Friday, January 15, 2016

Sights to See: Bali, Indonesia

Top 10 Practical Tips for Visiting Bali

1.  The national motto of Indonesia is “unity with diversity.”  The country is home to 300-plus ethnicities and 700-plus languages.  These people are what make visiting Bali special.  “Namaste” was said to me frequently, and I enjoyed saying it back.  

2.  The majority of the more than 4 million people who live on Bali are Hindu, so dress is less conservative than in the rest of Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim (in fact, holding 12.7% of the world's Muslims, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world).  You should cover to your knees and shoulders when visiting Hindu temples.  Sandals and flip-flops are the most comfortable footwear. 

visitor in sarong at Penglipuran Traditional Village temple in Bali
Carole in sarong at Penglipuran Traditional Village temple
flip-flops for sale in Bali
flip-flops for sale in Bali
3.  Almost every house and business has a shrine (or “pura”) tucked into a corner, often with an umbrella as a sign of respect.  Fresh offerings of flowers and fruit are made daily.  When you see this offering on the ground, it is meant to keep evil spirits away; try not to step on it.  Statues are covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good.

shrine offerings in Bali
shrine offerings
offering to evil spirit in Bali
offering to evil spirit

statue covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good in Bali
statue covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good
4.  Bali has no malaria.  Check this website for current updates on malaria status.  However, Bali does have Indonesia’s highest incidence of dengue fever, and chikungunya is found there--both serious illnesses transferred by mosquitoes. 

5.  Much of the time, Bali is hot and humid.  The best weather is in the driest months--April through October--and summer is best.  November through March are the wet monsoon months.

6.  Items to pack along for a trip:
sunscreen:  Because locals rarely use it, a good sunscreen can be hard to find, expensive, and might be ineffective with an expired pull date.
mosquito repellent:  Preferably with Deet.  Though I wound up returning my mosquito spray--which I dragged half-way around the world--because I didn’t use it or need it, you should pack some along in case you run into these pesky critters.

gift shop at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia
gift shop at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia
7.  You will run into squat toilets.  It is a good idea to carry along toilet paper because many restrooms are not stocked.  Remember to put used toilet paper in the trashcan beside the toilet; sewer systems often cannot process it.  Hand sanitizer is helpful when you find yourself without soap or towels. 

toilet sign at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia

8.  In Bali there are no fixed prices.  You bargain for virtually everything--car and drivers, guides, souvenirs, accommodations (and a free breakfast).  But not at five-star hotels.  A two-hour massage costs about $40.

9.  Tipping is not expected.

10.  Cars drive on the “wrong”/left side of the road, and an international driver’s license is required.  Most people hire a car and driver to tour.  Renting a motorbike is another option; a helmet is required.

parked motor scooters in Bali

More things to do in Bali.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.   

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. Great tips, I had no idea that Dengue was a big problem in Bali, glad I had no problems when I visited some of the jungled areas on the island.

  2. Your post was extremely helpful because it was practical. Bali is definitely on my list and I had no idea about....MOST of the things you listed. Thank you!

  3. I do hope to get to Bali some sounds quite fascinating. I've never heard of the black and white checkerboard cloths to keep the balance between good and evil. - Really unique!

  4. I've never visited Bali but hope to one day. Thanks for your very practical tips. My partner is highly allergic to mosquitos so we'll be sure to take some spray. I'm surprised you managed to avoid them.

    1. I saw a few on FLores Island, but wasn't bitten. But on my last day on Bali, something made a feast of me but I didn't feel a thing and the spots didn't itch later. I discovered my tastiness too late to spray.

  5. Lots of useful tips about Bali. I've never been but it looks very interesting - maybe one day.

  6. I'd love to go to Bali someday! I saw the same toilet sign in Korea!

  7. I find it interesting the many, many countries in the world that operate with the 'don't throw tissue into the toilet' theory - I sometimes wonder if this isn't more environmentally friendly (burning the trash) than the chemicals we use in the US to break them down in septic systems. Oh, the things I ponder thanks to travel! Great post~

  8. Bali is so stunning! These sights are definitely must see there, Carole!