HOMESTAY & LIFESTYLE Cultures
and Lifestyle in Indonesia
Bali Etiquette Know How
Balinese people are very welcoming and polite towards foreigners
and each other. They love to make jokes and not to take things
to serious in their every day life. The way to approach new
people in Bali is to make them laugh. Then the people involved
have an open mind towards each other and a good first connection
Though being in Bali there are different kinds of etiquette
and rules important to remember in daily life among the Balinese
and when visiting the many temples on the island. Don't be afraid
if you forget the different procedures! The Balinese don't get
offended if foreigners tend to forget the everyday etiquette,
while the rules for visiting the temples are stricter because
the focus here are to please and look after the gods, the forefathers
and the demons. And these are not to be offended!
If you know that you have broken a rule you can excuse yourself
with a smile and a 'maafkan saya' ( I am sorry!).
males and females: When entering a temple in Bali you
have to wear a sarong (Balinese: kain kamben): a rectangle
of cloth around your waist and a selendang (temple scarf)
also tied around the waist.
is allowed to take pictures nearly everywhere in the temple,
but it is always better to ask before, just to make sure
that you are not offending anybody here.
are not allowed inside the temple as there are seen impure
during the period of menstruation. This reflects a sanction
against human blood on holy ground. Also pregnant woman
and those recently given birth can not enter.
in the temple it is always required for visitors to keep
and open eye on the situation and respectfully follow
the procedure done by the Balinese.
very welcome to join the prayers and here are some rules
and procedures to follow: These you will quickly learn,
looking at the Balinese praying. An important thing though
is when sitting on the ground don't point your feet towards
the shrines in front of the prayers.
In the temple
as in daily life it is important not to cross over the
offerings or the gamelan instruments.
Body language still reflects old courtly manners and is
strongly codified. It is considered rude to point with
one's index finger; use the thumb and always the right
hand rather than the left. The left hand is seen impure
so also when giving and receiving things use the right
hand. The head of the human is sacred, so don't pat children
on the head as is so common in the western world. Also
when sitting, try to avoid pointing your feet towards
the people in front of you as the feet are seen as unpure.
Hospitality: Handshaking is customary for both men and
women on introduction and greeting. A common way to greet
each other on the street is to press the palm of your
hands together in front of your chests with the fingers
Visitors are always welcomed with refreshment. Guests
may acknowledge the efforts of the host when a tray of
refreshment arrives, but they shall not begin eating or
drinking until the host says 'silakan', meaning 'please
begin'. When leaving, a quest says goodbye by asking permission
to leave 'permissi'. When eating the Balinese often eat
with their hand. If you want to join in, you start with
washing your hands and then eat with the right hand.
A Balinese family doesn't necessary eat together. Each
individual eats when he/ she are hungry.
Public affection: Touching between people of the same
sex is common among the Balinese, a sign of friendship.
Touching between people of the opposite sex seldom occurs
in public. Accordingly, Westerners should avoid kissing
or showing affection in public.
Especially in the rural villages it is important to dress
appropriately. Shorts and single tops are not considered
polite attire for women or men here.
For women visiting the beach it is best to wear a bikini-top.
Flip-flops are acceptable in everyday life, also in the
temples, but if you are going to a government office or
a more public meeting, you need to where more elegant
Talking with your hand on your hips is a sign on contempt,
anger and aggression - as displayed in traditional dance
As you may already know the Balinese are strong believer
of their faith. For many Balinese it can therefore be
difficult to understand that many Western people do not
see faith that important. Even more difficult to understand
is the fact that many Westerners do not believe in any
god. Therefore it is suggested while talking to strangers
in the street not to mention if you do not have any religious
faith. This is to avoid any misunderstandings. Talking
to Balinese people you know better you can choose to be
frank, as there is time and shared trust to explain your
thoughts on this matter.
You may put your sandals / shoes outside of the room and
not hanging the shirt, pan or other on the door or top
of cupboard or above of your sleeping bed or small box
as a shrine which always put by Balinese in each room
( more information on this matter will give you upon arrival
on introduction time ).
Delegates are suggested some time to have a time to chat/
mingle with their hosting and family member or follow
their daily activities such us to go the rice field, feeding
cow or may helping them at their work. This will make
delegates more easily in making, close relationship with
Bathroom and toilet will be share with the family member
and taking a shower using small fail ( water scoope) which
the water is fresh water from spring water pipe by the
villagers to each host and stocked at bathroom every day.
The toilet is Indonesian toilet and will assist at the
first time by program host in using of the toilet for
squatting. Mineral water for drinking is enough provided
for the delegates. Please ask to the hosting if you need
a 'hot water' for bathing in other to your hosting can
make it for you.
Even though all these etiquettes can be difficult to remember
in the beginning, you will quickly learn how to behave
among Balinese. And remember, the people here will not
be offended by you forgetting the everyday procedures
as you are a foreigner and not expected to know them.