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What to Pack for Bali: 7+ Items That You Didn’t Know You Needed

what to pack for bali
Picture of Bere Horthy

Bere Horthy

Travel Writer

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Bali, a tropical paradise, draws in all sorts – families seeking adventure, couples hunting for romantic getaways, and surfers chasing the perfect wave. 

But, knowing what to pack for Bali? 

That’s a different story.

Deciding what to pack for Bali isn’t just about swimwear and sunblock (though they’re key players). 

It’s about those lesser-known items, the ones you don’t realise you need until you’re there, wishing you had them. 

It’s a bit like forgetting your charger on a weekend trip. 

You can manage, but it’s not quite the same.

1. Sunscreen

Sunscreen in Bali can hit your wallet as hard as the sun hits your skin. 

It’s surprisingly pricey, often leaving tourists in a bit of a sticky situation. 

Bringing your own sunscreen is not just a budget-friendly move, but it’s also a nod to your skin’s health.

In Bali, the sun doesn’t play by the rules. 

It’s intense. 

I learned this the hard way. 

Coming from Australia, I thought, “How much stronger can the sun be?” 

Well, I found out. 

No sunscreen meant I ended up so sunburnt that sleep became a sweaty nightmare and sitting down felt like a punishment. 

For two to three days, I was a walking reminder of what not to do. 

Now, if I’m out in the sun for more than 20 minutes, sunscreen is my best friend. 

Trust me, it’s a lesson better learned from others’ mistakes.

2. Unlock your phone and buy a local SIM card

Sure, Bali’s charm is in its unplugged appeal, but when you need to find that hidden waterfall or a vegan café, a local SIM card is your best bet.

Where to get one? 

As soon as you land, you can pick up a Telkomsel SIM at the airport. 

Alternatively, find a local store easily on Google Maps. 

In urban areas, like Denpasar or Ubud, it’s smooth sailing. 

Data speeds are decent, and connections are reliable. 

Venture into rural Bali, and it’s a different story. 

Think of it as a digital detox, whether you planned for it or not. 

So, downloading maps or important information beforehand is a smart move.


3. Small first aid kit

I can’t stress enough the importance of a small first aid kit on your list of what to pack for Bali. 

Packed with the essentials: betadine, plasters, panadol, ibuprofen, and something for larger scrapes like non-adhesive pads and bandages. 

Charcoal is a godsend if you end up with a mild case of food poisoning.

Stay hydrated with electrolytes, and stay off the gastro stop, your body is trying to flush out toxins naturally.

Scooter rides and surfing in Bali are great fun, but they come with their fair share of cuts and bruises. 

I’ve seen many tourists with bandaged knees and elbows hobbling around the streets of Bali – a common sight and a stark reminder to be prepared.

Having a first aid kit is not about being paranoid; it’s about being smart. 

With it, you can tackle Bali’s adventures head-on, knowing you’re prepared for those little mishaps.

4. Reusable water bottle

In Bali, a reusable water bottle is more than just a convenience; it’s a statement of environmental responsibility. 

With plastic waste being a significant issue, you don’t want to add to the problem. 

In a place lacking robust waste management systems and local awareness, every plastic bottle counts.

Yes, you can buy water everywhere, but at 7 AUD for a small bottle in restaurants, your wallet will feel it. 

A sturdy, reusable bottle, possibly insulated to keep your water cool, is a smart choice. 

Refilling it at your accommodation or water refill stations saves you money and reduces your environmental footprint.


5. Dressing right

Bali isn’t just beaches and bikinis. 

It’s a land steeped in cultural diversity, predominantly Hindu, where dressing respectfully goes a long way. 

While it’s tempting to wander in minimal beachwear, this attire can attract unwanted attention and isn’t respectful in many settings.

In places like Kirana Retreat, you can dress as you please, but outside, a balance is key. 

A sarong is a versatile piece, perfect for covering up when needed. 

It’s not about dressing like a nun; it’s about finding a middle ground. 

Comfort, style, and respect can coexist.

From personal experience, dressing in shorts and a singlet attracts catcalling and some unsavoury characters. 

Covering up a bit more has always led to more positive interactions with locals. 

It’s a simple equation: give respect, receive respect.

6. Sturdy shoes

In Bali, sturdy closed-toed shoes are your trusty companions for those unexpected adventures. 

Sure, flip-flops are great for the beach, but Bali has a way of turning a short stroll into a miles-long exploration, especially if you venture to waterfalls or less-trodden paths.

A good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes are ideal. 

They provide the comfort and protection needed for Bali’s diverse terrain. 

It’s like having a Swiss Army knife for your feet – versatile and ready for anything.

I remember a hike I went on while on my trip — the path was a mix of rocks and mud, and would have been a nightmare in flip-flops. 

It’s moments like these when the right footwear makes all the difference.

7. Seasickness tablets

For those planning to explore Bali’s neighbouring islands like the Gili Islands, Nusa Penida, Lombok, or Sumbawa, sea sickness tablets are a must. 

Boat trips can get bumpy, and a smooth journey can quickly turn wavy.

You can get motion sickness pills from your GP or local chemist.

If you prefer natural remedies, ginger tablets or ginger tea are excellent for keeping nausea at bay.

And even if you’re not someone who normally gets seasick, it’s always good to be prepared just in case.


8. Travelling with children

The narrow, uneven sidewalks full of potholes turn a simple stroll into an obstacle course. 

If you’re bringing small children, think twice about the pram.

Baby carriers or hip seat carriers are the real MVPs here. 

They make moving around with little ones easier and less stressful. 

Imagine hopping in and out of taxis or navigating through a bustling market – with a carrier, it’s a breeze compared to the pram-packing saga.

It’s like backpacking; you want to be agile and unburdened, especially when travelling with kids in a place like Bali.

9. Surfboard

For surf enthusiasts, Bali is a treasure trove. 

From the famous breaks of Uluwatu to the less crowded Yo-Yo’s in Sumbawa, known for its consistent waves, Bali offers surf for every level. 

And the best part? 

In spots like Sumbawa, you might have the waves all to yourself.

When you’re thinking about what to pack for Bali, bringing your own board or renting is a toss-up. 

Bringing your own means you’re comfortable and familiar with your gear. 

But renting locally can save you the hassle of transport and offers a chance to try different boards suited to Bali’s varied surf conditions.

10. Tampons

Finding tampons in Bali can be like searching for a needle in a haystack – they’re practically nonexistent. 

This was a huge challenge for me on my first visit. 

In Indonesia, tampons are rare finds, so don’t count on buying them there.

To avoid missing out on Bali’s full experience, especially the beach and water activities, bring enough tampons to last your entire trip. 

It’s better to have a few extras than to be caught short.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up this list, remember that each of these items is a key ingredient in the recipe for a successful Bali adventure. 

From sunscreen to tampons, each plays a role in ensuring your trip is as hassle-free as possible.

From personal experience, I can tell you that being well-prepared makes all the difference.