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9 Biggest Culture Shocks For A Foreigner Visiting Bali

Updated 28 Mar 2024

Bali, known as the ‘Island of the Gods,’ has always been a top spot for travelers worldwide. Situated in Indonesia, it offers stunning views and a lot of cool stuff to see and do. But sometimes, visitors can feel a bit surprised by the local customs and ways of life.

When people from other countries visit Bali, they might feel a bit shocked due to the differences in culture and way of life. But don’t worry! Understanding these differences can, in turn, make your trip even more interesting and fun.

From navigating the island to getting used to the busy streets, Bali has a lot to offer. But along with the fun, there are also some things that might surprise you. In this guide, we’ll talk about some of these surprises and give you tips to make the most of your time in Bali.

Top 9 Culture Shock You Will Experience in Bali

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1. Really Spicy Foods

One of the first culture shocks many foreigners encounter in Bali is the level of spiciness in local cuisine. Balinese dishes are renowned for their bold flavors, often infused with an array of aromatic spices and chili peppers. For those unaccustomed to spicy foods, this culinary adventure can be quite the eye-opener. From fiery sambals to robust curries, prepare your taste buds for a flavorful journey unlike any other. But if your stomach and palate cannot handle spicy foods, it’s best to ask beforehand to avoid any unpleasant scenarios.

2. Chaotic Traffic


Navigating through the bustling streets of Bali can be an exhilarating yet daunting experience for newcomers. The island’s roads are teeming with scooters, cars and pedestrians, creating a symphony of chaos that can be overwhelming at times. In some more populated areas such as Canggu or Seminyak, traffic jams are a common occurrence, especially during peak hours, so patience becomes a valuable virtue when traversing the island and all of its glory.

If you want to know why Canggu area is rising in popularity recently, check out our article on : Why is Canggu so popular? A Closer Look at Its Popularity

3. Plastic Predicament

One of the sobering culture shocks in Bali is the prevalence of plastic pollution. Despite its natural beauty, the island grapples with the issue of plastic waste, which often litters its beaches and landscapes. For environmentally-conscious individuals, witnessing this plastic predicament firsthand can be disheartening. However, efforts are being made to address this issue through community-driven initiatives and eco-friendly practices. As a visitor, you should also do your part in preserving the beautiful environment of the island by limiting the use of plastic, using reusable straws and bags during your stay in Bali.

4. Flies and Mosquitos

Flies and mosquitoes are common in Bali, particularly in tropical regions where humidity reigns supreme. These pesky pests are an inevitable part of daily life on the island, requiring residents and visitors alike to take precautions against insect bites. Mosquito repellent and protective clothing become essential companions for those seeking refuge from Bali’s buzzing inhabitants. For visitors from relatively mosquito-free countries, you might initially experience unpleasantness. However, as long as you take a proper precaution there’s nothing that will spoil your experience

5. (Almost) Nonexistent Public Transport

Public transportation options in Bali are limited, to say the least. While there are buses, they often operate on irregular schedules and may not reach all destinations. Motorbikes and taxis are the primary modes of transportation for getting around the island. Embrace the freedom of renting a scooter or hailing a taxi to explore Bali at your own pace.

6. Gojek & Grab

Since the public transportation situation in Bali is inadequate at best, enter the world of ride-hailing apps, your lifeline in navigating Bali’s transportation landscape. Gojek and Grab offer convenient and affordable rides across the island, whether you’re heading to the beach or venturing into the lush countryside. Enjoy the ease of booking rides with just a few taps on your smartphone and bid farewell to haggling over fares

7. The Concept of Time

In Bali, time operates on a different rhythm known affectionately as “Balinese time.” This relaxed approach to punctuality can be perplexing for individuals accustomed to strict adherence to schedules. Meetings may start later than planned and deadlines may be more fluid, reflecting the island’s laid-back lifestyle. Embracing this concept of time can lead to a deeper appreciation for the leisurely pace of Balinese culture.

8. The Omnipresence of Offerings

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An integral aspect of Balinese culture is the practice of making daily offerings known as Canang Sari. These small woven baskets, filled with flowers, incense and symbolic items, are omnipresent throughout the island. From street corners to temple entrances, these offerings serve as tangible expressions of gratitude and devotion. Remember to tread respectfully and avoid stepping on these sacred offerings as you navigate Bali’s vibrant streets.

9. Bali Characteristic

What sets Bali apart from other destinations even within the same country, is its unique blend of Hindu culture and artistic heritage. As the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia (estimated 86.9% of the population in Bali practice Balinese Hinduism), Bali boasts a rich tradition, including intricate dance performances, elaborate temple ceremonies and exquisite craftsmanship. From the rhythmic beats of traditional gamelan music to the vibrant hues of Balinese paintings, the island’s cultural vibrancy captivates the hearts of all who call it home.

For those of you who visited bali with their loved ones, kindly check our article on The 7 Best Areas to Stay in Bali for A Love-Struck Couples

Regardless of all the culture shocks mentioned above, the island of Bali remains one of the places you must visit on this planet. The beauty, the people and the culture are one of a kind and there’s no better place to experience it than under the shining sun of Balinese tropical weather. During your visit to Bali, remember to visit our restaurant, Woods Bali. Our restaurant offers the best Mediterranean cuisine you could find on the island, accompanied by soothing and relaxing jazzy tunes. Your visit to Woods Bali will definitely be a highlight of your trip in Bali.


rifka arianti

rifka arianti

Journeying through life with a camera in hand, Rifka Setia Arianti is a passionate explorer of the world's diverse landscapes. Currently settled in Bali as a web designer, her lens captures the essence of her travels, weaving together a tapestry of stories that encapsulate her love for both photography and adventure.

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