Getting to know new people and cultures can be tricky for some, but it’s incredibly rewarding if done right. Bali – or ‘The Island of the Gods’ as it’s known locally – is no different. So here’s what you can expect from the culture and people before stepping foot in this beautiful place.
Bali is one of the few places in the world where you can find Shaivism; an adaption of Hinduism which is at the heart of Balinese culture.
Traditional dance is one of the more popular attractions for tourists, and you can find examples and demonstrations throughout Uluwatu and Ubud. But don’t stop there – visitors to Bali can also expect to be enchanted by the legends told in ornate puppet shows, or the colourful (and somewhat sinister) costume performances.
Many of Bali’s villages are dedicated to producing specific types of artwork, much to the reward of travelers who pay them a visit. Ubud village is known for the quality of its painters, while Mas is known as the ‘carver village’ – a place where you’ll find exquisite woodwork. There are many more cultural treasures hidden throughout Bali though, so exploration is an absolute must!
What You Need to Know
- Balinese people are inclusive by nature and generally don’t mind visitors observing ceremonies and traditional dances.
- To get a glimpse of Balinese culture away from busy tourist areas, travel to the east or north of the island.
- If you find yourself stuck in stand-still traffic, chances are there’s a nearby procession on the way to a local temple. Patience is the best course of action, as honking your horn will only make you seem rude!
- Bali is a destination tolerant of many different cultures and religions. Shaivism, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist faiths all rub shoulders here comfortably.
Just as Bali is renowned as a place to relax, have fun and experience a vibrant culture, so too are the Balinese people known for their laid-back attitudes and openness to excitement and entertainment.
Being a very spiritual place there may be some things that you’re not accustom to seeing. Many people leave offerings of rice and incense at temples as part of their daily routines. So while it may seem strange to you, always be respectful of the local ways and appreciate the beauty in their traditions.
What You Need to Know
- Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but English is widely spoken in resort areas, hotel shops and restaurants.
- During calendar events, it’s common for businesses to shut entirely, as locals place high importance on cultural traditions.
- Major hotels add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill, but for other areas where it’s not expressly stated, a tip of anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent is appropriate for satisfactory service.
- Airport baggage porters and bellmen generally get around Rp. 3,000 (Rupiah) for small carry-on items, Rp. 5,000 for larger items and Rp.10,000 for extra-heavy baggage.
- Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers isn’t mandatory, but like most things in Bali, if the service is good, a tip is generally well-met.
The Balinese take great pride in their heritage, so visitors should be mindful of treating the culture with politeness and respect.
Visiting temples is a must-do while in Bali, but keep in mind that these are places of worship and should be treated as such.
What You Need to Know
- Cameras and smartphones are generally accepted, but try to take photos and videos as unobtrusively as possible.
- When visiting Hindu temples, the requirement is that legs are covered below the knee (both men and women), with a sarong and sash tied around the waist being the customary dress. Often, temples will let you borrow a sarong for a small cash donation.
- The Balinese regard the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively, so it’s a no-go area for touching. Even friendly gestures are unappreciated, so avoid doing so.
- Dress appropriately – smart-casual is fine, but swimwear (for example) is not.
By treating the people and culture of Bali with openness and respect (much like how you’d want to be treated), you can be sure to leave with some fantastic memories to take home.
To find out more about what to expect during your visit to Bali, get in touch with us today!