Spending the summer in Bali? Here’s a visa checklist and some tips for renting a villa

Summers don’t get better than this. Scorching afternoons on the beach and balmy evenings spent socializing at hip beach bars. Bali is the holiday destination amongst the jet-setting crowd. It’s a place to relax in a stunning villa, shop up a storm, and island hop around the untouched Indonesian archipelago.

The dry season between April and September is the best time to visit Bali when temperatures average 28 degrees Celsius. The days are bright and the few rain showers are a welcomed break from the muggy humidity.

Bougainvilleas are in full bloom and Bali’s social calendar is in full swing.

Preparation is the key to relaxation, so before you back your bags and hop on a flight to the Island of Gods, here’s a checklist for getting your Indonesian visa in order, plus a few tips for finding a villa to rent in Bali.

Indonesia travel visa options

bali visa options checklist
Keep a few passport photographs handy and copies of your passport for your visa applications. (Photo credit: Jeff Werner, Flickr)

If you’re planning to spend more than a month in Bali, you can extend your tourist visa for an additional 30 days without leaving the country. A week before your visa runs out, simply walk into any travel or visa agent and they’ll do all the paperwork for you, for about USD$75.

Overstaying your visa will cost you IDR200,000 per day, and put you in the government’s bad books. In extreme cases, you could be jailed or not allowed to return, so avoid this situation at all costs.

If you have an Indonesian sponsor who will vouch for your intentions, then you can apply for a social visit visa, which allows your to stay in the country for two months, and apply for monthly extensions for up to six months. Again, each visa extension will cost you about USD$75 through an agent – or you can do it yourself for USD$25. But with the three separate trips to the immigration office it entails, it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.

Initially, the social visit visa application must be lodged outside Indonesia. Most people chose to stopover in Singapore for this. The Indonesian Embassy is centrally located near the Orchard Road shopping belt. It costs SGD$65 (cash payments only) to lodge the application, and it takes two working days to process.

Another thing to note is that the social visit visa does not grant you multiple entry. You’ll need a business visa or a multiple journey visa if you intend to call in and out of Indonesia without being restricted to a tourist visa.

Social visit visa checklist:

  • Return flight tickets
  • Completed visa application form (Green Form)
  • One passport photo
  • Original passport, with more than 6 months validity
  • Photocopy of the passport
  • A Singapore ID card or your Embarkation card
  • Letter from the sponsoring company, organization, or individual, addressed to: The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, Visa Section, Singapore
  • Copy of Indonesian Identity Card / KTP (if sponsored by individual)

Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, 7 Chatsworth Road, Singapore 249761. Visa submissions are accepted between 9am and 12pm and collections are available between 3pm – 5pm (Mondays to Fridays).

Tips for renting a residential villa in Bali

Tips for renting a residential villa in Bali
A traditional Balinese residential villa with outdoor pavilions and a pool, surrounded by tropical foliage. (Photo credit: Markus Fritze, Flickr)

Balinese homes and residential villas are strikingly beautiful and wonderfully affordable, so the first piece of advice is not to get overwhelmed with comparisons. Yes, a similar set up would cost you a small fortune back home, but what you’re really comparing it to is the real Indonesian economy; USD$20 a night beach huts and 80 cents for a can of coke.

So how much should you pay to rent a villa in Bali?

First off, the longer you can commit to renting the villa, the lower the price is going to be. The best deals are for six month and annual terms, where you can get a modern three bedroom villa with a pool, in a great area for USD$15,000 for the whole year.

With a monthly budget of about USD$500, you have a good range of options. You can get a centrally located apartment in a well kept complex, rent a room in nice villa with other travellers or rent a traditional bungalow with two stories and a bedroom on the top level.

Where do I find villas for rent in Bali?

If you’ve trawled through Google searches looking for villa listings in Bali, it seems there are two extremes and not much in the middle. You have your luxury villas agents on one end of the scale, and interweb hustlers on Craigslist and other classifieds sites who abuse punctuation in order to get your attention.

Every now and then you stumble on an expat’s villa that’s available for a few weeks while its owner goes home to visit the family. These scenarios are great, if you can find them.

However the best way to find a villa for rent in Bali is by driving around in an area you like and looking for unoccupied villas. Ask the neighbours if they know how to get in touch with the landlord and look for cardboard plaques bearing a hand painted phone number.

A few good places to rent a villa in Bali…

One thing you may wish to consider is Internet connectivity. The further away you go from the centre of Bali, the weaker the signal gets. It’s workable-ish in Ubud, but if you need to do considerable amounts of work online during the day, then it could get irksome.

where to live in bali canggu
Rice paddies in Canggu. (Photo credit: RStacker, Flickr)

Canggu has an eclectic bohemian vibe and village atmosphere, and it’s right next to Seminyak so it’s still in the heart of the action. Scenic rice paddies surround the village and Echo Beach is a tidy spot to call your local, but it’s a surf beach so wading in the water isn’t advised. And if you fancy joining a Colonial style clubhouse, the Canggu Club recently opened its doors.

Tanjung Benoa is a tranquil compromise between Kuta’s chaos and Nusa Dua’s despondence. The ocean on both sides flanks the peninsular district and shelters calm waters, perfect for marine sports while showing off views of Mount Agung’s peak on clear days.

A parting tip: remember to drive a tough bargain and negotiate a fantastic deal. You’ll need that cash for the cocktails.