Nyepi, often referred to as the Balinese Day of Silence, is a Hindu tradition observed on New Year according to the Balinese Saka calendar. For one day out of the year, Bali’s rambunctious nightlife and thumping music stop. The constant roar of motorbikes stops for a day and a pleasant, mandatory silence creeps over the island. Even the perpetually busy airport shuts down for 24 hours!
Nyepi is a public holiday in Indonesia known as hari raya nyepi.
What to Expect on the Balinese Day of Silence
Locals get prepared for a day of silence by getting it all out of their systems the night before. Pots and pans are banged, firecrackers are thrown, effigies of demons are burned, and processions walk the streets. Rituals are performed to drive away evil spirits.
The Balinese Day of Silence begins at 6 a.m. on Nyepi and continues for 24 hours until 6 a.m. the following morning. Both locals and visitors are expected to take the event very seriously. The streets are patrolled by pecalang, security men in traditional garb, to ensure that there are no infractions.
While tourists aren’t expected to fast or meditate, they are expected to not leave their hotel grounds and not to cause disturbances. Even lights should be dimmed and excessive talking kept hushed. Businesses close, televisions and radios are silenced. No one is allowed to move around the island aside from the security patrols and emergency vehicles on life-saving missions.
Traveling to Bali During Nyepi
The Balinese Day of Silence will certainly affect your trip to Bali if the two coincide. Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar closes down for 24 hours with no flights allowed to leave or depart. All transportation around Bali stops moving -- plan accordingly!
As a tourist, you won’t be exempt from observing the Balinese Day of Silence. Beaches are off limits, most bars and restaurants closed, and you won’t be allowed to walk in the streets unnecessarily. Unless you're about to give birth -- one of the few exemptions from observing Nyepi -- the day is a good time to relax, read a book, and listen to the natural sounds of Bali otherwise obscured by traffic.
The dates for Nyepi change from year to year because of the Balinese Saka calendar. The Balinese Day of Silence typically falls in March or April. In 2017, the event was on March 28th. In 2018, the event will be on March 17th.