September 29th Update: After plans emerged to turn Bali into a sandbox for vaccinated visitors, more details are emerging, many of which are encouraging. Four countries would initially be allowed to visit. Read up to hear the latest.

Previously announced plans by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to reopen Bali for tourism in July came and went. So too did August, and September, but a limited travel reopening in October may finally be “real”.

Bali, the land of Gods as its known, is top drawer for any bucket list. It’s remote, exotic, full of culture, nature, and the food people travel thousands of miles for. Unfortunately it’s also been closed to most international visitors for quite a while due to low rates of covid-19 vaccination and alarming case rates.

Those have finally dropped from highs in the 40,000 cases per day to circa 3,000, with an additional 10% of the population being vaccinated every 30-40 days now.

Green shoots are now appearing, as vaccinations begin to hit critical numbers, and that means Indonesia and its islands, such as Bali and Bintan, are looking to finally reopen. Initial reopening plans seem more cautious than previously discussed, and may leave out much of the west.

Bali’s Latest Travel Reopening Plans

Indonesia is actively looking to reopen borders for foreign visitors and is focusing all efforts on October, particularly for key tourism destinations, like Bali, which could act as a travel “sandbox”, without bringing great risk to major cities like Jakarta.

Previous tourism related announcements indicated all vaccinated visitors would be welcome to return to Bali, but recent statements from Indonesian Investment Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, suggest regional partners will likely come first, before Europeans, Americans, Brits and other major visitor groups.

If the minister’s statements are accurate, Indonesia would initially look at reopening Bali in October 2021 to visitors from: Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. It’s possible this could represent a brief trial period, ahead of a wider reopening for the December-January period, which is essential to Balinese tourism.

Recent increases in vaccination success are creating new enthusiasm to open up borders, and for the first time since the pandemic began, this includes support from the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. Widodo sees the reopening of tourism as a key economic driver in Indonesia’s recovery.

Indonesian officials have taken the last few months to invite tourism and transport ministers from a variety of key tourism partners to sample the cleanliness measures and protocols in place on the islands, to help encourage countries to label Indonesia as ‘safe’ for a visit.

If you’re eager to visit Indonesia from October, Bali, Batam and Bintan appear to be the key focus areas of the government.

Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan says the islands are nearly ready to welcome back visitors, and final details on protocols and visitor requirements are expected soon. No quarantine is expected for visitors to Bali, but full vaccination status will almost certainly be essential.

Here’s a list of countries opening doors to anyone with proof of vaccination.

Expats and digital nomads who remained in Bali during covid-19 attracted scorn the world over for flaunting local covid-19 restrictions. Fines imposed are significant to the local population, but at around $7 in western currency, many visitors were choosing to pay, rather than do their part to wear masks and obey other measures.

As part of current planning to welcome back international visitors, fines would jump to $70 on the spot, and deportation would be on the table for subsequent offenses by all visitors.

Bali: Reading Between The Lines

First it was September 11th, 2020 for a reopening date, then before the new year, and here we are late into the third quarter of that “great new year”, but finally with a “firm” idea of when Bali will reopen. Maybe.

Authorities now suggest Bali may really open in October, but Tourism Ministers previously said July, and previously said 2020. In the end, late autumn 2021 is seeming likely, ahead of peak season.

If you’re reading between the lines, Bali is very likely to open key tourism areas to select vaccinated travelers by the end October, and likely a wider sampling, hopefully including US, UK and European visitors by the end fo the year.

Planning trips for the final quarter of 2021 or into 2022, particularly if you’ve been vaccinated, seems like a fair bet right now, but not one without risks. When you do go, be sure to follow these essential tips for Bali, so you don’t miss a thing.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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38 Comments

  1. Thanks for the information, Gib. My wife and I are supposed to visit in October and getting an idea where things stand and where they’re heading helps a lot.

  2. How safe would you say it is to make reservations for October? My husband and I are both vaccinated. Bali was high on our list for a 3-week vacation. I started to get the feeling that 2021 might be out, but after reading your article I’m more hopeful. There’s renewed hope (I hope)!
    Thanks!

  3. Hi Gib,
    My husband and I are supposed to visit this June for our honeymoon. If we are US passport holders, do we need a visa to enter? We are also fully vaccinated.

    1. Hey Sarah, Bali (Indonesia) hasn’t yet specified exactly what the protocol will be. When they open, likely Americans will be able to visit as before, where visa on arrival is easy and sorted, or not at all. Fully vaccinated I’d think you stand a strong chance for entry by June! Will absolutely update when Bali makes things official. Congratulations, btw!

  4. hello dear Gilbert
    I want to visit Bali on August so I want to see Bali for culture and food I wonder that what is going there about restaurant restrictions and famous culture centres ( Tegalalang rice fields waterfalls temples etc. ). Bali can allow to visit their cities ? so Gilbert what about hotels are they following covid 19 rules ? what does government think about local people because it effected to all local business ?
    many thanks from now

      1. Thanks for replyGil. Yes, watching closely, and it’s looking positive. And thankfully both vaccinated. Really really missing Asia, it’s simplicity and lovely way of life. Feel bad for all those lovely people out of work through lack of tourists. Fingers crossed.

  5. We are supposed to travel from the UK to Bali and Lombok in December 2021, I was fearing it was highly unlikely but now I have a glimmer of hope

  6. Hi Gilbert,
    Thanks for the update.
    We have 14 days planned in July and we already have a first injection and should have the second one before we travel. Would you say it will be opened by then. We travel from Dublin

  7. Hello Gilbert

    I have been reading the comments and have to say i have hope that reopening will happen in June my husband and I have booked a flight for June 9th and we have been going back and forth on what’s to happen. Do you think bali will reopen by June should we apply for a visa?

  8. Used to go there every other weekend when I lived in Singapore. Does anyone know what life is like on the ground for people in Bali at the moment? I don’t really understand how anyone is managing to survive without tourism income.

    1. @Joe – My wife and I befriended our driver who has showed us around Bali half a dozen times. In short, things aren’t good. Some people have had to sell family land to survive and money is very tight all around. For our part, we help out a little but we’re simply not in a position to offer massive assistance. Some variety of Covid shot has been offered for the past month or so but I’m not sure which and I feel it would be impolite to ask lest it look condescending. We’re scheduled to visit this Fall and I’m certain that your going as would be most welcome to the Balinese.

  9. Any info about raja ampat..(West papua) i was suppose to be around there in september 2020 now 2021..finishing my trip in bali i have till july to report to 2022.. i will have two shots but my childre probably only one unfortunately..

    1. Raja Ampat is open now anyone can get business visas very easily to enter Indonesia.

      BTW what a destination seriously mega super amazing place nice choice

  10. Hi Gilbert, Nick here in rainy U.K. in need of Bali – I do worry about infections rising here – even if we do all get vaccinated. That notwithstanding, I have our family holiday booked for October 17th flying from London :- since your comments above do you still think a holiday is a fair bet at this time of year assuming we are all vaccinated? Thanks for all your various, helpful articles since the start of Covid.

  11. Bali wont be open any time soon. I’m here now and like they say its the best place to be during the pandemic. Just get a business visa easy to get for £200 (ask if you need help) but must quarantine in Jakarta for 5 days on arrival then fly down to Bali.

    1. Hi Rob,

      That’s a good update. Obvs you are in biz there and got a visa. We have booked for November so hopefully we will get in vis Singapore direct to dps. Sounds like they are trying to get tourists back in, even if it is for later in the year. Unlike Thailand, not tricking people into booking holiday and changing the goalposts. Can’t wait to get back there. Been in touch with friends in canggu, locals, and say it’s still low nos of tourists. Where do you live, out of interest?
      Pls keep posting, it’s a very useful update. Appreciated by this readership, am sure.

  12. I wonder if the author lives here, or he’s just being misleading. The $7 fine he’s talking about is for not wearing a mask on your motor scooter. It’s not about keeping other people safe from Covid– it’s next to impossible to infect someone riding your motorbike down the road– it’s about the police making a few extra Rupiah.

  13. Thanks for the update. I live in Jakarta and plan to head overseas during June. Am wondering what the chances of being able to re-enter the country via Denpasar and then jump on a domestic flight home would be. Would save me five days’ mandatory (and self-funded) quarantine. Maybe book a couple of nights at a Bali hotel, and then quietly slip away…..?

  14. Hi Gilbert!
    My fiance is Filipino and I (US citizen) have not seen him since Covid started in Asia ='( We can both get into Bali visa free, and my break from college is Sept 1-22. I have been hearing whispers this week that the requirements will be 5 day quarantine, negative test 72hr before, and another test at the airport, have you seen any official updates confirming? Philippines is short on vaccines, so my fiance cannot get one, so hopefully that does not develop!

    Thank you, have a lovely day!
    Kyler and John

  15. i want to go Indonesia 25/8/2021. i want visa stay in the indonesia three months.
    how to go Indonesia 25/8/2021 and return back 29/10/2021. i want your sajison,
    which travel i am book my ticket. can you give me travels agent nomber and mail adress.

  16. i want to go Indonesia 25/8/2021. i want visa stay in the indonesia three months.
    how to go Indonesia 25/8/2021 and return back 29/10/2021. i want your sajison,
    which travel i am book my ticket. can you give me travels agent nomber and mail adress. please sir give reply, i am waiting your reply.

  17. The Indonesian government is sending some seriously mixed signals: They say that international tourism is extremely important but that Bali should stop relying on it; they’re providing vaccines to the Balinese but the ones they’re providing don’t have very high levels of protection; they say they want people to get tested but the price for testing is about US$32 when the price in India, for example, is about US$6.60. $32 is a giant amount of money in Bali.

  18. My wife (EU) and I (indonesian) live in europe and plan to visit bali on October. We’re still waiting for the border to open (atm foreigners who are abroad indonesia cannot apply for visas). Hopefully 1st or 2nd week of september the border will be reopen (airasia indonesia postponed flights till 6th of september). Finger crossed

  19. Yesterday’s announcement allowing tourists from 4 countries including England and Germany. Could this mean we might get there in November yet?

  20. Maldives has been open for tourism since July 2020 before there was any vaccine. Take a look at the numbers and the death rate per million is less in the Maldives (420) is less than in Indonesia (514). Even the WHO came out with a comment (last year) that continuing to keep your borders closed once the virus has spread is only causing hardship. Meanwhile Indonesian politicians are so afraid to open to vaccinated travelers. They opened for China and New Zealand who will not even let their own citizens travel. Real intelligent. The other day Norway completely ended all restrictions and asked that people take personal responsibility. What a concept – I make decisions about my own life instead of putting them in the hands of an incompetent politician.

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