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8 Do’s and Don’ts That a Bali Traveler Should Know

When traveling in Bali it is not hard to see how complicated the Balinese society is. Their daily lives are intertwined with religion, making it a society with many rules of conduct.

As a traveler it is hard to know what you can do and what might be offensive. Luckily the Balinese are familiar with travelers visiting their island, so they are very forgiving if you do something that would otherwise be rude.

Anyway, it is always polite to at least try to understand the differences. So here is quick guide on the do’s and don’ts in Bali. You will probably get more approving smiles if you try to stick to them…

1. Meeting with the Balinese – Time is not a big issue as it might be in other countries. If you are meeting up with a Balinese, don’t be upset if he or she arrives about half an hour late. This is normal in Bali and he or she probably expects that same from you.

2. When you enter a Balinese house, don’t forget to take off your shoes. And once seated, don’t touch someone with your feet or point them towards someone. This is considered very offensive.

3. Additionally don’t use your left hand when offering or taking something from someone. The left hand is considered ‘unclean’ as this is the hand that is used to clean oneself on the toilet. Don’t be surprised either if there is no toilet paper in the toilet. Indonesians do not use toilet paper when going to the toilet. Instead they use water, which is often located next to the toilet in a bucket. So don’t forget to bring your own if you need it.

4. If you are having dinner with Balinese friends expect to eat more than one serving. It is polite to show the host that the food is good by taking a second serving. It is also appropriate to leave some food behind when finished. This is can be seen as an offering for the gods, but it also tells the host that you have had enough. Otherwise the host will probably serve another spoon of rice on your plate…

5. Avoid conversations about religion and politics. The Balinese do not discuss these topics openly. However they are more interested in your personal life such as your age, if you are married and how many children you have. In other countries this will be too personal, but in Bali this is quite normal even if you have just met somebody in a bus. …

6. Affection in public – While it is common to see a man and a woman walking hand in hand in other countries, in Bali this is inappropriate. The Balinese do not show affection between the sexes in public. But on the other hand, it is very normal in Bali to see to men walking together hand in hand, or with one man’s arm over the shoulder of another. This is nothing sexual, but a sign of friendship. Foreigners should not do this though.

7. But most of all remember not to touch the head of others, for example the head of children. In other countries people regularly touch the head of children in a friendly way. But the Balinese consider the head the most sacred of the human body and by touching them you will create a very uncomfortable situation.

8. Discussions – An important aspect of the daily life in Bali is not ‘losing-face’. Conflicts and discussions are always avoided in the Balinese society, especially in public. If not than the dignity and pride of one person might be at stake, which is very inappropriate. So instead of winning a discussion, it is wiser to just let it be and finish it off with a joke so everybody can laugh about it.

Matt Verbaan loves to give you practical travel insights and tips on traveling to every corner of the beautiful island Bali. All his travel experiences and information about where to stay, what to do and where to eat can be found on his website

Restaurants in Bali – Culinary Treats From All Over the World

Restaurants in Kuta can offer you what ever you feel like at that specific moment. They have almost anything you can wish for, even the good old McDonald’s, KFC and not to forget the Starbucks. Ok, this isn’t officially a restaurant but I won’t be surprised if some consider it a great place to eat too…

The best thing about the restaurants here is besides the international cuisine, most restaurants have their own character with a laid-back atmosphere. Obviously the main goal of eating out in Kuta is that you enjoy the food while having a great time…

After many visits to Kuta I have discovered that I have become a regular at these following places:

Gabah Restaurant & Bar: This terrific restaurant is located in the Rama Hotel right on the corner of the street. It’s a semi-open building (meaning no walls) and has tables and lounge chairs throughout the place. The kitchen is also open, so you can actually see them tossing the pizza dough in the air, or grilling a delicious fish. Both these aspects create the right atmosphere of a place where wonderful food is served.

Besides Balinese dishes they serve all kinds of international dishes as well. Every dish is served beautifully and will have you taking a picture of it before trying it out.

Gabah is one of the restaurants in Kuta which is always packed, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So make reservations or just get there on time. It is however not the cheapest restaurant (but still cheap) compared to others in town, but trust me you’ll understand why once you have eaten here. Expect to pay USD 8-10 for an average main dish.

Nero: This restaurant is the trendiest restaurant of this “my top 5 restaurants in Kuta”. It has a modern interior and a pretty dark setting with candles. It looks more like a lounge-bar than a real restaurant but I guess it is both; the restaurant serves food till 1.30, while the bar serves drinks till late at night.

Anyway, this is the place to be for all kinds of food but mostly Mediterranean.

My favorites are definitely the Mezze platter as a starter and the Seafood Shish kebab for the main course. But there are other choices in grilled seafood or meat dishes. You can find Nero on Jalan Legian just before the Monument. The average price for a main course is about USD 5.

TJ’s: This place is popular with every kind of Bali traveller, from families, to couples and groups of friends. It is a colorful and inviting restaurant that serves mouth watering Mexican food with home made sauce. Besides the regular beef, chicken and vegetarian burrito’s and wraps, they have their own surprising combinations as well that are just great.

You must realize though, that once you tasted it and you love it, you can only find it here in Kuta and no where else. So no wonder I have become a regular. I always order the Moroccan Tagine Wrap which is filled with chunky tuna, nuts, and cranberry covered with terrific sauce.

Make sure you keep some room for dessert. On a blackboard just near the bar there is a long list of delicious cakes ranging from cheesecakes to thick creamy chocolate cakes.

I’m sure you’ll become a regular too. TJ’s is located in Poppies I and a main course is about 3 to 4 US dollars.

Ristaurante Italia: This restaurant is not officially located in Kuta but in Legian. If you are staying in Kuta you will soon discover you will not be able to distinguish both villages from each other anyway. So that’s why I believe this splendid Italian restaurant with view on the beach and sea is a must to visit.

It is located at Double Six in Legian and has a huge terrace under the trees. This restaurant is the place that serves the best Italian food in Bali (from all the restaurants I have eaten at least..) Everything I have ordered here made my taste buds go crazy, it was always assolutamente fantastico!

I can’t really say what my favourite dish is, but I highly recommend the gnocci pamadori balsimico or the different foccacia or pizza’s… Am I any help at all? Average price for a main course is USD 3.

Warung Indonesia: Last but not least of my favourite restaurants in Kuta is a typical Indonesian restaurant that serves their food the Indonesian way; cheap and in abundance. If you enter the restaurant, which is usually packed during lunch, just stroll straight to the back where there is a huge display of dozens of Indonesian dishes.

Check them all out first, because they look all really good but you can not eat them all of course. One of the staff members will scoop some rice on your plate and wait till you start pointing the dishes you want to go with it. It can range from meat dishes to vegetables in delicious coconut gravy.

At the end your plate will be one big mountain of food. You pay for each dish, so if you keep it modest with two kinds of meat dishes and two kinds of vegetables dishes it will be not more than USD 2. But if you can’t resist remember: you eventually pay exactly what you have eaten…

I hope I have given you great tips and that you have found at least one restaurant that you want to try out when happen to be in Kuta. Selamat Makan!

Matt Verbaan loves traveling through Bali and has experienced the things that make this island truly wonderful, which also includes the terrific food of course. Restaurants where he has had a great time, enjoyed the food and ambiance are posted on his own travel website. If you are going to Kuta check out the restaurants that Matt recommends on Restaurants in other destination on Bali can be found in his Bali travel website too.

Bali Weather

Bali weather is as extreme as the natural beauty of the island. There are only two seasons; the rainy season and the dry season.

The best season to travel to Bali is during the dry season which starts around April to November. This is therefore also the best season for those who love hiking on many of the volcanoes scattered around the island. When standing on one of their summits you might be lucky to see as far as Java Island and Lombok Island.

When we talk about the dry season it is a really dry season, it hardly rains and when it does it’s only a shower-look-alike. There are average temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius but fortunately there’s enough cool wind coming in from sea.

During the European summer time (July/August) the Bali weather can get chilly in the central part of Bali, even in Ubud where you might need a thick duvet to cover you from the cold. This might seem strange but during this period there are winter winds coming from Australia.

The rainy season starts around November and lasts till April and it can rain 3-5 times more than back home in Europe. On more than one occasion you can experience floods around the island. Sometimes you even have to take another road or use one of the hotel staff to point you the location of the hotel’s swimming pool since it has become unrecognizable.

Travelers to Bali often forget to apply sunscreen lotion more than once a day. They are used to the weather in southern Europe or the USA and forget that the island of Bali is located near the equator.

The Australians on the other hand often know what it takes to enjoy a couple of weeks on this tropical island. Some surfers look like Casper the friendly ghost when catching their ways; they use as much sunscreen lotion as possible.

When buying sunscreen check on the label if it protects you from UV-B and UV-A rays. UV-B rays cause sunburn and tanning which is actually not a sign of health but your skin’s attempt to screen out the radiation of the sun.

UV-A is an even bigger problem because it penetrates deeper into your skin and so damages underlying cells causing wrinkles, skin cancer and other damages.

To prevent radiation damages from the sun is to try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially from 10 am to 2 pm, at water surfaces and white sand. Try to use a high rate of sun block and make sure to protect your children as severe sunburn during childhood can raise the risk of skin cancer.

The most unpredictable Bali weather can be found in the mountains where it seems to be cool but where you easily get sunburned. So before you go hiking on Bali’s volcanoes head over to the Guardian drug store. Here you can get some quality sunscreen and aloe vera after sun just in case you might get sunburned.

Happy holidays

Matt Verbaan travels around the island of Bali and loves to share his experiences of traveling in this part of the world. All his travel stories and wide range of excellent tips about this tropical island are found on his website