One or two banging outfits only. Look, Bali is a tropical beach yes but you’re going to go out at night, no matter what you think. (Unless you’re from New York City, then you really won’t care about parties in Bali. NYC residents are the only ones who are immune to Seminyak’s charms.) And you’re going to want to look nice. Bali is very international now, with plenty of very good looking and judgmental people. (Disregard this rule if you’re a well traveled fashion industry head- you already know what to do.)
2. Select clothes for everyday (including a long sleeve light thing for the bike)
Two or three ensembles are enough! It’s fine! Do yourself a favor and pack your three favorite most comfortable chic things you’ve worn in the last month and that’s it! And, provided you’ll be like most people, you’ll be on a scooter, so bring a light long-sleeve thing you can throw over whatever. The most burned I’ve seen people is from riding the motorbike. One gets so burned in such an awkward way.
3. Two swimsuits, one for looking cute and one for getting rocked/i.e. actually swimming
Like, I’m just disregarding if you surf because that’s a whole other thing. But one bathing suit for looking very cute, and another for swimming. Actually I don’t know. I only wear one-pieces because I don’t have to pull them up when I’m duck-diving. I don’t own a bikini.
4. An Unlocked iPhone
If you’re not from America, and you have an unlocked phone, congrats! You can get a sim card and text that Swedish girl you met at that Mexican place with the Baja-style tacos.
5. Nice sunscreen & hair ties
This is all pretty obvious but… sunscreen is extra expensive here and selection is severely limited. You’ll need a ton and you’ll want the good stuff. I wear it on the back of my hands and forearms on the bike, and Tropical Sands SPF 30 on everything- stays on in the water. Bring nice sunscreen you’ll actually wear. Also – you can’t get good hair ties here. Crisis.
No good books stores here. Bring two from home.
7. Friendly and open attitude toward Balinese and Balinese culture.
Learn these three words at least: Terima Kasih means “thank you.” Bagus means “good.” Suka means “I like.” Too easy. Make an effort to do something vaguely cultural. I like the sunset Kecak Dance at Ulutwau. Just make sure to go by yourself and have dinner in the area afterwards, unless you want to spend three hours in traffic afterwards going back to Canggu. Cacho’s and Kat’s Kitchen are two great local restaurants. Be respectful and appreciative and ask questions. Bali is magic.
8. Map at Periplus
You can get an atlas of Bali at Periplus, the local bookstore, and if you don’t have a smart phone with GPS, it’s essential if you’re trying to navigate. Even if you do have a phone, it’s still an amazingly helpful secret buy for all the windy twisting roads here.
9. Strong probiotic
Get a good probiotic before you come and take it, it’ll help with your immune system and help prevent stomach problems. You’re being introduced to a lot of new bacteria and flus and all those little cuts get infected fast. That and sip four liters of water a day and you’re all good.
10. Travelers insurance at worldnomads.com
I’ve always done this jammie. It’s saved me thousands over the years. It’s pretty cheap and you can get it before you leave. I grab it for any trip over a few weeks, and would recommend it. They’ve paid me out in a timely respectful manner and their online message center is always there when I get confused about what forms needs to be filled blah blah.
11. Salt and Vinegar Chips
Bali doesn’t have salty v’s. Or when they do they’re $8 a bag.
12. Lots of underwear
Because they disappear at the Laundromat. Also it’s very hot here.
What not to bring
1. The lover you met last summer
Don’t bring sand to the beach!
2. Your insanity or sanity, really. Or your promiscuity or virginity.
Don’t be stupid and don’t be a know it all. Also, most prominent feminists question if the sexual revolution really happened. Be safe.
3. Anything expensive
Treat this like a trip to the beach. Bring nothing that sparkles or dislikes sand in its crevices.
A big bag that won’t fit beneath the bike seat.
Always put your bag under your seat while riding a scooter! Discourage bag thieves!
About 85% of all legal problems for travellers in Bali are the result of a visa issue. Bali may be a relaxing and intoxicating holiday destination, but when it comes to the business of visas, there are rules and regulations in place.
Bali visas are most definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal. So rather than being caught out in customs or deported, it’s much easier to spend a little time getting visa savvy.
Read on for everything you need to know about getting a Bali visa, but were too afraid/ lazy/ busy or disinterested to ask.
Indonesian visa protocols and requirements are subject to change, so its always a good idea to check with the Indonesian embassy or consulate, as failure to meet the requirements will purchase you a swift ticket back home.
What type of Indonesian visa you require depends on the nature of your trip.
If you are going for a quick holiday break, then a Visa On Arrival (VOA) is the one for you, whereas if you are planning on studying, have a work-related business trip or want to relocate permanently, you will need to plan your visa before booking your plane ticket.
Below is a breakdown of the different types of Indonesian visas on offer and what they require from your sweet self.
Visa On Arrival (VOA)
If you have your heart set on a relatively short Balinese getaway, filled with breathtaking beaches, exotic wildlife and unique culture, then a 30-day single entry VOA is for you.
The ever-popular VOA is available to over 60 nationalities and doesn’t require you to run around before your trip dealing with pesky paperwork.
There are usually no issues getting a VOA, other than having to queue up to get one after a long flight when all you want to do is throw your bags down and get to the beach. There are a few requirements to keep in mind, however, in order to make sure your journey through customs is a fuss-free one.
Make sure your passport is valid for another six months – minimum.
Have your immigration/arrival card filled out and ready to go.
Have a print out of your confirmed flight out of the country handy. You rarely get asked for it, but it’s good to have one on hand just in case, as the more time you spend with airport customs, the less time you have to get your holiday on.
You will need to front up US$35 during processing to enter the country. Yes, it was US$25, but things change. Having the right change in USD, AUD or EUR dollars will prove to be the most efficient option for you. If you require masses of change it will be handed to you in IDR.
If you are sporting a derelict chic get-up or working a particularly scruffy look, it’s not unheard of to be asked for a copy of a bank statement or something that proves you can actually afford your holiday. To avoid this, do yourself a favour and run a comb through your hair, wear some shoes and make yourself look semi-presentable for the nice customs officials. Or, if no one is intervening with your sense of style – bring a copy of your bank statement.
A quiet word on your arrival and departure card
Let’s go back a bit and get acquainted with your necessary (but quite frankly annoying to fill out) arrival and departure card. You will receive this official bit of cardboard while you are on the plane.
You probably won’t feel like filling it out when you receive it from your smiling flight attendant.
You will most likely be a) watching a movie b) enjoying a mid-flight nap c) just too irritated by flying to fill in a form. But it’s better to do it before you land. On filling out said card you will probably have to have a rustle about in your bag for your passport details, flight details and the address of where you will be saying in Indonesia (you don’t need to go overboard with the location, a hotel name and city is enough).
Keeping these details written down and accessible will be easier than having to get up off your uncomfortable plane seat and crawl over strangers to get to your overhead luggage. Filling it out while on the plane also means you can benefit from the conveniently placed fold-down tray attached to the seat in front of you, rather than using your cocked up knee or friends bent back whilst in the customs queue.
Make sure you sign the card at the bottom of the second page.
You will also be given a tax card. All you need to do here is tick “no”, unless you need to declare something or are swag enough to be carrying over US$10,000 with you.
Sadly, most of us don’t seem to have this issue. Sigh. Keep the departure card for later when, you guessed it, you will be leaving fair Bali. Fill it out if you are on an administrative roll or tuck it in with your passport to get around to later. The customs officers will collect the card when you exit through customs.
Don’t be a damn fool and bring the following things into the country – as you might have guessed by now, immigration officials in Bali don’t take too kindly to contraband, with the most serious consequence being the death penalty:
any more than 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 100 grams of sliced tobacco per passenger
any more than one litre of alcohol per adult passenger
any more than Rp 100,000,000 (or equivalent in other currencies)
fire arms, knives, explosives or any weapons of mass destruction
You will need to pay a departure tax when leaving in IDR. The amount varies from airport to airport, but expect to pay about 200,000 IDR from Bali (Ngurah Rai) International airport.
Countries eligible for Visa on Arrival are:
Uni Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (British)
United States of America
What happens if I stay longer than 30 days?
Heed the fact that your VOA is only valid for 30 days – counted from the day of your arrival.
If you overstay your welcome, you will have to pay a penalty of about US$20 per day. If you REALLY overstay your welcome and keep living it up for another few sneaky weeks, you could face jail time.
There is a bit of a leeway if you overstay for three days or less, as lots of tourists automatically think of 30 days as a month and discard the fact that some months of the year have 31 days instead of 30. Whoops!
If you seriously don’t want to go home (who could blame you?), it is possible to extend a VOA for another 30 days from within Bali. You will need to consult a local visa/travel agent, which will cost you around US$50. Once your 60 days are up, it will be time to leave the country.
Other types of Indonesian visas (Visa in Advance)
If you want to stay more than 30 days or have something more lengthy in mind like starting a business or visiting family, you will need to apply for a visa in advance – as in before you leave for Bali. For this, you will need to apply through an Indonesian Embassy and/or Consulate in your home country.
You can apply for a visa in advance yourself, but it is significantly easier to get the help of a professional travel/ visa agent who knows exactly what to do and how to streamline the process a bit. If things get a bit messy, then you also have the added benefit of blaming someone else.
A Tourist Visa lasts up to 60 days and is perfect if you are planning some in-depth island hopping and want to go at your own relaxed pace. For this visa, you will need your passport to be valid for at least another six months and three blank pages left on your passport. No biggie.
Social/ Cultural Visa
If you have a decent reason for staying longer such as studying, visiting relatives or taking part in a foreign exchange program, you can apply for a Social/Cultural Visa. For this, you will need a valid passport and passport photo.
You will also need to obtain an application form from an Indonesian embassy or consulate, and a letter of introduction or promise of sponsorship from a trustworthy person or school in Indonesia. The visa is valid for 60 days, but it can be extended for one month at a time at an Indonesian immigration office for a period of up to six months. Expect some application and visa extension fees. Well worth it.
If you are visiting Bali for work (e.g. a conference or seminar), you can get a 60-day Single Entry Business Visa. If you need to extend your stay, you will need to pay a visit to the local immigration authorities or a visa agent. There is also the option of a Multiple Entry Business Visa that is valid for up to 12 months.
A Business Visa means that you will not be taking up employment in Indonesia, but are visiting for business purposes such as to meet overseas business partners etc. For a Business Visa, you will need to have a passport with at least six months left on it, a passport photograph, a completed visa application form and evidence that you have enough funds to cover the cost of your stay in Indonesia (usually in the form of a bank statement). You will also need two supporting letters that outline the nitty-gritty of your visit, one from your place of work and one from your guarantor in Indonesia.
Employment Visa / KITAS
An Employment Visa is for foreigners who will be employed while in Indonesia. For this, you will need to be sponsored by a company or organisation in Indonesia. This is sometimes referred to as a Temporary Stay Permit or KITAS, and is great for those seeking an extended work-play-stay visit to Indonesia.
If you are over 55 years old and looking to spend your twilight years amongst the tropical vistas of Bali, you can get yourself a renewable five-year visa. For this, your passport will need to be valid for at least 18 months and certain insurance standards such as financial capability will need to be proven.
60 Day Tourist Visa ‘211’
It seems many people don’t know about the 60-day tourist visa called “the 211” or “B-211 Tourist Visit Visa”. It can be obtained in embassies and consulates, and is also extendable for up to 6 months (costing about 550k for each month over the 60 days). It is effectively the same as the social visa, but much cheaper in comparison (costing about $50AUD, and there are usually no agent fees). Processing time varies from country to country and this option in particular seems to be quite elusive – it’s worth doing your own investigations.
And then there’s the Visa Run …
A long-time favourite jaunt for expats in Bali, a visa run is a quick return trip to a neighbouring country. This run is usually done on the day their Indonesian visa is set to expire (or in a couple of days before), with most popping across to Singapore in order to reset the visa clock and extend a stay.
Singapore is popular for a visa run as the Indonesian embassy in Singers is known to be quick and efficient. The visas take three days to process, but you can pay extra for an ‘express service’ and secure a new visa in the one day.
NOTE: The jig might be up for this beloved form of immigration exploitation however, with Thailand immigration officials declaring there will be no more visa runs in and out of Thailand from August 13, 2014. At this stage, there hasn’t been a crack down on Bali, but it’s good to keep in mind if this is something you’re interested in doing.
Travel tip: The Indonesian Embassy is an official organisation and has a dress code. Don’t be caught out wearing short shorts, singlet tops, sandals or anything that you would wear day-to-day in Bali. The embassy has standards people!
Good news for Australian travellers
The Indonesian Government has announced that it will cut its US$35 visa entry fee for Australian nationals from January 1 next year.
Indonesia is undoubtedly a popular holiday destination for Australians, with more than 704,000 Australian travellers visiting Indonesia between the start of 2014 and the end of August, according to recent Indonesian immigration figures.
There are even suggestions that a million Australians will visit by mid-December. So we can consider this a thank you for Australian’s dedicated Bali loving. Big yay!
If you want to DIY and extend your visa in Bali, there are two immigration offices in Bali. Even though ‘Bali time’ applies, it’s best to rock up at the office between 9am and 12pm. And don’t wear what you were wearing at the beach.
Immigration offices in Bali
Ngurah Rai International Airport
Jl. Ngurah Rai, Kuta.
Tel: (0361) 751038
Denpasar Immigration Office
Jl. Surapati 7, (in the Renon Complex), Niti Mandala, Denpasar.
Phone: (0361) 227828.
For anything else, you can also visit the friendly crew at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Pejambon No.6. Jakarta Pusat, 10110, Indonesia
Telephone: (+62 21) 344 15 08
Located just 890km south of the equator, Bali’s tropical climate and moderate weather conditions make for a killer holiday at any time of the year. With two distinct tropical seasons, the wet season and a much cooler dry season, the best time for you to travel to Bali will ultimately come down to what you want out of your holiday and the kind of activities you have on the agenda.
Whether you fancy a dreamy sojourn filled with soothing massages and spa treatments in the mountains of Bedugul, or a tick-off-your-bucket-list style getaway complete with volcano trekking and scuba diving, our month by month guide to Bali’s weather has, quite literally, got you covered.
The wet season lasts from end of December/ beginning of January until April and, apart from December and January which are vibrant months for Bali’s calendar, buzzing to the brink with holiday-makers, it is a more subdued time for the island. The atmosphere is relaxed and lazy, the humidity is at its highest point and there are fluctuations between moody rainstorms that soak the island to warm steamy days with cloudless skies.
Bali’s dry season occurs between the months of May and September and is the busiest time of year for tourism on the island. July, August and September are particularly busy months as the humidity is low and the rainfall minimal, making for a comfortable albeit more expensive time to holiday in Bali.
Despite each season having its own set of characteristics, the temperature is a moderately stable 27ºC to 30ºC throughout the year.
Bali’s wet season- October to April
Bali’s wet season begins at the end of October and lasts until the following April. It’s a humid, sticky, shirt-stuck-to-your-chest time of year, and for this reason many people avoid visiting during this time. But there are many overlooked advantages that the tropical rain brings with it including world-class swells and a quieter, more tranquil Bali.
Weather in Bali in October
Bali’s temperature throughout the month of October usually sits somewhere between 25ºC and 33ºC . The dry hot winds that blow in from Australia make October one of the hottest months of Bali’s year. Rain is minimal but humidity levels do rise as the month progresses. October’s hot days and generally blue skies make it an ideal time to explore the island.
Weather in Bali in November
November is normally characterised by on and off rain. That being said, there have been some years when Bali hasn’t seen its first real rain storm until early January. It’s best to pack wet weather gear and keep an umbrella handy. If you’re booked to visit Bali in November, do not fret. The rain is not constant and, unless you plan on carrying out activities that require very clear visual conditions, things continue as normal.
Humidity levels reach about 80% throughout November so get ready for the heat and be sure to pile on that sunscreen lotion. Most good hotels have air conditioners. If you’re staying in basic accommodation then you will be extra appreciative when the rain stops and is replaced with a refreshingly cool breeze.
Weather in Bali in December
If the November prior didn’t experience much rainfall then December’s weather in Bali will really take things up a notch as the monsoon season sets in. The rain is frequent and comes in short, heavy, often excessive bursts that can last anywhere between a few minutes to a few days. Due to a general lack of drainage in Bali, minor flooding can sometimes occur in the streets. The days will be mostly wet and the sky cloudy and yet Bali will remain extremely hot with humidity levels hitting as high as 85%.
Bali’s beaches, especially in the south, tend to get a little polluted during this time of year as strong currents wash trash onto the shore. Not that Bali’s tribe of avid surfers is fazed. Instead, their attention is on the ripper offshore breaks that form in the west as the monsoon winds get stronger. An added benefit for surfers during the wet season is the warm water. Wetsuits are certainly not needed. Most surfers can get away with not wearing wetsuits for most of the year but water temperatures do tend to dip slightly during the dry season, especially from July through till August, so you might want to pack one then.
Despite the rain, December and January are two of the busiest months of the year for Bali’s tourism with thousands of people flocking to the island to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. There are loud and colourful celebrations in the streets and the island buzzes with energy and excitement, a stark contrast to the much quieter first half of the season. As a result, hotel prices tend to skyrocket so be sure to book accommodation in advance.
On Christmas Day, many restaurants offer scrumptious buffet lunches of roasts and other Western comforts that will make many feel right at home. New Year’s Eve sees many holiday-makers head to the famous Kuta Beach to watch the fireworks and celebrate together. If it rains, which it quite often does, revellers retreat to Beach Walk Mall where they have convenient views of the beachfront action.
Weather in Bali in January
With an average rainfall of 300 millilitres, January is Bali’s wettest month. It’s also an incredibly hot month so the rain is not such a bad thing. In fact, the heavy rain often comes as welcomed relief after a day of Bali’s scorching heat and humidity.
The rain tends to be much heavier in the mountain and highland regions compared to the eastern and southern coastal areas, so keep this in mind when booking accommodation and planning your holiday. It’s also important to note that the weather in January is quite regional. Denpasar’s weather report of sunshine and bright skies doesn’t mean that Bedugul in the north will be experiencing the same conditions, so be sure to do your research.
Weather in Bali in February
February in Bali is usually a little drier than January but you should still be prepared for frequent rain. With a monthly average rainfall of 280 millilitres, it is still very much the wet season.
The temperature in February does not stretch too far from Bali’s average levels. With highs of around 32ºC, it is both hot and humid. Be sure to always keep a bottle of water on you and remember that sunscreen can be nearly double the price if you purchase it in Bali, so we advise stocking up before you leave.
Indonesian locals who understand Bali’s seasons well tend to visit the beaches and do most of their running around in the late afternoon when the intense heat and humidity has settled. Sunset happens just after 6pm, and it is a lovely time to relax or go for a walk.
If you plan on undertaking outdoor activities try to schedule them for later in the day when the sun is not at its hottest. Remember that humidity levels will be sitting around the 75% level so you may feel quite sticky and uncomfortable moving around outside.
February is considered the ‘off peak’ season so flights and hotels can often be booked at a cheaper rate.
Weather in Bali in March
Rain becomes less frequent throughout March and April as the wet season transitions into Bali’s much-awaited dry season. Despite the changing seasons, the weather in March in Bali remains cloudy, often with overcast skies and showers. There are days when it all dries up and the clouds are replaced by bright sunshine.
Sitting around 27ºC with an average minimum of 23ºC, March’s average temperatures are only slightly lower than the previous months. At night the temperature drops to about 25ºC but if you are staying in the mountains it can drop to as low as 15ºC.
March hosts one of the biggest festivals of Bali’s year, Nyepi. Meaning ‘silent’ in Bahasa Indonesian, Nyepi is the religious Hindu day of celebration for the Balinese New Year. Locals turn off electricity, refrain from all forms of entertainment and stay indoors for 24 hours to allow themselves the opportunity to self-reflect, and tourists are expected to follow suit. Local security guards called pecaleng patrol and watch the streets to make sure no one goes outside their homes or breaks the rules. This tradition is undertaken because the Balinese people believe that if the island is silent and everyone is indoors, evil spirits will mistakenly think the island is empty and move on.
The following day is marked by a ‘mass kissing festival’,Ngembak Gen. Known to the locals as “Omed-omedan”, it is a unique Balinese tradition held amongst the youth which honours the healing power of a kiss.
Hot tip: All shops and restaurants are closed on Nyepi so be prepared by pre-purchasing food and essentials. Head to Bintang supermarket in Seminyak to get all your fruits, beverages and international groceries.
Weather in Bali in April
With greatly reduced humidity levels (around 65%), April heralds the end of Bali’s wet season. Monthly rainfall is reduced to 70 millilitres on average, the days are clearer and that classic Bali heat is on the rise with some days reaching 33ºC. Surprisingly, it’s not a very busy time for tourism making it all the better for those who do visit in April. There are fewer crowds, less noise and more bargains to be had on accommodation.
Wet season Tips: what to be aware of?
Dengue Fever: This mosquito-borne viral infection should be avoided at all costs. Some people take tablets or get immunised against the disease prior to their trip, while others just use insect repellents. We recommend purchasing a local mosquito repellents as it is believed that insects have become resistant to the Western versions. Repellents can be easily found in most mini marts and supermarkets.
Slippery roads: With the wet season comes slippery roads and trekking conditions, obscured views and poor visibility on the streets. It is advisable to practice extra caution when driving (especially on a scooter) and while doing recreational activities.
Safety Pack: Pack some pharmaceutical safety essentials like probiotics and tablets for diarrhea so that you’re prepared in case you get the notorious ‘Bali Belly’.
As the wet season is also Bali’s low season for tourism, hotel prices, tours and airfares will be super cheap and you can get some great discounts if you plan ahead. If you don’t mind a bit of rain and like the idea of a less crowded, more tranquil Bali, then the wet season in Bali is perfect for you!
What to wear during the wet season?
You should expect the unexpected during Bali’s wet season. Even though the weather report might forecast clear skies and sunshine, the conditions can change quickly and often, heavy rain appears from nowhere. Therefore we suggest not wearing your best attire out and about but rather investing in some rain-friendly threads.
Disposable rain jacketsandumbrellas can be purchased very cheaply in Bali so save the space in your suitcase and just head to the local market when you arrive to stock up. If you happen to be sitting down in a restaurant or at a warung in the street when the rain starts, you will notice that opportunistic locals selling umbrellas and rain jackets will arrive just in the nick of time. These will be a little pricier than those sold at the markets but when you need an umbrella, you need an umbrella, and this service will seem like a gift from the rain gods themselves.
Pack light clothes in breathable fabrics. We suggest bringing clothes made out of cotton, silk or linen as they are cool and suitable for Bali’s humid conditions. On top of this, they also dry quickly which is always helpful during the wet season. Avoid wearing tight clothing that will make you chafe and sweat and always carry a hat and sunscreen with you to protect you from the merciless sun.
T-shirts and flip flops (”thongs” for Australians) are fine to wear on the streets and around most tourist areas but if you intend on visiting a sacred temple, attending a local religious ceremony or visiting a Balinese family, it is important you dress modestly and follow local customs. If you’re taking a day trip to a temple, sarongs and scarfs can usually be purchased or rented for a small charge but you should find out beforehand as every temple is different. It is important to cover up your body particularly your shoulders and chest area, and you will always be required to remove your shoes.
If a woman is pregnant or has given birth in the six weeks prior, she should not enter the temple as it is considered impure. This a regulation held throughout Indonesia and is not unique to Balinese temples alone but to all Islamic mosques; an important note to remember should you be heading to Lombok or any other Indonesian island that does not practice Hinduism as the main religion.
Dry season- May to September
The dry season, Bali’s version of summer, occurs between the months of May and September. It is the favoured half of the year for both locals and tourists alike boasting bright sunny days, lower humidity levels compared to the wet season and, of course, very little rain.
The dry season is an extremely popular time for people to explore Bali, particularly throughout July and August as this time coincides with the Australian winter and the school holiday season.
It’s the perfect time to explore the island by day and enjoy candlelight dinners on the beach by night.
Weather in Bali in May
May tends to be one of Bali’s cooler months, but for those that are visiting from anywhere that experiences a real winter, it will seem comfortably warm. The average temperature is 28ºC and while this may not seem drastically different from the rest of the year, you will find that locals and long-term expats talk of turning down the AC at night and having to put jackets on. Cut them some slack though, compared to the high humidity and intense heat of the wet season, May feels like a winter wonderland.
Weather in Bali in June
Humidity levels are at their lowest from June until October and so Bali experiences some of its lowest temperatures.
The month of June is host to the famous Bali Arts Festival. The month long celebration of Indonesian culture includes performances held at the Bali Art Centre in Denpasaras well as the Bali Kite festival and sees many people head to the island to experience its unique culture and festivities.
Things pick up in June as thousands of tourists scurry to the island for the start of the busiest holiday season of the year, the July-August period.
Weather in Bali in July
The weather in July in Bali continues to be relatively cool and comfortable, making it a very desirable time to jump on a plane and explore the island.
Skies are almost always blue and it is the perfect time to try your hand at water sports or to have an outdoor dinner by the beach.
Weather in Bali in August
August is Bali’s driest month and so rain is not something you will have to worry about. With a monthly average rainfall of 40 millilitres that occurs over roughly three days, August is the perfect month to maximise your outdoor time in Bali.
It will be hot during the day so don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen. Evenings in August and all throughout the dry season enjoy beautiful breezes, making it a lovely time to sit outside and enjoy a meal.
Weather in Bali in September
The weather in September in Bali is characterised by sunny picturesque days, great for sunbathing or doing a spot of holiday shopping and on average, sees highs of between 30ºC to 32ºC. With nine hours of sunshine per day, it is many people’s preferred time to visit Bali. If it does rain, it is usually very little (about 90 millilitres on average for the entire month) and occurs in the late afternoon or evening.
As September follows the peak July-August period, prices are generally reduced.
Dry Season: what to wear
The dry season can get quite chilly during the evenings so it is important to pack at least one jacket and a good pair of socks. You won’t regret it, especially if you’re staying on higher ground or in the central mountain areas of Bali.
Even though humidity levels are lower during Bali’s dry season, the days are long and the sunrays are strong and unforgiving, making it is very easy to get burnt. If you’re spending lots of time outdoors, be sure to bring a hat and apply generous amounts of sunscreen.
Supplies for Surfing
The minimal rain and low humidity of the dry season make it a very popular time for outdoor activities. Many tourists try parasailing, scuba diving or jet skiing, but the most popular activity of all is surfing. It is smart to pack a wetsuit, especially if you intend to surf between the months of June and October when the water temperature is at its coolest. Coral reef booties are also essential as many of Bali’s beaches break on sharp live coral reefs that can cut your bare feet.
As a tourist it is important to dress as respectively as possible throughout the year, no matter what season you’re visiting in. Despite the island and its people feeling very familiar and westernised, Balinese people maintain a very honourable grip on their culture and are often far more conservative than the party atmosphere of Kuta might lead you to believe. Public displays of affection are usually frowned upon and while it might be ok on the streets of Legian, wearing a bikini to the mall is not appreciated by the locals.
As a general rule of thumb, the more well groomed you are the better you will be treated by the Balinese people. The island’s culture has largely been shaped by the Hindu religion. To act in a way that is insensitive to these beliefs is shameful and reflects badly upon tourists as a whole. So remember to always be mindful of how you are presenting yourself and how you might be seen from the eyes of a local.
Surfing in Bali by season
Internationally acclaimed for its ferocious waves and stunning landscape, Bali is a surfer’s paradise. Its beautiful southern coastline captures enormous ocean swells brought in from the Antarctic that generate spectacular waves and swell all year round. While there is always good surf to be had, Bali’s two seasons determine where these waves are found. The general rule is that the east coast is the best place to surf during the wet season and the west coast of Bali is where it’s at during the dry.
Not surprisingly, the most popular time to surf in Bali is throughout the dry season, particularly from June through till September. As this coincides with the peak tourist season, beaches can become very crowded. To avoid crowds, seek out quieter beaches off the beaten track. Of course, these will be harder to get to but the reward will be worth it.
While the energetic atmosphere of the dry season can help build momentum and excitement out in the surf, those looking for something a little more chilled but still adventurous should surf Bali during the wet season.
Surfing Bali in the Dry Season
During Bali’s dry season the best waves can be found on the island’s west coast. From Kuta all the way to Uluwatu, the western coastline provides the biggest and best swells thanks to the south-east trade winds that blow in during this time of year.
The best surf beaches on the west coast include:
Bingin: Bingin beach is an exposed reef break which means there are no rocks. It has massive left-hander swells that tend to be quite short and so are best negotiated by advanced surfers. While Bingin is a very beautiful beach it does get rather crowded, made even worse by the fact there is only one area to take off.
Padang Padang: The waves here are most suited to advanced surfers due to their super fast nature and left-hander swells that will challenge even the best. The fact that the waves break over a sharp coral reef only adds to the difficulty 0f this wave.
Tukad Balian: This is a beautiful beach break with surf that’s suited to intermediate level surfing. Balian is not a crowded beach,the waves are consistent left-handers and the swell is long and fat. Because of its location at the mouth of the Balian river, the waves tend to get broken up as they rush in which creates a strong rip. Some surfers like to get in behind the waves at this point, but be sure exercise caution as the rip is very strong and has the potential to pull surfers long distances. Compared to many of the other beaches on Bali’s west coast, Balian has some of the biggest waves with the added bonus of stunning panoramic views. On top of this, the water is usually warm, clean and the sand is black. Tukad Balian is located in the Tabanan Regency in the village of Lalang Linggah, about an hour and a half drive from Kuta.
Impossible: This beach is an extremely popular surfing spot with gorgeous 180º views of the Indian Ocean and solid barrel waves best suited to experienced surfers. Located in the beach resort of Pecatu, it will take about 30 minutes to get here from Legian and is situated in close proximity to many tourist attractions including Uluwatu temple.
Uluwatu: The huge number of surfers that are at Uluwatu at any given time speaks volumes about the quality of the waves here. The swells are fast and powerful and the currents are strong so be sure to exercise caution, especially when entering and exiting the Uluwatu cave that leads to the main breaks. Because of its challenging nature, Uluwatu’s waves are best suited to advanced surfers. When you’ve finished your surf, head on down to Single Finrestaurant and bar propped up on the cliff and overlooking the stunning coastline.
Kuta beachand Seminyak: The smaller, mellower beach breaks of Kuta and Seminyak are suited to all levels of surfers.
Surfing Bali in the Wet season
If you’re keen to avoid crowds out in the surf and enjoy a generally more relaxed vibe, head to Bali during its wet season.
The wind changes that occur during this time of year result in west coast left-hander swells that are far mellower and smaller than those from the dry season. Instead, the best waves can be found on Bali’s east coast where, thanks to the strong monsoon weather conditions, the winds are wild and the right-hander waves are near perfect.
The best surf beaches on Bali’s east coast include:
Nusa Dua:This famous stretch of beach offers long, heavy right-hander waves that can get up to 10 feet high. If such heights are intimidating, head further down the coast for some smaller waves.
Keramas: Located to the east of Denpasar cityin Sanur, the waves at Keramas beach have a lot of power and are suited to high performance surfers. Be sure to watch out for the sharp coral reefs and sea urchins.
Here are some less familiar beach breaks on Bali’s east coast that are especially great to surf during the wet season:
Bali’s beaches are best surfed early in the morning to avoid onshore winds. This goes for both the wet and dry seasons.
Festivals in Bali by season
From local religious ceremonies to international festivals that draw huge crowds, Bali’s streets are always buzzing with some kind of celebration.
The dates of local Hindu ceremonies are based on three different calendars (Western, Saka and Wuku) and so it is sometimes hard to know exactly what date holidays will occur. To help you out, we’ve compiled a month-by-month guide to Bali’s major events and festivals during both the wet and dry seasons.
FESTIVALS IN BALI’S WET SEASON
March to April:
The Melasti Ritual is the first of a series of rituals performed before the Balinese day of silence (Nyepi). Known locally as OghoOgho, the Hindu purification ceremony involves cleaning and purifying temples before the following day’s proceedings.
Hari Nyepi translates to “the silence day” in Bahasa Indonesian and marks the beginning of the Balinese New Year. The annual ritual is dedicated to self-reflection and involves locals and foreigners practicing silence for 24 hours. During this time, nobody is allowed to leave their house or use technology and all shops are closed. New Year celebrations begin in the streets the following day including the famous kissing festival, ‘Omed Omedan’.
Kartini day is a time for local Indonesian women to pay respect and homage to Kartini, the Balinese woman who was the driving force behind the Indonesian women’s rights movement.
Bali Spirit Festival is a celebration of yoga, dance and music. Held over five days in the mountains of Ubud, the festival attracts large international and local audiences.
June to July:
Bali Arts Festival is the largest cultural event to take place on the island. Known to locals as ‘Pesta Kesenian Bali’, the annual festival takes place in Denpasar and is a celebration of Indonesian culture and the arts.
Bali’s Kite Festivalis a beautiful Hindu event that honours the highly revered craft of kite making and flying. Held annually in July at Padang Galak, Sanur Beach, this international festival is a spectacular sight and not to be missed if you’re visiting Bali at this time.
August to September:
Indonesia’s Independence Day happens every year on the 17th of August and marks the day that Indonesia officially gained independence from the Dutch in 1949. The day is celebrated with pride throughout the nation but especially on the streets of Bali.
Nusa Dua Festival is a week long tourism event held at the Nusa Dua Resort and showcasing the best of Indonesian culture.
FESTIVALS IN BALI’S DRY SEASON
October to November
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is Bali’s annual literary festival celebrating global issues, big ideas and extraordinary stories. The event attracts talented established and emerging voices from all over the world and is a must-see.
Bali Film Festival is a week long event held annually in October and showcasing a fantastic range of international independent films. If you’re on the island at this time of year, we highly recommend checking the Bali Film festival
Hari Raya Galungan (17th) Galungan is the first event of a very significant holiday period for the Balinese calendar. In the Hindu religion Galungan is believed to be the time when the spirits of deceased ancestors come back to earth and in return the Balinese say prayers and provide offerings and hospitality. You will notice bamboo poles in the streets suspending offerings that are made for the visitors.
Hari Raya Kuningan takes place exactly ten days following the Galungan celebration and is believed to be the time when the spirits finally leave earth.
Weather in Bali in Overview
Whatever the season, Bali always provides an enchanting holiday. The sun is mostly always out and the locals are almost always smiling, and despite what the weather might have up its sleeve, there is always a way to enjoy Bali.
Take the time to plan what you want out of your holiday, evaluate the pros and cons of each season and make Bali’s weather work for you.
Once you’ve arrived in Bali, completely relaxed, and broken away from the stress of the world, you might start hankering for a spot of adventure. After all, you’re in the most beautiful archipelago in the region. There’ so much more to see and experience beyond Bali and it’s only a stone’s throw away.
The most common trail for a weekend break from Bali is Lombok and Gili. But assuming you’ve already been and want to witness something truly special, then you must visit Labuhan Bajo, a picturesque fishing village and gateway to the Flores archipelago and untouched islands of Komodo National Park.
The Flores archipelago is viewed by many as the most scenic cluster of uninhabited islands.
With its pristine headlands and untouched coral reefs, it’s as mesmerizing under water as it is on land.
Dutch sailors stumbled upon the Komodo islands in 1910, and since then, the endangered creatures have been extensively studied and protected in their native habitat. You’ve probably already seen them on nature programs, but seeing this giant lizard in real life is an incredible experience for both young and old.
The best time to visit Komodo National Park is during the dry season from April to December. However spotting the Komodo dragon during their mating and nesting seasons (July to August, and September to November) is not as easy, so timing your visit is a wise thing to do.
Journey to Komodo: Getting there
Three flights on Merpati Airlines, Wings and Lion Air depart daily from Bali to Labuhan Bajo. Book these through a travel agent or at Denpasar airport and you should get a better rate than booking online. A return flight shouldn’t cost more than USD$300 during high season, and around USD$200 – 250 when it’s less busy.
The short one and a half hour flight passes over clusters of tiny islands, mountains and headlands, but don’t expect to get a good picture from the dusty window of the old planes. When you arrive at Labuhan Bajo airport you get the sense you’re now in “real Indonesia” as you walk onto the tarmac.
Taxis from the airport to your hotel are small minivans that carry up to six people. The driver will usually fill the taxi with other passengers before taking off and the journey costs about US$7 per person to get to the south of the town, 10 minutes away from the main hub.
Even though plenty of tourists pass through this charming fishing town and there’s evidence of halted construction and jerky development, the town remains relatively untouched. The tourist shops and hotels don’t encroach on the town, instead they’re set back from the daily life of the town and its people. Nothing here is over developed or overly packaged to cater for tourists. Not even the shabby restaurant shacks that squat on the side of the hill overlooking the harbour.
Journey to Komodo: Where to stay
Accommodation in Labuhan Bajo is a no frills affair. Many of the inns and hotels look rather run down, so look for something rustic with charm or a new-ish resort. It doesn’t cost much more than staying in a hostel or a homestay and besides, you need a comfortable room to get a good rest after spending your days on the sea.
The Waecicu Eden Beach Hotel, located 15 minutes from the harbour in a gorgeous bay, is a great option. You’ll have brilliant views of the setting sun and be close to trekking trails in the surrounding hills. The wooden thatched roof bungalows perched on the hill above the beach stay cool in the day and let in the gentle song of ocean at night.
If you prefer beach hotels, then Puri Sari Beach Hotel is a great option that offers great rates (USD$70 during low season and USD$80 at high season). The rooms are spacious, with modern bathrooms and reliable water heaters.
The reefs around Komodo National Park are outstanding dive spots for sharks, massive rays, giant squid, tiny pygmy seahorse and occassionaly, the Blue Whale.
Liveaboard expedition boats dot the Labuhan Bajo harbour, however trips are scheduled in advance to fill the cabins, so if you’re an avid diver, this is definitely worth looking into.
The Seven Seas sails regularly around Komodo and to the East of Flores and Raja Ampat.
Rates are fixed at US$450 per person per night or US$900 per cabin per night until 2015. There are eight staterooms onboard which can be booked individually, or as a group with a good discount. Visit The Seven Seas website for more information or email email@example.com.
Journey to Komodo: What to do
Being the sort of tourist town that it is, the taxi driver from the airport might have already presented you with a range of activity options and prices. But it’s often worth waiting to organise a day trip directly with a local tour operator. You can either share a small boat with other groups of tourists or rent one to yourself at USD$80 for the day. This doesn’t include the island fees of about IDR25,000 per person for admission and a guide.
Komodo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The Pink Sand beach on the island is also only one of seven found in the world, made of white and red sand and the Foraminifera amoeba. The giant lizards are usually quite easy to spot, however there’s also more of them on Rinca Island along a shorter and less challenging trail.
You get to learn a lot about the Komodo dragons and the history of the islands from the guides.
The giant beasts are scattered throughout the trail and it’s unnerving walking past them when they flick their bright blue tongues in the air, but the guides assure they are well fed and pose no threat.
Snorkeling in one of the dynamic reefs teaming with ocean life after trekking on foot is a welcome treat in the afternoon. The array of colours and species in the shallow waters is amongst the most vibrant snorkeling in the world.
In the late afternoon, the sun burns low in the sky toward Seraya Island, where traditional fishermen trapped their prey in bamboo structures as the tide washed out. The perfect site for sailing home.
If you’ve still got some steam left in you in the evening, get a boat out to Kalong Island at dusk when screeching swarms of giant flying fox bats rush from the mangrove island in search of food.
Journey to Komodo: Where to take a great photo
In the evenings, the main road in Labuhan Bajo comes alive with local hawkers and evening moped traffic. Set above the harbour, you can capture the view of the main cove and collection of shops, houses, hotels and restaurants that line the steep hill.
You’ll need to find an unobstructed view to capture a good panoramic photo away from tangled power lines and solitary poles that pierce the horizon.
Finally, don’t forget to snap a picture of the town as your boat moors into the harbour after a day at sea. The multi coloured shacks and houses stacked on top of each other make for a great travel shot for the photo album.