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Bali Is Shutting Down for 24 Hours to Observe a Day of Silence

March 07, 2019
4 min read
Indonesia, Bali, Aerial view of Karma Kandara beach
Bali Is Shutting Down for 24 Hours to Observe a Day of Silence
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In Bali, everything has gone quiet.

Starting at 6am on Thursday, March 7 — that’s Central Indonesia Time — the international airport in Denpasar (DPS) closed for a full 24 hours. No flights will land or takeoff here, and mobile internet will remain shut off until 6am on Friday.

It’s all part of the island’s Hindu New Year holiday, Nyepi, or Silent Day — a celebration marked by the tenets of Catur Brata Penyepian: no work, no fires or light, no entertainment and absolutely no traveling.

According to The Washington Post, tourists have even been arrested in the past for wandering around outside during the sacred day. Only emergency services are pardoned during the 24-hour period.

Travelers currently in Bali will be forbidden from leaving the hotel grounds. Check-in and check-out will not be permitted, and public beaches and spaces will close. As a result, many resorts on the island have to tempt travelers with Nyepi packages. Guests at the Ritz-Carlton, for example, will be enjoying a complimentary breakfast buffet and 20% off all other food and beverage purchases and, for those terrified at the prospect of being cut off, complimentary Wi-Fi that will still be available throughout the 24-hour stretch of silence.

Some AccorHotels in Bali (like the Fairmont Sanur Beach), on the other hand, are providing movies to compensate for the lack of cable TV broadcasts, dimming interior lights, turning off outdoor lighting and asking guests to speak quietly and avoid laughing.

And at the Conrad Bali, a two-night stay during Nyepi includes daily breakfast, one three-course lunch and dinner for two and free Wi-Fi for Hilton Honors members, among other benefits.

TPG contributor Susan J. Young is currently staying at the InterContinental Bali Resort, and said that, upon arriving at the hotel the day before Nyepi, she received a letter from the hotel's general manager, Michael Koth.

"Any form of activity outside of the resort is strictly prohibited," Koth wrote. "Guests staying on the island are requested to respect this unique tradition by remaining in the confines of the resort for the entire duration of Nyepi ... All lights and noise will be minimized. Swimming in the ocean or strolling on the beach is not permitted ... Curtains and shutters in your room should also remain closed."

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Young said the resort is providing TV on Demand, internet radio and access to YouTube, as well as standard internet access, and that hotel staff members have been "welcoming" and "gracious," despite giving up important family time to work during the Day of Silence.

Though visiting Bali during the auspicious holiday may sound extremely restrictive, many travelers position themselves in Bali specifically for Nyepi. Guests may not be required to fast or repent, but many do take the opportunity to meditate and unplug.

Italy-based travel journalist and cookbook author, Robyn Eckhardt, traveled to Bali during the Day of Silence years ago for just this reason. She told TPG it was, "a wonderful day of quiet reflection" following a series of exuberant New Year's celebrations.

"We slept late, and awoke to utter peace: no sounds of motorbikes, not a person to be seen anywhere. We spent the day in silence (writing notes when necessary), kept to ourselves, reading or just staring out at the rice paddies."

Eckhardt said it was her favorite of many trips to Bali, and she would absolutely recommend it to travelers. "Plan to be in a village, preferably in a private home or guest house, rather than in a big, anonymous hotel where you can't feel the spiritual, communal side of the holiday."

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61