There are a number of surprises Australians need to be ready for when visiting Bali for the first time in years. From pre-departure PCR tests (and PCR tests on arrival) to folders of paperwork necessitating old school Manila folders and office printers, it’s a little like going back in time (as is the slightly less crowded scenes on the island itself).
TikTok user @nicoleshiraz demonstrates many of the differences on TikTok. She showed how you have to line up before immigration (to show all your vaccination documents). She said, on this point, you should expect to spend two hours at the airport.
She also said you have to take a PCR test on arrival and pay again too. Though she didn’t say how much, it has been reported by various outlets that the Indonesian Ministry of Health has limited the price for an RT-PCR Swab test to a maximum of 275,000 Rupiah ($25 AUD).
@nicoleshiraz also said that “the airport was so dead our luggage looked lonely” and that “customs took about 0 minutes.”
It’s not only TikTok bloggers pointing out the changes to Bali travel.
AFR’s aviation writer Lucas Baird wrote about how Indonesia’s more stringent restrictions are “akin to culture shock at a time when much of the Western world is easing rules and restrictions.”
“It is understandable, however,” he added, “given the vastly different situation Indonesia is in.”
“COVID-19 case numbers in [Indonesia] peaked only late last month as the omicron strain ripped through a population that is only 55 per cent fully vaccinated. At the wave’s most deadly point, March 8, 401 lives were lost.”AFR
“Still, the extended box-checking exercise before the flight did make me wonder if many would pass on Bali’s idyllic beaches for now, to find easier, less bureaucratic comfort elsewhere, such as Fiji,” Baird wrote.
Kirrily Schwarz, writing for ESCAPE, wrote about the tricky aspect of printing out your travel documents, in an age where we’re used to doing everything on our phones.
“Lacking the critical hardware, I ended up at Officeworks the day before the flight to print hard copies of the requirements. However, as a rookie error, I overlooked the need to staple together grouped pages, such as the eight pages of my flight itinerary and the seven pages of my accommodation reservation.”
When you arrive you get a VOA (visa on arrival) for about $50. You also need proof of COVID travel insurance with a minimum coverage of AUD$21,000 as a requirement of travel, at the time of writing.
As well as undergoing the usual pre-flight COVID test, travellers also have to do a PCR test when arriving in Bali.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan explained that even “passengers who are fully vaccinated will still have to take a PCR test when they arrive and stay inside their pre-booked accommodation while waiting for the result.”
“After testing negative, the tourists will be free to do their activities with the procedures still being applied. Tourists will carry out another PCR test on their third day at their respective hotels. This is for our mutual safety.”
Some travel websites recommend you book a hotel with a ‘warm-up’ vacation package, which includes the PCR tests in its pricing (although make sure it’s not a scam as your PCR at an official health clinic in Bali shouldn’t cost much more than $25-28).
ESCAPE reports: “Your PCR test results will be sent to the PedunliLindungi app, which you’ll need to download prior to your trip to upload your vaccine certificate as one of the requirements of travel.”
“It’s been advised that if you don’t take this final test, a black icon will come up on your PedunliLindungi app, which could prevent you from travelling freely in Bali.”ESCAPE
Other than that, Bali is back, baby.