10 things not to do when you come to Bali aka The ultimate don't be a dickhead guide
Updated: Mar 15
As an adventurous Australian I have been traveling and living in South East Asia since I was 17 and was chosen to go spend a year in Malaysia as as an exchange student 1988, I still wonder what my parents were thinking letting me go??? I also contemplate if I had really thought through the consequences it would have on my life? Like a love of chilis that goes beyond normal acceptable levels of heat, or say a desire to just eat rice with just soy sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise, or perhaps my unique ability to sniff out the best food in the dodgiest of locations, and worse still I will put anything in my mouth at least once as long as it contains no traces of banana, if it does be warned will be promptly & grossly spat out.
Anyways like many people that get to live abroad at a young age and continue to travel I have seen a lot and I have witnessed a Tsunami of change and my now home Bali is no exception. However there are a few things that people just never seem to learn, I will try to balance the good with the bad so bear with me.
1) Don't go roaming or riding a scooter in your bikini ladies or gents without a shirt. We don't care how hard you worked for your biceps or your peach perfect beach butt. put those fuckers away under clothing that is more than a waistband impersonating a skirt, or cunt cutters... those super short I can see more than your Brazilian waxing beauty therapist can shorts and find a thread of decency. The guy in the Circle K getting you your TP and $2 duzzbangers doesn't need to see how hot you think you are or have worked hard to be either. He is 15 and its his first job, give him a break. This is a muslim country and yes this is a largely Balinese Hindu population here, but modesty is key. 10 years ago I wouldn't have worn a shirt with out sleeves.
2) If you can't ride a scooter, Bali is not the place to learn. The end.
Ok obviously on the scooter subject there are a few additional points:
DON'T DRINK DRIVE that shit is just dumb especially as there are about a million GoJeks, Grabs. Blue Taksi and a bazillion other driver services willing to get you home safely. This is a safer more community minded decision, you are they helping them feed their families. Don't forget these guys have been out of work for 2 years, empathy my friends empathy.
WEAR THE BLOODY HELMET, ask me how many accidents I have seen with people not wearing helmets and what the end result was. Just wear the helmet, folks
LOUD BIKES SUCK. You think you are super cool when you hire a loud bike everyone else just thinks that you have a small penis.
If you are riding DON'T BE A DICKHEAD racing at lights, speeding, driving through floods, just do your A to B-ing and don't be a dick.
If you are going to hire a Scooter, GoJek or Grab a lot, go to a helmet shop and buy a helmet that fits ($40 to $50), also this helmet will not have Kutu aka head lice, when you leave give it to a family in need, I can connect you with a charity here in Bali. This is a solid tip.
Oh and one last point, your toes significantly impact your ability to balance Havaianas do not protect your toes and if you loose a toe on your Scoppy adventures it's a shit to get it sewn back on and a long recovery, so wear runners boots anything with a closed toe.
3) Topless on the beach, its a no. go all happy birthday suit at home but cover the kittens the you are out. If you don't want guys ooggling your goodies don't wear a G string wedged up your white peach and wonder why you get harassed. Sure, we should be able to live with out that leering. But I am 52 and old men with no teeth still ask me for sex, I sure as eggs am not hanging my peachy keens.
4) Don't go to the Kantor Imigrassi in shorts flip flops and a sleeveless shirt. Clothing wise anything that doesn't go below the knee gets issued a sarong, any shoulders showing get issued something else to cover you up. Heathen. Immigration is important business, be respectful. Also they are closed for lunch between 12pm & 1.30pm there is good coffee across the road.
5) If you are going to a temple check the dress code before you go, as a rule of thumb cover your shoulders, wear something that goes below your knees, other wise you will not be permitted to enter. Water temples are not bikini shot moments. be respectful. Under no circumstances are you bust a yoga move in a temple because it would look awesome on your Instagram. Tree pose may be acceptable in some places check first but defs no Natrajasana or handstanding it is highly offensive. TIk Tok? Please don't.
6) For the love of all that is holy don't tread on the Canang Sari the little prayer offerings that are everywhere everywhere. The ladies weave the baskets in the pasar form 3am every morning, then the house holder will select specific offering for the days prayers depending on the Balinese calendar and anything that is happening o the home or business front. They are placed with care and prayer, often 3 times or more daily. They are not for football outside the Coco Mart when you are 79 Bintangs in and getting roadie.
7) Don't rent a villa in Canggu for two weeks and tell me that you lived in Bali. There are tourists that come to Bali and never leave the Gu, sad but true. I am such a poet. Canggu is the new Kuta, its Bogan Ville Bali, There are so many beautiful parts of Bali, get out of the Gu or better still don't even stay there, There are far prettier beaches everywhere & anywhere in Bali. Put on your make up and go for a coffee in the AC if you must let your audience know you are Bali Cool. We will secretly know you are not.
8) Don't bring your real LV we don't care and most of the locals have faux vuitton and love it just as much as your 79hundred thousand dollar real thing. Also someone will try to steal it.
9) Eating Bule every day. This means you go to the cafe for your double macchiato, personally I am a double ristretto coronado so I definitely get it. But don't have your smashed avo everyday and never venture out of the AC to savour any local delights apart from late night drunk and desperate for carbs nasi goring, this does not count. Get out and taste the amazing culinary offers of Bali and indeed Indonesia. You may not know where to look, I get that too so ask me!! I sometimes take small groups and introduce them to menus and food around their local area that they would never have tried otherwise, it also does wonders for your wallet! Food Adventures yay I love food!!!
10) Keep your left hand to your self. If you are handing something to someone use your right hand, respect. Even better hand it with your right hand and touch your inner right elbow with your left hand, yes you read that correctly that is mark of cultural fluency. If you do nothing else do this when you hand someone money and they will smile with appreciation. Why do I have to keep my left hand to myself you ask?? Because before the days of bidet's and flushable toilets the bucket under a tap was king that and a bar of soap and your left hand. Which brings me to another point eat with your right hand, sorry lefties but I would fully recommend getting your ambidextrous on.
11) Don't wear your shoes in someones house, in a temple it's actually even preferable to take them off before you enter a shop.... if you are unsure just ask, the fact that your asked will be greatly appreciated.
It a) stops you bringing dirt inside b) bare foot or sole of shoe on the earth is connected with the spirit world below us c) the foot is the furthest part of the body form the crown chakra the connection to the greater universe d) its respectful when going into someones private space. If in doubt just take your shoes off, I have been traveling in shoe removing countries for 37 years and never had a pair stolen unless they are LV in which case refer to point number 7 you bloody idiot.
Happy Travels we can't wait to see welcome you back to Bali