I <3 Bali! For this Bali style post, I’m using my personal travel experience to give you a brief packing guide on what to wear in Bali. There’s something magical about this Indonesian Island – it seems to have it all. I ended up switching my plans not once but twice on my Round the World trip in 2010 and made two separate trips to Bali.
Dubbed as the Island of the Gods, Bali presents an ethereal beauty with its diverse landscape, sandy beaches and rugged coastlines. Flourishing rice terraces spread over verdant rural scenery, along with a rustic volcanic hillside which provides a landscape charming to behold. Bali, Indonesia has a colorful culture immersed with a deep spiritual belief, hospitable locals and amazing amenities.
Bali has something to offer a wide market of travelers, starting from the adventurous backpackers to spiritual seekers and dive enthusiasts to luxury travelistas.
General Clothing Tips
Although Indonesia is a Muslim country, Hinduism is the predominant religion in Bali. While the rules are relaxed for travelers in beach towns, when planning what to wear in Bali, please be respectful of the local culture.
Short shorts are fine on the beach but trousers or skirts that fall below the knee are ideal when traveling to small towns or non-touristy destinations. Sleeveless tops are ok to wear juts carry a lightweight scarf that you can wrap around your shoulders if necessary or a lightweight long sleeve you can layer over if going to temples.
You may see locals wearing skinny jeans and long sleeve tees but you’ll probably roast if you’re not used to the weather – be prepared with lightweight fabrics that are great for both the heat and humidity.
Being located in a tropical region, Bali daytime temperatures can vary from 20 to 33⁰ C all year round. Heavy rain showers and high humidity from the west monsoon can be felt from December to March. Days are consistently sunny with rains arriving in the late afternoon, passing swiftly. June to September boasts a low humidity and can be cooler in the evenings. During this season, there is hardly any rain in the low-lying coastlands.
The Bukit Peninsula has far less rain than any part of the island. In Central Bali on the other hand, cloudy skies and rain drizzles at any time of the year. It can be colder at higher elevations like Kintamani or Bedugul, and tourists should have a good jacket to keep away from chills, especially after the sunset.
What to Wear in Bali
Bali Packing List
Due to its tropical atmosphere, Bali style is generally informal. Choose clothing in lightweight fabrics to keep you cool in the humidity. As always, pack according to your planned activities. This is a general Bali packing list offering a little bit of everything.
Pick out tops that allow your skin to breathe. Cotton is one of those comfortable travel fabrics which you can wear during hot days. Choose colors that will reflect the light of the sun; white is a staple and you can never go wrong with it. Wearing tank tops can alleviate the heat with the sun beating down on Bali during daytime. Prioritize comfortable blouses that will allow you to mix and match different looks during your stay. Don’t forget to pack a lightweight longer sleeve top you can layer over a tank top if extra coverage is needed or if you want protection from the sum.
Denim is always an easy beach option or go for a casual capris that you can also wear in town on non-beach days. A light and airy beach pant will offer you some extra coverage and still keep you cool from the heat. Pair with a tank top or a breathable long sleeve for a casual but chic look by the shore.
Remember to bring items that fall below the knee whether it be capris, lounge pants, or maxi skirts, especially when you are visiting a temple. A pair of cropped pants in a lightweight cotton blend is a good substitute, giving off a classy, relaxed vibe.
Dresses are a great option for those who want to feel fresh and feminine. Maxi dresses make the perfect alternative to pants. This is also a great item you can dress up for a nice dinner. Pack on a day dress and a nice evening dress to enjoy the ultimate Bali holiday.
Depending on your location and the time of year, evenings or early mornings can be cooler in Bali especially in areas of higher altitude like Kintamani. You can pack a light jacket, hoodie, or fleece depending on your activities.
A pair of good walking shoes is always recommended. Your walking shoe can be a stylish yet comfortable slip on like these Cushe slippers or a pair of trainers if you plan on doing volcano trekking. Alternatively, a Birkenstock sandal will provide you comfort and allow your feet to air out if you don’t plan any trekking, just regular sightseeing. You will for sure need flip flops if you plan to spend some time on the beach and your third pair, if needed, can be a cute set of sandals.
Sarongs are always a useful multi-functional item. You can use a sarong as an easy cover up at the beach and to provide you extra coverage in smaller towns and temples.You can pick one up from $3-$5 and up on the beach (depending on how hard you haggle). Additional clothing can be bought within the island, where locally made items for men and women are available. Kuta and Ubud are popular for their low cost clothing.
Shopping in Bali
For surf brand enthusiasts be prepared for Billabong and Quiksilver heaven. While you can shop at the legitimate retail stores in Kuta, you can also find the brands readily available in the local market stalls too. I’m not sure if they’re fake or not. From my experience working in the fashion industry, some brand manufacturers actually overproduce then sell the overage as “knock off” goods so my guess is as good as yours.
You can find cute clothing and bali style boho accessories in the local stalls at a fraction of what they would cost at home. If you’re an accessory fanatic like me, be prepared to haggle and spend because the jewelry and accessory selection under $5 is amazing!
Prices skyrocket in heavy tourist areas like Kuta Beach so be prepared to haggle! As of 2010, I was let in on a little shopping secret: the color of the bags given to you dictates if you got a good deal or if you got ripped off. I believe a striped bag means you overpaid. Your best best bet is to shop around.
Bali Travel Tips
Kuta Beach, Ubud, Kintamani, Lovina, Candidasa, and a side trip to nearby Gili Islands – highly recommend!
Finding a Bali hotel or guesthouse isn’t too much trouble unless you’re traveling during the peak season of July-August which is a big time for Australians on holiday. Prices go up during this time and availability can be limited. Plan ahead.
It is possible to visit several parts of Bali either on a day trip or throughout your stay. If your time is limited or convenience trumps budget, you can easily book shuttles at the many eager travel agencies available – ask around to find the best price. If your schedule allows it and you’d like to save cash while also getting closer to the local culture, you can also take public transport to get between towns. Make sure if you do take local transport that you have a strong will, a knack for bargaining, and a guide book handy to provide you with prices. Tourists pay a premium – sometimes for the whole vehicle. Alternatively, rent a motorbike but be sure to have your “international drivers license” and remember to always wear your helmet.
Additional Travel Ideas
Indonesia is a beautiful country with more island paradises than I can count! If you plan on adding a few more islands to your Indonesia travel itinerary, check out: Bunaken Island in Sulawesi for a budget diving resort you’ll never want leave Panorama Cottages; Gili Trawangan in Lombok for some backpacker fun; if you’re looking for a quick stop over from Singapore try this Bintan Hotel; and one of my favorites, Raja Ampat “the last frontier” of travel with unspoiled beaches and no trash, electricity, or tourists!
Special note: I’m sure you’ve heard of Bali Belly and be prepared – it does happen, even to the strongest of stomachs. Learn more about this stomach infection here.
Lonely Planet Guides are my preferred guide book and they proved to be indispensable on both my trips to Bali. The Southeast Asia on a Shoestring is fantastic if you’re country hopping and if you’re only visiting Bali, check out Bali & Lombok.
What are your tips for what to wear in Bali?
More Asia packing posts:
- The Packing Guide to Backpacking Southeast Asia
- India Packing List
- Backpacker Fashion in India
- Japan Packing List
- Thailand Beach Holiday Packing List
- Backpacker Street Style in Thailand
- Shopping in Bangkok
- Dos and Donts of Travel Clothing in Southeast Asia
To learn about my experience traveling Bali, check out this post: My Bali.
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