Tips on how to be a respectful visitor in Bali
An island so rich in culture and customs, as a foreigner it can be difficult to understand what limits and taboos to consider. The best thing to do is sit back and watch and educate yourself to ensure your time in Bali runs smoothly. Here are some tips on how to be a respectful visitor to Bali!
Recently, due to an increasing number of cases of foreigners acting indecently and illegally, local police and even immigration have been forced to impose strict penalties on offenders. These include fines, deportation, and even jail time. As a foreigner, you may not have the same rights within the legal system, so it is very important that you abide by Indonesian law.
First and foremost when on a moped You must wear a helmet AT ALL TIMES. With the increase in motorized traffic in recent years, the locals are taking traffic regulations very seriously, and to be safer on the bikes, it is recommended to wear helmets, long sleeves and pants when riding a scooter. Covered shoes are also recommended as if you have a small accident your feet will be somewhat protected. As great as it feels to walk the streets of Bali with the wind in your hair, this is a big no-no. And the traffic police are very strictly enforcing this with fines and more. Not to mention, if you’re in an accident and you’re not wearing a helmet, your travel insurance won’t cover your claim.
A few more tips to stay safe and compliant on the roads:
Do not drive under the influence of alcohol Make sure you have the correct international driver’s license. You will be asked for one if you are stopped by the police. They will also want to see the moped’s registration paper, so make sure it is under the seat before you take off from your rental location. It is also important to have the correct license for insurance purposes. A regular car license does NOT cover you to ride a motorcycle/scooter in Bali. Be sure to observe traffic regulations, such as traffic lights, one-way streets, and parking restrictions. Be aware of the situation and drive at a safe speed. Use locals as a guide on compliance and safety. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s not okay in your home country, it’s probably not okay in Bali. If you are stopped by the police, be courteous and cooperative. They just want to make sure you have your helmet and license. If you don’t have them, you may be fined for a cash payment on the spot. Usually this is around 250k ($25AUD), but it can be more. In some cases, you may be referred to pay the fine at the Denpasar Police Office.
Bali Governor I Wayan Koster is reviewing laws on scooter rentals for tourists. In the future, scooter rental may not be available to people on tourist visas. As always, we recommend the safer approach of taking a shuttle car or using Grab to get from A to B as safely as possible, as it can be difficult for a tourist to get things right on the roads. Taking a Grab Bike is a great way to still have the efficiency of traveling by bike, without risking fines or not being covered by your travel insurance.
Stay tuned to Bali Buddies for the most up-to-date information on the regulations that affect you!
Indecent behavior in public
We definitely want you to let your hair down a bit during your Bali vacation, but be sure to keep in mind that you are a visitor to this beautiful and complex island. It may seem like there are fewer rules and regulations in Bali than in your home country, but in reality, there probably are more, and the Indonesian authorities are increasingly vigilant about indecent behavior by tourists.
Some tips on how to be respectful:
Avoid drunk and indecent behavior in public. Generally speaking, Indonesians do not consume alcohol as some Western cultures do, especially in public. Therefore, it can be challenging for them to see Westerners being intoxicated and acting up after a night out. In particular, if they are causing trouble or putting the public at risk. Skimpy beachwear is fine on the beach and at beach clubs and resorts, but they shouldn’t be out in public, on scooters, and definitely not near places of religious significance. Do not post offensive or vulgar images on social media. This includes content that breaks the law, inappropriate dress or behaviour, or anything that is offensive to locals, such as indecent behavior on sites of religious significance.
Culture and Religion
Historically, Indonesia is a mixture of many different groups that make up a country as abundant in culture, tradition and religion as it is today. Bali in particular is a unique pocket of Indonesia with Hinduism deeply rooted in all aspects of Balinese life. There is also a large Islamic population living in Bali from other parts of Indonesia, as well as some Christians, Buddhists, and more.
There are so many opportunities to learn about religion and culture while on vacation in Bali. Even a day out can be an immersive experience in Balinese Hinduism with vibrant religious ceremonies taking place every day. It’s good to note that karma is a big part of Balinese Hinduism, so make sure you keep vibrating high! We have seen karmic action on the island!
Tips for learning about culture and religion:
Ask the local people around you a lot of questions about their religion and culture. Visit sites of cultural and religious meaning. Be sure to observe all the rules posted on the sites, such as proper dress. You can often borrow a sarong at the entrance to cover your bare legs, but it’s best to bring your own. In Bali, most places of worship like temples ask menstruating women not to enter. The rules are usually marked at the entrance. If you’re not sure, it’s best to check with someone local. Please be patient and respectful at ceremonies, they may be responsible for traffic delays. Balinese ceremonies are almost always vibrant, so take the opportunity to watch and take photos. If you find yourself in Bali during the big religious holidays, consider yourself a treat! There are often processions, decorations and parades that will stimulate all your senses. It is best to watch closely, however do not attempt to insert yourself into religious events unless invited. However, during the day of silence, Nyepi, you may want to immerse yourself by taking a day off away from your devices and the noise of the outside world. Know the difference between different religious groups. Although they coexist harmoniously, there are fundamental differences and it is not so nice to lump them together. Keep in mind that people of the Islamic faith generally have more conservative values when it comes to showing skin, public displays of affection, and more. The Balinese are very polite and warm by nature, so be kind, humble and courteous in return.
Is Bali Gay Friendly?
For the past few decades, Bali has been a gay-friendly destination. You will find that there are some locals who are proud even though there are still some conservative views on homosexuality. In tourist areas, people will be happy and welcoming. Many villas and hotels advertise that they are gay friendly. However, just like with straight couples, we recommend putting the PDA down for a bit! There has been a recent debate within the Indonesian government about whether to enforce laws around homosexuality, but for now, Bali is gay-friendly and safe. There are also no CURRENT laws or regulations at this stage about staying in accommodation with a sexual partner and not being married.
work in bali
Like other countries in the world, correct work permits and visas are required to legally work in Indonesia. With the influx of tourists, digital nomads, and expats in Bali, immigration authorities work around the clock to track down any illegal activity. There are even covert operations in action to identify foreigners working without proper documentation. The repercussions are severe, including deportation and even jail time.
If you are on a tourist visa, you should in no way engage in any commercial activity while visiting Bali. If you are on a B211 visa, there are a few things you can do, such as attend meetings with your agent to set up a business. But you can’t engage in first-hand trading activities. This is also the currently recommended visa if you are working as a digital nomad (which does not allow you to conduct business or take money within Indonesia, but allows you to work online). This is a huge gray area, so be sure to check with your agent. Even with a Kitas (resident visa) and work permit, make sure you are working within the guidelines of your permit, as there are still strict restrictions on what you can and cannot do. Not all professions can be done by foreigners in Indonesia, like photography and tour guides, for example. It is best to consult with an agent, since the penalties are severe and there are covert operations to catch people. Make sure you are registered to pay tax through NPWP if you live and work in Bali. Be sure to keep an eye on the validity of your visa as there are huge fines for overstaying.
Visa structures are constantly being reviewed, so be sure to check with a trusted agent for the most up-to-date information.
We all need to strive to do a little better to keep our favorite vacation destination safe and harmonious for visitors and locals alike. This information is applicable not only to Bali but to travel around the world. If you have any further questions about being a courteous visitor to Bali, feel free to contact Bali Buddies!
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