BY EVA JOHNSTONE
This Bali packing list will tell you exactly what to bring, what to wear and answer your most pressing questions about traveling to “The Island of the Gods”. Bali is one of the most popular travel destinations and home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Indonesia.
From black sand beaches lined by sea-worn jukong (traditional fishing boats) to sleepy morning mist winding through the terraced rice fields of Sidemen to majestic volcanos reaching into the clouds, Bali has so much to offer. For those who say Bali is a “been there done that” destination, we say come join us on the path less traveled and experience this island’s authentic beauty.
Our advice comes from years of travel in Bali and Indonesia, before, during and after the pandemic. We know which travel items you’ll use daily and the ones that seem so useful, but just sit in your bag.
Read on to find out the must-haves on your Bali packing list and what you can leave at home in 2023.
You should pack light, airy clothes when you visit Bali. Think cottons, linens, rayons and sweat-wicking exercise apparel that keep you cool and don’t take up a lot of space.
It is best to pack less because one of the joys of visiting Bali is the incredible, local shopping. There are also plenty of laundry services that can wash, dry and iron your clothes in less than 24 hours.
Samanvaya Tip – Kolektif, our luxury concept store, offers a curated collection of locally-produced resort wear, including linen shorts, button ups, silk kimonos, dresses, handwoven bags, swimsuits and jewelry.
When exploring local villages or walking through the countryside, you will get a direct view into the Balinese way of life. You will see children playing in the streams, women placing flower-filled offering pluming with incense on the family alters and men showing off their roosters. You will encounter people who aren’t always used to seeing the more revealing styles of clothes popular outside of Bali. For this reason, we recommend packing at least one longer dress (a maxi dress works great).
Other clothes items you should pack for a 2 week trip: a white button down shirt, 2-3 pairs of loose pants, exercise clothes, linen or rayon shorts and a few breathable shirts.
Some people like to wear a rash guard while snorkeling to prevent a sunburn. However, if you aren’t planning on snorkeling for an extended period of time, then a rash guard doesn’t need to be included on your Bali packing list.
Men should pack swim trunks, 2-3 pairs of shorts (athletic or khaki shorts are both fine), T-shirts in a color that won’t show your sweat, a button down shirt and 1-2 short-sleeve button up shirts.
If you visit Bali during rainy season, a rain jacket is a must. However, if you’re traveling outside of wet season, then you will not require a rain jacket.
You will need shoes that can get wet when you get on and off boats going to Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan or the Gili Islands. The boat operators ask everyone to put their shoes into one big box and sometimes they get a little wet from the waves.
It is best to bring an additional pair of sandals that support your feet better than thongs. Look for a sturdy shoe with an ankle strap that’s light and has good traction (super necessary for walking on damp stones or mossy areas).
Sidemen is home to a secret waterfall that tumbles down a cliff covered by mossy rocks and verdant greenery. The bubbling water forms natural pools that look out over the entire jungle and Sidemen Valley.
Each pool is like your own jungle bathtub, but it is difficult to reach the pools at the top level if you do not have shoes with good traction that can get wet.
Some good choices are Beek, Teva, Birkenstock and Born.
Wear a pair of tennis shoes on the plane and then you will have them for the rest of your trip. Tennis shoes comes in handy for exploring the markets, trekking, exercising, hiking volcanoes and everyday use.
While some travelers feel most comfortable in hiking boots, they are not a necessary addition to your Bali packing list.
A pre-dawn hike up Mount Batur is one of the most amazing treks you can do in South East Asia and easily accomplished in a pair of tennis shoes. As you summit the volcano, the bright stars dotting the pitch black night fade, while the sunrise sets the eastern skies aglow.
Samanvaya Tip – If you rent a motorbike, wear your tennis shoes instead of open-toed shoes to protect your feet.
Let’s set the stage: you just settled into your seat for a 10-hour flight to Bali and a baby starts to scream. It’s moments like these that make us thankful for the gift of noise-cancelling headphones.
Make sure you download books and movies to your tablet before you start your trip. The flight is also a great time to read books about where you’re traveling to get you excited.
The plugs in Indonesia are usually type F or C with a standard voltage of 230V and a frequency of 50Hz. This means that if you are from Australia, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, the UK or Japan, you will be able to use your 230v devices in Indonesia but will need a plug adapter.
When you are out exploring all day, there is nothing worse than your phone running out of battery just when you’re trying to get back to the hotel.
While you can find most everything you need at the apoteks (local pharmacies) and skincare shops once you arrive, there are some things you’ll want to add to your packing list.
While you can buy sunscreen in local shops, we recommend that you pack at least one bottle. Many of the sunscreens found in local apoteks contain whitening ingredients or are simply not the brands you are used to from home.
That being said, you can buy sunscreens from Nivea, Biore, Hawaiian Tropic as well as several Indonesian brands in Bali (prices range from 150k to 320k). Make sure you check the expiration date before you make your purchase (especially if the sunscreen is on sale).
If you take prescription medicine, make sure you bring it to Bali in its original packaging and put it in a clear plastic bag. Basically, you want to make sure that your medication is clearly labeled and that you can easily take it out of your carry-on bag at the airport security checkpoint.
Activated charcoal is a true lifesaver. Even those who call Bali home will experience Bali Belly aka food poisoning at some point. However, if you do get Bali Belly, activated charcoal will speed up your recovery time.
During your short stay, you can avoid food poisoning by eating sensibly.
Don’t eat at a seafood restaurant if the catch smells fishy. Check the restaurant’s reviews on Google Maps before you eat there. Trust your instincts – if it tastes off, don’t eat it. Don’t under ANY circumstance drink the tap water.
While it is a good idea to carry a few ibuprofens or plasters with you, an entire first-aid kit is unnecessary. The local apoteks have everything you need at a good price.
If you are traveling with a low-cost airline like AirAsia, you can carry on one 7-kilogram bag plus a small personal item for free. This is a great choice if you want to travel light in Bali and not be weighed down by your things.
One of the most beautiful places in Bali is Uluwatu, an area filled with blooming Bougainvillea and cute, surfer cafes. Known for their rugged cliffs, wild waves and endless sunsets, the pristine beaches of Uluwatu are difficult to access if you are carrying a large bag due to the sheer number of stairs.
Similarly, if you are planning a boat trip to Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands or Nusa Lembongan, it will be difficult to move a large bag on and off the boats. However, many resorts will allow you to leave your large suitcase for a small fee if you stayed with them earlier in your trip.
Unless you plan to go diving or spend time on a small boat (a fishing trip in Amed or transportation to outlying islands), you do not need to add a dry bag to your Bali packing list.
While Samanvaya provides guests with a pool bag, you will need a day bag too. You should pick a small bag that is lightweight and can hold your credit cards and cash in a safe compartment. Choose a bag you can use for day trips with enough room for your water bottle, sunscreen and other essentials.
If you are planning to bring a large suitcase and leave it at a resort while you visit the Gili Islands or Nusa Penida, then your day bag can double as an overnight bag.
Many motorbike drivers prefer a bag that sits on their chest because it is more difficult for someone else to open and great for hands-free use. However, if your day back is small or collapsible, it is best to store it under your motorbike seat while driving.
That being said, pickpockets are not common in Bali (except in some large night clubs), but it is always best to be extra cautious when traveling anywhere.
You need to show your passport and visa to the immigration officer when you arrive in Bali. Whether or not Indonesia requires other documents depends on when and where you are traveling from so we highly recommend checking with you local Indonesia consulate.
However, there are a few other documents you’ll want to have with you.
You should make sure to buy traveler’s insurance and keep your travel insurance card on your person. You should also keep pictures of your important documents (passport and visa) on your phone because it will make it much quicker and easier to check into your accommodations.
From travel towels to water shoes to selfie sticks, there are so many things you could bring that don’t add all that much to your experience. What sets Bali apart from other travel destinations is the combination of local traditions and natural beauty that seamlessly weave together.
Think of a moss-lined swimming hole with cool, clear water, surrounded by canang sari (daily offerings) -each filled by betel leaves, colorful flowers and maybe a cookie or sweet. Or, imagine watching sunset over the ocean, while listening to the sound of gamelan music flowing out of the temples.
These experiences are made by appreciating the moment not by packing everything you could need. However, we’ve added a couple more items that are light, useful and can help you appreciate these magical highlights.
Indonesia is fighting a serious problem with plastic waste and one way we can help is through using a reusable water bottle. We don’t recommend bringing a glass reusable water bottle because it is heavy and breakable.
Another great way to reduce plastic waste is by bringing your own portable coffee cup. Most cafes will happily use your cup and you can feel good about doing your part to keep Bali beautiful.
Mosquitoes love humid weather and rainy season so it is important to bring bug spray that you know works.
While you can buy citronella and low-concentration DEET sprays in the apoteks and convenience stores, it is difficult to find the types of products available in Europe, Australia and North America.
Bali is home to some of the best handicraft and local designers in the country. You will fall in love with so many beautifully patterned sarongs; there’s no need to pack your own.
When entering religious sites, you must wear a sarong and a shirt that covers your shoulders to show respect. The sarongs in Bali are designed for everyday wear so they are long and wide enough to cover you when visiting sacred sites.
At Samanvaya’s Kolektif Concept Store, we feature a range of local goods, including sarongs with traditional patterns you will not find in any other shops.
It is never a good idea to travel with expensive jewellery. Bali is no exception to this rule. From enjoying water activities in Sanur to hiking Mount Batur, there are many opportunities to lose a valuable piece. That is not to say Bali is an unsafe place to wear jewellery, but that it is easy to lose something small while you are adventuring -especially in the water!
Samanvaya Tip – If you are interested in jewellery, you can experience the art of silversmithing with a local master when you visit our resort. We offer private classes and the chance to take home a necklace, ring or bracelet of your creation. Price – 800 IDR for a 4-hour lesson plus materials.
We also offer handmade, artisan jewellery at Kolektif that embodies the beauty of Bali.
This should be a no-brainer, but don’t bring illegal drugs into Bali. Also, do keep in mind that all CBD and THC products are also illegal.
Unless you prefer specific products or are checking a bag, we recommend buying everything you need once you arrive in Bali. Face wash, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, aloe vera and more are all available at local shops and convenience stores.
Before your flight to Bali, you should make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months. Then, you should check what kind of visa you need to enter Indonesia.
Passport holders from many countries can apply electronically for the Visa On Arrival (VOA), which allows you to stay for 30 days. You can extend your VOA for an additional 30 days (with a fee) during your trip. Entry requirements differ from country to country, so it is important that you check with your local Indonesia consulate in advance.
If you have long legs or value extra space, try to book an exit row seat. For couples traveling together, book the window seat and the aisle seat. You can always ask the person in the middle to switch with you (most middle seaters are SO excited to switch), but you might get no one in the middle seat and be able to stretch out.
Samanvaya Tip – At Samanvaya, we offer a VIP airport service that will assist you through immigration and security. We can also arrange to pre-pay your Visa On Arrival (VOA) and fast-track your way through the airport, ensuring a stress-free welcome to Bali. For more information about our services, feel free to contact us.
The island is beautiful year-round, but the best time to visit Bali is in May, June, July, August and September if you want to swim at the beaches. These dry season months feature clear skies and soft sea breezes that will make you want to lie back in your cabana with a cocktail in hand. However, dry season months are also the most popular times to visit Bali so expect crowds.
The rainy season in Bali is from November to March and is the perfect time to get off the beaten path. The rice fields turn a vivid, emerald shade of green and the jungles are alive and boisterous. This is a great time to travel a little slower and appreciate life in the countryside.
Also, there are fewer tourists during wet season and many resorts offer appealing discounted rates.
To maximize comfort, you should wear loose pants, comfy socks (airplanes get cold), a scarf and a light jacket on the airplane when you go to Bali. If you experience swelling or discomfort in your lower legs while flying, we recommend packing a pair of compression socks in your carry-on bag.
You can also use a scarf to cover your eyes and to cushion your head against the window.
Yes, you can wear shorts in Bali! The beaches, hiking trails, shops, boat trips and casual restaurants are all fine places to wear shorts. However, you should not wear shorts or any clothes that expose your legs when you enter a temple or other religious site.
Modesty in action and appearance is valued in Balinese culture so it is best to follow what the locals do if you are unsure.
Indonesia is a huge archipelago with over 17,000 islands. It’s the kind of place that you need to visit many times to truly experience. We’ve created a 2 week Indonesia Itinerary to give you a good taste of this beautiful country: This Is The Best Indonesia Itinerary For 2 Weeks.
Yes, Bali is safe! Stories of theft and tourist woes make international news because they are engaging and make you want to read more. However, these stories represent a small percentage of the actual lived experiences in Bali.
Bali is an island of families, both local and expat. It’s a place where people live and work within and outside of the tourism industry.
That being said, you should always be mindful when you travel. Don’t carry large sums of cash on your person. Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach. Remember to lock your motorbike and don’t keep values under the seat. If you use the bathroom in a cafe, use your jacket or sarong to save your seat (not your purse or laptop).
These are safe travel practices that you should employ everywhere you go – not just in Bali.
Here is the bottom line: the things you pack will not make or break your trip. They only make your travel adventures easier.