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Short guide to Bali

These pages contain a number of tips for travelers that are going to bring a visit to the Indonesian island of Bali soon. They are simple tips about the daily life on the island and what to expect when visiting the island. Many things will be just slightly different than at home, but it is important to locals that you at least somewhat adhere to their lifestyle.

Tips for first-time travelers to Bali

Inside mandi (bathroom) consist of just a cement tub for bathing, or a bath and toilet combination. Don't jump into the bath water; it's for throwing over you. The floor gets wet, but that's okay. Balinese are surprised and amused when they see Westerners trying to keep their bathroom floors dry. Most outdoor bathing places have concealing walls and separate areas for men and women. The Balinese bathe at least twice daily-early in the morning, and after school or work.

It's okay to bathe with your respective gender. They'll probably laugh. Bring your own towel, soap, and shampoo. Both sexes are very discreet about showing their private parts and it's extremely bad manners to stare at bathers even if the bathing place is open. It is grossly impolite to take photos of bathers, covered or not. Bathing places should be avoided from around 1700 on to let Balinese bath in peace. In many locales, the Balinese wait until the last tourist bus has gone because they don't like being photographed while bathing.

The left hand is used in the toilet and the right is kept clean for eating, shaking hands, and sprinkling holy water or wafting incense. Men needing to urinate in a crowded place just squat down in a ditch with knees spread for cover. Avoid blowing your nose into a handkerchief in front of others.

Anything low to the ground or touching it is considered soiled, including babies until they are six months old. Clothing is looked upon as unclean, particularly the clothes of women who have recently given birth or clothing which might have been tainted with menstrual blood. It's inconceivable for a Balinese to walk under a line hung with drying clothes.

Last revised on January 30, 2010
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