Balinese people are warm, friendly and very welcoming! You and your family will instantly feel at home with the locals. Nevertheless, it’s important to learn a little about what’s acceptable and what’s not in a foreign country. With these Bali etiquette tips you and your family will give a great first impression to the Balinese people you meet on your travels.

Balinese Greetings

Balinese are accustom to meeting and greeting foreigners with a handshake. The traditional Balinese greeting however is a Hindu one, with the hands clasped in front of the chest in a relaxed prayer position and the spoken words “Om Swasti Astu” (meaning peace and greetings from God). When you come across a person you know, the customary way of greeting is by pressing your palms on your chest with the fingers pointing upwards.

Balinese greeting - The Bali Family Guide
Photo credit: Love Bali Bali

Balinese Temple Clothing & Behavior

Bali’s ancient-temples are some of the most common tourist spots on the island. The Balinese are quite spiritual, and value religious temples and ceremonies with the highest degree of respect. Therefore anyone who enters a temple must wear a sarong (kain kamben) around his or her waist. A shirt must also be worn to cover your shoulders and upper arms. If you do not have your own, you may easily rent these at the entrance of most temples. The Balinese are also very conservative, so no PDA inside the temples.Finally, anyone with a open wound or women who are menstruating, pregnant, or who just gave birth are not allowed to enter temples. Although it may seem a little unfair, it is important to respect Balinese tradition.

Bali etiquette, temple clothes
Photo credit: This Travel Life

Mind Your Hands

The left hand is considered impure and should not be used to touch others, touch food or receive something. Pointing at someone using the thumb on the right hand is better than pointing with the index finger.

Photo credit: Sam in Thailand

As well, you shouldn’t touch the head of another person. Balinese people believe the soul lives in the head, and that if it’s touch it will become impure. Don’t put your hand on your hips when talking to someone. This seems like a harmless mannerism, but the Balinese take this as a sign of aggression (like you’re about to pounce).