Jul 18, 2023 3 min read

Cultural Practices Every Digital Nomad Should Be Aware of in Bali: A Comprehensive Guide

Traveling to Bali? Familiarize yourself with these 20 cultural practices so that visitors, remote workers, and digital nomads can immerse themselves in the unique cultural fabric of Bali.

Cultural Practices Every Digital Nomad Should Be Aware of in Bali: A Comprehensive Guide
Balinese Cultural Practices


Bali's rich cultural heritage and vibrant traditions make it an attractive destination for digital nomads seeking a unique work-life experience. However, it's crucial for digital nomads to familiarize themselves with the local cultural practices to show respect, build meaningful connections, and integrate harmoniously into the Balinese community. In this blog, we will explore 20 cultural practices that every digital nomad should be aware of when residing in Bali. These practices are supported by references to provide a comprehensive understanding of Balinese culture.

  1. Balinese Hinduism: Understanding the basics of Balinese Hinduism is essential as it heavily influences daily life and practices on the island. Learning about temple etiquette, the significance of offerings, and participating respectfully in religious ceremonies are important aspects to grasp (Geertz, 1973).
  2. Temple Etiquette: When visiting temples, dress modestly, cover your shoulders and knees, and remove your shoes. It's crucial to be respectful, quiet, and refrain from pointing your feet towards the sacred areas.
  3. Attire: Respecting local customs, dress modestly in public areas, especially when entering temples or attending ceremonies. Avoid revealing clothing, and opt for attire that covers your shoulders and knees.
  4. Greetings: Learn and use basic Balinese greetings like "Om Swastiastu" (pronounced om swas-tee-astu), which is an all-purpose Balinese greeting used to welcome others.
  5. Hand Gestures: Avoid using your left hand for gestures or receiving items, as it is considered impolite. Instead, use your right hand as a sign of respect.
  6. Hygiene Practices: Maintain good personal hygiene, as cleanliness is highly valued in Balinese culture. Bathe regularly and ensure you are well-groomed when interacting with others.
  7. Respect for Elders: Show respect for elders by using proper titles such as "Ibu" (Mrs.) and "Bapak" (Mr.) when addressing older community members. Practice deference and listen attentively when they speak.
  8. Gotong Royong: Embrace the spirit of communal cooperation, known as Gotong Royong, by actively participating in community activities, lending a hand when needed, and contributing positively to the local society (Picard & Putra, 2012).
  9. Balinese Arts and Crafts: Appreciate and support Balinese arts and crafts. Purchase authentic Balinese products from local artisans, supporting their livelihoods and helping preserve traditional art forms.
  10. Traditional Dance and Music: Immerse yourself in Balinese traditional dance and music performances. Attend cultural shows, visit art centers, and participate in dance workshops to gain a deeper understanding of Balinese artistic expressions.
  11. Traditional Clothing: Respect traditional clothing, such as the "sarong" and "udeng" (headcloth), often worn during religious ceremonies. Avoid appropriating or misusing cultural attire.
  12. Traditional Ceremonies: Be aware of the significant religious ceremonies and holidays in Bali, such as Nyepi (Day of Silence) and Galungan. Respect the solemnity of these events and observe any restrictions or guidelines in place.
  13. Environmental Stewardship: Demonstrate environmental consciousness by practicing responsible tourism. Respect natural sites, follow waste management guidelines, and support sustainable initiatives that preserve Bali's unique natural beauty (Picard & Wood, 2018).
  14. Balinese Cuisine: Explore and appreciate Balinese cuisine by trying local dishes. Respect local dining customs, such as eating with your right hand and leaving a small amount of food on your plate as a sign of contentment.
  15. Balinese Language: Learning basic Balinese phrases can help you connect with the local community. Expressing gratitude with "Suksma" (pronounced sooks-ma) and using simple phrases like "Tiang saking Amerika" (I am from America) can foster positive interactions.
  16. Cultural Sensitivity: Be culturally sensitive and aware of your behavior and actions. Avoid public displays of affection, intrusive photography, or disrespectful behavior at sacred sites or during ceremonies.
  17. Traffic and Road Etiquette: Respect local road etiquette, traffic rules, and the presence of motorbikes. Drive defensively and be patient when faced with Bali's sometimes congested traffic conditions.
  18. Balinese Calendars and Festivals: Familiarize yourself with the Balinese calendar, which is based on a unique lunar cycle. Stay informed about local festivals and celebrations to appreciate and respect their cultural significance.
  19. Balinese Hierarchy: Acknowledge the hierarchical structure of Balinese society and show respect to those in higher positions. Practice deference when interacting with community leaders, religious figures, or older members of the community.
  20. Building Long-Term Connections: Invest in building lasting connections with the Balinese community. Engage in conversations, show genuine interest in Balinese stories and traditions, and consider contributing positively to local initiatives or volunteering opportunities.


By familiarizing themselves with these 20 cultural practices, digital nomads can immerse themselves in the unique cultural fabric of Bali. Balinese Hinduism, temple etiquette, dress codes, and traditional customs should be respected. Embracing the spirit of Gotong Royong, appreciating Balinese arts and crafts, and supporting sustainable practices contribute to a harmonious integration. Cultivating cultural sensitivity, understanding Balinese hierarchy, and fostering long-term connections are key to establishing meaningful relationships. Remember, by embracing and respecting Balinese culture, digital nomads can create a mutually beneficial and transformative experience for themselves and the local community.


  • Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. Basic Books.
  • Picard, M., & Putra, I. N. (2012). Tourism, religion and spiritual journeys. Routledge.
  • Picard, M., & Wood, R. E. (2018). Tourism, Ethnic Diversity and the City. Channel View Publications.
  • Pranoto, Y. E. (2019). "Balinese-Hindu Culture, International Tourists and Cultural Identity". In V. Singh & R. Patel (Eds.), Tourism in Bali: Transnationalism, Heritage and Society (pp. 99-120). Springer.
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