The island of Bali has been a sacred and special place of Indonesia for centuries but thanks to Eat, Pray, Love, the holy island has seen a boom in tourism. Thanks to its tropical atmosphere and leafy terrain, Bali is a nature enthusiast's paradise.
With Bali being Indonesia's busiest island, it's important for tourists to be aware of the Balinese New Year: Nyepi. Nyepi lasts for 24 hours and is seen as a day of silence and self-discovery. From March 25-March 26 this year (Wednesday to Thursday), the Balinese use this day for purification — to rid of evil spirits and bad thoughts and welcome a cleansed and pure new energy to themselves and the island.
Incase any tourists believe their vacation is an exception to this peaceful holiday, they'd be mistaken. There are rules that everyone on the island (including tourists) need to abide by to create a successful Nyepi.
Everything Will Be Closed
Unlike other well-populated cities that cater to tourists, most things in Bali will be closed to honor Nyepi. Restaurants, convenient stores, and even cabs will not be in service for 24 hours. To prepare for the sacred day, buy food in advance that you'll be able to re-heat and stock up on beverages if you're staying in a hotel.
But it's not just restaurants tourists will need to plan around. If travelers are going to use this day to explore the island or the surrounding villages, they'd be wise to pick another day because traveling is prohibited. Even the airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar) will be closed to pay tribute to the day of self-reflection.
Tuck Those Phones Away
Another rule attached to Nyepi is there should be no use of electricity or entertainment. While this rule can't be enforced by the government, it's recommended to turn those TVs off, tuck those phones away, and be still with one's self.
After all, this is a day to quiet the mind and become more in tune with the Balinese culture. Taking a break from aimless scrolling on social media or watching Bravo is a nice break for our eyes and minds. Use this downtime for meditation, journaling, and being gentle with yourself.
There Will Be No Internet On The Island
In the entry above we said that the Bali government can't regulate who's using entertainment or not but they do go above and beyond to get people aboard what they're trying to instill.
As of 2018, the city started switching their Internet services off for a full 24 hours, meaning if you're a tourist who needs their phone for accommodations, pickups, or just general communication — this is your warning. Some hotels will still have their WiFi intact but it's best to do your research before the city goes dark.
Don't Run From The Monsters
Depending on when you arrive in Bali, you'll notice that each village has a large sculpture of a monster. As you bike, walk, or drive along, you'll realize that each monster differs from the other. Each monster (or ogoh-ogoh) represents the bad spirits lurking in the village.
By placing the monsters outside of their village, it encourages the negative influences to leave to make room for new, more positive ones. The week leading up to Nyepi will also be filled with Melasti ceremonies. These ceremonies revolve around "purification rituals," so don't be alarmed if you see people scattering special artifacts or gathering in larger groups.
The Day Before Nyepi Is Where All The Fun Is
As a tourist, it would be a shame to leave before Nyepi happens because the day before prior is when all the fun starts. With monster sculptures out in front of the villages, locals will head to their respective temples to pray before heading home to create some noise.
Known as "pengrupukan," (or, noisy day) locals will go home and cause a racket using pots and pans to drive bad spirits out of their homes and bodies. Once the noise at home is done, a parade is done with the village's monsters. If you can't partake in the day of noise and are leaving the island, be aware of slowdowns and traffic because the streets will be filled!