When Can I Travel to Bali? The Race to Restart Tourism

When Can I Travel to Bali in 2021?

Updated 3rd November 2021.

After hinting that Indonesia will reopen Bali using a scheme similar to the Phuket Sandbox, the island finally reopened to international tourists from a selected number of countries on 14th October 2021. However, Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport has not yet received any requests from airlines to land.

So what does this mean for travellers? In this article, we’ll look at what we know so far about the Bali reopening as well as who is eligible to visit, the travel restrictions in place and when the first visitors are likely to arrive.

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Disclaimer: COVID-19 travel restrictions are changing every day and the following information reflects South East Asia’s Backpacker’s understanding of the current rules for entry. While we update this article regularly to ensure the information is as current as it can be, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.

Bali Reopening: What We Know So Far…

Who Can Currently Visit Bali? 

According to this article by CNN, Bali is currently open to visitors from 19 countries. These have been deemed low-risk, based on low-positivity rates of the virus. They are:

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • New Zealand
  • Kuwait
  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Liechtenstein
  • Italy
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • Norway

Travellers heading to Bali must fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must have a valid e-VISA for entry into Indonesia
  • Confirmed quarantine hotel booking (with QR code)
  • Negative PCR test taken no earlier than 72 hours pre-departure
  • Must quarantine in one of the permitted quarantine hotels in Bali
  • Proof of full vaccination status* in English (physical or digital)
  • Download the Peduli Lindungi App with completed eHAC
  • Have travel insurance worth at least $100,000USD

* To be considered fully vaccinated, you must have had a WHO-approved vaccine, with the second dose being administered no later than 14-days prior to your arrival in Indonesia.

Indonesia Health Alert Card (eHAC)

Everyone entering Indonesia is required to register with the Indonesia Health Alert Card (eHAC) app. This is a mandatory requirement that aims to keep track of potential COVID-19 cases coming into and moving around the country. 

Which type of tourist is welcome in Bali? On 10th September 2021, Luhut Pandjaitan, a top Indonesian Minister was quoted as saying… “We will filter tourists that come to visit. We don’t want backpackers to come so that Bali remains clean, where the people who come are of quality”. Source. The Indonesian government quickly clarified that they had no intention of refusing backpackers entry to the island. Source.

Can I enter Indonesia if I am not from one of the 19 countries listed?

If you aren’t from one of the 19 countries that Bali has reopened to, you may find it difficult to enter Indonesia right now. At present, the only people allowed to enter the country (other than the above) are Indonesian nationals and those who fit into one of the following scenarios. 

  • Visitors who hold an Indonesian residency permit (KITAP/KITAS)
  • Passengers who hold a diplomatic or service visa
  • Aircrew
  • Those entering for humanitarian purposes on a visitor visa
  • Passengers who have a business visa, not including the B211 visa*

*Throughout the pandemic, there have been reports of foreigners entering the country under the Single-Entry B211 Business Visa (also known as the Social-Cultural Visa). However, from July 21st, these visas have been suspended until further notice. Source

Visitors must also complete the eHAc registration, be able to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no earlier than 72 hours before boarding their flight to Indonesia and be fully vaccinated with an approved WHO vaccine. Indonesia is not currently allowing people who have been in India in the past 14 days to enter the country. 

There is currently a mandatory quarantine period in place for those arriving from abroad. This applies to foreigners and Indonesian nationals. The quarantine period spans for either 5 days or 3 days, depending on whether you are fully vaccinated or have only had one dose. You must check into a quarantine hotel in your arrival city.

Jakarta Indonesia Skyline
There is currently a compulsory quarantine in place for any travellers to Indonesia.

Bali Reopening: Timeline of Events 

  • November 2021

Officials have previously said that they estimate flights will begin to arrive in Bali in November. However, some have theorised that the long bureaucratic process of getting permission to enter and the limited reopening is deterring eligible people from visiting the island. For example, Australia and China previously provided the most international tourists to Bali but Australia isn’t on the eligible countries list and the Chinese are not doing much international travel at present.

Some also believe that the mandatory quarantine is putting people off, especially at a time when other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand are ditching quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers. On November 3rd 2021, it was announced that there would be changes to the quarantine duration in Bali. The duration of quarantine now depends on the vaccination status of visitors:

  1. Fully vaccinated travellers: 3 days in a Bali quarantine hotel
  2. Visitors who have been vaccinated with one dose: 5 days quarantine in a Bali hotel

Check out this post for recommended Bali quarantine hotels.

YouTube video

  • October 2021

On 5th October, Bali’s reopening date was confirmed to be 14th October 2021. Fully vaccinated travellers from 19 countries are now permitted to enter Bali, you can see the full list of countries here.

Despite Bali’s latest tourism restart date having passed, full details of the process are yet to be announced and no international flights arrived on reopening day. However, we do know a little already.

Visitors to Bali will be required to fulfil a mandatory quarantine. There are a number of hotels operating in green zones around the island ready to take tourists.

  • September 2021

7th of September 2021 – Sandiaga Uno announced in a written statement hinting that Indonesia will model Bali’s reopening on Thailand’s famous Phuket Sandbox scheme.

Despite this announcement, Uno gave no details about how a similar scheme would be applied in Bali. To be eligible for Thailand’s Phuket Sandbox plan, you need to be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, however, we don’t know whether this will be a requirement of entering Bali under a similar scheme in the future. 

Uno also never gave a target date for Bali’s reopening, however, some have theorised that it could be as early as October or November, dependent on COVID-19 infection numbers. 

  • August 2021

At the end of August, Governor of Bali Wayan Koster announced that the Bali reopening, which was planned for September, would once again be pushed back. This is a result of rising coronavirus cases across the country. 

At this point, no new target date was given for the reopening but Koster said that foreign tourism will only be able to resume when the situation is conducive, both inside and outside of Indonesia. 

  • July 2021

Once again, Bali’s reopening was delayed amid rising cases. The plan going forward (as of July 2021) is to vaccinate everyone within the agreed green zones and to establish ‘safe routes’ (a.k.a travel corridors) to help people get there. When deciding what countries will qualify for the travel corridors,  Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and the Cultural Economy has stated that he will be looking at three factors:

  1. Whether the spread of COVID-19 has been contained 
  2. High national vaccination rate 
  3. Offer reciprocal terms to Indonesia
  • March 2021

At the beginning of March 2021, talk of designated ‘green zones’ began. These were areas with low COVID-19 cases which could start receiving international and domestic tourists as part of a controlled scheme. Nusa Dua, Ubud, Kuta, Nusa Penida and Sanur were all destinations that were designated as potential green zones. Uno announced that Bali would reopen in July 2021 to vaccinated tourists. 

  • August 2020

Around this time, the Indonesian government earmarked January 1st 2021 as Bali’s initial reopening date. After the announcement of the January date, businesses started rallying to get ready for tourists. 

As part of operation reopen, the government introduced a CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environmentally Sustainable) programme to target both businesses and destinations. It was hoped that this would bring peace of mind to holidaymakers when they eventually returned to the island. 

Once the January 1st date rolled around, the Indonesian government decided that it was not yet the right time to open Bali. 

  • March 2020

When the world started locking down amid concerns over the coronavirus, hoards of people cancelled their trips to Bali. This plummet in tourism combined with rising COVID-19 cases, eventually led to the Indonesian government prohibiting entry to the country for tourism purposes.

So What is the Situation Like in Bali Now?

Due to the lack of international tourists, plus lockdowns in Java and Bali preventing domestic tourists from travelling to the island, the situation in Bali has been pretty dire at times during the pandemic. 

While some beaches and tourist attractions are beginning to reopen in Bali, a number of hospitality businesses have closed their doors forever. As tourism is the lifeblood of the island, many families have fallen into extreme poverty as a result of travel bans and lack of business.

However, according to an October article by Reuters, COVID-19 cases are on the decline. During the peak of the second wave, there were more than 56,000 infections in mid-July 2021, whereas the number of infections on 3rd October 2021 had dropped to 1,100 a day. Mask wearing and social distancing is still commonplace.

See here for recommendations of the best face masks for travel.

Domestic Travel to Bali and Vaccinations

Everyone entering Bali from elsewhere in Indonesia must provide a negative PCR test result and proof of vaccination status. Bali has also been prioritised in the country’s vaccination rollout plan because its economy has been the hardest hit during the pandemic.

At present, foreigners on short-term visas (that includes travellers that decided to wait out the pandemic and those that entered on social and business visas, such as the B211 visa) are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia. This decision has been taken to protect supplies but some experts have claimed it is driving the surge in cases. Currently, only those on retiree visas, work permits or representatives of foreign countries are entitled to get jabbed under the free government rollout. 

The Mentality Behind the Bali Reopening

There were plans for Indonesia’s economic reopening to begin gradually in September but this was once again been pushed back. Luhut Pandjaitan, a minister who helps to decide virus containment measures said that “reopening of economic activities will depend on vaccination, improved testing, tracing and treatment.”

The reopening of Bali will be a steady and controlled process. Judging by the recent statement from Uno, the plan is likely to mimic Thailand’s tourism reopening, with a scheme similar to the Phuket Sandbox, although full details are yet to be announced.

Green rice terraces and palm trees in Ubud, Bali.
Travellers are desperate to get back to Bali.

Travel corridors with selected countries seem to be how the government is beginning to reopen tourism. This way, they can base travel decisions on each country’s infection and vaccination numbers.

We first heard about ‘green zones’ back in March 2021 and we now know that these areas (Ubud, Nusa Dua and Sanur) have become essential to reopening the island.  

The Proposed Bali Digital Nomad Visa 

As the remote work trend has grown, Bali has become a major digital nomad hotspot in Southeast Asia. The laidback lifestyle combined with the dreamy landscape has pulled in influencers, yoga teachers, dropshippers and more. 

Start A Travel Blog In 9 Easy Steps
Digital nomads love Bali as a destination.

As the remote work trend looks set to continue in the wake of the pandemic, Indonesia is currently drafting up plans to further entice digital nomads to the island. There is talk of a new visa tailored to remote workers. Under this new scheme, digital nomads who work for or own companies outside of Indonesia will be able to stay on a five-year visa. 

Tax can often be a complex issue for remote workers but Uno has said, “ If they earn an income within Indonesia they will be taxed, but if it’s solely from overseas there will be zero tax.” If this proposal ends up being rolled out in the future, it could bring more travellers to the island than ever before.

Bali Reopening: The Verdict

Travellers and locals will be relieved to hear that Bali has finally reopened. However, with so many details about the reopening yet to be announced and with the introduction of a mandatory quarantine on arrival, some travellers may be put off. At present, it is hard to know what kind of Bali tourists will see when they are able to enter.

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