We lived in Bali for 18 months, and during that time we were “fortunate” to live through the rainy season in Bali twice. Yes, I say fortunately with a little bit of sarcasm because the Bali rainy season is far from fun. Interestingly, the Bali monsoon season also includes one of Bali’s high seasons, something I could never understand.
In this post, I will identify when is the Bali rainy season. I will also share some rainy season Bali tips, including how to survive the Bali wet season. This post, in particular, will end up focusing a little less on practical tips than on some of our stories about how we survived the rain season in Bali. I will note we still have a little “PTSD” from living in our Bali villa during the wet season in Bali.
When I first shared this post, I felt damp. Not just because my hair never seemed to dry after my shower, but because the entire village of Ubud, Indonesia, had been clouded over and rainy for about 24 hours straight. This is our story of the raining season in Bali.
When is the Rainy Season in Bali
First, around the equator, in much of the world, there are not four set seasons. Instead, Bali seasons are broken down into two seasons. The Bali wet season and the Bali dry season. The Bali weather is hot and tropical for much of the year. But, the Bali temperature drops during the Bali wet season, particularly during rainy spells. On dry days, it’s still possible to experience hot and humid Bali climate.
When we moved to Bali I just was not expecting that much rain. We had visited other beach areas in Southeast Asia during the rainy season. But the wet season in Bali is just something different. This was another example of how I should have done my research. I would not have chosen a different path, but perhaps I would have managed my expectations better.
As to when is the rainy season in Bali? The Bali rainy season runs from October through April. There always seems to be a day when the Bali rainy season starts. It’s as if one week it is sunny and the next day it rains and doesn’t stop. There are spurts where the weather is drier, and then there are days where it rains. It rains hard and long. The roads start to flood. The driveway we take to the road becomes a river, so much so that we have seen ducks swimming in our driveway. I am not saying to avoid Bali during the rainy season, particularly because this Bali season is about half the year. Just be prepared.
Where to Stay During the Raining Season in Bali
The Ubud rainy season is the same as elsewhere on the island, but Bali in the rainy season seems to feel particularly brutal in Ubud. Ubud is at a slightly higher elevation than most of the beach areas. The beach areas might experience days where it rains all day. It’s more likely, however, that it will rain for a portion of the day. This would allow travelers to Bali to still salvage some of the day.
That said, even when dry and not raining in Bali, the beach areas are grey. It’s not great for photos, or for sun tanning. The good thing is that there is so much to see and do in Bali that even a trip during the monsoon season in Bali can still be enjoyable.
Read this post about Whether a Trip to Bali is Worth it, which has recommendations on where to stay in Bali and recommended Bali attractions.
What Does The Rainy Season In Bali Look Like?
I, honestly, never did much research about the rainy season in Bali. I heard something about October and I kept hearing about Christmas and New Years being the high season, so I just assumed Bali would dry out by then, and that we would miss the Bali rainy season.
I just felt damp all the time. After washing some dishes, it was as though there was no way to fully dry them. My feet felt damp because I have to drive through a river to get to our house. My new, expensive flip flops, that I bought after walking clear across Kuala Lumpur, had mold on them because they had not dried for days. We tried to dry our shoes in front of a fan but ended up buying cheap plastic flip flops to get through the rainy season in Bali. Because when it rains in Bali, it rains.
It was just unfortunate that we had to live for the few moments of dryness, to plan our trips to yoga or the supermarket around the rain. I learned to drive my motorbike in the rain, complete with super-duper spaceman style rain poncho. Our ponchos were always drying somewhere in the house to avoid them growing mold in the seat of our motorbikes. That means, sometimes we forgot to put them back in the bike, and then, would get caught in the rain.
How to Survive Rainy Bali
During one particularly rainy stretch, just before Christmas, I just felt wet all the way through. It rained nonstop for 24 hours. I drove through pouring rain to get to yoga, and started the class with wet pants, just adding to the dampness with my sweat. It rained the entire 90 minutes. At the end of class, the teacher suggested that everyone in the class just accept the fact that they would get wet that day. That’s really how to survive the rain in Bali.
And, we admired the lush green view of the rice paddies out our window. We watched the ducks waddle through the paddies to eat remnants of the rice harvest. We watched the random raindrops as they fell in the pool. The bright white and simply gorgeous lotus flowers that bloomed each morning in the pond in front of the house.
Practical Tips for Bali During the Rainy Season
If you happen to find yourself on the island during the monsoon season in Bali, this is what I would recommend:
- Avoid traveling with leather. Leather handbags, shoes, and wallets can grow mold within a few days. Mold grew on our wallets, shoes, and even our passports. It didn’t take long in Ubud in the rain.
- Find a hotel with air conditioning. The effect of the Bali rains can be lessened in a hotel or villa with air conditioning, particularly one with a dehumidifier. We never had an air conditioner, and you don’t need one during the rainy season in Ubud because it is cool enough. But the drying effect can help to lessen the effect of the rain in Ubud. This is probably less important down near the beach. Many Bali villas don’t have air con, particularly in Ubud. It’s just not needed. A fan is usually sufficient.
- Buy a Bali rainy-day poncho. Umbrellas are pretty useless when walking or biking through Bali. A poncho can be purchased at most supermarkets for less than $10. Totally worth it.
More Stories of the Bali Monsoon Season
With the practical information put aside, I know some people are curious about what it is like to live in Bali, particularly during the Bali wet season. Here is a story about our second experience with the Bali rains. We realized that we both suffered tremendously from Seasonal Affective Disorder. People may be surprised to hear that two people can suffer so much while living in Bali, and considering all that the word Bali connotes, but it is in fact, true. The Bali rainy season kind of sucks.
Bali Rain and Power
The rain was no fun in Bali, particularly when we lived in the Big Orange House, which was only accessible by a narrow, muddy path. When the rains came, the path became downright dangerous, with flooding, potholes and treacherous hills that turned into mini waterfalls. It became a little dangerous for us to even leave the house.
We also suffered from frequent power outages in our village of Kutuh Kaja, seemingly more so than in neighboring villages. Often, the power would go out for 30 minutes or an hour, sometimes a lot longer. Once the power went out for almost 24 hours. There was a fire in the junction box. It took some time for it to be fixed.
When we lost power though, it was more than just no electricity to run our computers or TV, or the typical worries about a fridge and the food inside. We lost wifi, obviously, but we also eventually lost water. All of our water relied on an electric pump: we could not shower, could not brush our teeth, and could not even flush the toilet.
Bali Monsoon Season Bugs
Another Bali rainy season occurrence was something many Bali rainy season articles might forget about. Flying termites. Bali has these annoying bugs, which come out for a few weeks during the Bali wet season. They emerge from the ground around dusk, hover near the lights for an hour or two, and then they die.
When we first dealt with them, Eric would try to chase them around the house to kill them. When we realized how short their lives were, we decided to leave them alone, no matter how annoying they were. At dusk, we turned off all of the lights in the house, other than the back bathroom, so they would swarm into that area and away from the TV and computers. After a few hours, they die and the next day, we sweep up their sad little bodies. The process would start all over again the following night.
Driving around 7pm also posed problems. One night, we pulled out of a restaurant and the road was littered with what I thought were frangipani flowers, perhaps used in a ceremony. Then, I realized it was littered with dead flying termites. During the fifteen minute ride home, the bugs came under my helmet visor and hit my face. I desperately tried to ensure my mouth stayed tightly shut. They kept hitting my shirt with enough force to kind of freak me out and almost lose my balance. When we got back to the house, our front stoop was littered with the guys, and hundreds were swarming near the lights. I stood close behind Eric as he opened the door and we quickly got inside before too many of them joined us in the house.
This is The Bali Rainy Season
So, Bali rainfall is not a lot of fun, and even when we started to accept these things, to accept the things we cannot change, some new incident occurs which just makes us shake our head at the rainy season in Bali even more.
On a Saturday, the weather broke, and the sun was out for a few hours. We tried to make the most of it, by spending the day out and about, able to drive our motorbikes without our ponchos for a few hours. As soon as we returned home, though, the rain kicked into high gear. Then, the power went out. I read a bit, took a nap. Almost three hours after losing power, though, we knew it would be dusk soon, with no power. At least the termites would not be a problem because we had no lights for them to attack.
We sat on the bed, kind of enjoying the view, with the storm clouds over Ubud, but we were annoyed. We had no wifi, no TV. What were we expected to do, just talk to each other? We thought about the food in the fridge, the fish we just bought to make a curry. Eric disappeared and a moment later I saw him in the rain, outside our bedroom window, with an umbrella in one hand, and a bucket in the other. He brought a bucket of pool water into the bathroom so that we could flush the toilet. What a good husband.
We just needed to escape the house, despite the flooded and dangerous path. I wanted to get out to a restaurant before the flying termites came out, because I did not want to drive on the motorbike into the plague of bugs.
Bali rain we could handle. Losing electric we could handle. The termites we could handle. All three at once, though, and it was a recipe for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
We stayed out later that night than normal, just trying to avoid the house. Eric had been in touch via text with our friends who live in the village, the only village still without power. This is where the story turns interesting and very very Baliesque.
Why We Lost Power During the Bali Monsoon
When we lost power this day, the same junction box caught on fire that did a few months before. The Balinese guy who lived closest to the box was upset about another fire so close to his family compound. Understandably so, as there was recently a big fire that wiped out a popular restaurant in town, and it spread to the neighboring family compounds, wiping out the homes of two Balinese families. He was annoyed that the electric company could not figure out how to prevent this kind of thing from happening. How he handled it, though, makes this Bali rainy season story interesting.
This Balinese guy waited for the electric company employees to show up. He didn’t wait for them to fix the problem and restore power for everyone in the village. He could have waited to have a discussion with them about how to prevent the problem in the future after the fixed it. Instead, he went a little gila gila, or crazy. From what we heard, he got drunk, berated the electric company employees, by threatening them with a knife, I imagine with a machete or sickle, both common tools in town. The electric company employees, also understandably, drove away without restoring power.
Now, THIS is the rainy season in Bali.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.