The Indonesian island of Bali has been one of the most-visited places in the world, and their tourism industry has only shown more expansion and become a more valuable part of their economy as time goes on. But, as anybody who has lived near a popular tourist destination can tell you, all that activity can take a toll on an area. You can help ensure that Bali will continue to welcome visitors by following a few tips:
Be patient and respectful with the locals.
Balinese culture, being relatively isolated, is far different from any other region. It has a heavy spiritual influence, and that spiritualism is usually Hindu, which has its own morals and values. At the same time, the pace may be more hectic because of the cultural attitude of “rame”, which basically means “everybody act like bees in a beehive”. At the same time, the pace can seem slower, because everybody seems more interested in socializing than getting any work done. And then there’s the street vendors and touts, who can be annoyingly persistent. The thing to do is to not take any of this personally, and just try to adjust to the pace around you. You’ll never get anywhere by acting like a bossy Westerner and trying to push people around.
With the great influx of tourists to the beach areas, trash along the shoreline is becoming a problem in some areas. Every year after the peak of tourist season in July and August, the rainy season tends to wash the trash off the beach and into the ocean, for both swimmers and sea life to deal with. In fact, this is part of the reason why vending on some beaches is restricted now. You can help the problem by not making it worse; hang onto anything disposable until you come to a trash can. If necessary, it’s no trouble to bring a plastic bag with you to carry your trash back from the beach, leaving nothing behind but footprints.
Respect the local flora and fauna.
Bali has a diverse and spectacular amount of wildlife, some of it endangered. In addition, some of the land animals, such as the monkeys, can be mischievous. Be sure to secure your belongings so that they can’t be swiped by curious primates, and try to give all wildlife the right of way.
Limit your travel in cities during peak hours.
Probably the most crowded that Bali gets is Kona Beach to the south between July and August. The inner cities of Ubud, Kuta, Seminyak and Denpasar (the capitol) also tend towards traffic jams. Bali is a growing economy and a growing tourist destination, so sometimes the infrastructure just can’t keep up – which means roads might be narrow and wear out over time. You can help offset this problem and expose yourself to less frustration by planning your rides through large cities at off-peak hours, or by avoiding crowded cities altogether and sticking to the more rural areas.
Pick up some of the native language if you can.
You have two languages to choose from: Balinese itself, the native language of Bali, or Bahasa Indonesia, spoken throughout Indonesia and by most Bali natives as well. English and other languages are commonly only spoken in heavily-toured areas and rarely anywhere else. While it is difficult to become fluent (both languages are pretty arcane by English standards, be it US, AU, or UK), even just a few basic words will get you a long way and will be much-welcomed by the natives.