22 Must-Have Bali Travel Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring

Bali. The very word conjured up a sense of exoticism and other worldly foreignness. But that makes it even more confusing to know what you need to take when you travel there. To help, I put this list together.

At the end you’ll also see “What NOT to bring to Bali”, and additional tips on traveling in Bali.

Traveling in Bali is a step into another world. Bring these physical items, but also arrive with an open mind, a friendly heart, a relaxed approach to time, patience, your sense of humor and a spirit of adventure.

What should I bring on my Bali trip?

1) Power adapter – Bali uses 230v/50 hz plugs with round pins, like much of Continental Europe. Make sure you’ve got at least one good adapterbefore you go, and if you are using multiple electronics on your trip, several may come in handy. With a universal adapter you’ll have power whatever the socket. We know how hard it can be to get a reliable adapter, so we decided to find a good supplier and test them ourselves in the U.S.
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2) Camera – Bali is a natural paradise with bright skies and fabulous colours. It is a beautiful place to take photographs and you’ll appreciate having something more than a phone camera to hand. A happy medium between that and a full on professional’s camera is the Canon Powershot.
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3) Journal – Remember Eat Pray Love? Keeping a journal can be a rewarding way to reflect and remember on any trip, but in Bali it’s a must. You’ll probably have a lot of thoughts about your life in Bali and it’s great to have an elegant journal in which to capture them for later.
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4) Kindle – Like most destinations with beaches and sunshine, it is good to stock up on books before you arrive so you have the reading material you want for quiet hours. A Kindle’s a lightweight way to fit in as many titles as you wish.
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5) Periplus guidebook – A good guidebook will help you understand Balinese culture and history, as well as providing practical information on what to do and how to get around. The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok is adequate, but we recommend the more nuanced context provided by this excellent guidebook.
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6) Travel insurance – Even dream holidays don’t always go according to plan.It is essential that you plan properly just in case something goes wrong. Bali’s medical care is a mixed bag and due to its remoteness medical evacuations are very expensive. Travel insurance is a must. World Nomads is a trusted insurance provider amongst travel experts.
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7) LifeStraw – The tapwater in Bali is not safe to drink and will likely give your non-attuned body an upset stomach or worse. Bottled water is widely available, but this nifty little device means that even if you wander off the beaten path you’ll be properly hydrated. As you drink from it, it filters the water. It’s a simple but genius idea, in a handy, lightweight format.
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8) Activated charcoal – All those beach barbecues and street food look tempting and most are perfectly safe to eat. But in case any give you an upset tummy, activated charcoal is a natural way to eliminate toxins from your body and avoid diarrhea. This capsule format is convenient.
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9) Electrolytes – It’s important to stay hydrated in a hot climate like Bali’s. If you are sick, your need to rehydrate will be even greater. Dropping an electrolyte tablet into water will allow your body to restore some of the essential minerals it loses through dehydration.
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10) Sarong – Sarong type clothing is native to this part of the world because it’s so ideal for the local environment and climate. Sarongs are light and easy to carry. They have a lot of uses for men as well as women: not just clothing, but also if necessary an extra layer, a towel, a shower curtain, an upclose protection from mosquitoes, a beachmat and more.
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11) Lightweight scarf – Much of Bali is warm but it can get chilly at times. Certainly if you go up some of the volcanic mountains you’ll notice a significant drop in temperature. A scarf is a simple way to stay warm, look a bit smarter or cover up to show respect in a sacred place.
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12) Walking shoes: Women’s and Men’s – Bali has some beautiful hiking within easy day reach of the main accommodation areas. So, even if you are expecting to have your feet up by the pool all day, it’s a good idea to pack some comfortable shoes so you have the option of exploring the surprisingly diverse landscape. We find Merrells to be sturdy but breathable, ideal for the humidity Bali sometimes has.
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13) Dark trousers/skirt: Women’s and Men’s, Skirt – It’s a good idea to have something smart to wear which will cover your legs, whether to keep off the mosquitoes in the evening or for occasions when a bit more formality is appreciated. Jeans dry very slowly in humid weather, so it’s best to have something lightweight like cotton or ideally linen.
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14) Rain jacket: Women’s and Men’s – Summer is dry, but between November and March it does rain a fair amount in Bali. Having a lightweight but effective rain jacket on hand means that you don’t need to worry about being caught out if you’re away from built up areas, or hiking.
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15) Swimsuit: Women’s and Men’s – Bali’s a surfer’s paradise. Even if you don’t surf, the enticing sea and lovely swimming pools will make you want to relax and absorb the sun while dangling your toes in at a minimum. A simple swimsuit will come in very handy.
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16) Crash helmet – Motorbikes are a very common way to get around. They may be convenient but don’t feel very safe even when the driver offers you a simple helmet. Think about whether you want to bring your own, high-quality crash helmet so you know what you’ll have on your head every time.
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17) Insect repellent – This is basically a destination carved out of tropical jungle, and with that come all the bugs you would expect. Having insect repellent will save you bites and sleepless nights, especially if you plan on staying in lower end accommodation.
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18) Mosquito net – Mosquitoes can turn a tranquil night in paradise into an unenjoyable ordeal. Some hotels offer mosquito nets but be sure by bringing your own. They are lightweight and can make the difference between a bitefree night of sound sleep and a miserable night shifting around.
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19) Sunscreen – Bali’s very sunny and being near the sea can make that even more pronounced on your skin. You should liberally wear a high quality sunscreen – it’s best to come prepared with a good brand you already know and trust.
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20) Travel backpack – Bali is easygoing and a relatively compact island, especially if you stay within one area. A sturdy backpack is an ideal way to carry your things, and expand to fit in the souvenirs you will doubtless pick up during your stay. The Osprey Porter is a popular choice. It has lockable zippers, padded laptop sleeve, and technical suspension. It’s also simple to attach a smaller pack on the outside, giving you more storage space or a daypack for days out like hiking.
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21) Packing cubes – If you’ve ever wasted minutes rummaging around your bag looking for something, you’ll wonder why no one invented packing cubes sooner. Lightweight and easy to use, they instantly transform your luggage so it’s easy to get to what you want straight away without fuss.
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22) Solid shampoo – Liquid shampoos can be a pain for airport security and if they spill in your bag. A lot of solid shampoos don’t seem to work quite as well, but we think that Lush has finally cracked the problem and love their travel-friendly solid shampoos.
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Other packing list items to consider for Bali

These things are also worth thinking about taking to Bali.

What to wear in Bali

Bali is a relaxing laid back place but like much of southeast Asia, many locals take pride in their appearance and are well turned out even though they are not formally dressed. It’s a good idea to pack some smart clothes, not least in case you visit a religious site or fancy bar or restaurant. Beyond that, as always dress in layers so you can easily adjust, and if you’re going walking or climbing at all, have extra layers to hand as well as sturdy, comfortable shoes.

The weather will be the main determinant of what to wear – the temperature varies but it is usually warm, however the rainfall changes significantly, most obviously during the rainy season. That will influence whether you need waterproof clothes like a rainjacket.

What NOT to take to Bali

1) 🚫 Expensive jewelry: Wearing flashy jewelry can make you a target for thieves. You don’t need it in Bali and it’s a good idea to leave it at home.

2) 🚫 Heavy books: Bali’s a great place to reflect and read. However, heavy books will weigh you down and take up valuable packing space. It’s easier and more practical to take a Kindle, and if you insist on paper books, there are lots of secondhand ones floating around guesthouses.

3) 🚫 Too many clothes : Bali has pleasant and predictable weather. In a pinch, you can cheaply buy additional clothes there. You don’t need to pack an extensive wardrobe.

4) 🚫 Lots of cash : There is petty theft in Bali and you may end up partying and forgetting to take good care of your things. There are ATMs, banks, and money changers so you don’t need lots of cash. If you’re worried about the ATMs being temperamental, traveller’s cheques are a safer option than cash in large quantities. It is a good idea to have a few U.S. dollars in cash wherever you’re from, as they can come in handy.

5) 🚫 Illegal drugs even in very small quantities: Make no mistake about this: Indonesia routinely executes foreigners for carrying drugs into the country. Even small quantities for personal use could end up with you spending years in an Indonesian jail.

FAQs about travel in Bali

1) Is the tap water in Balisafe to drink?

No. Locals often don’t drink the waterwithout boiling it first, and their bodies have a lifetime of acclimatization yours doesn’t. Drinking the water unboiled will likely give you serious diarrhea or worse before very long. Bottled water is widely available.

2) How safe is it to travel in Bali?

There’s not a single, easy answer to this question. Bali is not especially dangerous but you do need to keep an eye out for some tourist traps, such as payment scams, bag snatching and petty theft. Traffic is chaotic and presents an ever present risk. There are also some specific dangers lurking: surfing in some areas is for those with the right skill only – check before you surf and know your limit. Drug possession is treated severely, including up to the death penalty for foreigners and locals alike, and the local police aren’t known for their sympathy, so the safest path is to avoid all illegal drugs. Some areas, like Kuta, have worse reputations than others for such things. Bali specifically and Indonesia in general has seen a number of deadly terrorist bombings aimed in part at foreigners, so it pays to be up to date and make your own assessment of the risk level.

3) How prevalent is English inBali?

In tourist areas you’ll always find people who speak enough English to get by, although the conversation may be a bit slow from time to time.

4) Are there ATMs?

There are ATMs in larger areas. Some resorts are some distance from ATMs so it’s a good idea to visit while you are still at the airport after arrival. ATMs in Bali don’t take all cards so if you have multiple cards it’s good to have them as a backup, and be prepared to try withdrawing multiple times, as the onscreen menu can be bewildering and you need to keep trying different options until one machine spits out your money.

5) Do I need to tip in restaurants inBali?

Bali does not have a tipping culture and tipping is not expected. Restaurants often include a service charge in their bill. If you feel so inclined, a small tip for the cleaners at your accommodation would likely be appreciated.

6) Where can travelers get off the beaten path inBali?

Bali is fairly small so it’s hard to get totally off the beaten path. But you’ll often feel that you’re in a different world, if you go inland away from the main towns and big roads. Getting into the hills you’ll feel more alone.

7) What is the best way to get aroundBali?

Bali doesn’t have great transport. Taxis are decent if you can find them and be bothered haggling. Motorbike taxis are common and convenient though less safe. You can also rent your own motorbike.

8) Do I need a visa to visitBali?

Bali is part of Indonesia. Most western passports entitle you to thirty days of visa free acess.

9) What is the best time of year to visitBali?

May to July is ideal. The rainy season has ended and, at the beginning, you’ll still have more of the island to yourself. By July it’s much busier but there is the fun of a lively atmosphere.

10) How can I save money while traveling inBali?

Bali has become more expensive as its popularity has grown. To save money, choose a cheap place to stay in a cheaper area like Kuta or near Denpasar, eat at the local restaurants which may be off the main tourist streets, take public buses instead of taxis and sometimes be prepared to bargain.

11) Is the Internet accessible in Bali?

There’s a lot of Internet access all over Bali.

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