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Click for larger view.Normally when people ask about the best time of year to visit Bali, what they really want to know is the time of year with the best weather. But, "best weather" doesn't necessarily translate to "best time to visit."

Weather isn't the only thing to take into consideration when deciding the best time to visit Bali. One person's "best time" might not be desirable for someone else. Here's a rundown of the pros and cons for each month of the year.

January & February:
These two months are typically the rainiest of the year in Bali, and in other tourist areas such as Central Java and Lombok. But, despite these months being the height of the rainy season, the beginning of January is still busy with tourists who've lingered after having spent their Christmas holidays in Bali. Once you hit the second week of January, and continuing through Febrary, the island becomes quiet and intimate, which is wonderful if you don't like crowds. And, if you like to swim in the sea, the water temperature during these two months is a couple degrees warmer than the rest of the year.

The rainfall and number of days of precipitation in March is almost as high as during the previous two months. But, for visitors who want to experience a very unique Balinese tradition, March is the time to visit. Nyepi Day (Silent Day) almost always takes place in March. Being on the island during Nyepi is an experience you won't find anywhere else in the world. After all, where else would a busy international airport close down for a holiday?

This is the month when the rainy season starts to wind down. It's still considered to be the rainy season, but the rainfall totals, and number of days of precipitation, aren't as high as January through March. If you plan a trip towards the end of April, there won't be as many tourists as during upcoming months, and the amount of rain will start to drop. So, traveling to Bali in April is a good compromise. If you're venturing beyond Bali, it's important to note the some of the other islands, such as Sulawesi, have a substantial drop in rainfall from previous months. On the other hand, if you plan to visit Kalimantan (Borneo) to see the orangutans, April is not an ideal month to travel. Because there's usually a lot of fruit to be found in the wild during April, orangutans may not come to the feeding platforms as regularly as they would when there's less fruit in the rainforest.

The rain continues to taper off in May and it's usually a very nice time to visit Bali. Tourism picks up in May, but it's not as crowded as the summer months. However, May is becoming more and more popular every year. And, early May attracts a lot of Japanese tourists who vacation during their Golden Week holiday. So, in order to have a good choice of accommodations, you should plan to book well in advance for travel in May. Visitors to Kalimantan (Borneo) and northern Sumatra will see a small spike in rainfall during May.

June is arguably the best month of the year in Bali. Weather-wise, the dry season has officially kicked in and there are usually some nice breezes blowing. Though the island is getting more crowded with tourists, most schools haven't let out yet, so it's not as crowded as the next two months. June's weather is just about ideal through a large part of the Indonesian archipelago. But, in the Moluccas it's the rainiest month of the year.

July & August:
With a large influx of tourists, these two least rainiest months of the year are also the most expensive in Bali, Lombok and Central Java, with hotels charging high season surcharges. Bali is crowded and it's slow going getting from place to place. Try to stay in more remote areas of the island, at least part of the time. During your time at the beach plan to just settle in and not do any touring, as traffic can be downright bad at this time of year - especially around the most popular beach resorts. In July and August, consider visiting other islands of Indonesia that aren't as touristy as Bali. Hotels on many of the islands that are off the beaten path don't tack on high season surcharges.

It's still busy in September, though not as busy as in July and August. Though most hotels in Bali go back to low season rates in September, there are still some hotels that carry over their high season rates until the 15th of the month - or even the end of the month. The weather is normally very nice in September, which is the tied with June for the third least rainy month of the year. September offers the best of both worlds.

This is a good time to visit Bali if you want to avoid the heaviest crowds, but still have a good shot at nice weather. Though October is the official start of the rainy season in Bali, the heaviest rains typically come later in the year and the number of rainy days is still pretty low. Over the past few years, October has become popular for visitors who want to make a conscious effort to get away from lots of tourists. But, for tourists planning to visit northern Sumatra, October is the rainiest month of the year in that part of Indonesia.

The rains are starting to kick in by November - especially by the middle or end of the month. November is noticeably quieter than preceding months and it's a very nice time to visit if you don't mind that you'll likely see rain for roughly half the days of the month. Personally, I like November in Bali.

Despite being the rainy season, the second half of the month is usually very heavily booked with tourists. Families, in particular, are looking for a Christmas/New Year getaway and even though there's rain, it's always warm in Bali. The early part of the month is similar to November, but the latter half of the month is a time of hotel surcharges (often even higher than the summer surcharges), crowds and rain. So, unless it's the only time of the year that you can travel, it's best to avoid the second half of December. On the plus side, many restaurants and bars will have festivities for the New Year.

Keep in mind that because Bali has a tropical climate, it can rain in the dry season and the amount of rain in the wet season can vary from year to year. Weather can never be guaranteed and with climate change it's getting more and more unpredictable. In July of 2010, it rained pretty much the whole month, even though July is normally one of the two driest months of the year. And, in 2015, Bali was in the midst of a drought and November had some of the highest temperatures ever recorded - with no rain in sight.

In deciding when to travel, you should weigh the importance that you personally place on weather, avoiding crowds and other such considerations as Balinese holidays and temple festivals (which are listed on our calendar of events). Of course, other factors come into play such as your work schedule, school schedule - or for honeymooners, your wedding date!

Finally - when all is said and done:
In Bali they say "you make plans and then the gods will decide."

Diane Embree
January 21, 2016

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