We all know that travelling opens our minds to new experiences and allows us to embark on exciting journeys. While meeting other tourists and Westerners can be fun, there’s something truly special about connecting with the locals. It’s an opportunity to immerse ourselves in different cultures and truly understand the essence of a place. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the vibrant island of Bali and discover the best ways for female solo travellers to meet locals.
Where to Meet Locals in Bali:
#1 Venture Beyond Tourist Hotspots
To truly experience the local culture, it’s best to avoid areas that are mostly frequented by tourists, such as Canggu and Seminyak. By going off the beaten path, you increase your chances of encountering friendly locals who can offer a more authentic experience. I once stayed by a resort 30 minutes drive away from Canggu and met the most locals I ever met in only 4 days! I’ve been invited to a local ceremony, I went shopping with the staff, I’ve even been asked by the resort owner to teach an English class to the local teenagers who wanted to work in restoration. From the last experience, it ended up being me the one who learned something new by interacting with all of them and understanding their dreams and beliefs.
#2 Stay in Accommodations That Foster Connections
Consider opting for guesthouses, resorts, villas, hotels, or bungalows that provide opportunities to connect with the local community. These types of accommodations often organise social events or facilitate interactions with locals, allowing you to immerse yourself in the Balinese way of life. How do you know this when booking your accommodation? Easy, you can tell from the reviews! Guest reviews would describe the place, atmosphere and host behaviours.
#3 Engage in Cooking Classes
Joining cooking classes is not only a delicious way to learn how to prepare Balinese cuisine, but also a fantastic opportunity to strike up conversations with locals. As you learn the art of Balinese cooking, you can engage with the instructors and fellow participants. This would allow you to create meaningful connections and gain insights into the local culinary traditions. It might be you start talking about what time you eat, where you get your produce from and what you enjoy eating the most. This will spark a conversation with locals and you will learn all about them. Cooking classes are quite affordable and remember you also get a free meal out of it!
#4 Join Tours and Activities
This is another good one! Participating in tours and activities is a great way to bond with fellow adventurers and knowledgeable local guides. Whether it’s exploring cultural landmarks, embarking on outdoor adventures, or diving into Balinese arts and crafts, these experiences provide opportunities to interact with locals who share a passion for their island and its heritage. I’ll tell you more, most of the guides would tell you all about their lives and what brought them to do their job. They are normally even more chatty than others just because they deal with tourists most of the time. I once had a one-hour-long conversation with my tour guide about the temple he built in his garden. It might sound not interesting but if you knew how much it costs and everything around the topic, it would blow your mind 100%! The conversation ended with him complaining about how small his garden temple is, and me saying I don’t even have a balcony in my flat in London! (Check out Get A Guide to find a local guide).
#5 Embrace the Power of Traffic
While stuck in traffic, take advantage of the moment to strike up conversations with locals. Balinese people are known for their friendliness and warmth. You may find that these impromptu chats lead to unexpected connections and memorable experiences. I always believe you only learn something new by listening instead of talking. There is nothing more true in Bali! Especially if you’ve never been before. I once asked a driver why he had one super long nail. He told me it was because he is a dancer and the nail is an extension of his hand, making his movements longer and flawless. He then started talking about ceremonies in Bali and a 2 hours drive became a cultural class!
#6 Taking a Surf Class is a fantastic way to Meet Locals in Bali
Consider taking surf classes where local instructors are often easy-going and lovely! They create a relaxed environment to mingle and learn from people passionate about the ocean and the art of surfing. I literally made lifetime friendships through this. There are locals I go visit every single time I go to the beach. This is not limited to surf classes, it could even be someone who sells shell bracelets!
Respecting Local Customs and Traditions
As we immerse ourselves in a new culture, it’s essential to respect local customs and traditions. Take the time to understand the Balinese way of life, their values, and their beliefs. Embrace their customs by dressing modestly when visiting temples and participating in local ceremonies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from the locals themselves. By showing respect and genuine interest, you’ll create meaningful connections that will enrich your travel experience.
How I Met Locals in Bali
I met many locals with all the above tips, especially through my accommodation. However, there is a lovely story I wanted to share about how I met one of my closest friends in Gili. She’s a talented cook at a resort restaurant I went to, and we instantly clicked when she came by my table. Over the past four years, we’ve kept in touch, talking every day and meeting whenever we can. Our lives are vastly different, but that’s what makes our friendship so special. I’ve had the privilege of visiting her village, meeting her family, and experiencing a side of Bali that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. It’s these genuine connections that make travelling so rewarding.
I hope my guide on how to meet locals in Bali has been useful to you. This is an invaluable experience that allows us to truly understand the culture and create lasting memories. By exploring beyond the typical tourist spots, respecting local customs, and embracing meaningful connections, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities. So, as you embark on your journey through Bali, remember to step out of your comfort zone, engage with the locals, and let the magic of this beautiful island unfold ✨
Ciao for now,