Bali, Indonesia - Info and Travel Tips
KUTA - Founded by the hippie and surfing culture, Kuta offers a relaxed and friendly environment. It can be fun if you’re a pub-crawler. It can be a hassle if you have an aversion to street hawkers. But, it also has one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Mind the dangerous riptides, but enjoy the magnificent sunsets silhouetting surfers. Full of intimate homestays, great hotels, innumerable restaurants and, the world’s greatest shopping bargains – Kuta is something visitors must experience.
The Balinese remain conservative and traditional. Please respect their traditions and attitudes. They are very polite people and smiles are characteristic. Shaking hands on introduction is cutomary for both men and women. Using the left hand to give or to receive something is considered taboo. (The left hand is used for personal hygiene) Pointing with the left finger is rude and crooking a finger to call someone is impolite.
When bargaining for a purchase, settle all prices in advance. Don’t ask a price or make an offer unless you intend to buy. When bargaining, start at half the asking price and reach a compromise. Remember that Rp. 500 can mean the difference of a day’s meal: to you it is little.
Don’t display large sums of money. Balinese have a strong sense of pride and consider temptation, and suspicion, insulting. Begging is not customary in Bali, but is prevalent due to Indonesia’s economic crisis. If you hand out money you encourage people to ask again. The exception is to make a small contribution at the entrance to a temple, toward maintenance. Give what you can afford, as you would do in any house of worship.
When not on the beach or at the pool, please wear shorts or a swimsuit cover-up. Swimsuits, a swimtop and sarong, etc., are not acceptable attire on any street. Small passages to the beach may be through a residential courtyard or holy temple. Nude bathing is illegal and impolite. Leave shoes outside on the steps before entering a house or temple.
Balinese are conscious of presentation, both for themselves and visitors. The “hippie look” is not well accepted by locals. Poor attire often attracts poor service, especially in government offices. Singlets, halter tops and mini skirts are not acceptable in government offices. The proper dress code: trousers and collared shirt with sleeves for men, and dress or skirt and blouse with sleeves for women. Keep a sarong handy. All temple visitors must wear a waist sash. A sarong is preferred. By ancient law, menstruating women and anyone with a bleeding wound, are not permitted in temples.
Temple ceremonies and other rituals are sacred events to the Balinese and appropriate clothing should be worn. To visit any temple ceremony, you must dress modestly, in pakain adat (the full native dress of a kain, kebaya and sash for the women and udung [head band]; kain, saput [overskirt], nice shorts and sash for men.) A sash over shorts is not acceptable. Wait outside the temple for an invitation if there is a festival in progress.
At festivals and dance performances, Balinese are relaxed around a camera. But don’t interfere or stand directly in front of the priest or the kneeling congregation. According to custom, one’s head should not be higher than the priest’s or village headman. It is rude to climb on temple walls. Do not remain standing when people kneel to pray. Move to the back and wait quietly until prayer or blessings are complete. If local bystanders kneel in veneration, always move to the side. The Balinese are not performing for your benefit, but are in sacred ritual for their own worship.
CREDIT CARDS - Most shops accept plastic for an additional 3-5% surcharge. Credit card and cash advances are available in most tourist areas.