Bali is an excellent destination to introduce your family to Southeast Asian culture and Hinduism. Luckily for people from the Northern Hemisphere, the best time to visit Bali is from June to September, when most kids are on summer vacation.
However, there are benefits to traveling to Indonesia during other times of the year. Read on to learn what to expect weather-wise from your Bali trip.
Bali By Season
Bali has two distinct seasons—the dry and wet (monsoon) periods. Both seasons come with their advantages and downsides.
Bali’s dry season runs from April to September. You can expect abundant sunshine and high temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s, though the average highs don’t fluctuate much throughout the year. If you’re seeking relatively cooler weather, Ubud and towns in the mountains remain a bit cooler than beach destinations like Kuta and Seminyak.
Aside from a lack of rain, the most notable climate-related difference between the dry and wet seasons in Bali is that there’s less humidity in the dry season. Given Bali’s warm tropical climate, that’ll surely be welcome if anyone in your family isn’t keen on hot weather.
That said, despite the near-perfect beach weather, traveling during Bali’s dry season isn’t a guarantee that you won’t encounter rain. It’s common for small rain showers to pop up from April to September. But there’s little need to worry about a total washout affecting your tour plans.
The monsoon season occurs in Bali from October to March. During these months, it’s more humid, and mosquitos become abundant.
Dengue and malaria are both present in Bali, so using bug spray will reduce your family’s chances of contracting these mosquito-borne illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends malaria medication for people traveling to certain parts of Indonesia. You can talk with your family doctor to determine if it’s the right fit for you.
Despite gloomier skies, traveling during Bali’s wet season isn’t all doom and gloom. Rice paddies are greener thanks to so much rain, and you’ll encounter fewer crowds at tourist sites. Plus, you won’t feel as bad spending extra time indoors if you come down with a case of Bali belly—a colloquial name for an upset stomach.
Lower prices also accompany the monsoon season. So, even though Bali is already a budget-friendly destination, traveling during the heart of the rainy season will help you save even more money on accommodation and tours. Just be sure to invest in a high-quality umbrella so you can explore Bali’s rice fields to the fullest.
Picking a Month With Fewer Crowds
Although you’ll usually encounter fewer crowds in Bali from October to March, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. For example, massive amounts of tourists start arriving on the Island of Gods in mid-December, with the crowds remaining through the new year.
So, the best time to visit Bali to avoid large crowds is in October, November, mid to late January, and February. Early December also counts as part of the off-season.
What To Expect During Bali’s High Tourist Season
Although April to September falls during the dry season, Bali receives many international tourists from May to August, corresponding to when kids are off from school.
From January to September 2022 alone, Bali had nearly 1.2 million international tourists. And that’s low compared to the island’s pre-pandemic numbers, which exceeded 6 million tourists per year.
But even without these pre-pandemic numbers, you can expect crowded beaches, temples, rice terraces, and other places of interest in Bali during the peak tourism season. Arriving at sites in the morning is best, reducing the time your kids will have to wait to take a swing ride over the Tegallalang Rice Terraces or get their photo taken at the Pura Lempuyang Temple.
Many families are happy to withstand the busiest season in exchange for the driest weather conditions, making sightseeing easier, especially when catching sunsets at places like Kuta Beach and Tanah Lot.
Benefits of Traveling During the Shoulder Season
Even though Bali has only two seasons, there’s typically a transition period. So, the months of April, September, and October are when you’ll encounter relatively less rain and fewer tourists.
Lower prices for accommodations and tours are another factor that makes the shoulder season attractive for many. But as mentioned earlier, you can expect to encounter the lowest prices during the heart of the monsoon season, such as in January (after New Year celebrations) and February.
If you travel during the shoulder season, it’s more important to plan some of your activities around the rain than others. For example, monkeys go into hiding when it rains. So, it’s better to high-tail it to Ubud Monkey Forest or Suluban Beach during breaks of rain.
The Best Time to Visit Bali for Hiking
Whether you have young kids and want to embark on the easy Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud, or you plan on dragging your teenagers out of bed to hike Mount Batur before sunrise, your best bet is to hike from May to September.
These months fall during the heart of the dry season. So, you’ll have a better chance of encountering clearer skies to enjoy the views.
And, of course, there will be less of a chance that rain will muddy the path if you arrange your Bali itinerary during the dry season.
The Best Time to Visit Bali for Surfing
Uluwatu’s beaches are notorious for offering world-class surfing spots. While you’ll encounter people cruising Bali’s waves year-round, the best time for surfing is from May to September.
That’s right—Bali’s best surf corresponds with the dry season.
Unless you have a child with advanced surfing skills, it’s best to prepare your kids by telling them that you’ll be watching the surfers as a family, not participating in the sport. The waves in many parts of Bali are strong, and a rocky coral bottom can cause injuries.
However, some beaches in Bali are more family-friendly for young children. Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, and Pandawa are beaches that often have water conditions suitable for casual swimmers. Nevertheless, it’s always best to check the flag on the beach. A red flag means the water is too dangerous for swimming.
Best Time to Visit Bali for Festivals
If you’re visiting Bali for the first time, you’ll likely encounter many celebrations at temples throughout the island. Day or night, rain or shine, weekday or weekend, there always seems to be some event taking place. The celebrations are often for a specific town’s temple, cremation, or wedding.
But aside from these regional ceremonies, many country-wide festivals occur annually. Below are some of the most notable festivals that could add extra cultural richness to your family vacation if you can arrange your dates around them.
Bali Arts Festival
The Bali Arts Festival is an annual event that started in 1979. It takes place from mid-June to mid-July, and the locals use it to celebrate their art and culture.
Visiting Bali during the Bali Arts Festival is an excellent opportunity to introduce your kids to traditional dances, puppetry, artwork, and the bamboo and coconut decorations that are common in Balinese Hinduism.
August 17th is Indonesian independence day and a period when Bali comes to life with parades and celebrations. You’ll see Indonesia’s red and white flag on nearly every home and public place.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness a flag-raising ceremony, an act that many local governments and schools perform. Of course, there’ll be plenty of people selling delicious street food and sweets for your family to try.
You’ll need to take special care when planning your trip to Bali if you want to visit during Galungan, a holiday celebrating ancestral spirits visiting the earth. The Balinese calculate the dates for Galungan based on a 210-day Pawukon calendar, so this festival takes place at vastly different times.
The approximately 10-day event involves the locals praying and making offerings to their ancestors. You’ll find these offerings hanging from bamboo poles on the side of the road throughout Bali. Fried rice cakes called Jaja are a popular food that locals cook during Galungan.
Nyepi is Bali’s New Year, and the Balinese celebrate it in a way your kids may have never seen—by slowing down life’s pace to meditate. You won’t encounter traffic, loud noises, or lights on Nyepi.
Furthermore, Nyepi is a time when the Balinese fast in an attempt to get closer to God. There isn’t a set date when Nyepi happens, as it varies according to the Balinese calendar.
Ngembak Geni is a holiday that occurs the day after Nyepi. Bali will return to being lively on this day, with locals visiting each other’s houses to ask for forgiveness for any bad things they may have done.
Nyepi and Ngembak can be enjoyable holidays to experience. But if your family vacation in Bali is short, you might be better off planning your trip around these dates so that you don’t have to worry about them impacting your tours and transfers.
Are You Ready to Experience Bali?
Even though June to September is widely accepted as the best time to visit Bali, the truth is that the island offers benefits to tourists year-round.
So, whether you travel during your kid’s summer vacation or want to take them to Bali during the shoulder season over spring break, you’re bound to have an enjoyable trip.
This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible. Photo Credit:[@dudewayap/DepositPhotos]
Laura is the co-founder of A Piece of Travel, a blog encouraging self-guided travel, including for wheelchair users. She's spent most of her adult life abroad, starting with a 3-year Peace Corps service in Panama. When Laura isn't crafting her next article, you can find her befriending street dogs while searching for local vegetarian food.