Bali is a beautiful exotic destination that draws millions of international tourists to its shores every year. Although the Balinese are very forgiving and understanding of Westerners, being respectful of their culture and polite will help you go a long way with whomever or whatever situation you are dealing with.
Be sure to keep these quick tips in the back of your mind before your next trip:
- In Balinese culture, high spaces are considered sacred. Never touch anyone on the head, or touch them with your feet which are considered unclean.
- Similarly, as clothing is considered unclean it should never occupy high sacred spaces. Be mindful of this when you hang your clothes to dry; dry them on the ground or on low hanging clothes racks if provided.
- Don’t point at anything with your finger, point with your thumb, which is considered polite. Never point with your feet.
- Give and receive things with your right hand only, never your left hand, or to be more respectful use both hands.
- Be modest in your dress sense. Females should avoid topless sunbathing which can be extremely offensive. Just because you might see others doing it on Kuta Beach does not make it acceptable.
- Avoid talking with your hands on your hips as it’s a sign of contempt, anger or aggression.
- Take your shoes off before entering someone’s house or a temple.
- Do not enter a temple unless you are modestly dressed and have a sarong or scarf. Also do not enter if you are:
- Menstruating or have an open wound – this relates to a prohibition on shedding blood inside a temple.
- Bringing food inside as this clashes with offerings.
- Physically or mentally ill, or in a state of physic disturbance.
- In a state of bereavement (for Balinese, up to 42 days from the date of the death of close relative).
- Pregnant or have given birth within the past 42 days (thought to attract attention from spirits).