The Balinese have what is known as Nyepi. This is considered a “day of silence for Bali”. This is an annual event and it's date is referenced according to the Balinese calendar. For 2012 the day of silence in Bali was during the month of March.
The silence period usually lasts for 24 hours and finishes the following morning. Generally the day of silence is considered a Hindu holiday for the Balinese however, the tourists and all other non Hindu’s in Bali also respect this day. Normally on the day of silence it’s a day for peace and for people to take time to think about life itself as a whole and also their own individual lives and well being.
During the day of silence in Bali, everything comes to a complete halt. The airport stops running, all businesses close and nobody is on the streets visiting tourists attractions.
For some it can be quite limiting on this particular day, however as it is a deeply cultural part of Bali, all those who are in Bali on this day do respect the Balinese culture and follow their traditions.
I have known people in the past who have planned their holiday in Bali and the day of silence has landed on a day during this time. It can cause somewhat of an inconvenience to people if they aren't prepared for it beforehand. So it's a good idea to know when the dates are as I have highlighted below and also understand about why it happens in Bali.
All tourists are generally restricted to their hotels. Airports may only allow planes to travel in the event of emergencies on the day of silence.
It can even seem as though it’s a ghost-town in Bali on the day of silence. The only people you are likely to see around the streets anywhere on this day are the security guards known as Pecalang. Their duty is to ensure all the peace keeping restrictions are maintained for this particular day.
The security guards are on patrol to make sure nobody is on the streets, beaches and any other common attractions. The common limitations on the day of silence include, nobody works on this day, nobody embarks on any form of entertainment, this can also include in privacy with a partner, travelling is not allowed, no fires, noise from homes and hotels are kept to a minimum such as televisions and radios. Lights are kept dull in homes and hotels.
For some of the deeply religious they also do not eat or talk during the entire day. The proceeding day after the day of silence is celebrated and considered a New Years day. Business operations are generally back to normal and tourists are out and about throughout Bali.
Important note: Keep track of these dates before preparing for your Bali holiday. If you're in Bali during the day of silence, it can interrupt your holiday plans significantly due to the restrictions in Bali on these dates!