What to Wear When Travelling in Bali, Indonesia

When visiting temples such as Pura Ulun Danu Beratan in Bali, make sure to dress appropriately
When visiting temples such as Pura Ulun Danu Beratan in Bali, make sure to dress appropriately | © Gekko Studios / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Elisabetta Crovara
4 September 2021

When venturing into Bali, you’ll find tropical heat, sun-kissed beaches, shady jungles and high volcanic peaks. Depending on the flavours you choose for your stay in Bali, be ready to pack accordingly and dress like an onion. In other words, wear layers.

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Every year, Bali opens its doors to more than four million visitors. Despite its strong customs and traditions, Balinese culture is very welcoming. There are no strict dress codes other than when you visit religious sites. While the weather is mostly hot, it can vary, depending on whether you go to the beach or the mountains. Read our guide on what to wear when travelling to Bali, and be perfectly geared up for the adventure of a lifetime.

Dry and wet season

Located a few degrees south of the equator, Bali has tropical weather; the island is humid all year, but drier on the southern coast. There are only two seasons: dry and rainy. The latter usually starts in October and ends in mid-March. During that time, the temperature is still warm, although inland areas, including Ubud and the mountains around Kintamani, Munduk and Bedugul, can get pretty chilly. The winds are rough on the coast, and there are downpours every day, but usually only for a couple of hours in the afternoon. If you plan to visit Bali during the rainy season, make sure to pack layers and always – always – have a rain poncho with you.

When the rainy season ends in mid-March, the sky turns blue, and the air is fresh and clean, thanks to the rain from the previous months. The much-welcomed sun is hot, but, in the evening, especially on the highlands, the temperature is pleasing – almost a bit chilly when driving a scooter. Pack light cotton and loose clothing – your skin will thank you.

During the wet season in Bali, always bring a raincoat when visiting sites such as Besakih Temple | © Grant Rooney / Alamy Stock Photo

Southern coast

The southern coast, including Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and the Bukit Peninsula with Uluwatu, is the most popular destination on the island, with beaches, surfing opportunities and clubs. If you are planning to visit these areas, your packing will be easy: boardshorts and tank tops or tees for the boys and a wavy dress or jeans shorts with a top for the girls. Don’t forget to wear a swimsuit as well! If you plan to surf, wear a top to avoid sunburn; it will save your holiday from any unwanted redness. Also, bring a hat.

Canggu Beach in Bali is a prime destination for riding waves | © paul kennedy / Alamy Stock Photo

Northern highlands

The northern highlands, including Ubud, Kintamani and Munduk, are a paradise for mountain and jungle lovers. The weather up here is still tropical, and the sun will make you sweat all day. However, it might get a little bit colder, especially during the night or while driving a scooter. An additional scarf and a jumper will help. If you are planning to hike some volcanic peaks, bring sneakers or hiking boots, a wet-weather jacket and warm clothes. You’ll thank us later.

When hiking in Kintamani, wearing warm clothing is recommended | © Gerard GUITTOT / Photononstop / Alamy Stock Photo

Etiquette for temples and ceremonies

When visiting temples and other religious sites, use common sense, and follow local etiquette. Wear a shirt that covers your arms and shoulders. Men and women should also wear a kain, or sarong – a scarf that is wrapped around your waist, like a skirt.

If you are planning to attend a local ceremony, women usually wear the traditional kebaya, a beautiful, embroidered sheer cotton blouse that is worn over an ankle-length kain and tied with the help of a sash around your waist. Pull your hair back, and you are ready to go.

Men should also wear a kain – usually one that is black or brown – tied with a sash. A plain shirt will do as a top. They should also wear the traditional headdress called a udeng.

During traditional ceremonies, women wear a kebaya | © Gekko Studios / Alamy Stock Photo

Driving a scooter

When driving around, you’ll see that locals drive scooters wearing long pants and a jacket, and you’ll ask yourself why, as it’s so hot. The clothing helps protect drivers from scratches and sunburn. Follow their lead, and always wear a helmet, too. If you’re planning to have a long ride on a busy road, wear sneakers, a long-sleeve T-shirt and a scarf or cloth over your mouth. It will protect you from dust. Drive safely!

Scooter drivers wear trousers for protection | © paul kennedy / Alamy Stock Photo

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