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Bali

Indonesia

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Introduction

Bali is an island of gods and demons, of ancient temples and exotic scents. The island’s scenery is graceful and gentle. From lush volcanic mountains in the north to the sandy beaches in the south, Bali offers some truly memorable experiences. And most of all, you will get the chance to meet the island’s friendly and caring people.

You can relax at the stunning beaches in Nusa Dua, enjoy the lively nightlife in Kuta or retreat to one of the charming mountain resorts near Ubud. Bali really has it all. And while Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, Bali is largely Buddhist. So gay travelers are welcome and you will have a fantastic time on this very spiritual island.

Getting there

You will arrive at Bali’s Denpasar International Airport (DPS). Check before you arrive if you require a visa to enter Indonesia. If you hold a passport from an ASEAN nation like Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam, you do not need one. However, the majority of visitors will require one. The good news is that you can get one easily at the airport when you arrive. Just bring US$ 25 in cash and you’ll get a tourist visa stamped in your passport valid for up to 30 days.

Clearing customs is usually no hassle. Even though Indonesia is a Muslim country, you can take one litre of alcohol and 200 cigarettes into the country. Pornography is prohibited. And if you bring along your collection of dildos, maybe try to hide them a little. After that take a taxi to your hotel, unless they come pick you up. Note that taxi fares are fixed. Kuta/Legian Rp 50,000-65,000, Seminyak/Jimbaran Rp 60,000-80,000, Nusa Dua Rp 95,000-110,000, Ubud Rp 105,000-265,000.

Also note that when you leave Bali, you will have to pay an airport tax of Rp 150,000 for international flights and Rp 40,000 for domestic flights. This tax is not included in your ticket price and must be paid locally in cash in Indonesian Rupiah.

Getting around

Bali is a pretty big island. However, you will probably just stay in your resort and if you want to explore the island it’s best to book a guided tour. If you do need to get around on your own it’s probably just between places in southern Bali where taxis are easily available. All taxis have a meter and fares start at Rp 5,000 for the first 2km and Rp 5,000 after that for each additional 1km. If your destination is beyond southern Bali, there is a 30% surcharge. Not all drivers are willing to use the the meter, especially during peak hours when traffic jams are to be expected. In this care, negotiate the price or get out and wait for the next one. One of the most reliable taxi companies is Bali Taksi / Blue Bird.

You can also rent a motorbike/scooter for about Rp 40,000-60,000per day, cheaper if you rent it for a few days. However, traffic in southern Bail can be quite bad and the locals do not always follow the rules. So we only recommend this if you have some decent driving experience. And always you’re your helmets, sisters. Having said that, scooters can be a lovely way to explore Bali.

When to go

Bali has a tropical climate with temperatures around 28-32⁰ C throughout the year. From December to March, the monsoon can bring a lot of rain and high humidity. However, even during the rainy season, days are often sunny with just an afternoon shower that passes quickly. Other times during the year are more dry, particularly during June to September. In higher elevations like Ubud, temperatures are slightly cooler and the skies in the volcanic rainforest mountains can be cloudy any day of the year. But all in all, Bali is a lovely destination all year round.

What to see

Besakih

The most sacred and revered temple on the island

Tanah Lot

A temple on a stunning cliff off the west coast

Ubud

Handicraft shops, artisan villages and cultural center of Bali

Jatiluwih

Local village with stunning views over the surrounding rice terraces

Gunung Batur

Dormant volcano with a picturesque crater lake

Stay connected

The Indonesian government considers gay websites pornography and some internet service providers (ISP) therefore block them. This includes gayromeo.com, fridae.asia and even the website of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. However, which websites are blocked and by which ISP changes constantly.

You can buy a local SIM card in Bali at most convenient stores. They cost around Rp 50,000 and are loaded with Rp 10,000 of credit. Mobile network providers include Telekomsel, Indosat and Exelcom. While Telekomsel is the biggest, this company also known to more strictly enforce the government’s ban on gay websites. Anyway, once you got a SIM card, you need to purchase a mobile data plan. 300MB valid over 14 days will cost you around Rp 50,000.

Gay life

Despite Indonesia being a Muslim nation, most Balinese view homosexuality pretty relaxed. And in tourist areas like Kuta/Legian there is a lively gay community with several openly gay bars. Outside these areas, the gay lifestyle is significantly less prominent. So while the Balinese society is pretty tolerant towards gays, it is still very much a conservative and spiritual community.

There are several Islamic fundamentalist groups in Indonesia who are openly hostile towards the LGBT community and want to tighten the laws regarding LGBT issues. Luckily, a proposal that would have made gay sex illegal, has been voted down in 2003. So gay sex is legal in Indonesia if both partners are above 18 years of age. It should be said that some provinces in Indonesia (e.g. Aceh) have introduced Islamic Sharia Law which makes homosexual acts illegal and punished by imprisonment.

In mainstream media, LGBT issues are still not discussed openly. The “Law against Pornography and Pornoaction” explicitly prohibits any public discussion of sexual relations between persons of the same sex. However, things are starting to change and the media is given gay issues a little more coverage nowadays. This is large parts because of groups like the Indonesia Federation of LGBT Communities Arus Pelangi are working hard to change people's mind on gay issues.

 



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