Nyepi, Bali’s annual day of silence, is a very special time to visit. For 24 hours, the island completely shuts down, including the airport and ports. While hospitals and police maintain a skeleton service, travelers are only allowed to leave their accommodation in the case of a medical emergency.
What is Nyepi?
Nyepi runs from 6am until 6am on a date dictated by Bali’s lunar calendar, usually in March. For the Balinese Hindus who make up the majority of the island’s population, this is a time for silent contemplation at home, with neither cooking nor electric light allowed. Staying indoors without showing light is believed to ensure that demons leave the island, and traditional security guards patrol to make sure no one ventures out.
Consider Taking a Break
If the prospect of staying quietly in your hotel for 24 hours fills you with dread, then the Nyepi break is a great opportunity to visit Muslim-dominated islands for a couple of days. Ijen, Lombok, and the Gilis are all popular Nyepi getaways.
Don’t Go Outside
The Balinese take Nyepi extremely seriously, and traditional security guards are entitled to fine or even arrest visitors who go out on the streets.
Check Whether You Are Allowed Light
Service in large hotels continues much as normal over Nyepi, although with reduced staffing levels and strict lighting limits. If you’re staying in a villa or a guesthouse, check whether you will be allowed to use lights or electronic devices at night. Some village councils are extremely strict and will object to so much as a charging light, while others are a little more relaxed and will let you use lights behind blinds or go into the garden to use the pool.
Confirm Whether the Internet Is On
An increasing number of Indonesian ISPs turn off the internet on Bali for the 24 hours of Nyepi, as do many mobile-data providers. Ask at your accommodation whether you will have internet access over the period.
Stock Up on Food
All shops and businesses close for Nyepi. If you’re staying in a villa or a guesthouse that doesn’t offer food service, be sure to stock up on everything you might need for the 24 hours, including food and drinking water. Many cafés and restaurants offer prepackaged meals.
Enjoy the Parades
If you’ve chosen to stay on Bali over the Nyepi period, make the most of the parades that enliven the run-up. The Tanah Lot Temple is a classic place to watch the melasti ritual and procession, while the football field in central Ubud hosts a colorful parade of the homemade demons known as ogoh-ogoh.
Make the Most of the Silence
If you’ve opted to spend Nyepi on Bali, enjoy the silence and absence of light pollution. Floating in your pool under a starlit sky is a fantastic way to spend the dark of the night—if the property where you are staying allows it—while many yoga lovers use the time to meditate.