Wheelchair users often find Bali a bit frustrating. That’s because most major sites here simply aren’t accessible.
This isn’t because the Balinese people don’t care, but mainly because this is a poor country and there is a long list of priorities that need addressing and wheelchair access is only one of those priorities.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some of this amazing culture from a wheelchair, we’ve gone in search of places that are, at least, partially wheelchair accessible and this is what we’ve found.
Going To The Beach
Most of the main beaches are easy enough to access in a wheelchair. However, if you want to hit the beach, you’re going to need to hire or buy a special wheelchair to handle the sand.
That means bigger, thicker wheels that don’t sink into the surface of the beach and, unfortunately, the majority of these chairs (at least, those that are relatively affordable) are not motorized, which means that you will need someone to push the chair too.
You will find it relatively easy to get a wheelchair onto Nusa Dua, Canggu, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak beaches, for example, as they all have car parks that enable you to roll onto the beach. (Though you will still need to watch out for potholes and other obstacles on the car park surface).
However, some of the more remote beaches will have a steep set of stairs and no alternatives but to climb down them.
You can get some nice views of some of these beaches from above, but it seems unlikely that they will become accessible at any point in the near future.
Sanur has one of the easiest-to-access beachfronts on the island. It also has a long boardwalk along the beach strip which is completely wheelchair friendly.
The whole area is a little calmer and better developed for wheelchair access too. It’s not perfect, but no beach town in Bali is, but it’s better than the norm.
Going To The Temple Sites
None of the main temples in Bali is fully open to wheelchairs and the best thing to do is use a service here that can provide portable ramps and an accessible vehicle to open up a temple to its fullest extent.
We’ve taken a look at some of the main temples so that you can decide whether to include them on your Bali itinerary.
Goa Lawah Temple
The “bat temple” is rather as it sounds in a cave full of bats. It’s not impossible to visit this temple but there are steps up to the ticket office, to enter the complex and to enter the heart of the temple where prayer takes place.
If there is somebody on hand with temporary ramps, you can easily move around in all other areas of the temple.
Besakih Temple or The Mother Temple
You cannot reach the mother temple itself as there are many stairs up the mountain and no way to use ramps to overcome this. (Not that they haven’t tried, mind you, there was a ramp installed recently but it’s far too steep to be navigated safely by anyone in a chair even with help).
However, if you join the visitors at this site on a festival day, you can still admire the temple on the mountain above you and the procession of brightly dressed local worshippers ascending the stairs.
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul “the water temple” is very wheelchair friendly and may be the most accessible site in Bali.
You can roll everywhere except into the water itself and while the ramps here are quite steep, they are present everywhere you need them to be.
Tanah Lot Temple
You will need help to get up the stairs into the main temple site, but can access the clifftop path without any problems – there are ramps when needed.
You can’t access the whole site, but if you ask for permission from the local village chief (who is very reasonable), they will let you park on a side street where you can easily access Penataran Agung, the first of the six temples.
Taman Ayun Temple
They’ve recently installed entry ramps at this temple and you can get around much of the temple without an issue in a wheelchair.
Ulun Danu Beratan
You can easily access the lake shore in a chair and the paths have slopes and ramps. You may find the going is a bit bumpy in some places.
Tirtta Ganga And Taman Ujung Water Palaces
Sangeh Monkey Forest is very wheelchair-friendly, nearly all paths have slopes and ramps when necessary. Unfortunately, you may find you need a little assistance to get inside.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces isn’t designed with wheelchairs in mind, but you can easily get down many paths until they turn into dirt tracks and there are plenty of cafes where you can enjoy a great view of the terraces in comfort.
If you want to spend time at Mount Batur, then you can head to Kintamani and find many easy-to-access restaurants for amazing views.
Restaurants, Hotels And Malls And Accessibility In Bali
Before you visit any establishment in Bali, we recommend that you contact them and ask directly if they are accessible.
Ensure that they have an entrance ramp, wide doors, wide aisles, toilets for people with disabilities, etc. Don’t be afraid to clarify all your needs, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many of these places will have made efforts to be more accessible, but they may not have gone far enough to ensure your comfort and safety – only you can decide what’s necessary for you.
Is Indonesia Wheelchair Accessible?
It’s fair to say that Indonesia is not the most accessible place.
That’s not because people don’t care, it’s simply because Indonesia is a developing nation with a very limited budget and a lot of priorities to attend to.
Many Indonesians live in extreme poverty and not every child here gets access to education and many families struggle to obtain even basic healthcare.
When these issues have been dealt with, there may be a bigger focus on accessibility.
Until then, it’s a challenging country to visit in a wheelchair but if you do make the trip, you will always be very welcome.
Is Uluwatu Wheelchair Friendly?
No area in Bali is perfectly wheelchair friendly. Uluwatu has some excellent hotels which are built to international standards.
However, if you want access to the important temple on the cliff top in Uluwatu, you will need to use a company that provides portable ramps (the temple complex is easy to navigate in a chair, but there are steps to get in with no ramp).
How Wheelchair Accessible Is Bali?
It depends on the type of holiday you’re looking for.
If you just want a resort break on the beach and to spend time at the pool – you can easily find an accessible resort from one of the international chains.
However, if you want to get out and about you will need a service like Bali Access Travel or Accessible Indonesia (you can arrange this through the Bali Res Centre – contact details below) to assist you.
Is Seminyak Wheelchair Friendly?
Seminyak and its neighbours Legian and Kuta aren’t the most wheelchair-friendly parts of the island.
They have narrow paths, poor roads and a distinct absence of ramps on many streets, etc.
However, as with any part of Bali, you can certainly find resorts in Seminyak that are 100% accessible.
How To Arrange A Wheelchair-Friendly Holiday In Bali?
We always recommend that you contact the lovely people at Bali Res Centre to book a Bali vacation. That’s because they have all the local contacts you need to enjoy a great time here.
They can liaise with companies like Bali Access Travel to provide transport and portable ramp options to get you into the temples and they can find the right hotel (with breakfast) in Nusa Dua or other areas to ensure that you have fully accessible rooms, etc.
Final Thoughts On Accessible Bali
Balinese culture is very welcoming and there’s no intention from the Balinese people to exclude wheelchair users.
However, Bali is still part of a developing nation and accessible travel is not the highest priority in the archipelago.
If you’re willing to accept more assistance than you would need in your own country or you just want to stay in a luxury resort, you will find you can still enjoy a great holiday in Bali in a wheelchair.
However, you will need to accept that some places are not fully accessible and even the most important temple on the island, isn’t completely accessible.