Bali’s Recent Strict Rules for Tourists
Planning a trip to Bali? Stay in the know about the island’s latest regulations for tourists with this comprehensive guide to the new rules.
In December 2022, the government approved a set of new laws that are expected to come into effect in late 2025. From stricter motorcycle rental requirements to accommodation restrictions, understanding these changes will ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit. It’s important to note that regulations frequently change, so be sure to check the official government website for the most current information.
The Importance of Understanding the New Rules
Bali’s introduction of new laws for tourists stems from a desire to strike a balance between welcoming travellers and preserving the island’s cultural and environmental integrity. Over the years, Bali has experienced rapid tourism growth, which has brought both economic benefits and challenges. These laws are a proactive response to address some of these challenges.
Becoming familiar with these new laws prior to embarking on your trip to Bali will ensure that you don’t encounter any surprises upon arrival. Not following the new laws could result in penalties such as fines, travel bans, or deportation.
Stricter Tourist Motorcycle Rentals
Rental Restrictions and Licensing
Bali’s recent regulations regarding motorcycle rentals for tourists represent a crucial step towards prioritising safety on the island’s roads. With the surge in tourism, there has been a parallel increase in motorcycle-related incidents involving tourists. To address this concern, Bali will mandate that visitors possess either an international driving permit or a valid motorcycle licence from their home country to rent a motorcycle. Driving without a licence is an offence punishable by up to four months in prison or a fine of IDR1 million (US$67.84). This requirement ensures that riders are adequately trained and familiar with traffic rules in an effort to reduce the risk of accidents.
Safety Concerns and Reckless Behaviour
Rental agencies are now also obliged to provide proper helmets and conduct comprehensive safety briefings before releasing the vehicle to the customer. These measures not only demonstrate Bali’s commitment to safeguarding tourists but also reflect a broader dedication to responsible tourism practices. By setting these standards, Bali aims to create a safer environment for all road users while allowing visitors to explore the island with confidence and peace of mind.
Cohabitation Between Unmarried Couples
Legal Changes and Implications
According to the new criminal code, extra-marital cohabitation offences will be prosecuted if reported by a spouse, parent or child, with penalties of up to one year in jail. The key here lies in the reporting element, as only reports by these family members will be considered.
Tourists’ Exemption From the Law
The good news for tourists is that the new rules regarding cohabitation for unmarried couples will not apply to tourists, the governor of Bali confirmed. It’s still advised to demonstrate cultural sensitivity with respect to these laws to ensure a smooth and respectful experience while visiting Bali, particularly when interacting with local residents.
Restricted to Licensed Accommodations Only
With the implementation of the revised regulations, visitors will be limited to lodging exclusively at officially registered hotels and villas. These lodgings must receive official recognition and approval from the appropriate Bali authorities. The use of unregistered accommodations, including unlicensed Airbnb rentals, guesthouses, or bed-and-breakfast establishments, is categorically forbidden. Transgressing this rule can result in severe repercussions, with authorities having the ability to initiate investigations and conduct raids as part of enforcement actions. Ensure that you seek out registered properties, such as by booking popular hotels in Bali.
Reasons Behind the Restriction
This law has been enacted to address the issue of accommodations evading mandatory tax payments. Restricting tourists to staying exclusively in registered hotels and villas means the government can ensure that every hospitality business fulfils its tax obligations fairly.
No Tourism Activities in the Mountains and Volcanoes
Proposed Ban on Mountain Tourism
The governor of Bali has proposed to ban tourism activities on mountains or volcanoes for foreign and domestic tourists, underscoring the island’s commitment to safety and environmental preservation. With several active volcanoes, including the renowned Mount Agung, it has become imperative to minimise potential risks to both tourists and the environment. These new rules prohibit activities such as hiking, trekking, and camping on these volcanic peaks and sacred sites.
Incidents Leading to the Proposed Ban
This proposed ban is rooted in the desire to prevent accidents and preserve the sanctity of these areas following ongoing tourist misbehaviour in these areas. Tourists are instead encouraged to explore alternative attractions and activities that offer equally enriching experiences while minimising potential hazards.
Upcoming Tourist Tax
Bali’s new tourist tax is a recent initiative aimed at funding sustainable development and maintaining vital infrastructure. Collected upon departure, it supports projects ranging from environmental conservation to cultural preservation and enhanced tourism facilities. The tax is IDR 150,000 (approx. US$10) per person per visit and applies to visitors of all ages. This tax showcases a commitment to responsible tourism, ensuring the long-term well-being of both Bali and its visitors. While it represents an added cost for tourists, it allows them to actively contribute to the island’s sustainable future.
Behave Respectfully or Risk Being Deported
Importance of Cultural Respect
Cultural respect in Bali is of paramount importance, as the island’s identity and way of life are deeply intertwined with its rich and diverse culture. Bali’s culture, characterised by its unique blend of Hinduism, art, music, dance, and tradition, is the lifeblood of the island. It is not just a set of practices but a philosophy that governs every aspect of daily life, from religious rituals to community events. Understanding and respecting Balinese customs and traditions is not merely a courtesy; it is a way to show appreciation for the depth of their cultural heritage and to maintain the delicate balance between the influx of tourism and the preservation of Bali’s identity. Tourists who engage with the culture through participation in ceremonies, supporting local artisans, and showing reverence for spiritual sites contribute to the sustainable preservation of Bali’s heritage. Cultural respect is not only a sign of appreciation but also a means to help ensure that the beauty of Bali’s culture endures for generations to come.
Consequences of Disrespectful Behaviour
Disrespectful behaviour in Bali can have significant consequences, both for the individuals involved and for the local community. Engaging in behaviours that disregard or insult Bali’s traditions, such as dressing immodestly in sacred places or showing disregard for local customs, can lead to substantial fines or even deportation. Disrespectful actions can disrupt the serenity and harmony of the island, impacting the tranquillity of religious ceremonies, cultural events, and daily life. It is essential for visitors to recognise that their actions can have far-reaching effects, from offending the local population to diminishing the cultural authenticity and appeal of Bali as a travel destination.
Working or Overstaying Without Proper Permit
Legal Requirements for Foreign Tourists
Bali’s new regulations regarding working or overstaying without a proper permit are crucial steps to maintain legal compliance and protect both foreign tourists and the integrity of the local workforce. Foreign tourists are now required to obtain the appropriate visa and work permit if they wish to engage in any form of employment on the island. The legal requirements ensure that individuals entering the workforce in Bali do so in a manner that is fair and lawful, respecting both the local labour market and the rights of foreign workers.
Penalties for Overstaying or Working Without Permit
Penalties for overstaying without a permit may include a fine of IDR 1,000,000 (~US$63) per day of delay. Travellers also risk deportation, bans on re-entry, or imprisonment for up to 5 years if you fail to pay the requisite fines. These rules underscore the importance of adhering to Bali’s immigration regulations, promoting a harmonious and lawful environment for both residents and visitors alike.
Those working without a permit or working in violation of their permit risk deportation, entry or exit bans, restrictions on their permit, residence restrictions within Indonesia, a maximum fine of IDR 500,000,000 (~US$31,500) or imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years.
Total Island Lockdown on Nyepi
Significance of Nyepi
Nyepi, or the “Day of Silence,” holds profound significance in Bali, Indonesia, both spiritually and culturally. This annual Hindu observance marks the Balinese New Year, providing a sacred pause for introspection, self-renewal, and spiritual cleansing. The ritual of Melasti, symbolising the cleansing of sacred objects and souls, is followed by the day of silence to trick malevolent spirits into leaving Bali. This unique celebration fosters cultural identity, community unity, and environmental conservation, making Nyepi a cherished and distinctive cultural treasure of the Balinese people.
Tourist Restrictions During Nyepi
During Nyepi, the island comes to a standstill, as everyone refrains from engaging in any physical activities, offering prayers and meditation to purify the mind and spirit. Throughout Nyepi, which spans 24 hours, tourists are required to stay within their accommodations and refrain from venturing out into the streets. While the electricity stays on in most places, you should not engage in any entertainment, work, travel, lighting fires, making noise or playing music, which are all prohibited on this day. Public services and the airport are closed during this period, so make sure to plan in advance and book flights at optimal times. Also, be sure to purchase groceries and supplies beforehand to ensure you’re well-equipped for the day. These measures are in place to ensure that the local customs are not disrupted and to uphold the solemnity of the day.
Payments Using Indonesian Standard QR Codes
Currency and Payment Regulations
The Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard, usually abbreviated to QRIS, is a standardised QR Code that Bank Indonesia has approved for payments in Indonesia. The key difference between QRIS and the QR codes currently used by the industry is that all payment transactions can be facilitated by one QR code, namely QRIS, even when using different payment instruments. It lets customers make payments using interoperable digital banking and electronic wallet apps.
Five ASEAN countries, namely, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, have agreed to cooperate on ASEAN cross-border payment using QR codes. International tourists visiting Bali from these ASEAN countries can simply scan the QRIS code displayed in Balinese merchant stores and purchase goods and services with funds from their local bank account at a competitive exchange rate.
Compulsory Guided Visits to Tourist Attractions
Importance of Tour Guides
Bali’s new rule requiring licensed tour guides for certain attractions aims to enhance the visitor experience and preserve the island’s cultural and natural heritage. This regulation promotes a more sustainable and culturally respectful tourism experience, ensuring visitors can fully appreciate Bali’s attractions while preserving its delicate ecosystems and heritage.
Benefits of Having a Licensed Tour Guide
Tour guides offer valuable insights and are able to easily navigate crowded areas, facilitate cultural interactions, and help regulate tourist flow. As tour guides are often locals, they can also provide suggestions for additional sites in the area to explore and recommendations for dining, accommodation, and other tips that only a local knows.
Rideshare Services Strictly Prohibited in Designated Bali Areas
Bali’s recent regulations strictly prohibiting rideshare services in designated areas serve to maintain the integrity of the island’s local transportation industry. This measure aims to support local taxi drivers and traditional transportation providers.
Alternative Transportation Options
To accommodate tourists, alternative transport options are readily available. Visitors can utilise established taxi services, rent a car or bicycle, or opt for ride-hailing alternatives offered by local companies that adhere to these regulations. Additionally, Bali boasts a well-developed network of public buses and minibuses, providing reliable and affordable transportation throughout the island. These new rules not only preserve the livelihoods of local drivers but also ensure that visitors have access to a diverse range of transportation choices, enhancing their overall experience on the island.