Since the end of September, concerns about Mount Agung erupting have affected travel to Bali. When the volcano erupted on November 27, it forced DPS – Denpasar Airport to shut down for 2 days as flights had to be cancelled due to the volcanic ash in the air that clogs jet engines.
As the tourism industry continues to suffer in Bali, incentives are being offered by the government and local businesses to encourage travel to the island despite ongoing concerns about other volcanic eruptions. In this post, I will discuss why you should consider traveling to Bali and some of the things you need to be aware of and prepared for.
Accommodations: While the accommodation options in Bali are abundant, it has become expensive to stay in hot spots like Seminyak and Ubud as of late and a quick search of the prices will show that they are relatively cheaper than last year. Some hotels like Alila Seminyak are even offering an assurance that should the volcano cause travel interruptions, they will extend the stay for up to 2 days at no extra charge and cover the cost of transportation to the nearest airport. I reached out to a few other hotels where I have contacts and while they are not offering the same promotion, they said they would assist guests on a case-by-case basis. I would strongly recommend that you contact the property where you are staying to confirm how they will assist you should you get stranded.
At the end of September, we decided to cancel our trip to Bali and cancelled a reservation at a small local hotel and they refused to refund our money. Sadly, the hotel was anticipating revenue loss and told us our concerns about the volcano were not valid and refused to refund our pre-payment. In this case, we had to initiate a dispute with our credit card company to get the hotel to honor the terms and conditions they agreed to at the time of booking. If you have concerns, booking with a larger hotel chain and selecting a refundable rate is advisable.
Flights: While many tourist spots in Bali remain safe from volcanic activity, flight cancellations are the biggest issue to contend with as they can leave you stranded. Back when Denpasar airport was closed for 2 days, it caused a backlog of passengers and in some cases, some people waited up to 7 days to be re-booked. My airline contacts said they did their best to book passengers on flights operated by other airlines but there weren’t that many seats left and options were limited and this is especially the case during peak times when flight load factors are higher.
Travel Insurance: As the risk of the volcano erupting is known, travelers have reported difficulty in finding travel insurance for a trip to Bali due to what’s called “awareness of a pre-existing natural disaster”. It is best to disclose this when seeking a quote and to evaluate the cost of the policy and coverage to the cost of getting stranded for around 7 days. If your trip and travel insurance purchased prior to when advisories were published about Mount Agung, then you should be covered but I recommend reading the fine print and seeking clarification.
Flexibility: How flexible are your travel dates should you get stranded? When we decided to cancel our trip in October 2017 as a result of the risk of a volcanic eruption, our itinerary was not flexible. After Bali, we were set to fly to Japan for 2 days, then off to Malaysia for 3 days and to Sri Lanka for 7 days. As you can see, a travel interruption could have messed up the rest of our trip and it was a risk we were not prepared to take. If you are just going to Bali and/or are flexible with your travel days, then it’s less of a risk.
Overall: Bali is a great place and had we visited in October 2017, it would have been our 5th trip to the island; we love the scenery, the culture, the food, the spectacular accomodation options (…private pool villa anyone..?) and the activities in Bali. While we have’t ruled out a trip to Bali in 2018, we will have to assess the risk at that time and we would probably book less far in advance and book refundable rates when possible.
Are you planning a trip to Bali in the near future? Do you think it is a good time to visit Bali?