My body was ready for a break by the time I reached Bali. It felt like a long slow exhale after nine months of traveling through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, then road tripping two Indonesian islands, hating Jakarta, and then finally arriving in Bali.
Balinese culture is completely different from Indonesian culture. Hindus make up a large part of the population, so the culture is distinctly different from the predominantly Muslim rest of the country.
Aside from that, the tourist infrastructure is well established, and so it feels “easy” after tumbling the length of Borneo and road-tripping Sulawesi.
Ubud emerged from the mists just as I was about to have enough nasi goreng or mi, and with it, salad. Aside from Bali, Southeast Asia has a hard time supplying salad.
Bali is fast becoming a digital nomad hub (Hubud making connectivity that much easier) that is transforming its sleepy expat status faster than some might expect.
The island is a quick and affordable getaway for Australians and Kiwis (Australia lifted their travel advisory a decade after the nightclub bombing).
Bali has incredible beaches, a stunning interior, and an amazing culture that draws many people back time and time again. I was mainly interested in the salad. There are some great restaurants in Ubud.
If you’re packing for Bali, the climate is fairly constant, so whether you’re traveling in the drier high season from April-October, or in the rainier months from November-March, the temperature won’t change much. If you plan to trek high altitude, pack appropriately, and in the wet season, bring a rain jacket.
The Best Luggage for Bali
Travel backpacks are your best bet throughout Southeast Asia. By using this service, you’ll not only avoid checked bag fees, lost luggage, and waiting at the luggage carousel, but you’ll also be able to navigate the city hands-free. Bali is the perfect destination for the Outbreaker Backpack.
Get a backpack that will keep your gear dry if you get caught in a sudden downpour while traveling in the rainy season. The Outbreaker is made of waterproof sailcloth, so you don’t have to worry about your clothes or electronics getting wet.
The last thing you want to do is have to dump out your bag every time you need to find something. A suitcase-like opening on the Outbreaker Backpack lets you see everything you’ve packed.
The Outbreaker Backpack also comes with a height-adjustable suspension system and a padded hip belt to keep you comfortable on your travels.
What to Pack for Bali: Cultural Sensitivity
Although there has been an influx of foreigners in Bali in the past few years, the local culture remains conservative. Women and men tend to wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees.
There is a relaxed attitude toward foreign visitors, and you are unlikely to encounter any difficulties wearing what you would wear home. Bikinis are permitted on beaches.
To enter the temples, both women and men must cover their shoulders and knees. If you don’t have a sarong, you will be provided with one and probably charged for it.
What to Pack for Bali: Adventure
There are several hiking and cycling trails in East Bali, as well as cycle tours (you can rent a bike, no need to fly). The coast and rivers offer boat and diving tours as well as white water rafting. A rental car is a great way to get around the island and have some driving adventures.
An elephant ride tour is one of the “adventures” that are widely advertised that I do not recommend. Geoff Manchester, of Intrepid Travel, strongly recommends against this experience.
The elephant issue has been a major concern. “Having such a huge wild animal restrained for a long period of time and used for rides or on human-like tasks, such as kicking a soccer ball or painting pictures with their trunks, has never felt right.”
There are lots of yoga classes to be had as well as walks through places like the Monkey Forest in Ubud. Don’t touch the monkeys… they bite! Wear athletic clothes and a good pair of walking sandals.
What to Pack for Bali: Nightlife
If you’re staying in Denpasar, Ubud, or one of the smaller beach towns, you’ll have plenty of options for evening entertainment. Nightclubs abound in Bali’s more touristed areas, and there are also a number of really delightful entertainment venues in the suburbs where expats have settled.
An evening spent dancing salsa at Cafe Havana on Wednesday night is one of my favorite memories of Ubud. Make sure you wear your dancing shoes!
Bali Packing Essentials
- Three short-sleeved tops
- Three pairs of shorts or skirts
- You can wear sandals as your only shoes, unless you’re dancing! (Make them hiking style).
- Four pairs of underwear
- Dress or collared shirt with a nice collar
- Swimsuit 1
- Wear one light jacket
- The perfect daypack for day trips and adventures
- Yoga pants – 1 pair
- A single athletic shirt
- The Sarong is ideal for temples or cool evenings
- 1 bottle of water
Final Tips for Visiting Bali
You could return to Bali over and over, finding your favorite hideaway and continuing to explore. The city has something to offer everyone, whether you are a weeklong tourist or a six month digital nomad.
- Visit a beach, or several
- Ubud makes a great base, but don’t limit yourself to it
- Take a trip to the mountains to experience “natural Bali”
- Drive through the villages, get out, and explore
- A Hindu temple should be visited
- Eat breakfast at Bali Budha
- The raw food restaurant Alchemy offers amazing salads
- Don’t follow the crowds and have an adventure
If you’re packing for Bali, don’t forget:
- When traveling to Bali, a water-resistant carry-on travel backpack will help you avoid luggage fees, make packing and unpacking easier, and make exploring easy.
- In temples and traditional settings, you should cover your knees and shoulders
- Ubud has a thriving salsa scene, so pack your dancing shoes
- Pack a daypack and a water bottle to go off the beaten track and have an adventure
- You can find classes in the population centers if you wear yoga or fitness clothing
- Dress up at least once for evenings out