The native culture of Bali provides tangible and firm bedrock on which Balinese relationships and behaviour are built as “Western” and modern as much of Bali presents itself. So, if one is going to visit Bali with a mindset to visit the island’s temples and meet the local people, one would be needed to mind their manners to stay on good terms with the local people.
One shall follow the following tips to maintain smooth interpersonal relationships in Bali, wherever one goes in the island:
(For other dos and don’ts in Bali, you shall read the articles on Safety Tips in Bali, Beach Safety Tips in Bali, and Health Tips in Bali.)
One should dress and act modestly. The locals of Bali are far more conservative than most of the Westerners; they often frown on public displays of affection. So, when near or in temples or rural settlements of Bali, keep the touchy-feely stuff to a minimum.
No use of index finger to beckon or to point. If there is a need to call attention to someone, one shall beckon him/her to come by extending their hand and, with palm facing down, making a downward wave.
Don’t touch people’s heads. The soul of a person is supposed to reside in one’s head, making it out of limits for people to touch. Not even children in Bali should be touched on their heads, so no noogies.
Don’t enter any temple if one is menstruating. This may be galling to any woman, but one would have a whole island’s culture against themselves on this one. Any woman on her period, or anyone with a bleeding wound or running sore, is considered impure and not to be allowed into any temple of Bali.
Don’t step on offerings in the street which are called Canang sari. The locals offer the Canang saris to the Creator, first thing in the morning. When stepping out, one shall find these little packages of woven palm herbs, flowers and leaves everywhere, even on stairs and sidewalks. Stepping on one can be very offensive to any of the localities who may witnesses the misstep. So watch the step where one roams around Bali, especially in the earlier part of the day, so one is able to avoid stepping on canang sari.
No interruption to any religious processions. Religious processions in Bali occur quite regularly, particularly during the high holy days like Nyepi. The only precedence over one’s trip is these Balinese religious processions. So if one is stuck behind a procession on a narrow road, do not honk the horn or otherwise create a ruckus.
When in a Balinese temple, there are a few rules one shall follow to maintain proper behaviour during any religious event. For instance, the level of your head should never be higher than that of the priest, avoid using flash photography in the temple and under no circumstance should one walk in front of praying Balinese!