The Balinese New Year is past, but that doesn’t mean March isn’t a good time to visit the Island of the Gods! A celebration of yoga, music, and dance, the Bali Spirit Festival will take place in Ubud, the island’s spiritual heart, from 24 to 31 March. Now is the time to book hotels!
Bali Spirit Festival
24 – 31 March 2019 – Ubud
The Bali Spirit Festival is a celebration of yoga, music, and dance.
The Bali Spirit Festival is held in Ubud, which is thought of as the cultural heart of the Island of the Gods.
Now in its 12th year, the festival will offer workshops, classes, concerts, and DJ nights as well as holistic healing and yoga. More than 300 workshops will include …
- Acro Yoga
- Biodynamic Yoga
- Laughter Yoga
- Shamanic Yoga Flow
One, three, and seven day passes are available, and they are valid for all activities.
If you’re not into yoga or meditation, you can also purchase passes for music events only.
The festival will be held at the Purnati Center for the Arts ((Yayasan Bali Purnati) which is surrounded by rice paddies and tropical rain forests. It is a 15 minute drive from Ubud and a 45 minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Yayasan Bali Purnati – Jalan Gunung Abang, Br. Penataran, Batuan, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
Recommended Hotels in Ubud
There are numerous hotels, resorts, hostels, guest houses, and home stays in Ubud.
If you want to attend the Bali Spirit Festival, the following hotels are recommended …
Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Top of the line – the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlson Reserve is 12.3 kilometres to the Purnati Center for the Arts, or 27 to 31 minutes by car.
Overlooking the Ayung River, the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve has villas and suites with butlers at your beck and call.
The hotel has a full-service spa with eight treatment rooms. Features include a yoga pavilion, a meditation temple, a vitality pool, a 24-hour fitness center, saunas, and relaxation areas.
The hotel has four food-and-beverage outlets, including a fine-dining restaurant, where guests are seated in individual cocoon-like pavilions made of bamboo. The menu focuses on Mediterranean and European cuisine.. Degustation menus are offered.
There is also an all-day dining eatery serving Asian and Balinese dishes, an informal cafe serving afternoon tea, snacks, and evening cocktails, and a pool bar servings lunch, snacks, juices, and cocktails.
Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Ubud Bali
Most Convenient – the Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel Ubud Bali is 1.3 kilometres from the Purnati Center for the Arts, or three minutes by car. It is 16 minutes from the centre on foot.
The hotel overlooks rice paddies and the Wos River. A yoga deck is open from 7 to 8 am.
There are two outdoor swimming pools and a fitness centre with free weights, exercise machines, and cardio-vascular machines. Bikes can be rented. There are no organized yoga or fitness classes.
The hotel has a restaurant serving complimentary American, continental, hot, and grab-and-go breakfasts. There is a charge for buffet breakfasts. balinese and Western dishes are served at lunch and dinner.
Element by Westin Bali Ubud
Also recommended – the Element by Westin Bali Ubud is 10.4 to 12.5 kilometres from the Purnati Center for the Artsor 23 to 30 minutes by car.
The hotel is located on Jalan Raya Andong, a short drive from the centre of town.
The hotel has a full service spa with an outdoor area for yoga and meditation, a small fitness centre, an outdoor saline swimming pool suitable for doing laps, and a kids pool.
There are no organized fitness or yoga classes.
The hotel has an all-day-dining restaurant serving Indonesian and international dishes. Breakfast is complimentary.
Balinese Silent Day
7 March 2019 – Island Wide
The Nyepi Day of Silence, a.k.a. Balinese New Year, is either the best or the worst time to visit Bali, depending on the purpose of your visit.
If you want a spiritual experience, exposure to an exotic culture, and a chance to reconnect with your inner self, Nyepi is the best possible time to visit the Island of the Gods.
If you were hoping to go sightseeing, surfing, or shopping until you drop, however, the Balinese New Year is the worst possible time to visit Bali.
Lights across Bali are turned off at 6 am on the Balinese Day of Silence, and the island remains dark for 24 hours. That includes street lamps, traffic signals, and all exterior lighting. Television and radio stations don’t broadcast. Even the airport shuts down!
The majority of people in Bali are Hindu. According to traditional Hindu beliefs, evil spirits return to earth on the Balinese New Year.
Therefore, everyone is expected to stay indoors, which will mislead the visiting spirits into thinking that Bali has been abandoned. As a result, they will leave the island alone in the coming year.
The only exemptions are given to hospitals and hotels, but they must extinguish exterior lighting, as well. Exceptions are made for pregnant women, accident victims, and the seriously ill.
Ambulances are allowed to take them to the hospital.
Day of Reflection
For the Balinese, the Nyepi Day of Silence is a day of meditation, reflection, and silence. Not only that, fires cannot be lit – that means no cooking, and some Balinese do, in fact, fast on Silent Day.
But non-Balinese are expected to respect many of the customs, as well. They must, for example, remain at home or within the confines of their hotel.
For hotels, this presents a dilemma because many visiting tourists book trips to the island unaware that they will be confined to their hotels during a 24 hour period on the Day of Silence.
The Nyepi Day of Silence falls between 7 and 31 March on the Gregorian Calendar. Often called Silent Day or the Day of Silence in English, Nyepi begins at 6 am on the first day and continues until 6 am the following day. It falls on Thursday 7 March in 2019.
New Year’s Eve
6 March 2019
Giant ogoh-ogoh are paraded through the streets of Denpasar and Kuta as well as in villages and towns across the island to purify the environment and scare off evil spirits. You won’t want to miss this! It is a spectacle to behold!
New Year’s Day
7 March 2019
Everyone is expected to remain indoors on the Nyepi Day of Silence. Hotels usually organize activities to keep guests occupied.
In addition to attending yoga classes or experiencing guided meditation, guests are usually allowed to wonder about the grounds, lie by the pool, or go swimming, but noise should be kept to a minimum.
Most hotels catering to tourists organize special activities for children.
However, hotel guests are not allowed on the beach or to leave the hotel grounds. Hotel rooms usually have black-out curtains, which should be kept shut after dark.
8 March 2019
Ngembak Geni, which means “relighting the fire” in Balinese, is the day after Nyepi. It represents a return to life as usual. Expect large crowds at beaches and parks as families and friends gather to seek forgiveness and perform religious rituals.
Recommended Hotels Across Bali
Travelers can neither check in nor check out of hotels on the Nyepi Day of Silence.
For this reason, a minimum of two nights must be booked for all travelers staying at hotels over this period, checking in on 6 March at the latest and checking out on 8 March at the earliest.
If you want to experience the Balinese New Year, the following hotels are offering special packages …
Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa
Guests at the Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa can take part in the hotel’s ogoh ogoh parade, and those carrying ogoh-ogoh will be offered Arak-based cocktails. The two-night package includes daily breakfast for two adults and kids under 12, a special Nyepi Dinner on the Day of Silence for two adults and kids under 12 with movie entertainment, and special activities for the entire family.
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran Bali
The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran Bali is offering a two-night package, which includes buffet breakfast, welcome drink, complimentary refreshment from the Mini Bar upon arrival, complimentary Chocolate Hour, and a buffet lunch and dinner on Silent Day. There will be complimentary activities on Nyepi Day, including Meditation and Yin Yoga. Children from four to 12 years old are entitled to daily complimentary four-hour access to the Meera Kids Club.
The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali
The Westin Resort Nusa Dua is offering a special package, which includes accommodation in a Deluxe Garden Room with a daily SuperFoodsRx breakfast for two adults and two children. This special offer also includes a buffet dinner on Nyepi Day for two adults and two children as well as fun activities at The Westin Family Kids Club.
Weather in Bali in March
Bali is hot all year, with little variation in temperature from month to month. The average highs and lows vary by just a couple of degrees.
In March, the average high temperature is 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with average lows of 23 Celsius, or 73 Fahrenheit. The humidity, however, hovers at around 80%, which can make it a bit uncomfortable at times.
Located in the heart of the tropics, Bali has two distinct seasons: wet and dry. March is one of the four wettest months of the year, with an average of 14 rainy days.
Is Balinese New Year a Good Time to Visit?
I once planned a visit to Bali in March, but I only became aware of the Balinese Day of Silence after my arrival.
The general manager of the hotel I was staying at brought the issue up over breakfast, asking when I was returning to Hong Kong.
When I told him I was leaving a couple of days before the festival, he suggested I extend my trip by a few days.
“I really want you to experience it,” he said.
“If you can change your ticket home, I’ll put you up at either this hotel or – if we are fully booked – at one of our sister properties.”
I must say, the Balinese New Year was a very special experience. I was taken into Kuta on New Year’s Eve to view the ogoh-ogoh being carried through the streets.
On New Year’s Day, I was confined to the hotel premises, where I took a session of guided meditation, watched a movie, which turned out to be a very emotional experience, and enjoyed three meals on the roof.
Dinner was served in total darkness, and the number of stars visible in the skies overhead was spectacular.
I can understand the disappointment someone might have if they had booked a short trip to Bali not knowing of Balinese Silent Day. However, for me it was a wonderful experience.
I would, in fact, recommend planning your trip around the Day of Silence. Just make sure you book a room at a hotel that offers something for you to do – or bring a good book!
- Click HERE for my Number One choice!