Information before you go
The Balinese people and the unique centeries old culture make this island one of the most fascinating places. Without the friendly Balinese the island would not be complete.
Whenever I'm in Bali I love to see the Balinese street scene which is a colorful display of people being together, sharing food, taking care of each others children, chatting away or preparing for the many religious events.
It is also immediately evident that the Balinese take pride of their culture and appearance.
When the first European people set foot on the island they were enchanted by the beauty of the local people and until today the beauty is still evident.
Bali might not be the most economically wealthiest part of the world but the people are undoubtedly rich in their social, religious and physical appearance.
The appearance of the Balinese do differ in the different parts of the island though.
Especially in the north, west and some eastern parts of the island you can see the daily struggles the people have to face. While in Ubud everybody seems to be dressed up all the time.
Balinese woman in East Bali, wearing the most popular brand flip flops
in Indonesia: Swallows. You'll see them everywhere!
However despite the region the Balinese come from, they all focus on keeping their body clean. They will bath at least twice a day and sometimes even more.
Especially in the morning or late afternoon the villagers will seek secluded river banks to take a bath.
Once we were walking around the rice fields in Ubud we bumped into somebody who was just about to wade in the water for a bath.
Other times when crossing a bridge we would see groups of Balinese busy taking a bath and washing their clothes on the river banks.
Balinese man at cremation ceremony in Ubud
sitting as most Indonesians do
While bathing men and women also grab the opportunity to socialize and have conversations at the shallow spot in the river.
There are rules when it comes to bathing in the river though...
First of all men and women bath separately. Additionally among the same sex the private parts are always concealed.
Women use a sarong (a wide cloth) to cover their body when entering the water and once they are finished they will change it easily with a dry one.
Another important rule is the men should not deliberately look at women taking a bath and when you enter a bathing area you must always make your presence known.
Women mostly use natural herbs to keep their skin and hair in optimal condition. Coconut oil is the most popular, especially to ensure that their long black hair stays thick and shiny.
Kids taking their daily bath in the river...
Men also care for their appearance. Don't be surprised when you see Balinese men glancing into their motorcycle mirrors while using tweezers to pull out their facial hair.
Another unusual feature which will have you looking twice are the long finger nails on the men's left hand.
In other countries women only have long nails, but in Bali the longer the nails the better as this indicates that the man does not need to conduct manual labor.
In a way it is considered a status symbol to have long nails...
The daily clothing is the Kebaya which was introduced from Java by the Dutch during the colonial period.
In the past women were bare chested with only a sarong, a cloth wrapped around their waist. Under the Dutch rule this became strictly forbidden.
Beautifully dressed in a Kebaya...
Today you will usually see women dressed in a Kebaya which consists of a long fitted blouse and a sarong. Men also wear sarongs with a shirt or jacket on top, mostly on special occasions..
The sarong is also used with just any kind of t-shirt. These are usually worn by women who are working in the fields or doing other daily chores.
There are different varieties of Kebaya, the plain ones or the one with all kind of decorations.
The last one is usually used for festivities, temple feasts, wedding and cremations. For real special occasions the Balinese women love to use their traditional clothing which is an amazing sight.
Men dressed more casual but still wearing the Udeng...
Men also use a sarong with a batik shirt or a jacket-like shirt. Additionally they have a head cloth called a Udeng which can be tied in various ways.
When using this head cloth it seems that they do not need to wear a helmet when driving a motor bike.
I saw many men wearing a Udeng and passing the police traffic checkpoint without any trouble. But I think foreigners will not be able to use this trick to avoid wearing a helmet ;-)
During a big royal cremation in Ubud in 2008 we were able to see how beautiful the Balinese traditional clothing is. Each region must have a different one because we were able to see the Balinese wearing many kind of designs.
The traditional male ceremony clothing is a long cloth (saput) tied around the chest with a silk scarf (umpal) in which a kris is stuck on the back. Men do not wear ornaments, except for flowers or a bracelet.
Unlike the women...
Their costume consists of a fifteen feet long cloth (bulang) which is wrapped around the upper body and then covered with a silk overlaid with gold leaf cloth.
The underskirt reaches the ground and is dragged over the floor leaving a trail behind. The whole costume is of bright colors with gold woven within.
Traditional Balinese clothing during the royal cremation in Ubud
The women's hair is an art in its self because they often wear a golden crown with many ornaments or their hairstyle is decorated with real flowers.
In Bali it is very common to see women with fresh flowers in their hair and for special occasion the flower decorations can be amazing.
Balinese women can create amazing hair styles...
For different events in Bali there is a different hair style; from the basic one with flowers elegantly placed in their hair or neatly tied up without any pins or other hair accessories to brides wearing a crown (gulung agung) of flowers and gold ornaments.
When traveling around the island you will definitely get the opportunity to see the local people and be impressed at the diversity of their characteristics and how much care they place in their appearance.
I'm sure you will be enchanted as well...
Every thing the Balinese do is done based on the good and the bad. While the good god live in the mountains and the bad ones in the sea, the human struggle in between.Read more
Every evening you can enjoy a Bali dance performance held at different locations. It is a great way to see the ancient dances and traditional clothing that this ialdn is known for.Read more
The Bali Aga are said to be the original inhabitants from Bali. There are only a couple of villages in Bali where they still live according to ancient rules.Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
Hi, I have been travelling for years and I want to say that this website is the best I have EVER come across. It is easy to navigate, it is really descriptive, gives all the info that you could ever want and is accompanied by the best photos and advice. GREAT.