Wonderful Indonesia-Bali and Beyond-Key updates

I happened to attend a brief session organized by Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia in Chennai, giving some key insights about Indonesia tourism, visiting Bali and beyond. This post shares some key notes from this session, which I believe will be interesting/useful for you.
1. Bali won Tripadvisor's World's Best Destination award (2017)- Details

2. Bali is at #1 in Travel+Leisure's list of 2017 world's top 10 islands [Details]

3. In 2017, 14 million tourists visited Bali, a 21% increase YoY. Indian torists accounted for close to half a million, up by 30% compare to 2016 and #6 in terms of countries from where maximum tourists came from. (Singapore, China, Malaysia, Japan and Australia are the top countries).

4. In 2018, Indonesia is expecting 7 lakh Indians to visit Bali- that is about 45% increase over 2017's 4.8 lakhs. India is fastest growing market for Indonesia tourism after China.

Above- Surfing at Blue point beach- more photos n details here

5. There's more to Indonesia than Bali!
There is more to Indonesia than Bali. Honorary Consular for Chennai Mr Kumar said when he asked a German “Do you know about Indonesia” he said NO. When he asked do you know Bali, he said “Yes”. Most of the tourists limit their trip to only Bali. Indonesia is a country of 18307+ islands, few of them very close to Singapore and Malaysia – such as Batam and Bintan islands

6. Batam and Bintan Islands
I was oblivious to Bintan and Batam Islands so far. Bintan is an Indonesian island just 1 hour by ferry from Singapore's Harbor Front. Everything is lot cheaper in Bintan compared to expensive Singapore- five star resorts or golf course or meals are all almost 50% or more cheaper compared to Singapore. So if you’re visiting Singapore and have a few more days to spare, you can include Bintan or Batam in your plan. Indonesia tourism is promoting discounted packages for tourists visiting Bintan, using which you can get significant discount on ferry ticket and other expenses.

If I spot a super cheap fare to Singapore I will consider a visit to Bintan or Batam. But the problem is Singapore Visa- if you can’t get multiple entry Visa to Singapore, you won’t be able to return to Singapore from Bintan to fly back home.Hopefully a proper cover letter, Bintan hotel reservations should help get multiple entry Singapore Visa

7. More direct flights between India and Indonesia
Most of us wondered why there can’t be more direct flights between India and Indonesia. I had written on Airlineblog about Bali as a direct flight destination. We learnt that Indonesia tourism and government are lot more keen to have more flights to India, but a 2011 agreement is preventing everyone. [Read here 2011 Air Services Agreement between India and Indonesia ] Apparently this agreement sort of requires equal number of India based airlines to fly to Indonesia as much as Indonesia based airlines fly to India. None of India’s airlines are flying direct or one stop to Indonesia at present. Garuda Indonesia is operating Mumbai-Bangkok-Jakarta and is planning few more flights to cities like Chennai. I remember a Malindo Air executive tell me that they don't have landing rights in Chennai, hence have to use Batik Air's license to operate from Chennai. We were told the discussions are on at highest level to ensure regulatory provisions are in place for more planes to fly between two countries. Let us hope for some good news soon.

Above: Bali from window seat of Malindo Air- more pics here

There're dozens of one stop flights to Bali/other major Indonesia cities- Via Singapore (Scoot, Silk Air, Singapore Airlines), Via Bangkok (Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways etc), via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian, Air Asia, Malindo) or Hong Kong (Cathay). At present the cheapest round trip fare is around INR 10000 (During Air Asia Big sale, non refundable, booked months in advance), but normal return fare on full service airline is in the range of 20-25k, 15-20 on low cost airlines.

8. Tri Hita Karana
Learnt this new concept- Tri Hita Karana roughly translates to three welfare reasons/concepts. Tri Hita Karana means living in harmony with God, Nature and People. This is at the core of Bali's culture.  Details on Wikipedia

Above: a hidden waterfalls, somewhere in the mountains of Bali- details here

9. Bali Tourism Hospitality Taskforce
One of the major concerns on the minds of those planning to visit Bali is the active Volcanos. Bali has dozens of Volcanos and once in a while few of them get active, spew some ash/lava and affect normal life. I have written a detailed post earlier explaining Bali's Volcano activities and its possible impacts on tourists.

We were told about a Bali Tourism and Hospitality (BTH) Taskforce set up by the ministry of tourism to take care of tourists, in case of Volcano disrupting travel. BTH Taskforce is created in October 2017 with members drawn from various government departments and agencies associated with travel and hospitality, to coordinate and execute contingency plans in case of major issues like airport closure. [Details] BTH Taskforce helps tourists in following ways, in case a Volcano disrupts flights
  • Facilitate tourists who wish to go to a hotel and extend their stay in Bali till airport operations resume
  • Facilitate transportation to tourists who wish to travel to other nearby airports
  • Facilitate transportation to other islands in Bali
Volcano eruption can never be predicted months in advance. The probability is very low and impact is usually limited to few kms around the affected mountain and not all of Bali. The remote possibility of volcano eruption shouldn't be a reason not to visit Bali. In the event of Volcano activity and airport closure, the BTH Task force is ready with contingency plans to ensure that tourists face minimum disruption. [I personally experienced this in 2015 but have made two successful trips to Bali, one each in 2016 and 2017]

10. Bali's India connection
Close to 90% of Bali's population are Hindus. Many of them visit India every year for pilgrimage/spiritual purposes and temple visits in India. There's a very high level of rich cultural connect between India and Indonesia- most of our tales- Ramayana and Mahabharata are adored a lot more seriously in Indonesia [Have you paid attention to Ghatotkaja statue right outside Denpasar airport? or Kumbakarna statue at Uluwatu temple or idols of Pandawas at Pandawa beach?]
11. Chennai Connection
Kumar said a decade ago hardly 20000 people visited Bali from Chennai (in an year). At present, he says the number is close to 200 000 or 10 fold increase.

I've been to Bali twice but looking to visit again. If you've not been to Bali yet, you should definitely plan a trip in 2018. You can easily craft a plan of your own, or avail services of PickYourTrail who can craft a customized package for you.

My other major posts on Bali- Recommended 6 day Bali itinerary * Bali's longest and most spectacular ATV ride experience * Jatiluwih and Tegalalang Rice Terraces * Waterfalls- Git Git * Tegenungan * Colek Pamor Bali Bike rental experience  * Padma Ubud *


  1. Very much informative and interesting post.

  2. I am most fascinated by the concept of Tri Hita Karana.

  3. I am also know that Indonesia Bali is wonderful places in the world there are many people come to visit there. I read many post about this topic and I am also know many thin about this places. But your post is different to another post. Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. I have been wanting to visit Indonesia for the fast 5-6 years. But high costs (its impossible for me to book more than a month in advance) and low flight connectivity has held me back. Hope that changes soon

    1. If you can try off season, you could easily get return tickets for around 20-25k even if booked few weeks in advance. Do try. Best wishes


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