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

What should I bring on my Bali trip?

Bali. The very word conjures 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.

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 costs less than $10 and has excellent reviews.
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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.
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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 they fall into the water.
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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 a surge protector too.
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5) Travel insurance – 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.
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, and are even more amazing in cases of accidental food poisoning.
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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 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.
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8) Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes: Women’s and Men’s – 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 will serve you well on a hike, a boat, or even just trekking from one snorkeling location to another, and they’re lightweight and quick-drying.
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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. As an added bonus, these ones are safe for children and eco-friendly!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 will make sure that all your private data like credit cards and passwords will remain secure no matter which WiFi network you’re on. And they’re affordable too!
View NordVPN.com Options ➜

15) Periplus guidebook – A good guidebook will help you understand Balinese culture and history, aand it will provide practical information on what to do and how to get around. The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok is adequate, but I recommend the more nuanced context provided by this excellent Periplus guidebook.
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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 you 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.
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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.
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Other items to consider packing for Bali

What to wear in Bali

1) Rain gear – Bali has a significant rainy season from about October to April – roughly the same time that the U.S. experiences winter weather. Rains are heavy and can bring a little bit of chill with them. A reliable, easily packable, lightweight women’s or men’s rainjacket is an important piece of clothing to bring.
2) Nice clothes – Bali is a relaxing, laid-back place but like much of southeast Asia, many locals take pride in their appearance and are well-dressed regardless of occasion. It’s a good idea to pack some smart clothes – you’ll be thankful you did in the event that you visit a religious site or a fancy bar or restaurant. Remember that layers are always a good idea, and will save you significant discomfort should you find yourself in a chilly place.
3) Multiple swimsuits: Women’s and Men’s – You’ll likely be wearing your swimsuit a lot while in Bali, and it’s very nice to have one dry one to use while the other dries. This also really saves you some headache should one of your suits get ruined, and it’s a good opportunity to bring one fun suit and one that’s a little better for rougher water-sports if that’s what you plan to do.
4) Reliable, comfortable, flip flops – Sandals really do rule the streets in Bali, and since you’ll be removing your shoes multiple times a day for various activities that require bare feet (like visiting temples), it’s nice to have flip flops. Cheaper is better, just in case there’s a mix-up or “borrowing” of your shoes when you go back to collect them after a visit to a temple.
5) Sunglasses – You protect your skin with sunscreen, but you’ll also need to protect your eyes from the sun’s powerful rays. Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to get sun burnt eyes, and it’s not something I recommend – I speak from experience here.
Read our full guide here: What to Wear in Bali

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.

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

5) 🚫 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.

2) 🚫 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.

4) 🚫 DON’T TAKE 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 result in you spending years in an Indonesian jail – not exactly the ideal vacation!

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 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.

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 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. 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, 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 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.

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 to July is 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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