A trip to Bali would not be complete without visiting at least one of the thousands of Hindu temples located all over the island. Ceremonies and temples are an integral part of the local Balinese culture and as an outsider, provide a fascinating insight into the local way of life.
However, visitors should keep in mind that temples are holy places of worship and as such, respect should be shown at all times. That goes especially for how to dress appropriately so as not to cause offense.
In this post we outline some important rules to remember when visiting a Balinese temple. It should be noted that this relates to visiting a temple as a tourist only, and not for a ceremony. If attending a ceremony, the proper attire is a kebaya (lacy blouse), sarong and sash (selendang) for women, and a white shirt, udeng (headdress) sarong and saput (over-sarong) for men.
Entering any Hindu temple in Bali requires both men and women to cover their legs below the knee by using a sarong. These can often be hired at the more popular temples, together with the sash that should be worn around the waist.
If you know you will be visiting several temples, it's a good idea to buy a sarong of your own. They have a dozen other uses and are fairly inexpensive to purchase. They also make a nice keepsake of your Bali trip once home.
Camisoles, tank tops and singlets, exposing bare shoulders, are not considered appropriate for a visit to a temple. At the very least, your shoulders should be covered or you will not be allowed to enter the temple.
Menstruating women and women who have given birth in the last 6 weeks may not enter temples. Likewise, if you have an open wound or injury you should not enter a temple.
As feet are considered unclean in Bali, you should not point them to shrines or holy objects. For this reason men sit with their legs crossed and women kneel while in prayer.
It is considered disrespectful to have your head higher than the head of the priest, so be careful not to stand or sit in a position higher than that of the manku to avoid causing offense.
Generally speaking admission is not charged to enter a temple, although some sort of a "donation" is expected. There is no fixed amount, however Rp. 5,000 ~ Rp. 10,000 per person is a good guideline.
Don't forget that you are in a holy place of worship. Use your common sense and act appropriately. The Balinese welcome visitors of all religions and are happy to share their traditions and customs, so treat their temples as you would your own.