7 Tips to Survive Nyepi Day in Bali
1. Plan Your Arrival
Ngurah Rai International Airport is perhaps the only international airport in the world that totally ceases its operations for a full 24 hours every year. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) are issued annually for Nyepi, from 06:00 to 06:00 the following day. Due to the closure, all flights both arriving and departing from the airport will be inoperable. It’s always a good idea to plan your flights in or out to avoid the actual Nyepi date. In other words, arrive early – perhaps in time to watch the lively parades of Nyepi Eve!.
2. Enjoy your Hotel in Bali as Usual – Nyepi’s only 1 day!
Hotels in Bali are well geared up to offer their guests the best experiences during Nyepi, which basically confines them to their resort grounds, as traveling is one of the four restricted tenets (called Catur Brata Penyepian) of the Saka New Year celebration in Bali. Guest activities within higher end resorts can be enjoyed as usual, ranging from swimming, kids’ club facilities for the little ones, to tailored in-house activities such as resort garden fun and games, designed especially for the day.
3. Watch the Melasti Processions leading up To Nyepi
Several (between 3 to 4) days leading up to the turn of the Saka New Year and its full day of silence, Balinese Hindus get into lively procession mode. Pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali convey heirlooms on long walks towards the coastlines where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. It is one of the best times to capture on camera one of the most iconic Balinese images in motion – the sight of brightly-clad devotees carrying elaborate parasols, banners and small effigies against the blue sky and rolling surf. It’s certainly a cultural spectacle.
4. See the Parade of Giants on Nyepi Eve
‘Ogoh-ogoh’ are giant papier-mâché effigies creatively built to depict demons, locally referred to as ‘bhutakala’. These can measure up to six metres in height, built by different youth groups in competitive spirit. The best creations are paraded throughout village streets on Nyepi Eve, complete with loud gamelan accompaniments and often with bamboo light torches adding to its dramatic effect. Traffic in the main resort areas is usually rerouted, so it’s best to also plan ahead on where you want to watch the parades. Central Denpasar, Kuta and Ubud are popular hotspots.
5. Stock Up on Snacks + DVDs
Visitors are exempt from the Nyepi restriction of lighting fire (for cooking – as long as the light and fire is not visible from outside your room or villa), so it’s okay to stock up on snacks or food for your kitchenette. The same goes for in-room entertainment such as DVDs (entertainment and other luxuries are also restricted among the Balinese during Nyepi). The local government has pushed for TV stations to cease broadcasting over Bali’s airwaves over Nyepi. Your hotel’s satellite channels will mostly remain available, including internet and Wi-Fi.
6. Enjoy Stargazing in Complete Darkness
If Earth Hour is putting your lights out just for an hour, how about a whole island putting their whole lights out for 24 hours straight? With practically zero light pollution you’re in for the year’s most immersive night sky over Bali when the stars shine their brightest and the Milky Way reveals itself. You can simply pick a spot by the poolside to lay back and gaze at the wonders of the universe, or whip out your tripod and capture some stunning images.
7. Watch the Smooching Festival in Sesetan the Day After
Bali has its handful of unusual sights and this festivity is easily one of them. Omed-omedan is held the day after Nyepi, a day otherwise referred to as Ngembak Geni. It isn’t an island-wide occasion. Rather, it only takes place on one of the roads in the village of Banjar Kaja, Sesetan in southern Denpasar. The whole village community descends to cheer on participating youths who get in line for the ritual – an affair of ‘push and pull’ between the girls’ side and the boys’ side. Pre-arranged couples coming of age line up to eventually be pushed towards their partner on the other side, to eventually ‘kiss’ and embrace for a very brief moment… before cheerfully being pulled apart again. The scene gets crazier as the participants and asphalt become drenched with the elders seemingly enjoying their role spraying and dousing the crowd.
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