If you’re planning to stay in Bali for 2 months or more – and you haven’t got a working visa sorted – then you’ll need to do the notorious “Bali visa run”.
Not sure what this? It’s literally the process of getting on a plane to leave Indonesia…pass through immigration on your chosen destination…and then back on the plane to Bali.
It may seem ludicrous – a total waste of time and money – but it’s just one of those things you gotta do, if you don’t want to incur fines of $30 for every day that you overstay your visa.
So where should you go? As long as you leave Indonesia, the world really is your oyster.
Here are 9 places that I’d recommend for a Bali visa run, ranging from the classic KL and Singapore, to the more random East Timor, or the often overlooked Aussie options.
1. Kuala Lumpur
First on the list is Kuala Lumpur – the capital city of Malaysia – purely because it’s so close to Bali that it’s often the cheapest place to go.
Only a two and a half hour flight from Denpasar, it’s so quick to get there that you can literally go back and forth in one day.
If you’re staying overnight, Kuala Lumpur offers many stunning sites, including the world famous and once tallest building, the Petronas Towers.
If you’re a food traveler, Kuala Lumpur offers a wide range of tasty treats. Head to Little India for authentic Indian curries or Chinatown for mouthwatering dim sum.
Make sure you check out the Heli Lounge – a bar located on a helipad – where you can enjoy a chilled glass of wine and listen to an acoustic band while soaking in the amazing views of the city,
From Eric from Husband in Tow
2. Penang, Malaysia
Why? Besides having an efficient Indonesian consulate, it’s a vibrant place, well known for its incredible food, art scene and hip atmosphere.
I’d recommend spending at least three days so you can get a feel for the island, and explore more than just George Town and the backpacker-centric Chulia Street.
Chulia Street is where most of the budget accommodation and hostels are, as well as the swanky boutique hotels and the famous KOMTAR (Penang’s iconic highest tower with 80s-vibes & an inspiring restaurant called “The Top”).
To get there, turn left out of the airport and look for the bus bays that will take you directly into town for a mere RM 2.50 (less than US$1). From KOMTAR, it’s a 5-minute walk to Chulia Street.
Take a day off to explore Penang Taman Rimba, one of the world’s smallest national parks, which also has one of the world’s two meromictic lakes — where freshwater and seawater float on each other without ever mixing!
This photo is of inside Hin Bus Depot, an open air art space and gallery filled with shops and in 10min walk to the centre of George Town.
Singapore is usually one of the cheapest places to fly to from Bali, again because it’s a short AirAsia flight.
If you want to process a business or social visa for Indonesia, the embassy in Singapore is pretty legit so it’s worth visiting here and staying for a few days while it processes.
There’s vibrant culture, various temples, colourful street art, heaps of shops, and a fantastic foodie scene.
Both Little India and Chinatown are home to delicious street food (try the laksa or chilli crab!), visit the peaceful Botanic Gardens, explore colourful Haji Lane, or you can hop over to Sentosa island too.
For more ideas, check out Rose’s Singapore guide here.
When wondering where to go for a Bali visa run, you might naturally think of Asian destinations… but Australia actually makes a great alternative that’s full of culture, beauty, and nature.
Darwin in Australia is actually a lot closer than many places in Asia – it is just a 2 and a half hour flight from Denpasar and airlines AirAsia and Jetstar offer some very cheap deals.
So what is there to do in Darwin on your visa run? Well, it largely depends on how much time you have.
If it’s just a day or two, I’d recommend sticking to the city itself. There’s a couple of great museums (the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Darwin Military Museum) that will give you a flavour of the city, the Charles Darwin National Park, sunset markets at Mindil Beach and of course the famous parties of Mitchell Street.
But if you have longer, check out some tours from Darwin, including the world-famous Kakadu National Park (you’ll need at least 3 days for this trip), Litchfield National Park (doable in a day trip) and the Tiwi Islands (a day trip away) which is one of the best locations for learning about Aboriginal culture.
If you have the time, a week in Darwin will really help you get an essence for the place and to enjoy some of its spectacular natural beauty; which is why I love the city. But if you’re pushed for time, the cheap flights and short journey time make it worthwhile to just spend two or three days in the city centre as well.
A bit further than the aforementioned locations, but well worth a place on this list is the Western Australian capital of Perth.
Perth is also pretty close to Bali – only a 3 hour 45 minute flight from Denpasar. Very cheap deals can be found as lots of Australians holiday in Bali.
So what is there to do in Perth?
- In the CBD, attractions like Kings Park, with its striking panorama over the skyline and the modern Elizabeth Quay are popular.
- There’s also the beautiful Swan River and its attractions, which include watersports and cultural cruises.
- Further south is the city of Fremantle (which is kind of part of Perth but many locals consider it a city in its own right).
- Attractions in Fremantle are more historic; the best of which is a tour of the old gaol. Fremantle is especially popular at the weekends, as it hosts busy markets from Friday to Sunday.
- But the nature around Perth is what makes it such a spectacular visa run destination. From the snorkeling and beaches of Rottnest Island, to the wineries of Margaret River and the Perth Hills, to the outback scenes of the Pinnacles, there are plenty of day trip destinations just waiting to be explored from Perth.
3-5 days is the ideal amount of time for a visa run in Perth to see the city and its surroundings. But be warned – once you experience the magic of Western Australia, you’ll leave already planning your next visit!
Contributed by Claire from Claire’s Footsteps
The Philippines is a bit further away but with its gorgeous islands, friendly people, waves, and waterfalls – it makes an amazing place for a visa-run. You can easily spend a month travelling round the whole country, or you could visit some of the islands like Camiguin or Siargao…
Camiguin in the Philippines is a beautiful island on the Northern part of Mindanao.
Its beauty comes from its diversity from islands such as Mantigue and White Beach to its hot springs and waterfalls. With its crystal clear seas and white sand, it’s a beaut place to island hop, snorkel, or just chill. And check out Ysla Beach Camp – cute eco glamping on the island that makes the perfect getaway accommodation.
To get there, you can either fly from Cebu, or go by land via Cagayan de Oro and then take a ferry to Camiguin.
From Gamin Traveler
7. Siargao Island
It might sound a bit crazy to choose Siargao for a visa run, simply because of the time it takes to get there… but I did it last year and already can’t wait to go back.
I heard about Siargao and it’s “perfect waves” at the beginning of 2018 and immediately it went to the top of my bucket list.
I checked flights throughout the year but they either didn’t exist – or they were very expensive. But randomly I looked, and found flights for only $150 return from Bali, so I booked it instantly.
I spent a week there with the intention to work, surf and chill… The work went totally out of the window because the wifi is so bad on the island. But the surf is AMAZING with a ton of surf spots for all levels, and there’s very relaxed island vibes too.
To get there, I had to take three flights: Denpasar to Manila, then Manila to Cebu, and finally a tiny flight from Cebu to Siargao. Bit of a trek I know, but in my opinion, so worth it.
8. Krabi, Thailand
Krabi is another less well-known area, but a great place to visit on an Indonesia Border run. To get there, you’ll need to fly via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur but it’s only a short flight from these airports – and I think totally worth it.
It’s also a connecting point to many nearby beautiful islands to visit so if you’ve got a bit longer, you could check these out…
One of them is the legendary Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) Islands that offer stunning beaches with turquoise colored waters and beautiful green nature. The landscape is full of karst limestone-rock mountains that come out of the beautiful sea high into the air.
These beaches and landscapes include the legendary Maya Bay, where the film The Beach, made world famous. These same mountains offer rock climbing for those interested in this activity including free solo climbing where you climb until you can and then have an exciting fall into the water below.
Railay beach is one of those stunning destinations famous for climbing. Another magical island nearby is Koh Lipe, which is an escape from the parties of the Phi Phi islands with breathtaking beaches and waters.
Wherever you decide to go to from Krabi, you will not be disappointed as it is truly beautiful area.
By Alejandro from Please Live Your Dream
9. Bangkok, Thailand
Been away for a while and fancy some home comforts? Then Thailand’s capital Bangkok is a great place for a visa run.
It is a vibrant city with a great transport system that allows you to see a lot in a short space of time. And you can take a little time out from backpacking scene by treating yourself to the gold-class cinema, hip coffee shops or checking out the world-class shopping.
If you want a cheap layover before heading back to Indonesia, it’s hard to beat Bangkok as you can comfortably live on $20 USD a day here for accommodation, food and getting around. If you’ve been craving a bit of luxury Bangkok’s top end hotels and restaurants are also great value.
Logistically, Bangkok makes a visa run easy. Firstly, the flights are really cheap as Air Asia operates flights from Don Mueang airport to both Denpasar (Bali) and Jakarta (Java) frequently. Secondly the visa in Thailand is free on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for most nationalities.
From Cat from Walk My World
10. Dili, Timor-Leste
While most people choose places like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to renew their Indonesia visa, I’ve been to both cities before and wanted to see a new country.
That’s when I discovered flights to Dili, Timor-Leste – a country I didn’t know anything about!
I found return flights from Bali for around $170 so decided to check it out!
Timor-Leste is one of the world’s “youngest” nations and most people skip it when backpacking around Southeast Asia. For this reason, there wasn’t much information about it… but I still wanted to give it a try.
I had no expectations, but my visit in Timor-Leste turned out to be pretty exciting. I explored the capital Dili, which actually didn’t feel “Asian” anymore and rather “Pacific”, with a unique atmosphere and vibe.
And I learned a lot about the country’s long and brutal struggle for freedom and independence, met some very friendly locals and walked a lot around the capital as well as the beach front. Unfortunately, there’s still no proper tourist infrastructure in the country and it’s not only very difficult, but also expensive to visit other places around the country.
But if you’re looking for somewhere exciting and different to the standard Asian spots – I’d recommend trying East-Timor.
From Patrick of German Backpacker
12. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is a vibrant city in Vietnam with incredible food, which is another great place to visit from Bali. We’d recommend you spend at least 4 days soaking in the culture and sampling some of the delicious food.
The Old Town is bustling with locals, and vendors sell anything from wooden tools to flowers on push bikes. Some great things to see in the city are St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoan Kiem Lake, and Hoa Lo Prison Memorial
If you have longer, it’s also worth visiting Halong Bay or Ninh Binh too.
From Bali, you’ll probably need to fly via Kuala Lumpur, and each flight will last around 3 hours. The Indonesian Embassy in Hanoi is super friendly, and our visa was completed in just a few days.
From Yana from
13. Seoul, South Korea
And last but not least – check out Seoul in South Korea.
Traveling from Indonesia to Seoul, South Korea for a visa run isn’t the quickest journey (7 hours from Bali), but it will definitely be convenient and rewarding.
There is an endless list of things to do in Seoul no matter if you’re into K-pop, hiking, nature, or hipster cafes, this metropolis will definitely keep you entertained. Winter can get bitterly cold if you’re a warm weather person, especially coming from muggy Indo. But it’s a great break if you like the crisp breeze of the ski slopes. Spring is definitely the best time to visit Seoul as the weather is lovely and you can see the cherry blossoms blooming.
I personally love Korea for its food. There are so many different dishes and restaurants to try that are worlds apart from your daily diet of nasi goreng and fruit juice. Test the street food while shopping at Myeong-dong or find a gem in one of the backstreets of university town Hongdae.
Seoul is hip, fashionable and always on. From the largest underground mall in the world (Starfield COEX) to the gorgeously peaceful Buddhist temples splayed around the city, you can go from past to present within a few hundred metres.
Passport holders of many countries are allowed to enter without a visa for up to 30 days, with others being up to 90 days and Canadians 180. So it’s super easy to get in. The public transport system is also one of the best in the world, so it’s incredibly convenient and simple to get around. The longer spent in Seoul the better, but I would try for at least a week.
From Callan of Once In A Lifetime Journey
So there you have it – 9 ideas of places to visit if you’re doing a visa run from Bali.
I’m trying to see the visa-run as an opportunity to see some of the amazing places near Indonesia, rather than a hassle. So I’ve now banned myself from doing the KL or Singapore day trip again, and am trying to see somewhere new every time. Next, I’m off to Perth… Where are you going?