Style Guide: What to Wear in Bali

The tropical, zen-like atmosphere of Bali attracts millions of travelers every year. There’s a sense of magic that encompasses the island, which allows anyone who visits a chance to connect with nature and take the peaceful vibes back home with them. It’s no surprise that the attire is generally laid-back and casual to match the feeling of this wondrous place. Packing a sexy designer bikini, a sarong, and a pair of sandals just about covers it when deciding what to wear in Bali.

It’s obvious that the beaches are the biggest allure. You can’t beat the calm, turquoise waters, soft sands, or multi-color sunsets. For example, Julia Roberts made the Padang Beach more popular than ever before when she headed there in character on her “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. But that’s only one of the many beaches to explore on the island. There are endless shorelines to enjoy and hidden gems to uncover. Think about all of the places you’ll visit as you start shopping and packing for your trip to Bali

Besides beautiful beaches, Bali is also known for its holy temples, animal sanctuaries, street markets, and nature-focused activities. There are annual festivals, musical performances, food fairs, and other local adventures that stray from the average trail of tourists. In other words, you’ll want plenty of cover ups to “dress the part” depending on what the occasion calls for. 

Bikinis are a must have in our packing guide, but you’ll also need clothing that covers the arms and knees. Mostly, you’ll experience hot, humid weather, but if you go in the rainier months, you’ll want to pack protective attire and sturdier shoes as well. In general, it’s best to pack clothing that can easily transition from days spent on the shore to the sites nearby where you’ll want to be wearing more than only a swimsuit. 

Ready to set out on your next travel adventure? Here’s what to add to your Bali packing list to have you covered for your entire vacation. Plus, don’t forget to check out our full guide of the top 10 things to do in Bali to make sure you pack according to your travel plans!

Bikinis for the Beach

The beach calls for your favorite bikini. This is a no-brainer, but what style of bikini is best? A bandeau bikini is effortless and chic, perfect for relaxing days spent on the waterfront. With this style, you can opt to go strapless or add a one-shoulder strap for a modern edge. The Nikki Beach Off-White Scales One-Shoulder Bikini is a popular choice that is flattering on all figures. The unique, laser-cut texture and supersoft LYCRA suede fabric make for a comfortable fit for all-day wear.

A sexy triangle bikini is another swimsuit staple to add to your Bali packing list. The versatility of this cut allows you to create several options by mixing and matching tops and bottoms. Rich hues like the Indigo Ella or the Coral Shaye Triangle Bikini match the spirit and colors of the surrounding scenery, while a neutral print like the White Wave Triangle Bikini blends in seamlessly with any cover up or beach outfit you pack. Both the bandeau and triangle bikini styles are well-suited for any body shape and are an ideal choice for your next exotic destination. 

A week in Bali calls for at least two or three bikinis. Since they barely take up any room in the suitcase, you can pack a different one for every day. Once you’ve decided which ones make the cut, it’s time to narrow down which beaches to go to. There are locations that are popular spots for relaxation among travelers, some that are more remote, and ones that are meant for adventures like snorkeling, cliff diving, surfing, and anything else you happen to be in the mood for that day. 

Bali Beach Locations 

Dreamland Beach has a name that catches everyone’s attention. The white sands and soothing sounds of the waves make it worth the visit if you want a calm place to soak up the sunshine. There are several resorts nearby but like most areas of Bali, it sits mainly undisturbed. Another popular place is Geger Beach, which attracts a larger crowd. Rent a kayak or paddleboard, if you want to get out on the water but still want to move at a leisurely pace.

For scuba diver enthusiasts, Amed Beach is a must-see spot to find plenty of underwater wildlife and possibly a shipwreck or two. The beach is lined with black sand and has a more peaceful atmosphere than some of the busier seaside spots. Another beach known for water activities is Balangan Beach, which is favored among seasoned surfers. The waters can get rough, though, so proceed with caution if you’re a newbie to being on a surfboard.

Finally, if want time to soak in the spirit of Bali and sit alone with your thoughts, then Green Bowl Beach is for you. It’s a secluded beach that is usually empty but just as beautiful as any of the other shorelines. It takes a few (hundred) steps to get to the sand, but once you’re there, swim in serene waters and let your toes sink into the golden sands.

Cover Ups and Clothing Etiquette for Temples

Beaches are the main destinations, but Bali is a spiritual place also known for its ancient temples and holy sites where a bikini on its own obviously won’t do. The dress etiquette for women requires covering the arms, shoulders, and knees when visiting these areas. A billowy cover up or lightweight clothing works well to stay cool and abide by what’s appropriate when at these dwelling places. 

A stylish designer dress is a perfect piece to wear over your swimsuit when moving from the beach to other parts of Bali. Breezy, maxi-style designs and gorgeous colors and prints create a more modest look that provides more coverage. To take care of the shoulders and arms, wear a loose scarf or button-down shirt tied at the waist over your swimsuit top.

Another option for more coverage when visiting temples and other spiritual areas is a luxe jumpsuit. The simple elegance of this one-piece clothing style is easy to take in your backpack and slip on when the occasion calls for it. Both a dress and jumpsuit are also good to wear to dinner, out for an evening, or for traveling as well, since the fabrics are free-flowing and chic. Save room in your suitcase by rolling your dresses and jumpsuits, which also helps them from getting too rumpled.

Temples to Visit

There’s no shortage of temples to see when visiting Bali. Plan ahead to take in as many as possible during your trip. Each has its own unique architecture, atmosphere, and allure. One of the most popular is the Besakih Temple that sits on the slopes of Mount Agung on the east side of Bali. It can take an entire day to explore this temple, so pack appropriately. If you head out on a spontaneous day trip, sarongs and sashes to cover the shoulders are available for a donation fee, in case you accidentally leave yours behind.

The temple located on Beratan Lake looks like it’s floating. The mountainous backdrop and surrounding gardens make this a must-see for many. While there, you can also spend time on the water by hopping in a paddle boat or cruising around on a jet ski. Other mystical sightseeing opportunities include a visit to the Tirta Empul Temple, which has a spring that flows into surrounding pools, baths, and ponds, the Gunung Kawi Temple, surrounded by paddy terraces and local art shops and food stands, and the Taman Ayun Temple, which is known for its more traditional Balinese Hindu architecture. Explore the courtyards and gardens of this sacred site. 

Although your shoulders and knees can’t go bare, covered feet aren’t required while exploring these urban areas. A pair of resort sandals in a neutral color or any flat shoe with a sturdy sole is a good idea for all the walking you’ll do. You don’t have to pack too many pairs of flip flops because they’re versatile and the ideal complement to your day-to-day outfits.

One of the most popular places to visit during a trip to Bali is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary located in Ubud, Bali. It is home to the famed Balines long-tailed monkey. Over 700 monkeys live in the sanctuary and are used to guests who want to see them up close. Due to the popularity of this nature preserve, they won’t shy away from walking right up to you. The monkey forest is also the home of several Hindu temples. There are three that are part of the sanctuary to experience after you’ve taken a walk through to greet the wildlife. 

Wherever your adventures take you, the tropical weather isn’t a place for heavy materials or too many layers. Be conscious of the fabrics you wear and where you’ll be visiting throughout your stay. This will help you make the most of your clothing options. Bali is a place where fortunately less is more when it comes to what you wear.

Basic Packing List for Bali

Rely on swimsuit and cover up staples to keep your packing list for Bali fairly simple. The average temperature is around 81 ℉ and drier for the better part of the year. The rainy season begins right around October, which is when you’ll want to consider packing a rain jacket or poncho in case you get caught in a downpour. Despite these seasonal weather conditions, the climate is tropical year-round. Pack light, loose layers that are breathable and you’ll be good to go.

In addition to at least two or three bikinis, a few dresses or jumpsuits, and a pair of sandals, here are a few other clothing items to add to the list: 

  • Pair of loose, lightweight pants
  • Long-sleeve t-shirt
  • Scarves and bandanas
  • Rain jacket (if you’re going during the wet season)
  • T-shirts
  • Comfortable pair of sneakers and a couple of pairs of socks

The reason for the additional layers is due to the fact that you never know what the weather may bring. A rain jacket or clothing made of fabrics that wick away water is a smart essential. Also, you’ll want to be well-prepared when getting from place to place. For example, if you plan to ride scooters when traveling through Bali, you might want to cover your feet and make sure you don’t wear anything that could potentially get caught in the wheels. 

Sneakers are also good for hiking or a long day of walking. Sandals aren’t the best option for jungle-type areas, cliff hikes, or heading out on rockier roads. There are plenty of areas to explore by bicycle as well, which may call for slightly different clothing than your normal bikini and cover up combo. It’s never fun to miss out on an activity because you don’t have the right clothes. 

The greenery all over Bali is otherworldly and isn’t to be missed. Some of the most breathtaking views are beyond what you see on the surface. Head to a hidden waterfall, take a tour through the rice paddies, or hike among the nearby jungles. If you’re in search of these hidden gems and want more adventure, then light layering when you pack is the way to go. 

Bliss Out in Bali

Bali is a place to leave your troubles at home and take in the wonder of it all. It’s a postcard scene come to life with endless, blue-green waters, lush, tropical forests, and shores that fade into the horizon. It’s where travelers go to relax, soak up the island way of life, and feel at peace. Enjoy moments of zen with all areas of nature in one place - mountains, beaches, coral reefs, volcanoes, and other unique sites that make Bali special. 

The laid-back atmosphere and balmy temperatures also mean you don’t have to worry too much about what to wear in Bali. As long as you have your go-to swimsuits, a few cover ups, and other clothing items that can easily be layered, your bags will be well-packed. Think about your itinerary and what you’ll need to for each day. Since everything you pack will be sleek and streamlined, there won’t be any bulkiness to take up extra space. Keep it simple and you can’t go wrong.

Bali has a favorable blend of relaxation and activity, which is what most travelers want when on vacation. There’s no shortage of places to see or things to do as you get to know the surroundings, which is part of the reason why this island is one of the most popular places to visit in the world. Once you touch down and get your first taste of paradise, you’ll see why visitors are instantly enchanted. Get swept away by all of the beauty Bali has to offer.