Bali is a dream destination for many travellers. It offers amazing food, fantastic beaches, great hospitality and dreamy accommodations all at prices to suit any budget, from backpacker to luxury! With its long, hot days and intense humidity, it can be a little tricky trying to work out what to pack for your trip to Bali. Matt and I have visited many, many times over the years. We’ve done it with loads of luggage and we’ve done it with carry-on only and we’ve learned a lot about what you do and don’t need to take with you. To help you get organised too, here are our tips on what you need to pack for a trip to Bali.
When it comes to packing clothes for your trip to Bali, don’t overpack! Here’s what clothes you need to pack for Bali…
It’s going to be hot in Bali so make sure you pack tops that are made from lightweight or breathable fabric. Matt prefers to wear sweat-wicking t-shirts as they keep him dry and cool, especially if we’re out doing activities. I like to wear t-shirts or singlet/vest tops. You might like to pack things that are strappy, loose-fitting and breathable, the type of clothes that allow you to catch a cool breeze and don’t weigh you down. Bear in mind, if you’re planning on visiting temples, you may need an outfit that covers your shoulders and knees.
Again, you want to opt for a material that is either quick dry or extremely lightweight and breathable. This is not the time to pack jeans or other thick material. Matt spends most of his time in boardshorts and I tend to wear shorts or skirts that are nice and light. You want to stay away from material that will trap your sweat or not allow you to breathe – things like rayon or polyester aren’t a good idea. Bear in mind, if you’re planning on visiting temples, you may need an outfit that covers your shoulders and knees.
Keep in mind, if you plan on doing outdoor activities like white water rafting or hiking a volcano, you’re going to need appropriate clothes. You’ll want to pack activewear or gym style clothes that dry quickly are lightweight and breathe well. You may also like to consider packing a quick-dry towel and refillable water bottle.
Some light summer dresses are perfect for Bali, anything that allows your skin to breath but doesn’t cling to you too tightly. A cotton dress with spaghetti straps would be ideal or some boho-style flowy dresses would be amazing too.
You may like to throw a cotton scarf or something similar into your bag, just in case, it gets a little cool in the evening (depending on the time of year you visit). A scarf will also come in handy if you’re inside a restaurant with super cold air conditioning. I tend to use scarves when I’m out in the sun for a long time or whizzing along on the back of a scooter and want to wrap my hair up.
Bali is pretty laid back so you won’t need to pack anything over the top but there are quite a few nice restaurants and bars springing up now so, if you do want to dress up a little, you absolutely can! A nice dress with cute sandals would be perfect and, for guys, just a decent pair of shorts with a nice shirt t-shirt or breathable button-up shirt is more than fancy enough.
Those wearing boardshorts are pretty lucky as the material is quick-dry whereas bikini material takes longer to dry out. I recommend packing two swimsuits so one can be drying one set out while you’re wearing the other one (no soggy bikini bits!). You might also like to pack a sarong or kaftan, something easy you can slip over your swimmers to and from the pool or beach.
One other tip with clothing, pretty much every hotel room has air-conditioning that will keep you really cool when you sleep at night. I tend to get really cold, so if you’re like me, it could be worth your time to pack a warmer set of jammies. Otherwise, a pair of cotton pyjama shorts and top will be perfect.
Most people get around in their flip-flops. I had a small child pee on my foot at Kuta Beach once, which really freaked me out. If you plan to hike a mountain or trek into the jungle you will need appropriate closed-in shoes. If you plan to sprawl out on the beach for 10 days straight, one pair of flip-flops or sandals will do. The clubbing scene in Kuta is brutal so you won’t need high heels. I usually pack two pairs of sandals and one pair of closed-in shoes.
Other important things
Aside from clothes, there are other essential items you’ll need to pack for your trip to Bali...
Always keep a pocket pack of tissues with you, just in case you forget to grab some toilet paper off the communal roll before you go into a toilet stall at a local market. You should make sure you always have some change on you as some places will charge you to use the toilet. I also recommend carrying hand sanitiser at all times.
Good quality luggage
Bags tend to get thrown around quite a bit and it’s worth investing in good quality luggage that can stand a good punch and lock securely. A lot of people have security concerns when travelling to Bali and have their luggage wrapped in plastic wrap before they depart. Personally, I don’t think that’s necessary. A good quality suitcase with a strong lock should be good enough. Matt and I always lock our valuables in the safe when we go out and, anything that doesn’t fit in the safe gets locked inside the suitcase.
You’ll need a power converter to ensure you can recharge your camera, phone and other electronics. In Indonesia, the one you need has two round prongs. I always pack a power-board with me or a multi-USB. It means I can charge my iPad, iPhone and camera while using my laptop. Yep, I’m a technology addict. If you forget a converter you can buy one there pretty cheap, so don’t stress.
Beach bag and backpack
Pack a light tote you can put your beach essentials in, this will make it easier to pack up your towel, hat, sunglasses, book, camera and sunscreen when you head down to the water or go for a walk around town. If you plan on spending a few days out exploring or hiking, you might like to bring a backpack instead. It can be a better way to carry heavy gear like cameras. Make sure you have a plan to keep your valuables dry if it rains suddenly, which it can in Bali. A waterproof bag, umbrella or even just a spare plastic bag can be a lifesaver.
Tap water isn’t drinkable and you may not drink as much water as you normally do at home, so give your body a boost with an electrolyte drink, especially because of the humidity which you may not be used to. You’ll be especially happy to see an electrolyte drink if you experience stomach problems from eating food you aren’t used to. I usually just tuck a sachet into my medicine bag for ‘just in case’ situations.
Be sure to pack a good amount of bug spray! You’ll want to cover yourself in bug spray if you’re staying anywhere where it seems like there are a lot of mosquitos hanging around. When I’m in Bali, I tend to apply bug spray and sunscreen every morning. I’ll also apply a liberal amount of bug spray if we’re going out for dinner. Be sure to buy a good quality brand.
It’s very hot in Bali and I usually find it easiest to put my hair in two plaits. It’s easy to put a hat on top and my hair stays out of my face and frizz-free. I pack my hairbrush, a few little hair bands, bobby pins plus one or two big hair ties so I can pop my hair up in a ponytail or bun. If you like your hair to be slick, throw in some gel or hairspray as you will find it frizzes up with all the humidity. If you’re swimming a lot, you might like to pack something to put moisture back in your hair, like a treatment or leave-in conditioner.
Be sure to pack sunscreen from home as it’s quite expensive in Bali if you forget it. When you go out for the day, be sure to slather it on to protect against the harsh sun or you will get sunburnt (it happened to me at a resort and it was the worst!) We use good quality, high SPF, water-resistant sunscreen on our arms, shoulders and the rest of our bodies. I use a dedicated, SPF50 sunscreen for my face that is non-greasy and water-resistant. Find Sunscreen here.
Something for bug bites
Despite the vast amounts of bug spray we spray on ourselves we’re usually still bitten by bugs at some point. I would recommend packing something to put on your bug bites to stop the itching or annoying you. Personally, I like to keep a tube of Lucas’ Paw Paw Ointment on me when I travel as it’s a great cure-all.
This one may seem a little extra but hear me out! With all that sunscreen and bug spray you’re covering yourself with, you’re going to find it mixes with the sweat from the humidity and the dust and dirt in the air, caking your body with a film of scunge. Trust me, scrubbing your body with a pair of loofah gloves is going to feel amazing! They’ll scrub all the sunscreen out of your pores and leave you feeling fresh and clean.
I pack a little medicine bag which includes Imodium/something for an upset tummy, (Bali belly is REAL!) paracetamol and ibuprofen for headaches or injuries, loads of band-aids, hayfever/allergy medication, asthma inhaler, a very strong antihistamine, sleeping pills, valium in-case of a bad anxiety/panic attack, eye drops, cold and flu medicine, throat lozenges, travel sickness medicine, hand sanitiser and ginger tablets. Find Medicine Bags here.
Feminine hygiene products
For ladies expecting (or not expecting – am I right?!) to get their period, you’ll need to pack your own tampons, pads etc as the brand or type you prefer may not be available in Bali. You will absolutely need to pack hand sanitiser and might like to bring a small pack of anti-bacterial wipes to clean the toilet seat and baby wipes, just in case! You may like to tuck a few plastic bags into your day bag, just in case there’s nowhere for you to dispose of your products and be sure to always have tissues on you as there may not be toilet paper where you go.
You might like to bring a few separate bags to put your dirty shoes, clothes and underwear in to keep your bag from stinking out and making your fresh clothes smell bad. Laundry is cheap to have done on the streets of Bali so don’t pay ridiculous hotel prices, just take your laundry out onto the street and you’ll find someone offering a laundry service.
Packing hacks and tips
A few tips and tricks to help you hack your packing!
Stash some eco-friendly bags and reusable sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes! Find Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags here.
Stop leaky bottles
If you’re worried about your shampoo, conditioner or body wash leaking in your bag simply unscrew the lid, place some cling-film over the top and screw the lid back on. It’ll stop everything from leaking and potentially ruining your clean clothes.
I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! Find Storage Containers here.
Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip. If you don’t have dryer sheets, a few drops of essential oil on a tissue, laid flat in-between layers of clothes, works wonders. I also have a little bottle of spray which instantly freshens up clothes, it’s from The Laundress and it’s amazing! No musty smelling clothes for you, my friend. Find Dryer Sheets here.
Useful travel resources for your trip to Indonesia
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Agoda – our go-to site for booking hotels
Skyscanner – our go-to for booking flights
RentalCars.com – great search engine for car rentals
Motorhome Republic – our go-to site for booking RVs
Booking.com – another go-to site for booking hotels
TourRadar – great search engine for tours
Uber – our go-to transport option