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What’s A “Begpacker” And Why Are Bali’s Immigration Officials Cracking Down?

By Danielle Dorsey

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Bali Immigration is cracking down on “begpackers,” or travelers who set sail with little to no funds and rely on the kindness of locals to fund their adventures. Officials say that if they catch such tourists begging locals for funds, they will send them to their respective embassies.

Setyo Budiwardoyo, an official from Ngurah Rai’s Immigration Office, told Indonesian news source Detik that, “We have seen many cases of problematic tourists. Lately, they are either Australian, British or Russian. We tend to report these cases to the relevant embassies, so they can oversee their citizens who are on holiday here.”

Budiwardoyo mentioned that such tourists often have a reputation for bad behavior, citing recent cases where an Australian man attacked hotel security after being denied a stay and a British national who slapped an Indonesian immigration officer.

The move is an attempt to address the problem of begging travelers who have put a strain on local economies throughout Asia. Thailand immigration has become more strict about enforcing proof of funds prior to granting visas in efforts to discourage such travel. 

Begpacking takes budget traveling to the extreme and effectively drains resources from developing countries that rely on tourism dollars. As distasteful as this sounds, you’ll find plenty of TV shows, websites, and influencers that dedicate themselves to sharing the secrets of traveling with little to no funds, like the Discovery Channel series “Free Ride” which followed a California man and a British man who sought to traverse South America without spending a dime.

In the past, Bali Immigration would help such individuals by providing food and accommodation, but according to Budiwardoyo, the country’s generosity has run out.

“If we are to discuss budget matters, I’d rather not give food to people who are pretending. We tend to contact their embassies instead, and ask them to provide their citizens with assistance,” he said.

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Danielle Dorsey

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