10 tips for living in a homestay in Bali

In Travel
31 July 2013
5 min read

I have some friends coming to Bali so thought it might be useful to offer some tips and suggestions about coming here. I have also asked Neil for his thoughts as he has lived here for nearly 6 months. Here are our top 10 tips:

1. Fly with Garuda airlines. Why? Because you can have your passport stamped by a customs official on the plane, which will save you an hour in a hot arrivals hall in a slow moving queue to get your arrival stamp (you need this even if you have a visa). You need to flag the customs guy to get that precious stamp in your passport (don’t fall asleep or you might miss the opportunity!). Also, you don’t have to pay the departure tax if you fly Garuda.

2. Bring your own refillable waterbottle. I have lived here for a month without buying bottled water, which means no plastic water bottles have been added to the rubbish pile as a result of my visit. I challenge everyone coming to Bali to do the same. It’s a good idea to have a smaller bottle (500ml) that you can take when you are out and about in town, as well as a larger bottle (1L) for day trips out of town. If you are here for any length of time I would recommend arranging for a water cooler, they are very cheap. Remember not to brush your teeth with tap water!

Water cooler

3. Bring some Imodium and rehydration sachets, you know, just in case Bali belly strikes. I had Bali belly on my first visit to Bali ten years ago and it was pretty unpleasant (for me as well as those I was sharing a room with lol!!). Chances are good you won’t catch it, so don’t let it worry you!!

4. Ladies, bring a sarong with you and a long sleeved shirt, as these are required to visit all temples. A sash is also tied around the waist. The big temples provide these items for you, and you can buy all these items here of course, I bought myself a top the same as the local ladies wear. Also note that you are not to enter a temple if you are menstruating. Showing too much skin is frowned on in general, so best not to get around in your short shorts and bikini top unless you are by the pool at your hotel.

5. Bring mosquito repellent as there are plenty of these beasties around. Usually your homestay will provide an insect coil or a plug-in repellent, but I don’t like using these chemicals in my room. I much prefer a mosquito net around the bed as provided by my first homestay.

6. Toilet paper. Throw a roll in your bag as often they don’t provide ‘spare’ rolls in your room, which can leave you short. Of course you can buy these here too.

7. Bring a power adaptor plug – two round prongs on it. Some homestays might provide one for you to borrow.  Also bring a small travel size multi-plug power board – in this electronic age it can be frustrating if you need to charge your laptop, phone and camera but only have one power point in your room.

8. Bring hand sanitiser to keep your hands clean. I’m not a fan of these chemical lotions usually, but they are great when you are travelling. The money here is pretty old and grubby so it’s a good idea to wash your hands after handling it, and always before eating. Also I find a small hand towel is great to have in the bathroom (homestays only provide one big towel, which is usually outside drying).

9. Shoes are always removed before entering a home so bring jandals/thongs/flip flops as they are easy to take on and off.

10. A small umbrella will probably come in handy and if you are going to be using mopeds to get around a plastic cape is a great idea. I have a sharp knife in a knife holder which I use a lot for cutting fruit etc, and bringing a camping knife/fork/spoon is a good idea as these are not provided in your room (cutlery is provided with your breakfast of course but these are cleared away again).

Bonus tip: Rookie mistake: a soggy toilet roll after taking a shower. They don’t enclose their showers here, which means water can splash around the place, so make sure your toilet roll is in a dry spot when you shower.

A homestay is a cross between a hotel and a hostel and is built as part of an enclosed family compound. You will see family members coming and going, the women put out offerings and do the sweeping each the morning and the roosters WILL crow.  Rooms are cleaned regularly, however the version of clean here is not the same as our version of clean – so don’t expect gleaming white porcelain. But you can expect warm friendly banter with your host family and big smiles when they see you.

Do you have some other tips to share? Please post them in the speech bubble comment box at the top of the page



Thanks Shannon can’t wait to be there, just one thing though, are we able to use a credit card or should we just bring enough cash??


Best thing is to draw out rupiah from the ATMs when you get here. I use a Visa debit card and haven’t had any problems. But make sure you tell your bank you are coming here, otherwise they will block your card the first time you try to use it here!

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