to say at least “thank you” in bahasa Indonesia. Terima kasih!

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