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Bali Temple Etiquette Is A Non-Negotiable For Tourists

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Tourists planning on visiting Bali, specifically its temples, are being reminded that temple etiquette is non-negotiable.

The reminder comes after a family on vacation on the island visited a famous Bali temple and outrightly flouted the rules. 

Worshippers at Bali Temple.jpg

Bali’s temples are not ancient relics that hold only historical significance. Balinese temples are living, thriving, and very much sacred spaces for local people.

While Balinese Hindus have been gracious enough to allow non-Hindus into many of their sacred spaces, this is not unconditionally so.

Irrespective of faith, if visiting a Balinese Hindu temple, it is essential to adhere to the rules and etiquette required.

While some temples have specific rules, and some extra rules must be honored at certain times of the year and during certain festivals, the basics are easy to remember and practice. 

The reminder to tourists comes after a tourist family visited the holy Pura Agung Besakih over the weekend and did not honor the rules.

Pura Agung Besakih, also known as the Mother Temple, is the most spiritually significant temple on the island for Balinese Hindus. 

All visitors, Hindu or not, are required to wear a sarong, a modest shirt, and a sash around the waist.

All visitors to temples must be mindful that Bali’s temples are actively places of worship, consideration must always be given to those who are at the temple to worship, pray or participate in ceremonies. 

In the now-viral video, the family and their young children are approached by the local pecalang, who are the local security officers who are tasked with keeping public order at the temple.

The family is approached by the pecalang because they are not wearing a sarong and sash, nor are they dressed modestly.

When approached by the security officers, the man and his family responded aggressively, causing a scene, gesturing rudely, and did not honor the requests that were made of them.

Speaking to reporters Head of the Pura Agung Besakih Sacred Area Management Agency, I Gusti Lanang Muliarta, confirmed the incident.

He said that foreign tourists entered Besakih Temple via the east entrance.

He explained, “They were intercepted twice by officers when they tried to enter the Pura Agung Besakih area via the east route, but the officers lost the argument because the foreigners were a little arrogant.”


The family was also asked to buy entry tickets to the temple, as is required of non-worshipping visitors, and they refused to cooperate again.

Muliarta added, “After arguing for a long time, the foreigner finally wanted to calm down and not come back.”

Muliarta said that as a result of the incident, security would be tightened around all entrances to the temple complex.

Tourists should not be surprised if they are approached by pecalang who wish to check their tickets, and ensure they are wearing a sarong correctly and are dressed modestly. 


Muliarta said “Earlier I instructed the officers on guard to not dare to argue, if they [tourists] continue to resist, just report it directly to the police on duty around Pura Agung Besakih so that action will be taken immediately.”

Speaking to reporters about tourism and temple etiquette, the Professor of Tourism Science at Udayana University, I Gede Pitana, said “What is appropriate is according to local regional clothing. If, for example, we are in Bali, the temple is in Bali, please dress like Balinese. Wear [local] women’s and men’s clothing. Don’t wear shorts, let alone bikinis.”

Prof Pitana confirmed that every visitor must also wear a ‘senteng’ or sash tied around their waist. He said “Because the senteng or scarf has meaning, when we go to the temple, we have to tie up all negative things.”

Showing traditional Balinese male and female ceremonial clothing and religious offerings as a mother and children walk to a Hindu temple (pura) in Bali.

Prof Pitana issued another timely reminder, that long hair should be tied neatly when visiting a temple too. “Don’t let your hair down, but tie it neatly so that no hair falls out.”

Most Balinese people with long hair, men and women, will tie their hair in a low bun or ponytail as they feel this looks neater, rather than a top knot.

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J West

Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

Bali.....the one thing your religion didn't teach you is how to control your greed. You thought a few drunk Australians were bad......? They sober up and leave for home on schedule. You're finding out the hard way that Russians come to bring their brute barbaric culture .....and stay to snack on your bones.


Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

@J West,

The article is about behaving respectfully in a temple.

Your comment about greed shows how little you know about Bali and Balinese.

Your repetitive negative, ineffectual whinges are boring.

If Bali is so bad for you, do yourself a favour. Bugger off or don't come


Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

@J West, I have to agree

Steve b

Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

Be good if you could name and shame them as well as put it all over the internet for when they go home.