3 New Rules Affecting All Tourists In Bali You Should Know Before Visiting

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Famous for its idyllic rice terraces, Jumanji-like jungles sprinkled with sleepy ancient villages and teal-colored seas, Bali is on the bucket list of every adventurous traveler, but there’s one slight caveat: it is among the strictest destinations in Asia.

Ancient Temple In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaAncient Temple In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

The island is known for its harsh laws surrounding tourism and the surveillance of visitors, and though most are here for some sun, sand and fun only, there are still regulations, and even prohibitions affecting them that normally wouldn’t apply elsewhere.

Recently, authorities took it even further by adding 3 additional rules, and regardless of whether they are aware or not, tourists who don’t follow them could find themselves in hot water:

1. A New Tourist Tax

Young Female Tourist Taking Picture Of A Rice Terrace In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaYoung Female Tourist Taking Picture Of A Rice Terrace In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Bali already takes one of the toughest stances on Asia when it comes to foreign arrivals: for instance, Americans can’t just fly into the island freely, and unless they are exempt, they must purchase a Tourist Visa upon arrival at the cost of $35.

If you’re already paying thousands of dollars to fly from the States all the way to Bali, that’s arguably a negligible sum, but there’s still plenty of Asian countries Americans can travel not only visa-free, but without the added bureaucracy.

Tourists On A Boat In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaTourists On A Boat In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

If anything, the $35 visas are a slight nuisance, particularly when there’s a long line of people waiting to buy them at Denpasar International Airport, but you should know it’s not the only ‘tax’ levied on foreign arrivals: as of this year, tourists are required to pay an additional $10 separately.

The so-called Foreign Tourist Levy is designed to help protect Balinese culture and the environment, as well as improve safety and infrastructure on the island, but contrary to popular belief, it is not included in the visa fee.

Woman at Airport on PhoneWoman at Airport on Phone

Visitors can pay the tax through the Love Bali website or app, and they shouldn’t be surprised if they’re stopped for QR codes traveling around the island: the Tourism Office has already confirmed tourism police will be carrying out spot checks in popular beach spots.

Regrettably, not that many tourists are aware of the new tax, which was only introduced in February, with only 5,000 foreigners paying per day; the good news is no fines have been announced for non-compliance, but visitors without a QR code will be required to pay on the spot if checked.

2. Deportation For Breaking Traffic Laws In Some Cases

bali policebali police

The second update is more significant, as it directly impacts guests who rent cars or motorcycles in Bali: foreigners who do not respect traffic laws on the island will not only be subject to fines, but they may even face criminal charges and deportation in severe cases.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, deportation means being expelled from the country you’re a guest in and returning to your country of origin, with potential restrictions on ever returning depending on the severity of the crime.

Blue Taxi In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaBlue Taxi In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Collisions are relatively among tourists in Bali, who occasionally forget the Balinese drive on the left side of the road (like the British), and are sometimes involved in crashes: recently, the Bali Sun reported a 22-year-old European tourist was killed in a collision with a bus while driving on the wrong lane.

According to Saffar Godam, the Director of Immigration Supervision, tourists who receive a driving ticket, however minor the infringement is, will have ‘violated the laws and regulations in force’, and may be subject to deportation, as following them is a prerequisite for holding a tourist visa.

Traffic In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaTraffic In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Local law is known to be far stricter than U.S. or European law.

Foreigners who are not Balinese nationals and are only on the island as visitors are required to accept whatever punishment authorities deem fit, be it a fine, imprisonment, or restorative measures.

It goes without saying that, when renting a car or motorcycle in Bali, you must ensure you are fully insured and in possession of a valid international driver’s license; so far this year, 159 foreigners have been deported from Bali for a variety of reasons, as stated by Godam himself.

3. You Can Get Reported By Locals For Misbehaving

Young Woman In An Infinity Pool In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaYoung Woman In An Infinity Pool In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Finally, there is a third bill being brought in that’s stirred quite a bit of controversy: it’s a long title, but bear with us… the Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights is formally urging locals to report ‘any and all instances’ of foreigners misbehaving.

You read that right: as confirmed by the Bali Sun, if you ‘misbehave’, whatever that means based on local guidance and traditions, it can get you into trouble with authorities as well, and depending on the severity of the act… you guessed it, you may face penalization.

Male Tourist At A Famous Bali Temple, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaMale Tourist At A Famous Bali Temple, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Now, it’s not as if we don’t exactly know what ‘misbehaving’ entails, but it’s also true that certain behaviors that would be the norm, or at best tolerated in the West, such as drinking and being loud in public, or using a wide range of drugs, could constitute a criminal offense in Bali.

For example, due to laws governing religious practices, women are strongly advised against entering temples if they’re currently menstruating, and posing ‘indiscreetly’ for pictures in sacred sites, or climbing certain sacred trees, is also considered ‘disrespectful’.

You can find a comprehensive list of behaviors expected of tourists while in Bali in this Instagram post below:

Officials have reiterated they will ‘not hesitate’ in taking firm action against foreigners who violate any of the rules, regardless of their nationality, as their priority is maintaining the state sovereignty and providing ‘a sense of security’ for the Balinese people.

Familiarize Yourself With The Local Law Before Visiting

Hindu Temple In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast AsiaHindu Temple In Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Bali is a beautiful island with a thriving nature and a fascinating ancient culture, home to friendly locals who will go out of their way to help you if needed, and that are incredibly hospitable, but you don’t want to show disrespect to their centuries-old traditions.

Other than the recent updates, Western tourists are reminded that Indonesia has very strict laws relating to drug usage, and it goes as far as reserving capital punishment for drug-related offenses that would be dealt with in a far less severe manner in the United States or Europe.

tourist with monkey in balitourist with monkey in bali

When in Bali, you want to make sure you abide by the law, as there is a zero-tolerance approach for foreigners who break it, and being a U.S. citizen does not exempt you from facing serious criminal charges.

That being said, Bali is a super-popular vacation destination, hosting millions of Westerners every year, and most visitors return home with nothing but fond memories of the place, as an overwhelming majority stays vigilant and respectful of local customs––which, let’s face it, it’s not a big ask.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


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