As someone who’s gotten to visit the beautiful island of Bali many times over the last 10 years, one of the biggest questions I always get from friends is when the ideal time to go is.
There’s no bad time – with its miles of beaches, lush jungle rivers, and intricate Hindu temples, Bali is pretty much paradise year-round. So the first thing to consider when choosing the best time to go to Bali is simple – go when it suits you.
But I’ve learned first-hand that the weather, crowds and prices change quite a bit each month. Timing your visit right can take your experience from good to unforgettable. After trial and error across many trips, I’ve figured out the prime times to visit to get the most of out this magical place.
Let me explain what you can expect during Bali’s high, low, and shoulder seasons. I’ll also give insider tips to dodge crowds and snag deals no matter when you visit. I aim to help you have the best possible time on this island that I hold so close to my heart.
High Season (June to August)
From June to August is peak season in Bali, since it overlaps with Indonesian school holidays and Australia’s winter break. Tons of tourists flock to all the main beach towns like Seminyak, Canggu and Uluwatu.
Prices for hotels and flights shoot up, while crowds pour into the beaches, bars and tourist sites. Lines get really long at places like the temples too.
Still, the high season has its perks – namely the weather. Bali stays warm and dry year-round, but these are the least rainy months. Daily highs average around 88°F (31°C). The ocean is super calm, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Surprisingly, most crowds stick to the popular southern coast. With planning, you can beat them by going inland or up north. I’ll share some crowd-avoiding tips later!
High season is also great if you’re travelling with kids. There are way more family activities, camps and cultural shows to enjoy. You can easily meet other families too.
Overall, visit during peak season if nice weather, kid-friendly options and lively nightlife are priorities. Just prep for higher prices and tons of people in the main tourist zones. And maybe avoid weekends when locals join in.
Shoulder Season (April-May, September-October)
During the “shoulder seasons” of April-May and September-October, Bali still sees awesome weather but with way fewer people. There are occasional rain showers, but mostly sunny beach days.
Better still – prices are much lower and everything feels more authentic without as many tourists. Surfing conditions are amazing too along the south coast.
I always try to visit in early May, when hotel rates are like half the peak season prices. The rains normally start late afternoon, so you get full sunny days to explore. Just bring a light jacket for windy evenings.
September is another sweet spot, with lovely weather and smaller crowds after the Indonesian school holidays end. You can find awesome deals on private villas too before high season kicks in.
To me, shoulder season gives you the best combo of sun, affordability and lack of crowds. You get mostly dry weather but sans the ridiculous peak season prices and lines.
Low Season (Nov to Mar)
The wet season in Bali falls between November and March. It’s the most humid time with daily downpours. Rivers swell, beaches erode and flooding can happen with heavy monsoons. January and February tend to be peak wet months.
So why would you want to visit in the rainy season? Well, for one – super cheap prices! We’re talking $50/night for 5-star hotels that are 5 times that in peak season. Everything is way more affordable if you don’t mind rain.
You’ll also have temples, viewpoints and beaches practically to yourself without crowds of tourists.
Some tips to make the most of low season:
- Stay in Canggu or Seminyak – they get less rain than other areas
- Plan indoor activities like cooking classes or spa treatments
- Don’t be afraid to dance and play in the rain!
- Watch for villa deals with covered outdoor areas
- Consider drier islands like Lombok or the Gilis
Bali is beautiful any time of year if you plan for the weather. For the best value visit, the rainy season can’t be beaten if you bring an umbrella.
Can’t Miss Events and Festivals
Aside from the weather, Bali’s incredible culture really comes alive at certain festivals and holidays. I try to time my visits around these when I can, because they show sides of Bali you just won’t get any other time.
A few I recommend checking out:
This “Day of Silence” on the Balinese New Year is wild – the whole island basically shuts down for 24 hours.
Streets empty, airports close, and even the internet goes dark. Locals stay indoors fasting and meditating.
As a tourist, you’ll be confined to your hotel too. It may sound boring but honestly observing Nyepi is incredibly fascinating. Just the experience of seeing busy Bali come to a complete standstill.
Galungan & Kuningan
These back-to-back religious holidays happen every 210 days celebrating good triumphing over evil.
You’ll see incredible bamboo arches called Penjor popping up everywhere, decorated with fruit and flowers.
Locals dress up in traditional temple clothes, and daily offerings get really elaborate. Soak up the festive spirit and get your camera ready.
Bali Spirit Festival
If you’re into yoga, meditation and dance, don’t miss this Ubud festival in March/April. Some of the world’s top wellness instructors teach sessions in the jungle over 4 days.
The mix of cultures and creative energy is awesome. Just book your ticket and room way ahead of time.
Bali Arts Festival
Spanning a month from June to July, this lively celebration of traditional arts is a must-see. Dance, musical and art performances take place daily in Denpasar.
It gets busy, but will give you a real immersion into Bali’s living heritage.
Kuta goes all out for this one-day beach bash every September. Tons of food stalls, live music, competitions, and a massive fireworks finale over the ocean. Great way to experience Kuta’s fun party side.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
Every October, this literature festival hosts talks by renowned authors, poetry jams, art shows, writing workshops – you name it. Even if you’re not a book nerd, it’s an inspiring chance to soak up Ubud’s creative community.
Catch any of these for an extra dose of culture with your Bali escape! You’ll have to plan ahead for crowds and booked hotels, but it’s so worth it.
Helpful Travel Tips for Bali
To make the most of your trip to Bali, here are some helpful insider tips I’ve learned over the years:
Bring cash – Have some Indonesian Rupiah on hand, as smaller shops, restaurants and markets may not take credit cards. ATMs are available in populated areas though.
Get a local SIM card – Pick one up at the airport when you arrive for affordable data access on the go. This is handy for using ride-sharing apps, maps, and making reservations.
Pack light layers – Bali’s temperatures fluctuate between pleasant days and cool windy nights. Bring a light jacket or sweater for the evenings. For a full list of what to pack (and what not to pack), refer to this packing list for Bali guide.
Download Grab or GoJek – These apps are musts for getting around. You can grab an affordable ride, order food delivery, and even have items like sunscreen delivered to your hotel.
Respect the culture – Follow proper temple attire rules when visiting sacred sites, and ask before taking photos of people. The Balinese value manners, subtlety and patience.
Watch for hidden fees – Some activities quote cheap prices upfront but have hidden charges, equipment fees or taxes added on. Ask about the total cost.
Shop local markets – For the best souvenir prices and selection, visit Ubud’s sprawling art market or Kuta’s bustling Poppies Lane. Bargaining is expected.
Learn basic Bahasa – Indonesians appreciate it when you make an effort. Learn phrases like “terima kasih” (thank you), “maaf” (sorry) and “berapa harganya?” (how much is it?).
Respect safety signs – Heed signage at temples and beaches to avoid any injuries or sacred space violations. Don’t underestimate the power of the ocean either.
Savour street food – For affordable local flavours, try fare like nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), or sate ayam (chicken satay) from vendors.
Pro Tips for Dodging Crowds
Even during jam-packed tourist seasons, it is possible to beat the crowds in Bali if you know where to look. After much trial and error, here are my top insider tips:
Get off the beaten path – Skip seeing crowded temples like Besakih and Uluwatu, and visit smaller ones like Tanah Lot, Lempuyang, and Goa Lawah instead. They are just as beautiful but you won’t be jostling with hundreds of other tourists.
Head inland – Rather than busy beach towns, stay in central hidden gems like Ubud, Sidemen, Munduk, Kintamani or Tampaksiring. The vibe is way more chilled out.
Go north or west – Opt for the barely crowded north and west coasts over packed southern beaches. Places like Pemuteran, Lovina, and Bali Barat National Park will make you feel like you’ve gotten away. Check out the complete guide to North Bali for all the top hidden gems.
Rise early – Be the first one at popular spots right at sunrise, when the crowds and heat are low. You’ll have places like terrace rice fields and temples nearly to yourself.
Visit off-the-radar beaches – Instead of crammed Kuta or Seminyak, discover pristine beaches in Menjangan, Balian, Candidasa or the Nusa Islands where you won’t fight for space.
Try alternative islands – Boat over to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida or the Gili Islands where fewer tourists venture but natural beauty abounds.
Use crowd prediction apps – Apps like Maps.me let you see how busy an attraction is in real-time, so you can avoid the most crowded hours.
Research crowd patterns – Generally, inland towns and the north/west coast see fewer tourists than the south. Mornings everywhere are less busy.
Book ahead – During peak season, make reservations for hotels, tables at top restaurants, and activities sometimes months in advance.
With the right mindset and preparation, you can have an off-the-beaten-path style experience even when Bali is jam-packed. Hopefully, these tips help you avoid feeling boxed in by crowds!
Best time to visit Bali: FAQs
What is the best month to visit Bali?
May and September are ideal times with lovely weather, smaller crowds, and lower prices compared to the packed peak summer months.
When is rainy season in Bali?
The rainy season falls between November and March, bringing high humidity and daily downpours. January and February tend to see the most rain.
Is June a good time to visit Bali?
June falls in the busy high season, so prices are higher and popular spots get very crowded. But you’ll get the least rain and the calmest oceans.
What is the weather like in Bali in October?
October sees occasional rain showers during shoulder season, but predominantly sunny days in the low 80s Fahrenheit along with smaller crowds.
When is low season in Bali?
The low season with the lowest prices and smallest crowds is during the rainy months of November through March. However, expect daily heavy rainfall.
What is Nyepi Day in Bali?
Nyepi is a major religious festival on the Balinese New Year in March/April when the island completely shuts down for a day of silence and fasting.
What is the best time of year for surfing Bali?
April to October brings the best surfing conditions in Bali, thanks to southeast trade winds that generate ideal swells along the southern beaches.
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TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs
Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.
Hire a rental car – RentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.
Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.
Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.
Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.
Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.
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