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The dos and don'ts of Bali

Published October 30th, 2013

Bali has long been a fave student-friendly destination for Aussies. A tropical hotspot where the beers are cold, the waves are big, the bars are pumping and the weather is warm and sunny , and a totally affordable getaway. If you’re a Bali newbie, here’s how to make the most of your island experience.

 

 

 

 

DO spend your days at the beach.
Bali is famous for its surf and sand. Head for the breaks at Uluwatu and Kuta, Nusa Dua for white coral beaches, Jimbaran Bay for special sunsets, Padang Padang for the ’Eat, Pray, Love’, err, lovers, or dive down to see the Liberty wreck in Tulamben Bay. Also, don’t miss the fun at Waterbom Park!

DON’T miss seeing the countryside.
Lush terraced rice paddies, idyllic Hindu temples and scenic lakes await you away from the crowded shores and surf breaks. Make sure you see Mount Batur volcano, the lakes and highlands of Bedugul-Munduk and Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave in Ubud. Enjoy the cool air in the interior areas as a welcome respite from the humidity too.

 

 

 

 

DO see the sunset at Tanah Lot Temple.
It’s the most visited and photographed temple in Bali and for good reason – it’s stunning. Make sure you visit the Hindu sea temple perched on a massive rock in the sea at sunset to see the colours change in the sky. You’ll be sharing the sight with countless crowds but it’s truly magical.

DON’T feed the macaques in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
These monkeys are not your friends. Balinese macaques are regarded as sacred and these agile monkeys will exploit their cute and cuddly appeal to divest you of your wallet, sunnies and food. So, even though there’s bananas for sale, don’t feed or touch the monkeys, you will always come off second-best!

 

 

 

DO show respect.
If you’re visiting a temple, wear a sarong and the provided sash and make sure your shoulders are covered. It’s also polite to remove your shoes before entering  a home or temple, and don’t touch anyone’s head, even little kids. The Balinese are very used to Western ways, but if in doubt, just ask.

DON’T get angry or nude.
The Balinese are known for their gentle, courteous and friendly ways and it’s best to mirror this approach rather than shouting and making a scene. Also, despite its hedonistic image, Bali is quite a conservative province and topless sunbathing and nudity is a no-no.

 

 

 

DO get your hair braided, a henna tattoo and wear a sarong.
Hey, you’re on holiday.

DON’T wear the same getup back home.

 

 

 

DO get your barter on at Ubud
This is the place to go for artisan pieces, cultural centres and art studios for authentic souvenirs like silver jewellery and batik you’ll actually treasure and your friends and fam will want to keep. Keep your transactions pleasant and polite and remember that a smile and nice manners go a long way.

DON’T fall for the tourist tat at Legian
Cheap Bintang t-shirts,  faux handbags, carved wooden penis bottle openers and so-called Balinese antiques – everyone’s got one, do you really need it too? Also, don’t buy anything illicit in Kuta  - have you not seen ‘A Current Affair’?

 

 

 

DO go to Seminyak.

Those in the know stay and play in Seminyak in the north for a sophisticated scene of boutique bars, shopping and accommodation. It’s still busy and buzzy but has more of an upmarket feel with local designers, cheap massages and great dining spots among the motorbikes and traffic.

DON’T spend all your time in Kuta.
Kuta used to be cool, but now the resort town is full of tourists and chains. If you like your nightlife relaxed and rowdy, this is the place to be where the after-hours scene starts at 1am and continues to sunrise. If you’re after a night out that doesn’t involve foam or non-stop noise, head to Seminyak.

 

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.