When we think of Bali, we immediately picture beautiful beaches, adventure-seeking tourists, and a lot of Instagrammable spots. And along with all these, we expect a lot of parties, bright lights, and fun music. But little do people know, there is Nyepi Day, the most serene day on the island.
It marks the first day of the New Year in accordance with the Balinese Saka calendar — this year it landed on 7 March — and is celebrated with 24 hours of inactivity. Yes, that means the entire island comes to a complete standstill. Hard to imagine right? The day then ends with a colourful parade where giant monster effigies are nosily paraded through the streets, a symbol of appeasing evil spirits and signifying a new beginning for Bali.
So what is left for you to do if ever you chance upon this day of calm and quiet? Trade those swimsuits and surfboards and embrace the spirit of Nyepi Day with these alternate activities.
Make the most out of your hotel stay
Since the island is on a complete shutdown, hotels in Bali are prepped to give their guests the best stay-in experience. Ask the concierge of the best things to do around the vicinity or if they have in-house activities or spas that you can indulge in. Take the Westin Resort Nusa Dua, for example. On the eve of Nyepi Day, they're offering a traditional cuisine buffet at their in-house Ikan Restaurant and offer an exquisite menu of spa and wellness activities for the guests to enjoy during the day of the festivity itself. Those travelling with kids can also enjoy their stay-in at the Westin Kids Club where arts-and-crafts and other playthrough activities will be held.
Enjoy the preceding Melasti parades
A series of rituals lead to the Saka New Year and one of them is in the form of Melasti parades. These processions involve pilgrims carrying various ornaments from their temples to wash them with water from the sea or the river as a sign of cleansing. Paper-made statues called Ogoh-ogoh also make their way into the streets, symbolising bad spirits or demons that are to be burned at the conclusion of the Nyepi Day. If you're a culture-buff, this is something you shouldn't miss.