17 Top Bali Packing List Items + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (2018)

Updated on October 1, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

What should I bring on my Bali trip?

Bali. The very word conjures up a sense of exoticism and other-worldly “foreignness”. This feeling often makes it hard to know what you need to take when you travel there. To help, I put this Bali packing list together.

You’ll also see I’ve included a guide for what to wear in Bali, what NOT to bring, and additional frequently asked questions.

Traveling here is a step into another world. Bring these physical items, but also arrive with an open mind, a friendly heart, patience, your sense of humor, and a spirit of adventure. Bali will do the rest.

What to pack for Bali


1. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

Travelers to Bali are sure to get up to all sorts of adventures, and most travelers bring their phones with them every step of the way. That’s where this phone case comes in – it allows you to take underwater photos and videos and it also protects your device from scratches, dust, and sand. It’s very budget-friendly and gets excellent reviews!
View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Affordable Underwater Camera

This fun little camera is a great solution for Bali, since most activities you’ll take part in are in, on, or near water. It’s lightweight and versatile, and pretty hardy so you won’t have to worry about damaging it while adventuring, plus it’s a less expensive option if you don’t want to go all-in for a GoPro or a DSLR camera.
View on Amazon.com ➜

3. Flotation Straps for cameras and phones

If you’re going to bring your waterproof phone case or camera on the water you really don’t want to lose it, right? This flotation strap will not only serve as a comfortable wrist-strap for your device, it will also keep it afloat should it fall into the water.
View on Amazon.com ➜

4. Bali Power Adapter

Bali mostly uses 230v/50 hz plugs with round pins, like much of Continental Europe. I recommend you bring a universal adapter like the one pictured because you can use it almost anywhere you’ll travel overseas. This will ensure you always have the ability to charge your devices. Also note: many Southeast Asian countries can have power surges so you may want to bring some spare fuses in case you blow through the two that come with this adapter.
View on Amazon.com ➜

5. Travel Insurance for Bali

Even dream vacations don’t always go as planned, so it’s always better to be prepared. Travel insurance is the best way to ensure that unexpected trouble is easy to manage, and that you’re covered should you need emergency medical care or a sudden trip home. Experienced travelers swear by travel insurance, and World Nomads is one of the highest rated among those travelers, including myself.
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

6. Activated charcoal

All those beach barbecues and street food look tempting and most are perfectly safe to eat, but almost every traveler falls victim to a case of travelers diarrhea at some point. Activated charcoal is a fast-acting and safe way to rid your system of the toxins that cause stomach upset. It’s even more amazing in cases of accidental food poisoning.
View on Amazon.com ➜

7. Lifestraw

The tap water in Bali is NOT safe to drink, and will likely give your body an upset stomach or worse. Bottled water is widely available, but who wants to spend a ton (and waste plastic) on bottles of water? 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 through various layers of chemical and natural filtration. It’s a simple but genius idea that comes in the form of a handy, lightweight tube. Another idea is to bring a water bottle with a built-in filter so that you can actually carry drinkable water with you. In a place like Bali, I recommend both.
View on Amazon.com ➜

8. Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes

Remember: Bali is a place for water adventures. You’re going to get in the water while you’re there, and you really don’t want to try to dry out hiking shoes or sneakers while you’re in a tropical climate. To avoid having to walk around in soggy shoes the whole time you’re on land, I highly recommend bringing a pair of these slip-on mesh water shoes. They’re comfortable and good for use on a hike, a boat, or even just trekking from one snorkeling location to another. They’re light and quick-drying – plus they don’t trap sand inside them!
View on Amazon.com ➜

9. Deet-Free Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

These bracelets are a safe and effective way to ensure that you can enjoy your Balinese adventure without being bothered by mosquitoes. These ones are safe for people of all ages – including babies and children – and last for an incredibly long time.
View on Amazon.com ➜

10. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Bali is very sunny, and being near the water will intensify the sun’s rays. You should be applying sunscreen liberally anyway, but it’s extremely important to be sure that your sunscreen is a reef-safe product if you’re going to be in the water at all. Aquatic ecosystems are fragile, and with as much water tourism as Bali attracts, it’s crucial to limit any damage done to reefs and other aquatic wildlife.
View on Amazon.com ➜

11. Sarong

Sarongs are actually native to this region, and for good reason! These useful items are always great beach-wear, but can serve dozens of other purposes. Need a privacy screen? Hang your sarong. Need a cute skirt? Sarong. Lightweight blanket or pillowcase? Use your sarong! Even use it as a beach blanket if you need to – it shakes clean and dries quickly.
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12. Leave-In Hair Conditioner

Sun and water are rough on your hair, and Bali has both. I have regretted the condition of my hair after tropical vacations before, and I won’t leave home without my leave-in conditioner on any future travels for that very reason. This conditioner smells nice and keeps your hair looking and feeling good so that you don’t have to try to nurse it back to health later.
View on Amazon.com ➜

13. First-Aid kit

I never travel without a first-aid kit, and it has saved me so much grief over the years. I always end up needing something from it, whether I scrape myself, get a cut, or just need something to relieve a headache. In tropical locations it’s especially important to prevent infection, and you don’t want to be caught off-guard and have to find a local pharmacy.
View on Amazon.com ➜

14. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Indonesia (including Bali) has “substantial” Internet censorship. If you plan on accessing all your favorite websites and staying connected while you’re there then a quality VPN like NordVPN is essential to avoid getting blocked.

Additionally, this service adds a layer of encryption which will make sure that all your private data like credit cards and passwords will remain secure no matter which WiFi network you’re on. It’s easy and incredibly affordable!
View NordVPN.com Options ➜


15. Periplus guidebook

A good guidebook will help you understand Balinese culture and history, and it will provide practical information on what to do and how to get around. The Rough Guide to Bali and Lombok is adequate, but I recommend the more nuanced context provided by this excellent Periplus guidebook.
View on Amazon.com ➜

16. Motion Sickness Wrist Bands

Even the most experienced traveler may find themselves getting seasick on water transportation in Bali. It’s never fun to have your day ruined by a sudden bout of nausea and dizziness, so preventative measures are always a good idea. Instead of medicinal patches or chews, I actually highly recommend these wrist bands. They work via light pressure to certain points on your wrists that are proven to relieve motion sickness, and they can be used over and over again so they’re well worth it.
View on Amazon.com ➜

17. Day bag or small backpack

It’s always a good idea to bring a separate, smaller bag for daytime use while traveling. In Bali it’s pretty crucial that you have a daypack that can both hold all of your items that you’ll be carrying with you (think: sunscreen, water bottle, extra shoes, swimsuit, etc.) and still remain compact enough to tuck into a bicycle basket – cycling is one of the most common ways to get around in Bali.
View on Amazon.com ➜
 

Other items to consider packing for Bali


 

What to wear in Bali


Bali is less than 900 km south of the Equator, so to say its climate is tropical is an understatement. Locals wear breathable fabrics and colorful basics year-round. Sun safety is big in Bali, as well, due to its proximity to the Equator, so you will need to pack accordingly. There are beaches and outdoor activities galore, so you’ll have no shortage of entertainment and culture to experience.

Temperatures are pretty stable year-round, though humidity and rainfall fluctuate. There are still technically four seasons, but the truly noticeable differences are between the wet and dry seasons. Keep your clothing breathable and comfortable and your luggage light – you won’t want a heavy load to carry with you, and you’ll want to dry quickly if you sweat or get wet.

What should WOMEN wear in Bali? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).














It’s hot in Bali so you will want to wear comfortable and light clothing. Keep in mind that Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country but Hinduism is more prevalent in Bali, so if you are planning to visit outside of the touristy areas, wear more modest clothing. In those areas, choose shorts or dresses that go down to the knee and cover your shoulders. At the beach, bikinis are preferred over one-piece swimsuits.

Pack some loose shorts, floral print tanks, kimono cardigans, and maxi dresses to wear on the beach and around town with sandals. If you are in Ubud, you’ll see tons of tourists wearing elephant pants. Also, if you are planning to do some yoga or go on a retreat, make sure to bring yoga shorts or capris, and quick-dry tops. A fedora hat is always a great accessory as well as floral headbands, and leather bracelets. Lastly, make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and a pair of shades that offer UV protection.

What should MEN wear in Bali? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).














Dress for a tropical climate with plenty of light-colored and moisture-wicking clothing. Boardshorts are the most popular choice on the beaches but a pair of dry-fit chinos come in handy if you plan on going from a hike to the beach. Pack some tanks and tees to wear with your shorts. For an evening out, bring a couple button-down, short-sleeved dress shirts. One pair of chino pants is good to pack for cooler evenings or if you plan on visiting temples.

For footwear, you will want a pair of comfortable sandals. If you plan on doing some hiking or other outdoor activities, bring hiking shoes and for any water activities, it’s useful to pack water shoes. A Panama hat and vintage sunglasses make great accessories. Lastly, you will also find it useful to bring a compact day bag to carry your things while exploring, and an anti-theft money belt to discreetly store your cash and cards.

Seasons in Bali are pretty straightforward, but may be confusing to plan for. Here’s a quick guide to the weather, climate, and seasonal temperatures in the area so you’ll have a better idea of how to dress and what to pack for your trip.

DRY SEASON – May, June, July, August, September: This is tourist high-season, and the peak months for crowds are May through July. Surfers looking for great waves can find them in the later part of the dry season and even into October. Heat and humidity reign supreme this time of year in Bali, and the sun is extremely strong so close to the equator. You’ll want to pack light clothing that dries quickly, and which can be mixed and matched easily so you can pack less while still having the same number of available outfits.

Bring a sunhat, a swimsuit and a cute swimsuit cover-up, and good sunglasses. This is a place where protection should triumph over fashion – sport sunglasses that protect your eyes will help you a lot more than fashion shades.

Linen pants and shirts can’t be beat. Active sandals are ideal as well, as they can dry quickly but still provide support and security when you’re doing more strenuous activities. You will also need to bring quality eco-friendly sunscreen! Temperatures average between 75°F to 90°F (24°C to 32°C).

WET or MONSOON SEASON – October, November, December, January, February, March, April: The wet season is… wet. Tropical storms are common, especially in the middle of the season (December through February), and rains dominate the season from start to finish. It’s still a gorgeous time to see Bali, but you’ll have to be very prepared for the incredibly humid heat, the rain, and the potential storms.

A rain jacket that allows your skin to breathe while still keeping you dry is really important in climates like that of Bali. You’ll be wearing it a lot, and if it can’t breathe you’ll just get sweatier and even more uncomfortable from the trapped moisture. A windproof travel umbrella is a good idea, as is a reliable pair of active sandals that can get wet.

Amphibious mesh water shoes will be life-savers, too, as they can be worn for land activities and water activities, and help you maintain a non-slip grip while walking and hiking. A travel poncho will also come in very handy. Temperatures average between 75°F to 90°F (24°C to 32°C), just as they do in the Dry Season.

 

How to dress correctly for the activity – (Click to expand)

Hindu Temples – There are over 20,000 temples to explore in Bali, with Pura Besakih being the holiest of all. Some parts of it date back to as early as the 10th century. Other noteworthy temples include Pura Gunung Kawi, Titra Empul, and Pura Luhur Lempuyang. In these sacred sites, it is important to dress modestly. Men and women must have their shoulders covered as well as their upper arms. A sarong and temple scarf that’s worn around your waist and legs are also required, but can normally be rented out at the temple if you don’t have your own. Sandals are acceptable to wear.

Beaches, Surfing & Scuba Diving – When you think of Bali, paradise may come to mind, along with the fantastic beaches and coral reefs. If you are looking to do a little surfing and sunbathing check out Balangan, Bingin or Balian beach. If snorkeling or scuba diving is your thing, try Amed beach or Padang Bay. Board shorts and bikinis are the norms. Don’t forget to pack a cover-up and bring lots of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. If you are surfing, you should wear a shirt or rash guard to protect yourself from a rash burn. We also recommended that snorkelers and scuba divers to bring their own snorkels and masks. Lastly, it is handy to have a pair of water shoes if you plan on getting away from tourist-packed areas for swimming. They will protect your feet from unseen sea urchins and sharp coral.

Yoga & Meditation – In Bali, you’ll find plenty of places to practice yoga and meditation, go on retreats, or attend workshops and training especially in the town of Ubud. Wear a pair of comfortable sandals that are easy to take off. Make sure to pack moisture-wicking clothing like yoga capris or shorts along with tank tops or tees. Mats are provided but it’s a good idea to bring a water bottle and towel.

Spas – You will be amazed at how many spas are in Bali and how cheap it is to get a massage! Some places to try while you are in Bali include Madara Spa, Prana Spa, Body Temple at the Canggu Club and Bodyworks Centre. Don’t forget to try some of the traditional Balinese treatments like the Balinese massage, shirodara, and hair cream baths. Choose loose, comfortable clothing to wear to the spa such as shorts and tees or maxi dresses. Just beware: if you are going for a massage, you will most likely be asked to strip down to your undies, as is the case with most professional massages in the US.

 

What NOT to take to Bali


1) 🚫 DON’T BRING expensive jewelry: Wearing flashy jewelry can make you a target for thieves, and you don’t need it in Bali anyway.

2) 🚫 DON’T PACK heavy books: Bali’s a great place to reflect and read, but heavy books are impractical for traveling. Opt for a Kindle instead, or try your luck with books left by guests in guesthouses.

3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE too many clothes : Bali has pleasant and predictable weather, so you really don’t need much for this paradise. Local clothing is cheap should you find yourself in a pinch.

4) 🚫 DON’T BRING 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 anyway – a few U.S. dollars will do.

5) 🚫 DON’T TAKE illegal drugs even in very small quantities: Make no mistake about this: Indonesia routinely heavily prosecutes (and even executes!) foreigners for carrying drugs into the country. Even small quantities for personal use could result in you spending years in an Indonesian jail – not exactly the ideal vacation!

What NOT to wear in Bali – (Click to expand)

The last thing you need to when it comes to Bali is to pack a ton of clothes. You do not need to bring more than one pair of pants and a light sweater as the weather is almost always nice and warm. Do not choose dark colors or fabrics that feel uncomfortable in hot weather like denim, polyester, and nylon. You will definitely stand out if you wear heels so leave them at home as well as any expensive jewelry. If you are visiting areas away from tourists or temples, avoid anything that is revealing like crop tops and deep v-necks and both men and women should not wear shorts that go above the knee.

 

FAQs about travel in Bali


1) Is the tap water in Bali safe to drink?

No. Locals often don’t drink the water without boiling it first, and their bodies have a lifetime of acclimatization that yours doesn’t. Drinking the water unboiled will likely give you serious diarrhea or worse. Bottled water is widely available, and a Lifestraw personal filter is a fantastic addition to your travel kit. You may also want to bring a water bottle with a built-in filter so you will always have drinkable water with you.

2) How safe is it to travel in Bali?

There’s not a simple answer to this question, but don’t worry. Bali is not especially dangerous, though 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 a risk as well. There are also some specific dangers lurking: surfing in some areas is for those with advanced skills only – check before you surf and know your limits.

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 have 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. Do your research, avoid scams, and play it safe, and you should have nothing but enjoyment to look forward to on your journey.

3) How prevalent is English in Bali?

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. You’ll also see that those who do speak some English are more than happy to speak it and practice with you, so be sure to extend your own patience and graciousness.

The local, official language is called Bahasa, and a simple Bahasa phrasebook will get you what you need and where you need to go.

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 may need to keep trying different options until one machine eventually dispenses your money.

5) Do I need to tip in restaurants in Bali?

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 in Bali?

Bali is fairly small so it’s hard to get totally off the beaten path.

On the other hand, you’ll often feel that you’re in a different world, and if you go inland away from the main towns and big roads you’ll find all kinds of things to explore.

Getting into the hills you’ll feel more alone, and taking in the scenery and splendor of Bali’s volcanoes is a phenomenal opportunity.

7) What is the best way to get around Bali?

Bali doesn’t have great transport. Taxis are decent if you’re able to find them and can be bothered with haggling. Motorbike taxis are common and convenient, though a little less safe. You can also rent your own motorbike or bicycle, which may be a great option if you’re not planning to be out on the roads much.

8) Is the Internet accessible in Bali?

There’s a lot of Internet access all over Bali, so no worries there. Be sure to set yourself up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to be sure your browsing is safe and hacker-free.

9) Do I need a visa to visit Bali?

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

10) What is the best time of year to visit Bali?

May, June, and July are ideal. By that time 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 since tourist season is in full-swing, but with tourists comes the fun of a lively atmosphere.

11) How can I save money while traveling in Bali?

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 be prepared to bargain when you can.
 

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Author: Christopher Ruane

Christopher Ruane is a travel writer who has lived in Asia for the past decade. He has travelled widely across Asia and writes for a number of travel publications. He is a contributor to HK Travel Blog, Hong Kong’s leading English language travel blog.
 
 

 

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