Why you should travel to Bali in the post-COVID-19 era?
Are you sitting at home dreaming of the day you can go on holiday again? I know we are. We don’t yet know when Bali will reopen its borders to international tourists again – some say the smart money is on December, others say it is more likely to be early 2021 – but we know that when this happens, Bali should be on the top of your dream destination list. Or maybe you have your long stay visa and are wondering whether you should return? Or perhaps you are already here and wondering how best to fill this strange time? Whatever your question, the answer is the same – now is the time to fall in love with Bali all over again.
Why? Well, for starters, it’s up there as one of the safer places. Bali has kept its incidence of COVID-19 pretty low with sensible precautions and regulations. Plus, with its climate favouring year round outdoor activities and its architectural style favouring large open spaces, you can still do everything you love without being forced into an indoor space.
Second: it’s cheap! Hotels, villas and restaurants are all offering amazing discounts. If you always wanted a luxury holiday and couldn’t stump up the cash, now is your time. Five star hotel? Sprawling villa with multiple pools, full time staff and top end entertainment tech? Yep, these are no longer just the preserve of the rich.
And lastly but most important of all: with fewer tourists than usual, coming here soon after the borders open will give you access to a secret Bali that most people haven’t seen for decades – a serene island full of beauty and relaxation. Come here soon before it gets busy again, and see a side to Bali that you only dreamt about before.
Why we’ve fallen in love with post COVID Bali
While we are all struggling with the impact of COVID-19, we have to admit it – in some ways, Bali is kind of idyllic right now. For a start, there’s no traffic! If you’ve ever spent any time in Bali you’ll know how crazy the traffic can get, and how long it can take to just complete a short journey. No more! These days you can easily drive to places that would take too long in normal conditions. Take a day trip to Ubud and have the whole day to spend there! If you’re a surfer based in Canggu, go all the way to Balangan to surf for the day.
Speaking of surfing, this is the perfect time to catch a wave. The line ups are far from empty, but there are fewer people so it’s more fun and you can get more surfing in. Like great food? You can easily get a table at your favourite restaurant and you won’t have to wait. You might even get a discount. Or maybe a retreat is your thing. If you want to come to Bali to chill, do some yoga, gaze at the ocean in peace and serenity – this is the time. Want to travel with your family? Bali has enough open spaces in nature that you can let the kids roam around to their hearts’ content.
And the best part? Everything is cheap. Fancy treating yourself to a 5 star hotel? You can probably get a deal at a third of the normal price. Prefer a villa with some privacy? Have a look at our great discounts for Canggu and Seminyak. And by the way: our top tip is to book early so you can benefit from great COVID deals – when Bali re-opens and tourist traffic gets back to normal, these deals will be gone.
It’s calm and relaxing – but it’s still fun and alive
But please don’t make the mistake of thinking the place is dead and boarded up. Bali is not empty – far from it! It’s just not crowded. Bali is definitely open for business, with many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels all operating as normal – just with the added safety measures you’d expect to make your holiday as stress free as possible. If you go to the beach, you’ll have no problem getting a great spot – but there’s still a buzz around all the beach cafes and bars. After all, Bali isn’t just for tourists – it has a permanent population of around 4 million, and expats and locals are still going about their lives here.
We really recommend you pick Canggu as your base at the moment. While the tourist centres of Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud are super quiet, Canggu offers something a bit different. Canggu is home to a larger number of expats than the resorts along the coast and so there is a little more life here. It has the most restaurants and bars that are still open, and these are the ones that have the best atmosphere.
How COVID safe is Bali?
Bali has not been badly hit by COVID-19. At the time of writing (September 2020), the total number of COVID related deaths stood at 142, or 34 per million people. To put this into perspective, this is a similar rate to that of Australia, and much, much lower than the UK which stands at 613 per million. The total number of cases at present is at 6,723, with a recovery rate of 87%. And death rates are not only low but also falling: for Indonesia as a whole, daily deaths currently stand at 100, down from a peak of 139 on July 22.
One thing in Bali’s favour is the climate. The scientific jury is still out on this, but some believe that the virus spreads less rapidly in warm, humid climates than in colder climates. Regardless of whether or not this has a direct impact however, the hot climate in Bali means that everything happens outdoors – and we know for sure that this is a positive in beating COVID-19.
Indeed, big open spaces are everywhere: expect to be able to eat and drink outdoors in almost every bar, café and restaurant. Villas and hotels typically have large living rooms that are open to the elements, as well as plenty of true outdoor space. Buildings are airy, roomy and perfect for both social distancing and outdoor living. In fact no tall buildings are allowed – there is legislation that prevents the construction of buildings that are higher than Indonesian temples.
Bali was also quick to put measures in place: entry to the island has been restricted to those with long stay visas until at least December, and masks are mandatory in public spaces. Larger retailers will take your temperature and offer hand sanitiser upon entry, while some have added hand washing facilities. And your villas and hotels are going all out to ensure your stay is safe. All staff wear gloves and masks and work with specialist services, such as Bali Safe, to disinfect properties, including a full disinfecting session after each tourist checks out.
Furthermore, if you need or choose to isolate in your villa or hotel, Bali is right on the ball when it comes to food delivery services. Download GO-JEK and get access not only to meals from a wide range of cafes and restaurants, but also to groceries from the local supermarket and medications from the local pharmacy.
Top tips for staying safe in Bali
• Tourists – ensure you have health insurance! Bali’s international hospitals are world class but you need your insurance as they’re also expensive – and we do recommend that in the unlikely event you need a hospital, you pick an international hospital over a public hospital
• Wash your hands and always wear a mask in public spaces
• Stay healthy and look after your immune system
• Party people – Avoid large gatherings and crowded places, particularly the larger bars. However much you love partying, try to be patient, the time for this will come again
• Avoid indoor spaces with little fresh air flow, like malls and cinemas
• Spend time on the beach! The fresh air and the breeze are the perfect COVID safe setting, and now is a great time to be there
• Go to restaurants, bars and cafes with outside space – the great news is that in Bali, this is most of them!
• If you’re lucky enough to live here: meet up with your friends at their houses and spend time in their gardens rather than meeting in indoor spaces. Lots of expats have pools so spending a day at the pool can’t be bad – swimming for the kids, wine for mum. Or meet up at the beach.
Bali for: the digital Nomads
If your lifestyle is one of hopping around the world with your laptop, working from wherever you fancy, Bali is a great option for you – even now. Maybe particularly now. With 400 registered villas in Canggu alone, there are lots of options for even the fussiest digital nomad and the best news is that at the moment, many of these villas are offering monthly deals with a sizeable discount. Most villas typically have good internet which can be easily upgraded if needed. And really, we have to say – why wouldn’t you want to work from an open office overlooking a pool and tropical palm trees, ordering a massage on your break, or walking to the beach to sip on a coconut? In fact…maybe…I’ll be right back.
Bali for: Families
Want a safe holiday for your family, where you have plenty of space for the kids to play freely without you having to worry? Bali is for you. With an abundance of open spaces, you can be sure that all the family has room to roam and play while staying socially distanced. Take your kids to the beach for the day, walk among the ricefields, visit some of Bali’s many beautiful waterfalls. And there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to family friendly villas, with plenty of pool space, so if you wish, you can spend the day just in your family unit without getting itchy feet.
Bali for: Budget Travellers
Bali has always been a haven for the budget traveller, even though rapid tourist development in recent years has made the hardcore bargains harder to find. But now is your chance for some real bargain hunting. We’ve already told you about the discount prices to be found on accommodations, but you should also know that shopping is also brimming with great bargains. Most shops are offering 40-50% discounts! The Balinese have always loved bargaining but now they’ve taken it to a whole new level – it’s no longer just in traditional markets, with the fancy boutiques of Petitenget (Seminyak) and the hipster shops of Canggu also offering great discounts.
On top of this, remember to shop local for a good price. Local food is generally cheaper than international menus –stick to the warungs for a good, cheap and safe meal. Remember, stay local to spend less and to take advantage of all the new discounts.
Our top tips for tourists hoping to come to Bali
Book now! There are some great deals to be had, and many of them are extended well into 2021 so you can plan well ahead. The deals will start to disappear once Bali re-opens, so get in early.
Choose Canggu. It is the place with the most bars and restaurants open due to its large expat community, so it still feels lively.
Embrace the peace. This is a great opportunity to explore a serene, peaceful Bali and see it in a whole new light. But leave any expectations of wild partying at home for now.
But also leave your concerns about it being a ghost town at home. Bali is far from empty! You’ll have no problem finding bars and restaurants with a bit of well ventilated, socially distanced life in them.
In the unlikely case the worst happens, ensure you have good international travel insurance. And please take care – although Bali has a low incidence of COVID-19 and plenty of opportunities to be outdoors and away from crowds, you should still take care to wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing.
Last of all – relax, have fun, and enjoy this rare opportunity to see Bali at its most unspoilt.
When will Bali re-open?
Although Bali re-opened to domestic tourists at the end of July, and has shown encouraging COVID results since then, as yet, there is no clear indicator on when Bali will re-open to international tourists, with the government backtracking on its initial target of September. Bali has been closed since 20 March 2020, with all Visas on Arrival suspended, which means entry is only granted to those with official long stay visas (such as KITAS and KITAP), and some classes of essential workers. All arrivals must also present a negative PCR test, a statement of purpose, a statement from a sponsor who will be responsible for the traveller, and must fill out an application form. For more details on documentation please contact your nearest Indonesian Embassy.
Indications are that Bali may re-open to tourists in December, as this is a peak tourist season, but this is not yet official. Other sources claim that the island is not expected to open to international tourists until 2021. The government has reiterated that their intent is to flatten the curve prior to reopening.
For more information on COVID discounts in Canggu & Seminyak click here.
For more information on things to do in Bali click here.
To find out the 10 must do day trips in Bali click here.
For more informaton on where to stay in Bali click here.