Ready to embark on a trip to Bali? Whatever time of year you decide to visit, you’ll need to be prepared for all the “lovely” weather that Indonesia’s most popular island will throw at you by drafting up a tight Bali packing list that covers all the essentials!
Not quite sure where to begin? Sort it all out with this complete guide for what to pack for Bali for every season…
What to pack for Bali: A complete packing list for travellers
Whether you’ve bargained for 10 days in Bali or a month, before you even dare continue on with your travel planning, there’s one thing that’s absolutely essential to take care of: travel insurance.
While many travellers see this as an afterthought, there’s hardly a bigger mistake than embarking on a trip without adequate coverage. A good travel insurance policy is crucial as it protects you against things like luggage theft, baggage loss or damage, trip cancellation, and, most importantly, emergency medical expenses and evacuation.
Although Bali is a relatively safe destination, it’s not without its troubles. Recent outbreaks of rabies and mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus and dengue fever have made it ever more important to arm yourself with a travel insurance policy with good medical coverage. (And let’s not forget more common ailments like Bali belly, heat stroke, and dehydration!)
On top of all this, Bali is a destination known for adventure. In this regard, not all insurance policies are created equal. If you’re planning to undertake activities like surfing, trekking, ATVing, or motorbiking, you’ll need to ensure you’re fully covered.
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Guidebooks & Phrasebooks
- Guidebooks: Even with technology slowly taking over, I rarely leave on a trip without a paper guidebook in hand. As with most destinations, Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok will prove to be a big help for navigating the island including offering suggestions on some of its lesser-known corners.
- Phrasebooks: While it’s unlikely you’ll face too many problems getting around Bali in English, to dig a little more into the culture keep the Lonely Planet Indonesian Phrasebook & Dictionary by your side. To go even deeper with the local (rather than national) language, I’d highly recommend the Everyday Balinese Phrasebook.
- Language learning resources: Compared to other languages in Southeast Asia, Indonesian is surprisingly easy to learn. It’s written in a phonetic Latin script, so you can start learning how to read and pronounce it quite quickly. Both the Routledge Colloquial Indonesian and Teach Yourself Complete Indonesian are great courses to start off with.
Luggage & Accessories
- Backpacks: Although a packing list is no place to start a fierce luggage debate, my own personal preference for a destination like Bali would be backpack. As you move through the island, you’ll often find yourself hustling through crowds and uneven terrain. Donning a backpack simplifies things. If you’ve planned a limited trip, both the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack and Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack are great options. For longer trips, the 68-litre capacity of the Eagle Creek Global Companion will suit you well.
- Daypack: For tackling all of the island’s wicked day trips, carrying along a daypack is a fantastic idea. If you’re just looking for something simple to carry some extra clothing, towels or a rain jacket, the Tortuga Setout Daypack is a good option as it will barely take up a corner of your luggage. For something a little more robust to carry more fragile gear, the Osprey Daylite Plus is a good choice. If you’re planning to visit during Bali’s wet & rainy season, be sure to bring along a waterproof backpack to protect your travel gear essentials during the inevitable afternoon downpours.
- Packing Cubes: To better organize your stuff and jam a little more into your luggage, invest in a set of packing cubes. The innovative Standard Luggage Packing Cubes velcro together and double as a mini-hanging wardrobe to help you stay neat & organized.
- Universal Power Adapter: Now that most devices charge via USB, picking up a universal power adapter should cover most of your international power needs in Bali and beyond.
- Portable Charger: If you’re planning to tackle some long day trips on the island and don’t want to risk a dead iPhone or camera, bring along a portable power bank like the Anker Powercore 10000. When fully-charged, this small & compact charger can deliver almost four iPhone charges before needing to be recharged.
- SIM Card: With all of Bali’s Instagrammable moments, stay in touch by picking up a SIM card for the duration of your trip. The SIM card is available for pickup from Ngurah Rai Bali Airport and includes 7GB of data.
- Headphones: For the insanely long transpacific flight to Bali, a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a purchase that will prove itself useful time and time again. Many travellers love the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but my own personal preference is for the Sony WH1000XM3, which seem to equalize pressure better while providing richer lows.
- E-Reader: When you’ve developed a sizeable reading habit like I have, there’s no better way to indulge your craving while travelling than with an e-reader. (It sure beats lugging around all of your favourite travel books in your backpack!) My favourite e-reader is undoubtedly the Kindle Paperwhite as it’s ultra-lightweight, has superb battery life and features a white-coloured non-backlit screen that’s almost as easy on the eyes as a regular paperback.
- Camera: While many travellers these days rely solely on their smartphone’s camera, if you want to capture your memories (especially those Bali epic sunsets!) and flash a little of your creativity in the process, there’s no substitute for bringing along a DSLR or mirrorless camera. I used to be a staunch Nikon man, but recently traded in all my DSLR gear for the lighter and more agile mirrorless Fujifilm X-T20. For more serious photographers who don’t mind a tad extra weight in their camera bag, the Fujifilm X-T3 offers some extra features, none more important for travelling in Bali than weather-proofing.
Virtual Private Network
Whether you’re on an open public WiFi at a cool Balinese café or using your own SIM card, whenever you connect to the Internet, your personal data could be at risk. That’s why it’s so important—whether at home or abroad—to always connect using a solid virtual private network (VPN).
For travellers in Bali (or anywhere for that matter), I highly recommend NordVPN.
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On top of that, their connections feature military-grade double-encryption technology to keep your data safe from prying eyes. They also don’t retain server logs, meaning your browsing history can’t be re-traced at the server-level.
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- Rain Jacket: Even if you’ve chosen the best time to go to Bali, it’s inevitable that you’ll face some rain. Since the weather in Bali is almost invariably hot & humid, choosing a lightweight & breathable waterproof jacket is the way to go. Both men and women will love the Outdoor Research Helium II (men’s / women’s), a supremely packable ultralight jacket that’s perfect for Bali’s hot & wet climate.
- Hiking Shoes: As you’ll likely spend much of your time rolling between jungles and beaches, hiking shoes are likely the most versatile choice for your “closed” footwear. In dry season, a good pair of lightweight low-cut hiking shoes like the Merrell Moab 2 Vent (men’s / women’s) will keep your feet cool. In wet season, a solid pair of waterproof hiking shoes like the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof (men’s / women’s) is a better idea.
- Socks: For hiking in Bali’s heat & humidity, it’s a good idea to pack a pair of quick-drying, moisture-wicking hiking socks. The REI Co-op Coolmax Ultralight Hiking Quarter Socks are a great option for both men & women.
- Sandals: For chillin’ on the beaches of Bali, there’s nothing better than a comfortable pair of slip-ons or flip-flops. The Under Armour Men’s Ignite V and Under Armour Women’s Ignite VIII are among the most comfortable you’ll find anywhere. For more substantial support walking around town, opt for the KEEN Men’s Newport H2 and KEEN Women’s Whisper instead.
- Travel Shorts: With Bali’s year-long heat & humid, you’ll likely want to spend most of your time wearing shorts. Despite the island’s most laid-back vibe than neighbouring Java, sticking to lightweight and modest travel shorts like prAna Men’s Stretch Zion Shorts or Royal Robbins Men’s Coast Shorts is a good idea.
- Travel Pants: If you’re looking to cover up for a hike or temple visit, don’t forget to carry around some lightweight men’s travel pants. Two of the best choices are the quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and packable Patagonia Quandary Travel Pants and prAna Brion Travel Pants.
- Travel Shirts: Besides decreasing the weight and bulk in your luggage, packing lightweight & breathable travel shirts makes a ton of sense among the hot & humid conditions of Bali. Both the stylish KUHL Stealth Shirt or the casual REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt.
- Swimsuit: Like most travellers here, you’ll likely spend a ton of time at the beach. To fit in with the island’s surfer vibe, a pair of longer boarder shorts like the O’Neill Men’s Santa Cruz Brisbane blend in well.
- Travel Shorts: For staying cool, you’ll likely want to pack some travel shorts. The lightweight, breathable, and modest Royal Robbins Discovery Bermuda Shorts are a great option for warding off unwanted attention while fending off the heat.
- Travel Skirts/Dresses: Just as with shorts, Balinese locals appreciate modesty when it comes to skirts & dresses. The Royal Robbins Discovery Travel Skirt provides, not just a lightweight & comfortable material, but a zippered security pocket to keep your valuables safe.
- Travel Pants: For an extra dash of modesty for temple visits, bring along at least one pair of pants. Specialized travel pants are a smart choice in the heat & humidity of Bali as they are light, breathable, and quick-drying should an afternoon storm roll in unexpectedly. Two of the top choices for lightweight women’s travel pants include prAna Halle Travel Pants or the more stylish Anatomie Skyler Travel Pants.
- Travel Shirts: In addition to any regular clothing, throwing a lightweight travel shirt into the mix is a great idea. The simply designed Columbia PFG Tamami II Short-Sleeve Shirt or the REI Co-op Sahara Heather T-Shirt are an excellent choice for staying cool without adding extra weight and bulk to your suitcase.
- Hanging Toiletry Bag: One of the best ways to keep your grooming essentials organized is to bring along a travel toiletry bag. To save space in your accommodation’s bathroom, the ProCase Hanging Toiletry Bag is an excellent option as it can be hung on a hook and give you quick access to all your toiletries without cluttering up the counter.
- Travel Towel: While most of the best places to stay in Bali will offer you towels, for beach excursions and day trips it’s always nice to have a quick-drying travel towel in your daypack. The REI Co-op Multi Towel Deluxe is one of the best choices out there as it’s extremely absorbent, lightweight, and packable.
- Travel Umbrella: Even in dry season, Bali can get a little wet! Don’t forget to carry along a small packable umbrella like the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella to stay dry.
- RFID Wallet: Unfortunately, with all the scammers out there a regular leather wallet just won’t do anymore. Picking up an RFID-blocking wallet like the compact Travelambo RFID-Blocking Minimalist Wallet is highly recommended to keep your credit & debit card information safe.
- RFID Passport Protector: Likewise, new e-passports are vulnerable to contactless theft. Foil attempts to steal your passport’s information with the Zoppen RFID Travel Wallet & Organizer. It also includes extra room for your credit cards, boarding passes, and other important documents.
- Travel Pillow: For long-haul flights, you’ll rest a whole lot easier with a comfy travel pillow around your neck. The super innovative BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow pushes the boundaries of the classic airplane neck pillow, helping to support your chin for more comfortable in-flight napping.
- Sleep Mask: Travellers sensitive to light will rest easier on planes and in hotel rooms with the ALASKA BEAR Natural Silk Sleep Mask.
- Ear Plugs: Especially if you’re staying in Bali’s more raucous party towns (like Kuta), investing in a pair of earplugs isn’t a bad idea. The premium Luiswell Travel Ear Plugs are a particularly good choice, especially for frequent flyers, as they automatically adjust for altitude-related pressure changes.
- Water Bottle: In the hot & humid climate of Bali, staying hydrated is super important! Save plastic bottles and space in your luggage with the Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle. (Just don’t fill it with regular tap water as it’s decidedly not safe to drink here!)
- Hairdryer & Straightener: In the extreme humidity, keeping your hair stylish can be a nightmare. If frizz is an issue for you, be sure to pack a compact dual-voltage hair dryer like the Jinri 1875-Watt Travel Hair Dryer and Jinri Professional Travel Flat Iron.
- Oral Care: Although most of Bali’s best hotels will supply the essentials, you should still pack the usuals—toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash—just in case. Most of the major tourist hotspots should carry the basics, however, should you forget something.
- Soap/Body Wash/Shampoo/Conditioner: Once again, if you’re spending time in a decent hotel, much of your body & hair cleaning needs will be taken care of. You may still want to bring along your favourite body wash, shampoo or conditioner just in case you can’t find it here.
- Hair Styling Products: Like other toiletries, finding your usual brand of gel, wax, mousse or hairspray might not always be possible in Southeast Asia.
- Deodorant: Most major tourist areas will carry various anti-perspirants and deodorants although the prices, brands and formulas might not match up to what you’ll find at home. Pack enough for your entire trip to be sure.
- Lip Balm: Chilling out on the Indian Ocean in Bali’s blazing sun can dry out and cause damage to your lips. I’d always recommend bringing along a sunscreen lip balm like Sun Bum SPF30 Lip Balm to protect them.
- Sunscreen: Like many places around the world, sunscreen can get a little pricey in some of the tourist areas of Bali. Whether you’re packing for a family beach vacation or travelling solo, bring along plenty of sunscreen to last for the entire duration of your trip. One of my personal favourites is Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, which is fantastic for moisturizing your skin while it protects it from the strong rays of Indonesia.
- Hand Sanitizer: To stop the spread of germs on the fly and keep from ruining an otherwise perfect trip, I always pack some Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer in my daypack.
- First-Aid Kit: Be prepared for minor illnesses and abrasions by packing up a simple travel first-aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic ointment, hydrocortizone cream and medications for nausea, diarrhea, pain, fever reduction and allergies. Any prescription medications should be in their original bottles and checked to ensure they aren’t prohibited in Indonesia.
- Grooming Kit: Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be stylish! The 12-piece Tseoa Professional Grooming Kit has got all your grooming essentials covered include nail clippers, tweezers, and a pair of scissors.
- Razors: Avoid the skin irritation and bulk of disposable travel razors by packing a high-quality razor like the Gilette Fusion 5 or, for women, the Gilette Venus Swirl.