Bali is one of the prettiest places I’ve been to and has amazing climate. Perfect for a tropical getaway! The crux with packing for tropical destinations is that it’s just so tempting to fill your suitcase to the brim because clothes are light. To help you out, here is your ultimate female packing list for Bali. No more wondering what to pack for Bali!
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How to Pack for Bali the Smart Way
Note, this packing list only covers packing for 5 days. The thing is, no matter how long you travel in one destination/climate zone, you don’t necessarily need to pack for more than 5-7 days. Light summer clothes will dry quickly and can be combined with one another, so you have different outfits. That’s the key to light travelling (and not cursing your suitcase).
The key for smart packing is to choose colours that blend well together for smooth combining. Unless you want to do colour blocking. But even here, some colours just clash. Avoid those. Choose simple pieces without bold patterns and switch up the look with accessories.
Also, you can wear blouses as light jackets, tie them to crop tops or wear dresses as long skirts. There are plenty of ways to creatively change up your limited summer travel wardrobe. You don’t have to be scared of wearing the same thing twice. This is your vacation. Enjoy and just have fun!
Etiquette and Dress Code
More important thing to remember with your clothing choice is that Bali dresscode is conservative. This means, definitely don’t walk around in your swimwear everywhere (beach is ok, of course) and especially dress modest at temples and in the countryside. Also, cover up when you leave the beach. Sadly, a lot of tourists don’t care.
To access a temple, the fashion rules are very straightforward and should be respected. Cover your shoulders and upper arms, wear a sarong (kain kamben) to cover your legs and a temple scarf (selendang) around your waist when entering a temple. (You can rent these at the temple entrance, too). Since you have to take off shoes, flip flops or easy sandals are a great choice when you know you are visiting temples.
Bali Day Outfit 1
Maxi dress – One of the best choices for warm temperatures – especially if it’s not scorching hot yet – is a long dress. It looks flattering, allows for good airing and you don’t have to cover your legs with sun lotion (or even have to shave if you feel lazy that day). Choose non clingy and breathable materials, such as linen, and a loose cut so you can move around freely.
Sun hat – Always think of covering your hair things to pack for Bali, so it as well as your scalp are protected from harmful UV rays. There are different designs depending on what your day’s activitiy will be. For my Nusa Penida trip I nicked my friend’s small straw hat because my big floppy one tended to fly away in the breeze.
Sandals – Are you intending on walking quite a bit? Choose comfortable sandals. For rocky terrain closed toes variants are best so you don’t accidentally split your toe nail (as happened to my friend on the Eyre Peninsula in Australia).
Statement necklace – Even the simplest dress can be spriced up with a statement necklace. Choose a complimentary or bold colour or maybe multiple chains to really make it stand out. Just be cautious of cheap metal coating. You can sweat that off quite easily.
Bali Day Outfit 2
Romper – To me, a short romper is the easiest outfit choice. No worries about pairing the clothes to pack for Bali or about the length of your dress or skirt. You just step into it and you’re all dressed. There are cute playful rompers or even smart, evening chic ones. I love them all.
Wooden or stone necklace – Like I said above, sweating off jewellery coating is sadly a problem in tropical climate. Been there too many times, so my go to necklaces are often made from wood or stone and natural coatings.
Ankle bracelet – Finish off a laid back boho style with a little bling on your ankle. With that, even the simplest sandals stand out and get a different look. Morover, bracelets don’t take up much space and you’ll need space when packing for Bali for all the new things you’ll buy.
Bali Day Outfit 3
Lace top – A flowy blouse with airy lace patterns is both chic and super laid back. I always opt for materials that are (mostly) wrinkle free so I don’t have to worry about folding them properly (let alone iron it). That’s why I love lace or satin.
Skirt – There’s just something about pleats that totally change a skirt’s look. Plus, you can roll your skirt even better and small creases aren’t as visible. No ironing required again. If you want to rock the casual look as is so prevalent among travellers to Bali, choose wide boho skirts.
Leather bracelets – Hobo and leather bracelets can be found all over the world and if you are a collector and want super unique travel souvenirs, why not get a pendant in every country? I have a friend who is doing it for every single new country she’s been in. Alternatively, you could just buy a bracelet from a market stall and support local artists as well.
Sun hat – I think a sun hat is absolutely cute every day. Plus, it protects your head. That being said, choose a hat that’s totally fine with being folded as you might need to switch it with a helmet on your scooter tours. You don’t want to ruin your hat.
Flats – I loved wearing my flats all over Bali. However, bring airy sandals as well to give your feet some diversity and let them cool off too. Opt for flats or loafers that are breathable, maybe made out of lace or that have stenciled out patterns.
Bali Day Outfit 4
Crop top – Get rid of annoying tan lines from straps and slip on a crop or tube top for a change. If you’ve run out of shorts or skirts, you could potentially wear it as a skirt.
Shorts – For long walking or scooter trips shorts are the most comfortable things. In fact, I mostly lived in shorts while on Bali. No need to worry about sitting properly so you don’t accidentally flash people or wrinkling it.
Headband – Wanna let your hair loose? Decorate with pretty headbands. I usually pick flower themed ones. They instantly add that summer vacation feeling.
Bali Day Outfit 5
Carmen shirt – Camern shirts are great because you can show off your jewellery and shoulders effortlessly. And they look both cute and sexy. You can easily pair them with either shorts or skirts. They are multitalented!
Chiffon skirt – Medium length skirts are great for both a day and evening look. If you are bold, you can wear them with patterns. Otherwise, just opt for a block colour or simple stripes.
Espadrilles – These comfortable French-Spanish style shoes can look casual or stylish, depending on whether you wear them flat or with a wedge heel. The upper fabric is usually made from cotton and is therefore nice on the skin and breathable. The flexible sole is made of esparto rope.
Hoop bracelets – I think hoop bracelets make every outfit look instantly more fashionable. They are simple, sleek but stand out. And if you were multiple, you will make your own tunes!
Bali Beach Outfits
2 Bikinis – You’re in Bali! I’m sure you are planning on heading into the ocean or at least hang out in the pool. In case you are planning on tanning, your choice of bikinis is different than if you wanted to go for a water activity. For the first, you need to minimize tan lines (no mesh or complicated tying wanted). For the latter, the bikini needs to sit tight and shouldn’t be easily snapped off when a wave crashed into you. (Speaking from experience – I’ve had quite a few embarrassing Bali mishaps happen to me.)
Swimsuit – If you want the least hassle free version, a swimsuit is the way to go. They don’t have to look simple as you can be all Bond girl in them, too. After all, the more you hide, the more is left to the imagination in case you want to look all flirtatious.
Flip flops – Flips flops are the essential beach shoe. And I always have a cheap pair of flip flops wherever I travel in the world to wear in bathrooms and as a house shoe. A) I’m paranoid of getting mycosis from previous hotel room guests and B) I’m German and we don’t wear street shoes inside ever.
Cover ups – Even if Bali temperatures would allow it, Bali dress codes won’t. It would be rude to just walk around the streets of Bali in your swimwear. So at the very least use a beach coverup. There are really cute designs out there, many channelling the typical boho style so prominent in Bali.
Seminyak Beach sunset
Beach Fun Items
Floaties – A fun way to make any pool or beach party even cooler are floaties. You can buy them in Bali as well (have you seen my floatie horror short video?) But if you need some inspiration, there are tons of cute options out there, such as in the shape of a mermaid tail, donut (got that!), icicles, cocktails, rosé, pineapple and more. I also travel with mini floaties to put in drinks (or rings for when you keep them in your room).
Beach towel – A no brainer but I tend to forget my towel. And you don’t want to use your regular towel. A beach towel should be extra fluffy for ultimate sitting comfort. And it should stand out so you can spy it from afar. Might as well choose a fancy mandala one, a laid back tropical pattern or quirky motif. (I chose donut again!)
Poncho – Bali’s rain season is no joke. The rain will come out of nowhere and it will feel like a tropical bucket challenge. You will be wet within a second. So always have a poncho at hand during rain season. You can buy them in Bali but if you want a cute and colourful one, pack them for your Bali trip. Pro tip: choose one with neon strips so you can be better detected in the dark as well. Road accidents do happen.
Light jacket – When it rains, temperatures cool down as well. Stay warm with alight cardigan, poncho or long summer scarf.
Sneakers – When heading for hikes around Bali, closed shoes with a god profile are key. In particular when the terrain is all wet. You need a good grip so you don’t slip into the rice fields.
Beach Beauty Regime
Beach Hair Treatment – With humid and hot climates, you will soon feel your otherwise shiny hair turn flat. Don’t wait until it turns to straw, treat it in advance so it will remain sturdy. For external protection, use sun hats or scarves to block out most of the sun. To strengthen it from within, regularly deep condition it with high quality products. Since shopping beauty products on Bali is pricy, maybe just soak your hair in coconut oil when hitting the beach. After washing your hair, apply sea salt texture spray to get smooth beach waves and anti frizz treatment. Invest in a non damaging brush, such as the Tangle Teezer.
Skin Treatment – Never forget to leave your room without sun lotion. (Sun lotion is quite expensive on Bali.) Even if you want to get a tan, don’t get skin cancer in the long-run! Apply it every few hours and then treat your skin to cooling after sun lotion and extra nourishment with body lotion.
Hydration – Generally, tap water is drinking quality but it’ not always the best option. Bali belly (travelers diarrhea) is a common thing and it often comes from tap water. So better refill your drinking bottle on the water station of your hotel to reduce your plastic usage. After all, Bali does have serious problems with washed up plastic on its shores.
Lip protection – The skin on your lips is very thin and needs extra protection from the UV rays of the sun. Therefore, wear a lip balm with UV protection underneath (or instead) of your lip stick. Also, water resistant lip stick and mascara are a good idea due to the humid and hot weather.
Even on holiday, you will probably want to include electronics. So what to Pack for Bali? In case you are staying at a Bali hotel or villa that doesn’t have universal wall sockets, it’s a good idea to have a travel adapter at hand. This way you can charge your laptop, phone and reading tablet thanks to USB slots on the side. I’ve been using this travel adapter for the past years and am super happy with it. Don’t forget to pack your charging cables! It sounds obvious but they are easy to forget. (Speaking from experience…)
When I’m out and about, exploring all day, I always have my external battery with me. This one I’m using is super light, easy to find in your bag and really affordable. To be on the safe side when it comes to taking your smartphone to the beach and water, invest in a waterproof smarphone case. For underwater shots, you should bring an action camera with waterproof case.
Top 5 Water Activity Items to Pack for Bali
Essentials for Every Trip to Bali
Packing for the Weather in Bali
Bali has tropical climate throughout the year and only two seasons. During dry season, you will see marvelously blue skies and hot sunny days. However, if you are headed into the jungle and up the volcanoes, things cool down quicker.
High season in Bali is between July and August, December and Easter. However, if you want the actual best time for Bali (not the busiest time), it’s between April to June. Rain season has just ended and days are getting nicely warm, not too hot. September is a good alternative as it is just before wet season starts.
Pro tip: Don’t travel over Nyepi (Bali Day of Silence) as the entire island will come to a standstill and even taxis and flights don’t go.
How to Plan the Perfect Nusa Penida Bali Tour
Bali Day of Silence – What you Need to Know about Nyepi
My Nomadic Life in Southeast Asia – My Travel Year in Retrospect 1/2018
Where to Find the Best Canggu Restaurants
How to Survive Bali Belly and Prevent Traveller’s Diarrhoea
When Bali Safety Fails Big Time – Disaster Ensues