Updated on January 17, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
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 – 17 Essentials
1. Neck Wallet
2. Universal Waterproof Phone Case
3. Affordable Underwater Camera
4. Flotation Straps for cameras and phones
5. Bali Power Adapter
6. Travel Insurance for Bali
7. Activated charcoal
9. Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes
10. Deet-Free Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
11. Reef-Safe Sunscreen
13. Leave-In Hair Conditioner
14. First-Aid kit
15. 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!
16. Motion Sickness Wrist Bands
17. Day bag or small backpack
Other items to pack for a Bali vacation
Copy of passport and visa page
Facial cleansing wipes
Multivitamins: Women’s and Men’s
Hat: Women’s and Men’s
Rest & Relax Bali book
Stain remover wipes
Sterile toothbrush cover
Sweater: Women’s and Men’s
Water bottle with filter
What should I wear in Bali?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
FAQs for a Bali trip
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?
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 (YES, really!), 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) Do they speak English in Bali?
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 in Bali?
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?
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.
12) Is there internet in Bali?