Holidaying in Bali During COVID-19, By An Aussie Expat
Thoughts from an Aussie family, who holidayed in Bali during COVID…
Social media is a great connector of people. Katrice and I first met “online” after she had made some comments on the Bali Buddies Facebook page about having just moved to Jakarta in early 2020. I got to meet her in person recently while her family enjoyed a vacation in Bali. I asked her some questions about what it’s like to holiday in Bali during this time…
Tell us a bit about yourself and where you’ve been during the pandemic
This time last year, my husband, myself and our two boys (now 14 and 11), were in the thick of preparing for our international move from the Central Coast in Sydney, Australia, to Jakarta, Indonesia. This is our first time living abroad and we love it!
We arrived in Jakarta in mid-January this year and our furniture was 2 months behind us, so we spent our weekends out and about, discovering our new home and host country. In February we visited Yogyakarta in Central Java and postponed a trip planned to Lombok in March due to travel restrictions and Covid-19 uncertainty.
In June we started coming out of our hard lockdown here in Indonesia and we began exploring again, cautiously visiting different areas of Java by car and boat. We’ve since flown domestically three times, taking our postponed trip to Lombok and The Gillies in August and have most recently visited Bali in October.
Have you visited Bali before COVID?
My first trip to Bali was 30 years ago! Now I’m showing my age… Over the years I’ve been back to Bali several times with friends, on work trips and with my own family.
What was the airport experience like?
We were so impressed with the health and safety protocols in place when we took our first ‘Covid times’ domestic flight in August, it gave us the confidence to keep doing it.
To enter the airport in Jakarta you walk through a thermal scanner and have your paperwork checked (non-reactive Covid-19 test results). Everyone wears a mask and is courteous with distancing. At the check-in counters and throughout the airports, there are many hand sanitiser stations.
We’ve now flown on all four domestic carriers here in Indonesia and every time there is a seat between us (even as a family). Masks are worn in flight too. My husband and I have considered the possibility of continuing to wear masks on flights for the foreseeable future to help limit our exposure to illness in general, not specifically Covid-19.
When we arrive at our destination, our temperature is checked again, our non-reactive Covid-19 paperwork is checked again and our EHAC barcode is scanned. EHAC stands for Electronic Health Alert Card which is a quick, easy online form that is required to be completed electronically for domestic travel within Indonesia or for international arrivals into Indonesia. This is used for contact tracing for Covid-19.
What is it like to be in Bali during this time?
We had a fabulous time in Bali with mixed emotions. To be able to experience Bali with fewer tourists was lovely for us but seeing how difficult it is for the people of Bali weighs heavily on me, knowing there’s only so much you can do to help. In saying that though, you see how resilient, community-minded and hopeful the Balinese people are, especially when faced with these tough times. I think Bali over the years has not only been appealing as a destination, but tourists fall in love with the people and the Balinese people still have some of the best smiles in the world!
How did you feel about COVID and how the businesses are handling it in Bali?
We have been impressed by how adaptive Indonesians are, their attitude and innovation. Businesses and people adopted and implemented health and safety protocols to minimise the spread of Covid-19 very early in the year. What is clear though, is that businesses in Bali are going to need support from International tourism soon, before the impact of closed international borders becomes unsustainable.
Were there things open? Did you meet people? Did you see other foreigners?
We were surprised by how many foreigners we met in Bali. Covid-19 has pushed a lot of people into digital and remote work and school environments, so we met many foreigners who have chosen Bali as their physical location.
There are a lot of businesses and hotels on hiatus in the popular tourist areas but there’s definitely enough open to still have variety, signature Balinese service and a wonderful time.
Do you plan to visit again anytime soon?
ABSOLUTELY!!! We would love to see our family for Christmas but while that’s not possible, we’re happily planning Christmas and New Year in Bali.
Bali Buddies Tips
Here are some of our favourite sites to get great deals to help you plan for your Bali trip:
- Need accommodation in one of Bali’s top hotels or resorts? Visit Booking.com.
- If you prefer alternative accommodation, such as one of Bali’s stunning treehouses, then visit Airbnb.
- Accidents do happen. In case they happen to you, make sure you have a travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
- Arrive without any hassle, book the Airport VIP Fast Track service and your Bali Buddies airport transfer in advance.
- Book your tours and activities prior to departure with GetYourGuide.
- Need to transfer money without the huge fees then check out Transferwise.
- Always connected to WiFi? Buy a Skyroam hotspot.
- Ensure your devices are secure with a VPN.
- For all your travel essentials, check out our travel shop.
- Don’t forget to download the Bali Buddies app.