Category

Guides

Category

Underwater sculptures in Bali: unveiling the Ocean Galleries

The underwater sculptures around Bali are sending a strong message about sustainable ocean exploration and ecotourism; two concepts that thrill us to no end. Amed, Permuteran, Nusa Dua, Gili Meno and Lombok are just some of the locations where you can spot underwater sculptures while snorkelling or diving in Bali. For those of you who have seen these images in inflight magazines and felt intrigued, here is the story behind the aquatic exhibition.

The living sculptures are art with a purpose – they create new habitats for marine life, helping the recovery of the destroyed coral reefs, but are also works of art that attract diving and snorkelling ecotourism.

Coral Reefs are Rain Forests of the Ocean

Coral reefs are living animal colonies that provide nesting places for fish and other under water creatures. They are important elements of our oceans’ eco systems and if destroyed, the fish will look for housing elsewhere and reduce food and tourism for the locals.

Local communities in Bali are largely dependent on fishing and tourism that revolves around coral reefs. On top of that, just like in other places around the Coral Triangle, coral reefs in Bali have been significantly threatened by the impact of development, bombing, cyanide fishing, and pollution.

Lack of planning and effectively managing threats against coral reefs is an on-going challenge throughout the country. People on the island are becoming more and more aware of the importance of preserving the marine resources and ecotourism looks like a good place to start. Travellers looking to reduce their overall impact on the island should investigate environmentally responsible luxury villas & resorts.

Bombed Coral Head
This mass used to be a living coral before it was bombed to catch fish by the locals, photo by Mike Veitch

Many organisations and hotels have started to assist recovery of the coral reefs in their neighbourhood, by placing artificial reef structures in the sea to stabilize the rubble of damaged corals.

Living sculptures raise awareness and support media outreach

There are many such underwater sculptures around the world, in tropical areas like Mexico and Central America. They serve as nurseries for fish and regenerate their eco systems, but also act as interesting diving sites, giving support to local community by increasing tourist activities.

For more detailed information on underwater installations in Mexico, how they were made, and what they inspire in you, take a peak at this video below.

One of the organisations that has been building the living sculptures around Bali in the past five years is the Marine Foundation, a non profit from the UK. They work directly with environmentalists and the local communities, such as The Coral Alliance, Reef Check Indonesia, Gili Eco Trust and Karang Lestari Foundation.

The impact of the living sculptures on conservation efforts is already being recognized by stakeholders and the local community.

Most of all, the living sculptures “have good media outreach that helps spread awareness and facilitates our work” says Naneng Setiasih from Reef Check Indonesia.

Pemuteran Underwater Gallery

The western part of Bali has the oldest coral gardens, which consist of several sculptures: the Coral Goddess, Bicycles and Permuteran Animals. The Coral Goddess even received the UNDP award for sustainability in 2011. These sculptures are constructed with a unique invention bio-rock method using solar panel electricity to stimulate coral growth.

In this video, you can find the story of many years of successful work by the Karang Lestari Foundation, regenerating coral reefs with the Bio Rock method.

Sculpture of the bicycles which has well developed corals growing on it, located in Permuteran. Photo by Jeremy Ferris
Sculpture of the bicycles located in Permuteran, which have well developed coral growth. Photo by Jeremy Ferris.

To support the ecotourism, take a guided dive of the projects, leave a legacy of their name in the gardens by sponsoring a coral program or take a bio rock PADI specialty course.

This beautiful island hosts three living sculptures: Manta ray, Deus ex Machina and Tugu Dragon. Ecotourism helps support Gili Eco Trust by calling out to tourists to pay the eco tax, or if you want to make your trip more fun, take a photo riding on the Deus Motorbike underwater. Guided dives trough the coral gardens are also available upon request.

The Tugu Dragon is located in the ocean front of Tugu Hotel in Sire, Lombok. To visit the living sculpture and see the progress of growth of corals, you can take an energetic swim or a boat ride to the floating pontoon.

Amed, Jemeluk Bay Underwater Gallery

The area of Amed on the East of Bali has the most diverse underwater coral gallery, which includes an underwater post office, a mermaid sponsored by the Body Shop, Ganesha, Hanoman and a baby’s head. The first living sculpture installed in this space of the sea is a structure of mailbox, through which divers can send postcards in zipped plastic bags. The structure was created by Balinese artist, Wayan Winten, and was placed in 2011.

Sculpture of baby’s head located in Amed, sponsored by PATA foundation, by Eddie Prabandono
Sculpture of baby’s head located in Amed, sponsored by PATA foundation, by Eddie Prabandono

Two other smaller pieces – in the shape of Ganesha and Hanoman characters – were placed by the local community in a nearby spot early in 2013. A new statue in the shape of baby’s head was added to the Jemeluk Bay underwater gallery on 23th of May 2014. The sculpture was created by Eddie Prabandono as a part of his Luz Series sponsored by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Amed is now in the process of sustainable development and getting more and more popular as a diving spot. The area has been declared a no fishing zone to assist in raising awareness of both the local community and the tourists.

For more visual material from the underwater sculptures around Bali, interesting photography and a short movie presentation about the procedure of installing the sculptures in Amed, take a look at this short film by The Marine Foundation:

10 profound places to find the spirit of yoga in Bali

There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.”

Yoga might have originated in India hundreds of years ago, but it’s the beautiful island of Bali that’s become the yogi’s preferred destination in the region.

It’s the texture of spirituality, as much as the physical beauty of the island, that makes Bali an ideal sanctuary for learning and practicing yoga.

It offers the perfect balance between the possibilities for connecting with the yogi community and the right to privacy when you’d rather retreat into silence.

A burgeoning of sensational yoga establishments in Bali over the past two decades has dramatically changed the cast of characters who come to Ubud. New aged pilgrims, from diverse backgrounds, come seeking asylum from an impetuous life to retreat within the verdant landscape of Bali – to connect with a greater power.

The sense of true inner peace found in Bali’s light breezes resonates from the daily rituals and humble devotion of its people. The Balinese people practice Bhakti, an unconditional gratitude for life that permanently resides in the heart.

Here, the art of yoga is a way of living, and they say it has to be “caught” rather than learned.

So here are 10 of Bali’s best yoga studios where you can seek the spirit of yoga.

#1 The Yoga Barn, Ubud

yoga_barn

The Yoga Barn is Ubud’s most popular yoga mecca among spiritual seekers and vegans. The onsite Garden Kafe serves living vegan foods, the sophisticated in-law of raw foods.

It is located among lush green rice fields and beautiful mountain scenery. It is also on the door step of ubuds prime shopping location with a plethora of boutique shops to choose from. Finish the day in one of their flower baths in the KUSH spa. Devine!

This is a place to connect with the masses. Classes run throughout the day, held in large studios. So if you prefer your yoga in an intimate group setting, then the herd mentality here might overwhelm.

The Yoga Barn
Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar
+62 361 971236

#2 Radiantly Alive, Ubud

This yoga studio is often compared to The Yoga Barn.

The eco-hip concepts are similar, except Radiantly Alive has only two yoga studio, the classes are smaller and more intimate but – and this is a big but for yogis on a budget – it’s pricier. Not for the yogi who makes a living selling dream catchers.

Each treatment is tailored for your individual needs and is composed of the most powerful and direct methods to heal, restore and improve your Radiance. The place does exactly what it says on the tin!

Radiantly Alive
Jalan Jembawan No. 3, Padangtegal, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar
+62 361 978055

#3 Intuitive Flow, Ubud

Yoga teacher Linda Madani is known for being emotionally intense, occasionally bursting into tears in the middle of her studio. First timers either love her approach, which involves lots of chanting that’s intended to heal the spirit, or they find themselves wishing they could leave.

It’s certainly an authentic and alternative experience that takes a “let it all out” approach to healing as opposed to those eerie silent journeys of other studios.

Intuitive Flow
Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Penestanan Kaja, Ubud
+62 361 977824

#4 Prana Spa Bali, Seminyak

Yoga classes at Prana Spa Bali is for the lady who prefers a luxe spa treatment after her yoga session. Serious yogis might have something to say about this. Along the lines of “Why have you come all the way to Bali to practice yoga in an indoor studio that looks like a Moroccan king’s harem after a furniture fire sale?”

The answer: Creative Power Flow and the Elemis fruit active glow facial.

Prana Spa Bali
Jln Kunti No.118 x, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung
+62 361 730840

#5 Taksu Yoga, Ubud

Taksu” is Balinese for “the indescribable essence of Spirit.” Our yogis and yoginis live yoga. They have dedicated their life path and intention to set a space for your awareness of the “Taksu” dwelling within.

Taksu Yoga & Movement Arts is great for private classes and intimate workshops. However the studio spaces aren’t roomy enough for group classes, so this is probably not the best place to take your tribe of 20.

Taksu Yoga
Ubud, Gianyar
+62 361 971490

#6 Power of Now Oasis, Sanur

yoga_sanur

The Power of Now Oasis appeals to the ocean loving yogi who wants to hear the sound of the waves breaking gently on the shore. In keeping with the holistic nautical theme, the studio is built entirely out of bamboo and shaped like a green turtle’s back.

Power of Now Oasis
Jl. Merta Sari, Denpasar Selatan
+62 878-6153-4535#7 High Vibe Yoga, Ubud

yoga_ubud

High Vibe Yoga is an excellent place for yoga retreats, workshops and 200 hour teacher training. In fact, education is their core purpose (you won’t find many classes here at all).

Group sizes are small and the studio has a casual atmosphere – all to make your learning experience easy.

#8 Shankari’s Yoga Retreat

yoga_5

Shankari’s Yoga Retreat separated itself from the Ubud and centrally located yoga cult, and placed itself in along the Sacred Balian river. It’s a beautiful part of Bali where development drops off drastically.

The black sand beaches and completely deserted coastlines are absolutely stunning. This is a great spot to lose your geographical sense of bearing.

Shankari’s Yoga Retreat
Jln. Denpasar – Gilimanuk, Desa Suraberata, Kecamatan Selemadeg Barat, Tabanan
+62 361 814993

#9 Desa Seni

desa_seni_bali
Desi Seni Eco village has breathtaking surroundings with their yoga shala set in the heart of it! From Angela’s goddess tantra retreat (not as naughty as it sounds) to their weekly guided meditation. It’s a one stop shop for a spiritual awakening.

Desa Seni
Jalan Subak Sari No.13, Canggu
+62 361 8446392

#10 Samadi

samadi_bali

Right in the heart of Canggu.
Samadi focuses on traditional Mysore Ashtanga yoga. Using teachers trained exclusively in Ashtanga to ensure you are getting the height of training!

Samadi
Jl. Padang Linjong, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
+62 812-3831-2505

Investing in Bali property: a guide to buying a slice of heaven

Its warm weather, stunning landscape and welcoming culture makes Bali one of the world’s most desirable places to live. Visitors just can’t seem to get enough of the glorious island, and more and more holidaymakers are either turning their short trips into permanent stays or securing holiday homes that they can retreat to whenever they feel the urge.

Luxurious villas by the ocean and comfortable family homes nestled in the mountains are being snapped up quickly, making Bali a hot spot not just for international home buyers looking for their own slice of heaven, but also for astute property investors.

Bali’s luxury property market is progressively attracting more and more property tycoons looking to cash in on capital gains and build a healthy property portfolio in a market that has seen rapid growth over the past few years.

For first time investors or those looking to get their hands on a beautiful home, understanding Indonesia’s complex and restrictive property laws can have its challenges. We are here to simplify the journey; with the right guidance and support, that shiny property portfolio or dreamy new home will soon be yours.

Photo credit to villa Upama

How to purchase property in Bali

Indonesian law places restrictions on the ability of foreigners to purchase property in Bali. These laws aim to keep ownership within Indonesia and protect the country’s booming economy. But it takes more than a few laws to ward off the entrepreneurial kind and a little further digging uncovers some completely legitimate methods to acquire property.

The Indonesian government recognises various rights concerning real estate, the three most relevant being:

  • The Right to Use (Hak Pakai)
  • The Right to Build (Hak Guna Bangunan)
  • The Right to Own (Hak Milik)

As long as the property is not part of government subsidised housing, foreigners are allowed to invest in commercial and residential real estate or property as an investment. However, because non-Indonesians may not actually own property (Hak Milik) under Indonesian law without the help of a nominee or under a foreign investment company structure, the most common way foreigners buy property in Bali is to have a leasehold agreement under the title of Hak Pakai (Right to Use). The land titles Hak Milik (Right to Own) and Hak guna Bangunan (Right to Build) are certainly more advantageous, but these are not available to foreigners on their own.

investing in Bali property: a slice of heaven
Photo credit bali mystique.com

Various ways foreigners can purchase their dream investment property in Bali

1) A leasehold investment (long term renting)

This is a long-term lease contract. Although the land title is not under the foreigner’s name and remains under the ownership of the original owner, the land can be rented for an initial period of around 25 years and can then be extended up to a period of 70 years. After the lease begins, the owner’s title of Hak Milik (Right to Own) will be legally transferred to the foreigner under the Hak Pakai title (Right to Use).

Under the lease contract the property is able to be sub-leased (rented out to other people). This is how many foreigners turn a leasehold property into a lucrative investment and source of passive income. For most investors, the beauty of a lease is that their focus is immediate cash flow and a passive income, allowing freedom from the burden of watching market conditions as the actual value of the property is of no huge concern. In a low market there will be an increased number of long-term renters, and in a high market when everyone is purchasing, there is still the benefit of short-term holiday rentals.

If the leasehold is not renewed once it expires, all rights go back to the original owner and it becomes a freehold Hak Milik property again.

2) A leasehold – mortgage investment structure

The most common method for a foreigner to acquire and control land in Indonesia is a combination of the above lease agreement and a first registered mortgage over the property, together with various ancillary documents.

This security structure is a system of contractual agreements between the foreign investor and the Hak Milik land owner (often a business partner of the foreign investor) which grants leasehold occupation and mortgage security rights to the foreigner over the property for the terms of the lease and mortgage. The system of documents consists of:

(a) Deed of Lease in Notarial Form executed before an Indonesian Notary in the Indonesian language. The leasehold interest is an unregistered interest in the land so the foreigner’s leasehold rights do not appear on the Hak Milik certificate of title as an encumbrance. However, the unregistered leasehold interest of the foreigner is a strong, secure and enforceable right of occupation will take priority over subsequent encumbrances on the Hak Milik title. While the actual term of a lease is not regulated under Indonesian law, Notaries in Bali will generally grant leases to foreigners in terms of 25 years so that the lease term accords with the government decreed 25 year term of the Hak Pakai title available to an eligible foreigner as a registered interest in Hak Milik land.

(b) Notarial Loan Agreement and First Registered Mortgage: as the Notarial Deed of Lease is an unregistrable interest in the land (so the interest will not appear as an encumbrance of the Hak Milik Title) in order for the foreign investor to lawfully retain the original freehold certificate of title as against the Indonesian Hak Milik owner (being the Indonesian business partner) and also prohibit the Indonesian business partner dealing in a transfer of the title, the foreign investor may be registered as a first ranking mortgagee of the property. The principal amount of the loan is often the acquisition value of the property funded by the foreign investor as lender.

(c) Business Partner Agreement and Irrevocable Power of Attorney: this deed regulates the rights and obligations of the foreign investor and the Indonesian business partner. The power of attorney is back up protection which can be used in limited circumstances for the foreign investor to transact the property without the involvement of the Indonesian business partner. Advice should be taken on the circumstances in which the power of attorney can be implemented.

(b) Testamentary Wills: the Indonesian business partner may devise the Freehold land by way of testamentary will to the foreign investor who must re-transfer the land to an eligible Indonesian within one year. The foreigners interests in the property, primarily long term lease and the mortgage, can also be left by way of Indonesian Will to the beneficiaries of the foreigner.

Bali property Investment: Indoor luxury
Photo Credit Tapja

Current market trends in Bali

Bali’s property market has seen exponential growth over the past few years. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, return on investment and capital gains on property in Bali were at an all time high.

The heavy demand and high volume of transactions over the past few years has seen property prices increase by an average of 20% in most areas, and up to about 40% in popular areas such as Seminyak and Canggu.

Despite these increases, investors are still jumping at the chance to buy property in Bali and are encouraged by positive market sentiment, the island’s worldwide popularity and Bali’s ever-increasing reputation as a leader in luxury accommodation.

According Gunawan the emerging markets are now in Jimbaran, Nusadua Bukit (South Kuta) and Tabanan Regency. He affirms, “land prices have soared in the Central Kuta area in places such as Seminyak and Petitenget, making it difficult for new investors to tap into the areaIt is hard to get a good return on the Central Kuta area because it is already highly developed. Investors are now shifting to South Kuta where there are still empty land blocks and reasonable property prices.”

Small-scale investors on a tighter budget are now branching out, heading further north to Tabanan or to islands off the coast of Bali, such as the pristine Gili Meno where you can still pick up a 2 bedroom property for $US100k.

Investing in Bali property: a luxury villa

Average Bali property prices 2014

Bali has extreme variations in property prices, ranging from the very low-end to the extraordinarily luxurious high-end. If you want a high-end villa right on the beach, be prepared to pay the same as you would in Australia or America. Bargains will more likely be found off the main drag, and opportunistic investors can even nab themselves an unfinished project to capitalise on.

According to Michael Gunawan of Ray White Kuta, if you are looking to buy a 2 bedroom villa on a 250m² block of land in downtown Seminyak, the freehold (for sale price) will set you back about $US500k. In Canggu, Jimbaran or Nusa Dua, you’re looking at about $US300k, in Denpasar City it drops to $US250k and Tabanan is an affordable $US100k.

To lease a property for 25 years (Hak Pakai- Right to Use), you will usually pay about half the freehold price.

bali villa investment: luxury bedroom
Credit homedsgn.com

Loans and Finance

It’s difficult for foreigners to acquire loans from Indonesian banks as properties are rarely registered under their name. Consequently, many foreigners pay in cash instalments.

For those determined to secure a local loan, the only way to do so is under a freehold through a nominee or company. For local loans on property developments, the project needs to be 70% complete, and for local loans on lease agreements, the leasing agreement will need to be put under the name of the bank.

A more viable option is to take out a loan through an international bank. There are local freelance agents and small businesses in Bali that help foreigners make the transaction and ensure a competitive interest rate.

Property Firms

There are numerous property firms to buy and sell property through in Bali. We recommend internationally recognized real estate agents that have branches all across Bali, as this guarantees that they understand the market of the entire island.

  • Ray White has offices in Pecatu and Kuta (where you can contact Michael Gunawan).
  • Elite Havens property consultancy firm is in partnership with Knight Frank. Ask for Matthew Georgeson.
Bali property firms
Photo credit Alila hotels

STEP BY STEP

So you’ve researched the market, organised finance and understand Bali’s property laws inside out and. What’s next?

  • Appoint an agent to help you search for your property and make sure your deal is safe.
  • Negotiate the price.
  • Put down a deposit. This is usually 10-30% of the property price.
  • Sign a letter of intent with the seller agreeing to the final payment price.
  • If using a nominee, sign the Power of Attorney agreement.
  • Collect your revised certificate and pay the notary 3% of the property price.

It may sound simple, but like anywhere in the world, acquiring property can get complicated. Here are a few hot tips to help you out.

1) Find out how motivated your seller is

To see how urgently the owner needs to sell the property and how likely they are to accept a lower price, ask the agent some important questions:

  • Has the seller already purchased a new home? If so, it is more likely they will want to have a short settlement period in order to quickly pay for the new taxes and expenses on their new property.
  • How long has the house been on the market?
  • How long will they leave it on the market if they don’t get their desired price?

Consider these questions but don’t be cheap and try to avoid making ‘low ball offers’. If it is a high quality piece of land or property and you see potential to make money, waiting around for a price that is far below current market value will only make sellers and agents move away from you. Worst of all, someone else who sees the same potential in the property will probably dive in and swipe it up. It’s far better to be realistic and get a quality property for a slightly higher price than risk missing out all together.

2) Sign an unconditional purchase contract

If you have a motivated seller who wants to move quickly, signing an unconditional purchase contract can give you an unbeatable edge, which is particularly helpful if there is a lot of competition. This contract means that your offer is not ‘subject to finance’ or any other conditions. Sellers are often willing to accept a lower offer if they know that you have guaranteed finance and can offer a short settlement period.

3) Build a relationship with property sales agents

The need for trust and loyalty in a buyer-agent relationship is mutual. An agent who has several interested buyers is likely to prefer selling to a buyer that they know and trust not to back out at the last minute.

Befriending an agent in the local area you wish to buy in will have a plethora of advantages including market insights, access to property listings before they are released to the public and potential for private property viewings – all of this giving you an edge over other buyers.

4) Hire an agent, appoint a notary and be specific!

It is not the investment that is risky; it is the investor who doesn’t have the adequate skills that makes an investment a high risk“~ Robert Kiyosaki, American Tycoon investor.

Gunwan stresses the importance of “appointing a professional property agent and a good notary for a clear and proper legal process.” A notary or lawyer is essential when land titles are involved to ensure the signing process is witnessed and the documents are verified under law.

Gunawan also suggests that foreigners must be very clear about the purpose of their Bali investment. When making decisions, remember to always stick to the basics: “location, land and looks“, and always consider the pros and cons of the property and then compare it to others that are similar.

Foreigners should also thoroughly understand and carefully select the choice of property title they are buying into. Is it a Freehold, Right of Use or Leasehold? An agent can help guide investors through this. Check the surrounding area and community of the desired property, and try to pre-empt any issues that could become a problem down the track. Consider having a building inspection and bank valuation done before purchasing the property as an added safety net.

Dream Villa Investment in Bali
Photo credit Architectural Digest

An Interview with Leading Bali property authority, Matthew Georgeson of Elite Havens

Matthew Georgeson is the head of Real Estate and a partner at Elite Havens, the largest villa rental company in Bali and a property consultancy firm in partnership with Frank Knight.

With 16 years of direct experience in the Indonesian property market, Matthew is a leading authority in the field. He was kind enough to give a moment of his busy schedule to HotInBali.com and share his words of wisdom

What do you see happening in the market?

Despite Bali’s property market seeing massive growth over the past few years, Matthew says that “it’s a tougher market now because there is a lot more competition, and consequently, yields are downHowever, transactions amongst the locals remain robust, simply because they can secure finance more easily.”

Matthew says a lot of Indonesians who purchased land around a decade ago, for somewhere around the $US200 mark, are now looking to sell because they don’t owe money and believe the property value has increased. As you would expect, this has greatly escalated property prices.

For standalone villas, which may or may not attract foreigners, there has been no great price reduction and liquidity is slow. A lot of people are paying record high prices then bulldozing the property and rebuilding. It’s not leaving much skin on the bone for the next buyer.

Despite the rise in property, Matthew assures us that Elite Havens, which specialises in exclusive, luxury property sales in Bali, is still doing extremely well. “We still have a lot of people buying very expensive, top of the shelf property,” he says, an obvious sign that despite price increases, some people still can’t resist buying a slice of heaven in Bali’s increasingly luxurious property market.

Matthew admits that foreign investors only make up a small part of the Bali property market. Naturally, the market is highly leveraged by local buyers, but for various business and lifestyle factors, foreigners maintain an interest in Bali property.

What advice would you give to foreigners who are looking to buy property in Bali?

Matthew’s first words: “Know that Indonesia has a very different legal system and get good legal advice before you commit to anything.

It makes sense for a foreigner to retain a lawyer whilst buying property, but Matthew says many people try to avoid it. “They wouldn’t dream of purchasing property in Australia without a lawyer, but for some reason if they are buying here, they just don’t get one. People don’t realise that all the decisions they make, even those at the very beginning of the deal, are going to affect them in the long term. It’s important to understand exactly what you are getting into and to get good legal advice before you commit to anything.”

Matthew’s hot investment areas that he thinks are headed for growth over the next 10 years are:

  • Nusa Lembongan Island
  • Lombok and the Gili islands including Trawangan and Gili Meno
  • Tanah Lot, which still has room for growth, or anywhere on the coast further north.

Matthew also predicts that if Indonesia goes ahead with its plans to change the laws and make it easier for foreigners to have land titles in Bali, we are likely to see a move from trendy villas to apartments.

Final Notes

Buying land in Bali
Photo credit Tapja.com

Irrespective of market conditions, there will always be a demand for property in Bali. For investors, Bali’s strong tourism position means good turnover rates for sub-leased properties and high demand for properties for sale. The key is getting into the market before it’s too late.

We leave you with this quote:

Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

An all inclusive, fail free packing list for Bali

What to bring

1. Stunner rags for going out

One or two banging outfits only. Look, Bali is a tropical beach yes but you’re going to go out at night, no matter what you think. (Unless you’re from New York City, then you really won’t care about parties in Bali. NYC residents are the only ones who are immune to Seminyak’s charms.) And you’re going to want to look nice. Bali is very international now, with plenty of very good looking and judgmental people. (Disregard this rule if you’re a well traveled fashion industry head- you already know what to do.)

2. Select clothes for everyday (including a long sleeve light thing for the bike)

Two or three ensembles are enough! It’s fine! Do yourself a favor and pack your three favorite most comfortable chic things you’ve worn in the last month and that’s it! And, provided you’ll be like most people, you’ll be on a scooter, so bring a light long-sleeve thing you can throw over whatever. The most burned I’ve seen people is from riding the motorbike. One gets so burned in such an awkward way.

3. Two swimsuits, one for looking cute and one for getting rocked/i.e. actually swimming

Like, I’m just disregarding if you surf because that’s a whole other thing. But one bathing suit for looking very cute, and another for swimming. Actually I don’t know. I only wear one-pieces because I don’t have to pull them up when I’m duck-diving. I don’t own a bikini.

4. An Unlocked iPhone

If you’re not from America, and you have an unlocked phone, congrats! You can get a sim card and text that Swedish girl you met at that Mexican place with the Baja-style tacos.

5. Nice sunscreen & hair ties

This is all pretty obvious but… sunscreen is extra expensive here and selection is severely limited. You’ll need a ton and you’ll want the good stuff. I wear it on the back of my hands and forearms on the bike, and Tropical Sands SPF 30 on everything- stays on in the water. Bring nice sunscreen you’ll actually wear. Also – you can’t get good hair ties here. Crisis.

6. Book(s)

No good books stores here. Bring two from home.

7. Friendly and open attitude toward Balinese and Balinese culture.

Learn these three words at least: Terima Kasih means “thank you.” Bagus means “good.” Suka means “I like.” Too easy. Make an effort to do something vaguely cultural. I like the sunset Kecak Dance at Ulutwau. Just make sure to go by yourself and have dinner in the area afterwards, unless you want to spend three hours in traffic afterwards going back to Canggu. Cacho’s and Kat’s Kitchen are two great local restaurants. Be respectful and appreciative and ask questions. Bali is magic.

8. Map at Periplus

You can get an atlas of Bali at Periplus, the local bookstore, and if you don’t have a smart phone with GPS, it’s essential if you’re trying to navigate. Even if you do have a phone, it’s still an amazingly helpful secret buy for all the windy twisting roads here.

9. Strong probiotic

Get a good probiotic before you come and take it, it’ll help with your immune system and help prevent stomach problems. You’re being introduced to a lot of new bacteria and flus and all those little cuts get infected fast. That and sip four liters of water a day and you’re all good.

10. Travelers insurance at worldnomads.com

I’ve always done this jammie. It’s saved me thousands over the years. It’s pretty cheap and you can get it before you leave. I grab it for any trip over a few weeks, and would recommend it. They’ve paid me out in a timely respectful manner and their online message center is always there when I get confused about what forms needs to be filled blah blah.

11. Salt and Vinegar Chips

Bali doesn’t have salty v’s. Or when they do they’re $8 a bag.

12. Lots of underwear

Because they disappear at the Laundromat. Also it’s very hot here.

 

What not to bring

1. The lover you met last summer

Don’t bring sand to the beach!

2. Your insanity or sanity, really. Or your promiscuity or virginity.

Don’t be stupid and don’t be a know it all. Also, most prominent feminists question if the sexual revolution really happened. Be safe.

3. Anything expensive

Treat this like a trip to the beach. Bring nothing that sparkles or dislikes sand in its crevices.

A big bag that won’t fit beneath the bike seat.

Always put your bag under your seat while riding a scooter! Discourage bag thieves!

Photo via Free People.

Planning your wedding in BaliI : tips on how to make the perfect day

With it’s relaxed atmosphere and dreamy landscapes, Bali is top on the list of the world’s best romantic destinations.  It is no surprise therefore, that many couples from all around the world select Bali as the number one choice to enjoy their ideal wedding. From stunning cliff top ceremonies to beachfront weddings on pure white sand beaches, Bali offers a huge variety of options for couples wishing to tie the knot.  weddingIt all sounds amazing right? But where do you even start to organise such an important event? Arranging a wedding in your own country is hard enough, but to organise it on a tropical island is mind boggling.  This is when a good wedding planner comes in very handy! Search ‘Bali Wedding’ on Google and you will find reams of companies that offer you ‘a wedding that will make your dreams come true’, but how do you even begin to select who you will trust enough to arrange your big day? It’s a tricky one, so we decided to get some tips from one of the most experienced wedding organisers in Bali, The Seven Agency.  They gave us a list of watch outs when selecting your dream team.

 

Experience

Check the level of experience of the company as whole and of the person who is helping you directly.  Experience counts for a lot when it comes to event organising and wedding planning in Bali.  The knowledge that comes from someone being based in Bali, who has already experienced every eventuality first hand, is priceless.  They can help to pre-empt most outcomes and give you informed advice based on real experience and direct feedback from previous clients.  Bali is a pretty laid back island and sometimes unpredictable when it comes to weather, climate and traffic so it is important to use a wedding planner that can help you to know what to expect and how to prepare for all possible outcomes.  It is also very useful to be aware of the cultural and religious ceremonies taking place so you can plan the date and the day accordingly.  Check websites for experience and see if you can find testimonials from other couples.  The Seven Agency has organised over 2,500 weddings in Bali over the past few years so they are a pretty good benchmark.

Good network of suppliers

Experience is one thing but if the planner has a weak network of contacts he is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.  So the next big thing to check is what kind of relationship they have with their suppliers.  How do they select their partners? Have they used them long? Do they have different vendors and partners that can accommodate your requirements? Check who they use for decorations, florists, catering providers, photographers and makeup artists.  Any wedding planner should be able to openly and honestly share information about who they are using for your big day so don’t be afraid to ask, the shouldn’t have anything to hide.  Look on the planner’s website for a page talking about their suppliers like this.

 

Do they speak your language?

Having a planner that takes the time to really understand you, your background, personality and most importantly, wants and desires for your big day, is as important as having the supplier and partners locally based and with an in-depth knowledge of all things Bali. So it is vital that the planner speaks your language, not only literally but culturally too.  A planner that understands and embraces your culture and traditions will make life a lot easier when you are explaining how you want things to flow on your big day.  Make sure that the team at the top convey the same expectation of high quality that you will need to ensure your day runs exactly how you planned.  

Who is behind the emails?

As well as checking who is at the top, you should also have a good idea of who you are dealing with day to day.  With some planners it might just be a small team of one or two people which may offer you a personalised service, but the quality of that service may fluctuate depending on how many weddings they have on their plate! If you can find an agency that offers a good balance between personal service and enough members of the team to ensure solid consistent delivery, then you have hit the jackpot. With one of the largest in-house teams in Bali, The Seven Agency also provides regular training so each member is highly motivated and genuinely wants you to enjoy not only your big day, which is clearly the most important day ever, but also the process of planning it.

 

Can they really give you what you want?

Every couple is unique and has their own individual take on what they want from their special day. So finding a planner who can provide you with a wide selection of options to choose from can help you to tailor make your big day so that it fits neatly with what you want (and have probably dreamed of since you were a little girl!). No one wants a cookie cutter wedding and you shouldn’t be pushed into an inflexible package that will leave you wanting.  This is your special day so don’t compromise! It is really useful to know what is available and what packages you can choose, but once you have your basic idea, your wedding planner should be able to style it according to your taste. Some planners even have in-house professional stylists who can really get in your head and bring to life your vision, pretty impressive! The Seven Agency provides several options for styling services that can really help you to simplify the process and make the daunting prospect of wedding planning fun.

 

Who else thinks they are good?

One of the most influential factors in a person’s decision making process when selecting goods and services are the reviews from people with first hand experience.  This has become such a powerful form of marketing that businesses can rise or crumble based on customer reviews alone.  Take some time to read all about the good, the bad and the ugly of your chosen planner so you have a balanced view of what to expect.  It is also worth checking to see if they have been selected by any big established brands to become an exclusive in-house wedding planner.  If a reputable brand name endorses the company you can feel pretty confident that they will deliver the goods. The Seven Agency is a good example of this, they were carefully selected from thousands of wedding planners worldwide to organise wedding events for Club Med’s direct clients and guests at their resorts in the Maldives and in Bali.  

 

Do they also offer Honeymoons?

Although not essential, it can make a difference if the planner also offers honeymoons, or is able to connect you with the right people to sort out your big romantic break.  The Seven Holiday is a sister company of The Seven Agency and it specialises in romantic journeys with the firm belief that honeymoons should be different from ordinary holidays.  And so they should! This is the beginning of a whole new life together so every moment should be sprinkled with romance.  They must have some extremely romantic people on their team because the unique packages that they craft for each lucky couple look divine!

 

There are so many things to consider when planning your wedding and honeymoon, it’s so much more than ‘just a day’ right? Look out for a planner that understands romance, with genuine experience and who recognises that every bride is utterly unique, therefore every wedding experience should be one of a kind.  Being offered an array of options packaged in a way that makes it easy to choose, by a team that speaks your language and understands your preferences because they take the time to get to know you, is what will make the process a whole lot easier.  And if the same supplier can also deal with your honeymoon, offering the same level of options, quality and special touches to your honeymoon, you can sit back and relax knowing you have all the boxes ticked .  What a way to begin your amazing journey together!

An animal lover’s guide to Bali

So you’re not a big fan of the zoo, or seeing animals in cages, or hideous live animal shows, but you love to get up close and personal with creatures great and small? Well, you’re in luck; one thing Bali is not short of is an abundance of interesting wildlife.

Get your cute fix and experience Bali’s animal kingdom in a selection of open-air sanctuaries and wildlife parks.

Ubud Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud

Ubud Monkey Forest is perhaps the best-known monkey hang out due to its location on the fringe of Ubud’s main centre. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, and by its official name, Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana, Ubud Monkey Forest is not only home to over 300 grey-haired macaques, but also three holy temples that are sanctified by the local villagers.

Ubud Monkey Forest boasts over 115 different species of trees, unraveling stone pathways, a bevy of beautiful statues covered in moss and tangles upon tangles of dense green jungle.

In addition to being a natural tourist attraction, The Ubud Monkey Forest is also a place of scientific research and conservation and is overseen by Padangtegal village.

Other monkey inhabited spaces include the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest in Tabanan and the Uluwatu Monkey Forest. The Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest is located in the village of Kutuh, about 25km northeast of Denpasar. This small 12-hectare forest is home to hundreds of grey long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and is regarded as the island’s ‘other monkey forest’ after the most prominent and often visited Ubud Monkey Forest.

This is probably due to the fact that Kedaton is located further off the beaten track than the assessable Ubud Monkey Forest. Then there is the Uluwatu Monkey Forest that is perched on stunning white cliffs, has a backdrop of blue sea and features the Uluwatu Temple.

TRAVEL TIP

Remember that although wild monkeys are fascinating and cute beyond words, they are still, in fact, wild animals. It’s best to enjoy these long-tailed creatures at a comfortable distance in their natural habitat, as actively seeking out their attention can have interesting and often unexpected results i.e. they are lightening quick, have sharp claws and know that most humans carry a few treats on them in the park.

As tempting as the thrill of feeding the monkeys may be, try not to purchase the peanuts and bananas sold at vendor stands; dependence on tourist hand-outs disrupts their natural feeding cycle and tends to impact their health. Yep, living on a diet of peanuts and bananas is just as bad for monkeys as it would be for humans.

animal lover's guide to Bali

Even if it was good for their health, feeding the monkeys doesn’t always turn out as planned. You may be eyeing off that cute baby monkey to offer some peanuts to, but chances are the little one isn’t going to get anything, and the more rotund and angry monkey will step in for first dibs. You seriously don’t want to get in the way of the older generation either.

The macaques are also not shy about grabbing food from your hand, or grabbing your bag to take a peak at what’s inside. The saying ‘cheeky monkey’ didn’t come from nowhere. They are the animal kingdom’s answer to pick-pockets and are as cunning as they are cute.

Ubud Monkey Forest (Sacred Monkey Forest)
Address: Jalan Wenara Wana, Ubud, Bali
Phone: +62 361 971304

Uluwatu Monkey Forest
Address: Jalan Uluwatu, Bukit Peninsula, Bali

Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest
Address: Jalan Kapten Tendean, Tabanan, Bali

animal lover's guide to Bali

Bird Village of Petulu

At around 5:30 every evening, flocks upon flocks of Kokokan birds (herons) fly from all over the Bali island to congregate in the small town of Petulu.

What is fascinating about this occurrence is the sheer number of birds that bunk down for the night in Petulu. The village is relatively small, so there is usually over 100 birds camped out in each tree, testing the strength of their often fragile branches. Talk about high-density, high-rise living. Space here is definitely at a premium.

The villagers believe that the birds are their supernatural guardians, and hold a special ritual once every six months to honour them, expressing their gratitude in having Petula as the place the birds lay eggs and raise their young before the birds migrate in July and August.  There is a bit of mystery surrounding why the herons turned up in 1965 and have come back every evening since. It is said that the herons are the reincarnation of thousands of Balinese who were killed during the anticommunist massacre in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966.

After the riots in the village, people held a ceremony in Petulu to remember the slain and to protect the survivors. Shortly after the ceremony the birds arrived in the village, and have made a daily ritual of flying in to spend the night in Petulu ever since. Naturally, the villagers believe these birds, the spirits of their ancestors, also bring them a bounty of good-luck.

Petulu is near the Ubud botanic gardens, Kutuh Kaja, so combining a day trip that includes both will provide you with an ample fix of Bali nature and wildlife.

animal lover's Bali

Bali Bird Park

Welcome to Bali Bird Park, where 1000 birds from 250 species frolic around 2 hectares of landscaped tropical gardens.

Located in the Batubulan stone carving village, the Bali Bird Park is a popular day trip and is close to Kuta, Sanur and Ubud.

The park has a number of walk-through aviaries and is a safe haven for numerous rare or endangered species such as the cendrawasih (birds of paradise) from West Papua and the Leucopsar rothschildi (Bali starling).

The park is divided into different areas that aim to recreate the natural habitats of foreign birds, such as those from Latin America, South Africa and Australia.

There is a nocturnal owl house in a specially-adapted traditional Toraja house, as well as informative shows and scheduled feeding times where you can get up close and personal such as by feeding a pelican or holding a macaw. Some birds are in cages, where as others roam about the grounds or sit high in the trees.

A perfect day trip for bird lovers.

AddressJl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, BatubulanBaliIndonesia

animal lover's Bali

Rimba Reptile Park

Located adjacent to the Bali Bird Park, Rimba Reptile Park is for those who prefer their animals footloose and feather free. The park houses around 20 different species of reptiles and over 181 specimens of reptiles and amphibians.

There’s a 1.5 metre Komodo dragon as well as crocodiles, flying lizards, iguanas, frogs and geckos.

The park has an impressively scary collection of venomous snakes including the cobra, tapian and mamba as well as an 8-metre reticulated python and an albino Burmese python. There’s a 1.5 metre Komodo dragon as well as crocodiles, flying lizards, iguanas, frogs and geckos.  An assortment of cold-blooded creatures sun themselves on the rocks of different enclosures that are filled with lily ponds, waterfalls and Balinese plant life.

There is also a large canopied courtyard to sit back in and spot critters in the overhanging trees above. This park won’t be for everyone, particularily if your not a fan of snakes and things that bite.

Address:  Jalan Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan, Bali

Bali Safari and Marine Park, East Bali

The Bali Safari and Marine Park is the kind of place you would pester your parents to take you to when you were a kid. Although it’s located in Bali, don’t expect to find a whole lot of native Balinese inhabitants as it is filled mostly with tourist attracting animals from around the world. Here, you will find over 60 species of animals such as lions, tigers, meerkats, porcupines and the Bali Mynah, a bird that is native to Bali.

There are camel rides as well as a large open air exhibit, restaurants, live shows at the theatre and even a night safari. Basically, this is a great place to take the kids but may not be what you are after if you are looking for a more authentic Bali experience. In saying that, the park provides both education for visitors and conservation efforts, so for that we give it the official thumbs up. It is a member of the CBSG (Conservations Breeding Specialist Group) and is involved in the conservation and release of the Bali Mynah, the Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Tiger.

Address: Jl Prof Ida Bagus Mantra Km, 19.8, Bali 80551, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 751 300

animal lover's guide

Turtle Conservation and Education Centre, Pulau Serangan

Turtles are a bit of a contentious issue in Bali. Traditionally eaten as a delicacy, green turtles have long been captured and killed in Bali. Now, however, with the turtle population rapidly dwindling due to hunting and over development, there is a conservation effort taking place in Bali. It aims to educate locals about how turtles are better off in the sea than on their dinner plate, part of a religious ceremony or sold as a tourist trinket.

The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre (TCEC) is a small compound that provides a protected space for turtle eggs to hatch and for baby turtles to return to the sea. It also houses a number of specialised tiled tanks for larger injured turtles to recover from abuse or illness. It was opened in 2006 by the governor of Bali, Mr Dewa Barata, as part of a strategy to eradicate illegal turtle trading and to empower locals to help through garnering awareness and providing education.

The TCEC is free to visit, but donations are encouraged and should be given based on the importance and dedication of the project and its staff. The centre is run by friendly locals who are only too happy to share some information with you about the turtles in their care.

TRAVEL TIP

Beware of fake ‘Turtle Parks’ that are not part of the TCEC. Check with your hotel to make sure you are visiting the real one if you are not sure, as some of the imitations can be a heart breaking experience as they are more about getting money from tourists than giving a hoot about turtles.

Learn more about the TCEC through WWF Indonesia

Address: Jalan Tukad Wisata No 4 Serangan
Phone: +62 361 857 7881

animal lovers bali

Bali Butterfly Park (Taman Kupu Kupu), Tabanan

Billed as being ‘the largest butterfly park in Asia’, the Bali Butterfly park, or Taman Kupa Kupa, is your chance to see hundreds of butterflies from the 15 known species that thrive in Indonesia, as well as various other insects and arachnids such as beetles, stick and leaf insects, and the less-friendly varieties such as scorpions and spiders.

The park preserves several endangered species in its collection such as the Bali peacock (Papilio peranthus) and the paradise birdwing (Ornithoptera paradisea) and it also functions as a research centre. It’s best to visit in the early and mid-morning when the butterflies are at their most active. You don’t have to be an entomologist to enjoy this park, it’s a magical place for both big kids and small kids alike. There is a massive sign outside the park, so it’s not hard to miss.

Address: Jl. Batukaru, Banjar Sandan Lebah, Wanasari Village, Tabanan
Phone: +62 361 814 282

animal lover's guide Bali

Gili Meno bird park and turtle sanctuary

After you have exhausted the animal lover’s circuit on the main land, it is well worth taking a boat ride to Gili Meno. One of the three Gili islands, Gili Meno is renowned for its chilled out vibe and breathtaking natural surrounds. The beach literally looks like the kind of remote island paradise you would see in movies about shipwrecks, which is probably why it is often described as offering a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience. In the centre of the island you will find the the Gili Meno bird park. The park is home to over 300 birds such as hornbills, eagles, pelicans, parrots, peafowls, macaws and more. There has been a bit of negativity in the past about the park’s conditions, but management seems to be taking heed and the aviaries are being rapidly upgraded. As with all upgrades – particularly on Indonesia’s smaller islands where everything is transported by boat – things understandably take time.

If birds aren’t your jam, then there’s a turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno as well. Bolong Turtle Sanctuary is a community run safe haven founded by its namesake (local innovator Bolong) for green sea turtles and Loggerhead Turtles to lay their eggs away from the threat of predators (both human and from the animal kingdom).

As with the TCEC, the sanctuary also nurtures sick and injured turtles and gives baby turtles the chance to thrive. The hatchery relies on donations and has made a noticeable difference to the local turtle population. You can see for yourself by having a snorkel or dive nearby! Gili Meno a popular destination for diving enthusiasts due to its crystal clear waters and abundant marine life.

Address: Jl.Pelabuhan Gili Meno – Lombok barat, Gili Meno
Phone: +62 81 339 599644

Places an animal lover should not visit however:

Elephant Safari Park

Elephant ride is cruel.

This kind of animal should never be promoted as people who don’t know anything about this topic could think that this is a nice thing to do with elephants. However these elephants have been terribly abused in order to ‘tame’ them (they will always be wild elephants and therefore always dangerous).

If you’re not convinced that elephant rides are cruel you can check out this site:

http://bawabali.com/our-programs/responsible-tourism/elephants/boycott

Getting a Bali visa: everything you need to know

About 85% of all legal problems for travellers in Bali are the result of a visa issue. Bali may be a relaxing and intoxicating holiday destination, but when it comes to the business of visas, there are rules and regulations in place.

Bali visas are most definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal. So rather than being caught out in customs or deported, it’s much easier to spend a little time getting visa savvy.

Read on for everything you need to know about getting a Bali visa, but were too afraid/ lazy/ busy or disinterested to ask.

Travel tip:

Indonesian visa protocols and requirements are subject to change, so its always a good idea to check with the Indonesian embassy or consulate, as failure to meet the requirements will purchase you a swift ticket back home.

And it doesn’t hurt to see what the custom regulations are either.

Do I need a visa for Bali?

Hells yes! Unless you are a foreign national from a few select countries, you will need an Indonesian visa to enter Bali.

According to Directorate General of Immigration Indonesia, citizens from the following regions can enter Indonesia visa free for short visits of up to 30 days.

  • Brunei, Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Laos
  • Macau SAR
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

There is talk of China, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Japan being added to the list, but as yet this has not been finalised.

What type of Indonesian visa do I need?

What type of Indonesian visa you require depends on the nature of your trip.

If you are going for a quick holiday break, then a Visa On Arrival (VOA) is the one for you, whereas if you are planning on studying, have a work-related business trip or want to relocate permanently, you will need to plan your visa before booking your plane ticket.

Below is a breakdown of the different types of Indonesian visas on offer and what they require from your sweet self.

Visa on Arrival example

Visa On Arrival (VOA)

If you have your heart set on a relatively short Balinese getaway, filled with breathtaking beaches, exotic wildlife and unique culture, then a 30-day single entry VOA is for you.

The ever-popular VOA is available to over 60 nationalities and doesn’t require you to run around before your trip dealing with pesky paperwork.

There are usually no issues getting a VOA, other than having to queue up to get one after a long flight when all you want to do is throw your bags down and get to the beach. There are a few requirements to keep in mind, however, in order to make sure your journey through customs is a fuss-free one.

  • Make sure your passport is valid for another six months – minimum.
  • Have your immigration/arrival card filled out and ready to go.
  • Have a print out of your confirmed flight out of the country handy. You rarely get asked for it, but it’s good to have one on hand just in case, as the more time you spend with airport customs, the less time you have to get your holiday on.
  • You will need to front up US$35 during processing to enter the country. Yes, it was US$25, but things change. Having the right change in USD, AUD or EUR dollars will prove to be the most efficient option for you. If you require masses of change it will be handed to you in IDR.
  • If you are sporting a derelict chic get-up or working a particularly scruffy look, it’s not unheard of to be asked for a copy of a bank statement or something that proves you can actually afford your holiday. To avoid this, do yourself a favour and run a comb through your hair, wear some shoes and make yourself look semi-presentable for the nice customs officials. Or, if no one is intervening with your sense of style – bring a copy of your bank statement.

A quiet word on your arrival and departure card

Let’s go back a bit and get acquainted with your necessary (but quite frankly annoying to fill out) arrival and departure card. You will receive this official bit of cardboard while you are on the plane.

You probably won’t feel like filling it out when you receive it from your smiling flight attendant.

You will most likely be a) watching a movie b) enjoying a mid-flight nap c) just too irritated by flying to fill in a form. But it’s better to do it before you land. On filling out said card you will probably have to have a rustle about in your bag for your passport details, flight details and the address of where you will be saying in Indonesia (you don’t need to go overboard with the location, a hotel name and city is enough).

Keeping these details written down and accessible will be easier than having to get up off your uncomfortable plane seat and crawl over strangers to get to your overhead luggage. Filling it out while on the plane also means you can benefit from the conveniently placed fold-down tray attached to the seat in front of you, rather than using your cocked up knee or friends bent back whilst in the customs queue.

Make sure you sign the card at the bottom of the second page.

You will also be given a tax card. All you need to do here is tick “no”, unless you need to declare something or are swag enough to be carrying over US$10,000 with you.

Sadly, most of us don’t seem to have this issue. Sigh. Keep the departure card for later when, you guessed it, you will be leaving fair Bali. Fill it out if you are on an administrative roll or tuck it in with your passport to get around to later. The customs officers will collect the card when you exit through customs.

Arrival card Indonesia

 card arrival

PS.

Don’t be a damn fool and bring the following things into the country – as you might have guessed by now, immigration officials in Bali don’t take too kindly to contraband, with the most serious consequence being the death penalty:

  • any more than 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 100 grams of sliced tobacco per passenger
  • any more than one litre of alcohol per adult passenger
  • any more than Rp 100,000,000 (or equivalent in other currencies)
  • fire arms, knives, explosives or any weapons of mass destruction

NOTE:

You will need to pay a departure tax when leaving in IDR. The amount varies from airport to airport, but expect to pay about 200,000 IDR from Bali (Ngurah Rai) International airport.

Visa policy of Indonesia

Countries eligible for Visa on Arrival are:

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Algeria
  5. Bahrain
  6. Belgium
  7. Brazil
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Cambodia
  11. Canada
  12. Cyprus
  13. China
  14. Denmark
  15. Estonia
  16. Egypt
  17. Fiji
  18. Finland
  19. France
  20. Germany
  21. Greece
  22. Hungary
  23. India
  24. Iceland
  25. Iran
  26. Ireland
  27. Italy
  28. Japan
  29. Kuwait
  30. Laos
  31. Latvia
  32. Libya
  33. Lithuania
  34. Liechtenstein
  35. Luxembourg
  36. Maldives
  37. Malta
  38. Mexico
  39. Monaco
  40. New Zealand
  41. Netherlands
  42. Norway
  43. Oman
  44. Panama
  45. Poland
  46. Portugal
  47. Qatar
  48. Romania
  49. Russia
  50. Saudi Arabia
  51. Slovak Republic
  52. Slovenia
  53. Spain
  54. South Africa
  55. South Korea
  56. Suriname
  57. Sweden
  58. Switzerland
  59. Taiwan, PRC
  60. Tunisia
  61. Timor Leste
  62. Uni Arab Emirates
  63. United Kingdom (British)
  64. United States of America

What happens if I stay longer than 30 days?

Heed the fact that your VOA is only valid for 30 days – counted from the day of your arrival.

If you overstay your welcome, you will have to pay a penalty of about US$20 per day. If you REALLY overstay your welcome and keep living it up for another few sneaky weeks, you could face jail time.

There is a bit of a leeway if you overstay for three days or less, as lots of tourists automatically think of 30 days as a month and discard the fact that some months of the year have 31 days instead of 30. Whoops!

If you seriously don’t want to go home (who could blame you?), it is possible to extend a VOA for another 30 days from within Bali. You will need to consult a local visa/travel agent, which will cost you around US$50. Once your 60 days are up, it will be time to leave the country.

 visa

Airport Denpasar, Bali.

Other types of Indonesian visas (Visa in Advance)

If you want to stay more than 30 days or have something more lengthy in mind like starting a business or visiting family, you will need to apply for a visa in advance – as in before you leave for Bali. For this, you will need to apply through an Indonesian Embassy and/or Consulate in your home country.

You can apply for a visa in advance yourself, but it is significantly easier to get the help of a professional travel/ visa agent who knows exactly what to do and how to streamline the process a bit. If things get a bit messy, then you also have the added benefit of blaming someone else.

Tourist Visa

A Tourist Visa lasts up to 60 days and is perfect if you are planning some in-depth island hopping and want to go at your own relaxed pace. For this visa, you will need your passport to be valid for at least another six months and three blank pages left on your passport. No biggie.

Social/ Cultural Visa

If you have a decent reason for staying longer such as studying, visiting relatives or taking part in a foreign exchange program, you can apply for a Social/Cultural Visa. For this, you will need a valid passport and passport photo.

You will also need to obtain an application form from an Indonesian embassy or consulate, and a letter of introduction or promise of sponsorship from a trustworthy person or school in Indonesia. The visa is valid for 60 days, but it can be extended for one month at a time at an Indonesian immigration office for a period of up to six months. Expect some application and visa extension fees. Well worth it.

Business Visa

If you are visiting Bali for work (e.g. a conference or seminar), you can get a 60-day Single Entry Business Visa. If you need to extend your stay, you will need to pay a visit to the local immigration authorities or a visa agent. There is also the option of a Multiple Entry Business Visa that is valid for up to 12 months.

A Business Visa means that you will not be taking up employment in Indonesia, but are visiting for business purposes such as to meet overseas business partners etc. For a Business Visa, you will need to have a passport with at least six months left on it, a passport photograph, a completed visa application form and evidence that you have enough funds to cover the cost of your stay in Indonesia (usually in the form of a bank statement). You will also need two supporting letters that outline the nitty-gritty of your visit, one from your place of work and one from your guarantor in Indonesia.

Employment Visa / KITAS

An Employment Visa is for foreigners who will be employed while in Indonesia. For this, you will need to be sponsored by a company or organisation in Indonesia. This is sometimes referred to as a Temporary Stay Permit or KITAS, and is great for those seeking an extended work-play-stay visit to Indonesia.

Retirement Visa

If you are over 55 years old and looking to spend your twilight years amongst the tropical vistas of Bali, you can get yourself a renewable five-year visa. For this, your passport will need to be valid for at least 18 months and certain insurance standards such as financial capability will need to be proven.

60 Day Tourist Visa ‘211’

It seems many people don’t know about the 60-day tourist visa called “the 211” or “B-211 Tourist Visit Visa”. It can be obtained in embassies and consulates, and is also extendable for up to 6 months (costing about 550k for each month over the 60 days). It is effectively the same as the social visa, but much cheaper in comparison (costing about $50AUD, and there are usually no agent fees). Processing time varies from country to country and this option in particular seems to be quite elusive – it’s worth doing your own investigations.

211 Visa Bali
211 Visa Bali

And then there’s the Visa Run …

A long-time favourite jaunt for expats in Bali, a visa run is a quick return trip to a neighbouring country. This run is usually done on the day their Indonesian visa is set to expire (or in a couple of days before), with most popping across to Singapore in order to reset the visa clock and extend a stay.

Singapore is popular for a visa run as the Indonesian embassy in Singers is known to be quick and efficient. The visas take three days to process, but you can pay extra for an ‘express service’ and secure a new visa in the one day.

NOTE: The jig might be up for this beloved form of immigration exploitation however, with Thailand immigration officials declaring there will be no more visa runs in and out of Thailand from August 13, 2014. At this stage, there hasn’t been a crack down on Bali, but it’s good to keep in mind if this is something you’re interested in doing.

Travel tip: The Indonesian Embassy is an official organisation and has a dress code. Don’t be caught out wearing short shorts, singlet tops, sandals or anything that you would wear day-to-day in Bali. The embassy has standards people!

Good news for Australian travellers

The Indonesian Government has announced that it will cut its US$35 visa entry fee for Australian nationals from January 1 next year.

Indonesia is undoubtedly a popular holiday destination for Australians, with more than 704,000 Australian travellers visiting Indonesia between the start of 2014 and the end of August, according to recent Indonesian immigration figures.

There are even suggestions that a million Australians will visit by mid-December. So we can consider this a thank you for Australian’s dedicated Bali loving. Big yay!

Indonesian Embassy Singapore
No. 7 Chatsworth RoadSingapore 249761
Tel. (65) 6737 7422
Fax. (65) 6737 5037 / 6235 5783
www.kbrisingapura.com

If you want to extend your 30 day VOA for another 30 days, or run into any issues while in Bali, there are a number of places you can visit that will help you out for a fee.

Bali Expat Services
Jl. Kunti I No. 12, Seminyak, Bali.
Phone: +62 361 733744
Fax: +62 361 733744
Email: info@baliexpatservices.com
Website: www.baliexpatservices.com

If you want to DIY and extend your visa in Bali, there are two immigration offices in Bali. Even though ‘Bali time’ applies, it’s best to rock up at the office between 9am and 12pm. And don’t wear what you were wearing at the beach.

Immigration offices in Bali

Ngurah Rai International Airport
Jl. Ngurah Rai, Kuta.
Tel: (0361) 751038

Denpasar Immigration Office
Jl. Surapati 7, (in the Renon Complex), Niti Mandala, Denpasar.
Phone: (0361) 227828.

For anything else, you can also visit the friendly crew at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Pejambon No.6. Jakarta Pusat, 10110, Indonesia
Telephone: (+62 21) 344 15 08
http://www.kemlu.go.id

Tenganan: home of Bali’s rarest textiles

How many visitors leave Bali without picking up at least one piece of locally crafted textile, usually a sarong? Even if you are a first time visitor, you can pick up one of Bali’s rarest textiles if you know where to look.

Most people are familiar with batik, a method of painting a design onto cloth with wax before dying it. The dye colours everything but the part under the wax, creating a unique, handcrafted print. And most people have probably seen an ikat sarong, produced by tie dying the warp threads that run the length of the cloth, before weaving them with weft threads of a single colour.

Unique hand crafted textiles made nowhere else in Indonesia

Double ikat weaving is much more difficult, making it one of Bali’s rarest textiles. The weaver tie dyes both the warp and weft threads before weaving them together. This requires exquisite tension control. If you want to see – and buy – double ikat, then you need to visit the people in a small village in south east Bali called Tenganan. This is the only place in Indonesia where double ikat is made.

A very traditional Tenganan house

Getting to Tenganan

Tenganan is one of very few villages in Bali that has never submitted to Hindu rulers from Java. Described by a 1930s writer as “rabidly conservative”, the Tengananis have never become part of the Hindu caste system, and continue to follow their own centuries-old aboriginal customs.

To get to Tenganan, you pass through Candidasa and head north along a 4km dirt road. Travelling mostly through jungle, you come to a village with a curious entrance, like a box office in an outdoor cinema, blocking off part of the quiet street behind it. Outside the box office you will see two or three men sitting on chairs, each waiting for his turn to greet a visitor.

He has just picked the cotton from an overhead branch.

A courteous, softly-spoken man in traditional dress immediately offers to take you to his home, but there is no hurry. In near perfect English, Nengah Dika invites you to turn right and stroll slowly past the house at the end of the street. The building looks very old, with walls made of stones cemented together with mud rather than mortar. He stops beneath a cotton tree and picks a little cotton to show you how easy it is to spin the long fibres into a short thread.

The main street – almost overgrown with grass

There is none of the hustle and bustle common to other tourist destinations. Past the next house, you turn left again into what he tells you is Tenganan’s main street. Hardly anyone is in sight, and it is party overgrown with grass. An open shed on the corner has two wood-and-bamboo bins labelled “leaf litter” and “plastic waste” in Indonesian.

There are several temples further down the street, where it is almost covered by grass.

He takes you past several temples, and tells you how the Australian government sent engineers to repair one of the temples after a recent earthquake (with concrete, not mud). They also supplied a deep underground bore and a water tower to provide a reliable water supply. If you are Australian, he thanks you for this.

If you are an Australian “in the know” you may also see the recycling bins as a condition of the aid, like the anti-smoking signs displayed at events sponsored by tobacco taxes.

Bamboo recycling bins.

Despite these occasional modern touches, the place has a timeless feel. He explains how the village grew so large they decided to divide it into two banjars, or wards, “only two or three hundred years ago”.

The Bali Agas – fiercely independent

Nengah Dika tells a little more about his people, the Bali Agas. These were the first people to settle in Bali, more than a thousand years ago, and the island still has a few Bali Aga villages that remain fiercely independent. “We have never been in conflict with each other,” he says, although clearly they were ready to defend themselves against the Majapahit soldiers who took over most of the island in the 14th Century.

Visiting a Tenganan weaver at home

After this leisurely history lesson, you arrive at his house. He takes you straight through the outer compound, hung with brightly coloured banners, to the main building where you meet his young wife, Ni Luh Suryati. And of course, her double ikat weavings, which are continuous loops of cloth in three or four colours: unbleached cotton, yellow, dark blue and red.

A traditional Bali Aga home.

Making Bali’s rarest textile treasures takes about a year

Ni Luh explains the double ikat process – without, of course, giving away any of the trade secrets needed to produce Bali’s rarest textiles. First, the cotton has to be picked and impurities such as seeds and husk fragments combed out before spinning. She then begins tie dyeing the warp and weft threads in a secret practice using home-made plant dyes and lots of prescribed rituals. The trick to achieving a perfect double ikat is not only in tie dying the vertical and horizontal threads to a matching design, but in making sure they weave together perfectly.

Very few women now make double ikat.

Ni Luh achieves this by controlling the tension on the warp threads with a special loom. Sitting on the floor, she passes the shuttle between the long threads in front of her. These long warp threads are also attached to a device on her back, allowing her to control the tension by leaning backwards with more or less pressure. She controls the tension on the sideways or “weft” threads by pulling more or less firmly on the shuttle after weaving each row.

The whole process, they tell you, takes about a year from start to finish.

Buying a double ikat – or two

Of course, you have come all this way – you don’t want to leave without at least one double ikat. Nengah tells you he recently sold an antique piece, in a design no longer made, to a German collector for seven million rupiah.

This piece is very old and has been darned in several places.

The haggling begins. Ni Luh mentions the price of two million rupiah, which of course, you can’t quite afford. Your companions offer to lend you the US and Australian dollars stashed at the backs of their wallets, and you end up settling for two pieces at three million for the pair. She has reduced the price of one single colour piece because it is not a continuous loop, the threads having been cut. They even throw in two carved wooden display hangers. Everyone is happy.

Lontars – traditional palm leaf pictures and documents

On the way out Nengah shows you the lontars he makes. These are traditional Balinese and Indian documents made by carving letters and images on to long strips of palm leaf with a stylus or knife, rubbing in lamp black afterwards. The original Hindu scriptures, such as the Upanishads, were first written on lontars, as were messages from Bali’s kings.

Lamp black is rubbed into the grooves to produce black lines.

As you came to buy a double ikat, and have blown your weekly budget, you find yourself declining.

Why the village is so quiet

Taking your leave of the lady of the house, you follow the host outside and he offers to show you more of the village. It is getting late, and if you are staying in Ubud or Denpasar, it’s an hour’s drive home. Tenganan has no hotels and no shops. Only local villagers are allowed to stay overnight. You politely decline, and quietly head around the block and up the side street towards the “box office”, which you are still wondering about. Apart from the occasional scooter, the most noise comes from a dozen or so fighting cocks in cages, placed to catch the afternoon sun.

Taking the afternoon sun

The annual pandanus fighting

Once a year, Nengah tells you, crowds descend on the village for the annual pandanus fighting. Protected only by thick turbans and double sarongs, pairs of men square off with the spiny butts of pandanus palm leaves as weapons. Each man attempts to wound his opponent’s naked torso, and they frequently go into clinches, flailing at each other’s backs with the primitive weapons. This looks a lot like a drill from previous centuries, to ready the men for hand-to-hand encounters with their enemies. He describes it in such a gentle voice that it sounds incongruous.

He asks how we found out about his village, as most visitors he meets have been to Bali perhaps five or ten times before they hear of it. You smile. If you go looking for treasure, you don’t follow the crowd, do you?

With so little human traffic, grass covers this side street.

Why these treasures are so rare

Back home, your friends admire your new double ikat wall hangings with just a touch of jealousy. They have been to Bali many times. But you, the novice, have been somewhere they have never heard of and picked up something rare.

Double ikat’s future is uncertain. Some traditional designs are no longer made. Only a few women in Tenganan village now practice the art. You find yourself wondering why. In today’s cash economy, other families may have decided not to welcome curious strangers into their homes to buy Bali’s rarest textiles. Perhaps their privacy is just too precious.

Apart from Tengannan, double ikat weaving is made in just three other locations – two in India (Gujarat and Telangana) and one in Japan (Okinawa). If you can’t make a trip to Tenganan, double-ikats are currently for sale on Ebay for between AUD$750 and $3,500.

Ogoh-Ogoh and Nyepi – Exorcism and Silence

Another New Year!

For those of us who live in Bali, we know how blessed we are. It’s not just because Bali is home to award-wining luxury resorts and posh restaurants. It’s not only because of the magic of the Balinese people or the picturesque landscapes. We are especially blessed because we have the privilege of celebrating our third, yes third, New Year of 2015 (Western New Year and Chinese New Year being the first two). However, this isn’t just any run of the mill New Year celebration. The Balinese New Year or Nyepi, is a day of silence that is preceded by a day of exorcism, or purification to be a little more politically correct.

According to the Balinese Saka calendar, the next new year will start on Saturday, 21 March 2015. This date coincides with the lunar “New” Moon phase, which is on Friday 20 March. The New Moon is called the “Dead Moon” by the Balinese. Why the Balinese call it “Dead” as opposed to “New” is a classic example of Eastern and Western disparity. At any rate, it kind of makes sense that the Balinese New Year starts on the first day after a Dead Moon.

Purification

In Balinese philosophy, there is a balance of positive and negative energies. In other words, and perhaps surprisingly, good cannot triumph over evil and vice versa. However, the Balinese culture consists of many rituals and ceremonies that attempt to cleanse (i.e. balance) us of our negative energies. Just like most people want to take a shower and put on their best-pressed outfit before going out on the town, the Balinese will follow a similar process before the special New Year day of Nyepi. But there is a twist, the Balinese will “primp” themselves on the inside rather than primping themselves on the outside.

In Balinese philosophy there is a balance of positive and negative energies.

Continuing with the analogy, in order for us to be ready for that exciting night out on the town, our body and clothes should be clean, right? One would certainly hope so. Think of your banal laundry day as a the day your dirty clothes get purified (happy laundry day!). So, what is the equivalent to washing ourselves on the inside? Like most ancient traditions, the main tools for internal purification are: meditation and fasting. Hence, another name for Nyepi is the “Day of Introspection.”

We can look at the Balinese New Year purification process as a two-step process. First step (external cleansing) includes the Melasti ceremonies at the beaches and the boisterous, festive Ogoh-ogoh parade (kinda like beating our clothes in the washer). Both are one-of-kind and viscerally amazing experiences not to be missed. Second step, an internal, very quiet, day of fasting and meditation (letting our clothes dry on a rack down in the basement with the lights off).

Ogoh-ogoh

A fascinating observation about the Ogoh-ogoh and Nyepi season is the controversy and contradiction that surrounds these unique events. Contrary to popular tourist belief, the tradition of Ogoh-ogoh is relatively new, with its origins in the 80s. Balinese often say that one of the motivations was to give the Balinese youth something constructive to do when preparing for the upcoming New Year. Ogoh-ogoh are statues up to five metres high, which represent the negative aspects or all living things. They generally take the form of a local demon (some look downright obscene). The Balinese Hindu authorities try their best to ensure the statues are representative of the true spirit of the event, though an occasional Sponge Bob or Spiderman has been known to slip through cracks.

Similar to checking out the floats before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Ogoh-ogoh statues can be viewed sprouting from the villages 3-4 weeks prior to Nyepi. During this time, you can see the Ogoh-ogoh in the final phases of construction.  Going around to the different Banjars (communities) to see all the creative designs and witness the dedication that goes into the statue construction will boost the overall experience.

One of the tenets of Balinese philosophy is honouring the relationship between the divine, people, and nature.

If you did your homework, you’ve probably noticed that most articles on this subject state that Ogoh-ogoh statues are papier-mâché. Unfortunately, what they don’t say is that a large percentage of them are made of styrofoam; which makes things messy if they are burned (not all Banjars allow them to be burned). However, there is hope. Some Banjars and resorts are starting to promote “organic” materials – bamboo, grass reeds, paper, etc. One of the tenets of Balinese philosophy is honouring the relationship between the divine, people, and nature.

Ogoh-ogoh under construction
Ogoh-ogoh under construction

Silence

What does one do when you aren’t supposed to do anything? On Nyepi, not even a Hindu ceremony is allowed. This is one day a year where the people of Bali give back to Earth. All 2,000,000+ of Bali’s motorbikes take the day off. There are no fires. There are no planes. Electricity consumption is significantly reduced. Air pollution and noise pollution are next to nothing.

If you have never tried meditation, this is the perfect time to give it go.

If you have never tried meditation, this is the perfect time to give it go. Sit back (or cross-legged if you are a Yogi) and enjoy a fleeting day of silence. This could be challenging if peace and quiet are not your cup of tea.

Despite all of the Nyepi Day restrictions, not everything is closed. If you are staying in a hotel, this is quite obvious. In fact, many, if not all, hotels and resorts in Bali offer Nyepi “packages” to lure guests. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes, the true spirit of Nyepi gets lost in translation between businesses’ bottom lines and cultural traditions. This is tough time if you are Balinese and work at a hotel, sacrificing an important day of purification is the price to be paid for keeping one foot in the modern world.

Logistics

Nyepi falls on Saturday 21 March 2015 (New Moon is 20 March). Therefore on Friday 20 March, Pengerupukan festivities usually start in the morning with blessing ceremonies. Ogoh-ogoh parades can begin anytime in the late afternoon, evening, or night time. Parade start times depend on local Banjar rulings. At the end of the parade route, the Ogoh-ogoh are usually placed on display in a football field for everyone to see. Depending on the rulings, the statues could be set on fire at this time.

If you are staying at a hotel, check with their activities team or concierge to find out local Melasti and Ogoh-ogoh parade timings and routes. Not every Banjar will have a parade (this varies from year to year). Be prepared for road blocks, traffic jams, and walking through crowded areas if you plan to be towards Sanur, Denpasar, Kuta, and Seminyak.

Get into the spirit of Nyepi by trying a cleanse over the holiday. Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi!

Stay put on Nyepi Day. Only emergency vehicles are permitted on the roads. Anyone on the street must have proper papers to do so, which will be enforced by the Pecalang. Hotels and resorts will operate but are likely to be quieter than usual. Try a meditation class, fasting or a cleanse. If you miss the hustle and bustle or the sounds of motorbikes in the air, don’t worry, all of it will be there for you tomorrow.

Trendy mini Ogoh-ogoh
Trendy mini Ogoh-ogoh in Ubud

Glossary

  • Banjar – Community level government organization.
  • Bhuta Kala – Symbolic Demon to be paraded and burned in effigy as an Ogoh-ogoh. Bhuta means eternal energy. Kala means eternal time.
  • Nyepi – Balinese New Year or the Day of Silence according to the Hindu Saka calendar. The root word, sepi, means quiet. The day of no fire, no light, no entertainment, no work, no travelling, and no ceremonies.
  • Ogoh-ogoh – Statue of monster-like character that symbolizes all types of negative energy from all living things. The demons represented by Ogoh-ogoh are awakened and flushed out on the day before Nyepi, Pengerupukan, so that they can be provided offerings to be appeased for another year. The statues are paraded through the Banjar in the afternoon or evening. Some parades can get quite rowdy so be mindful of belongings and out-of-control Ogoh-ogoh statues.
  • Pecalang – Local community security patrol.
  • Pengerupukan The day before Nyepi. The day of the Ogoh-ogoh parades.
Melasti Ceremony
Balinese Melasti Ceremony – Photograph courtesy of Pictures of Bali
Ogoh-Ogoh Parade
Ogoh-Ogoh Parade
Ogoh-Ogoh Negative Energy
Ogoh-Ogoh – Symbolizes our Negative Energy. Photograph courtesy of Frazier Mayor

Island ink: Getting tattooed in Bali

To most people, the thought of getting tattooed in Bali is synonymous with ten too many Bintangs and a lifetime of regret. Tell a friend you got inked on your recent trip to Kuta and their first response will most likely be “have you had your Hepatitis vaccinations?” But while we’ve all seen one too many Schoolies coming back from Bali with ‘YOLO’ or misspelt names eternally etched into their butts, it’s the drunken spontaneity and poor decision making of some that help give the idea of getting tattooed in Bali a bad reputation.

Too many booze buckets, lax regulations and cheap prices contribute to the bad name of the Bali tattoo industry, with Kuta’s main nightlife areas lined with tattoo shops attracting the young and drunken crowds. Stiff competition means artists will often tattoo patrons who are visibly drunk or drug effected, or without verifying their age first. It’s practices like these that led to a tattoo related HIV infection in 2013, along with several reported hepatitis cases. The last thing any tourists wants to return from a fabulous tropical holiday with is a blood borne infection to go with their suntan.

Sick of the bad wrap, many internationally owned tattoo shops have opened in Bali, following strict hygiene and operational regulations to ensure tourists can enjoy a safe tattoo from a talented artist to memorialise their time on this awe inspiring island. Leading Bali tattoo artists have also banded together to reclaim the good name of this age-old tradition and are opening award winning shops, starting collaborations all around the island.

In reality, Bali can be a fabulous place to get a tattoo, but the standard of tattoo studios in Bali varies dramatically. Just as you should anywhere in the world, always do your research before letting a stranger permanently needle ink into your skin. Of course, scoping out cleaning equipment and quizzing tattoo artists on their qualifications is the last thing you want to do between cocktails during your Balinese adventure, so we’ve done the hard work for you. These impressive and creative tattooists are raising the bar on Bali’s tattoo reputation and giving leading international artists a run for their money.

Here’s a handful of Bali’s best tattoo studios and leading tattoo artists.

Suku Suku Tatau

Artist Albar Tikam and an example of his favourite artwork, done using the traditional Balinese stick and poke method.
Artist Albar Tikam and an example of his favourite artwork, done using the traditional Balinese stick and poke method.

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Saku Saku is a tattoo studio of a different kind, specialising in traditional Balinese tattooing and securing a reputation as the only tattoo studio in Bali to offer traditional Indonesian tribal hand tapping tattoos. If you’re not a fan of the traditional, that won’t be an issue, as Saku Saky Tatau also offers modern tattooing and other body modification services like piercing, scarification and even tongue-splitting (although the latter should definitely be given some deeper thought as a forked tongue is probably the last thing you want to wake up with when teamed with sunstroke and a hangover). Following strict safety standards, Saku Saku is considered the place to go if you want a truly unique, high quality tattoo done in Bali by genuine artists. This studio has received countless accolades for their traditional and modern methods. Booking ahead is highly recommended as appointments fill up fast.

STYLE: Everything from traditional tattooing, to modern tattooing, piercing and body modification. Specialising in manual, traditional hand tapping and hand poking tattoos.

PRICE: Depending on the design, traditional tattoos start around 1.5M IDR.

EXPERIENCE: Resident artist Albar Tikam hails from Jakarta and has been honing his craft since 2007. In 2011 he decided to shift his focus to the manual traditional tattoo style that the studio is now renowned for.

CLEANING STANDARDS: High international hygiene standard using autoclave, medical sterilizer, ultrasonic cleaner, sterilizer sealed single-use needle and an ultra-clean environment.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: Albar’s favourite tattoo he has done is a free hand Mentawai style done by traditional hand poking, without the use of a machine.

Address: JL Nakula No 99 x, Seminyak, Bali
Phone: +62 815 9691475
Website: http://www.sukusukutatau.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sukusukutatau 

Altar Tattoo

Grey, detailed ink at Altar
Grey, detailed ink at Altar Tattoo

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Altar Tattoo is a custom tattoo artist in Bali who has been producing the kind of detailed, grey scale, dot point body art that’s expanding in popularity throughout the world. Combining a love for illustration and design work with a passion for tattooing, Altar has built up an impressive portfolio of high quality work. As of May 2015, Altar will be joining forces with a fellow reputable tattoo artist to open Katarsis Tattoo Collective in Denpasar, a cooperative studio for high quality tattoo and art work. Tattoos are currently done by appointment only, helping to break the mould of spontaneous walk-ins that tourists are notorious for. Email Altar Tattoo to discuss your customised design and book an appointment.

STYLE: Specialising in custom tattoos, especially dot work, line work and black/grey techniques.

PRICE: Prices vary depending on the customer’s request and the complexity of the design. Each tattoo is fully customised and charged on a one-off basis. No design is ever used twice, ensuring each customer has a unique, one of a kind piece.

EXPERIENCE: Altar hails from Bandung, West Java, and has spent the last five years in Bali perfecting his unique tattoo style. He has been tattooing since 2009, where he underwent a year long apprenticeship.

CLEANING STANDARDS: Hospital grade hygiene standards utilised at all times, with seminar experience in medical cleaning.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: While every tattoo Altar does is of the highest quality possible, his favourite tattoos are ones where he can truly take his time, working session by session to reach the final product.

Email: altaraltarus@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sukusukutatau
Instagram: @altaraltaraltar

Tattoo Hut Bali

The team and the tats at Tattoo Hut Bali
The team and the tats at Tattoo Hut Bali

STUDIO OVERVIEW: Tattoo Hut is one of Bali’s newest Aussie run tattoo studios, opening its doors in December 2014. The studio has already built quite a name for itself thanks to the revered reputation of resident artist, Jony, an award winning tattooist who has received several accolades for his work with colour ink. Tattoo Hut follows international standards, producing high quality work, strict hygiene practices and professional, friendly service.

STYLE: All styles and designs, specialising in Oriental and Balinese themed tattoos, well known for producing vibrant, detailed, colour work.

PRICE: Cost depends on the size, detail and colour involved, with a minimum price of $600,000 IDR. As an estimate, prices range from about $6-8M IDR for a half sleeve and $10-15M IDR for a full sleeve.

EXPERIENCE: Head artist Jony has been tattooing since 2004 and hails from the Canggu Villages in Bali, where he operated a successful tattoo studio from 2008 to 2014 before joining the team at Tattoo Hut.

CLEANING STANDARDS: The studio keeps extremely high hygiene standards, on par with any Western run studio. Single use needles are strictly used along with high quality American ink. All chairs and stands are wrapped with disposable protectants and changed for each customer.

ARTIST’S FAVOURITE TATTOO: Loves doing freehand work with some of his best work coming from a simple pen sketch.

Address: JL Benesari, Kuta, Bali
Phone: +62 822-3707-1957
Email: tattoohut@outlook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tattoo-Hut/904560336229087
Instagram: @tattoo_hut

Still not sure where to start? Watch this video from New York Ink’s Megan Massacre about how to pick a tattoo studio for extra tips http://youtu.be/848tF9vTS58