Music & Culture travel course: Bali, Indonesia

music and culture in bali

Bali, Indonesia

Experience the rich music and cultural life of Bali, Indonesia through concerts, workshops, ceremonies, festivals, site visits, and local cuisine.

This may be taken for MUSIC 355 credit either in Winter or Spring.  Open to non-registered and community participants as well.

Travel Awards available through the Music and Culture Awards and the Helen (Liz) Lane Music and Culture Awards for students enrolled in this course, who have demonstrated involvement in the music department. See link for application information.

Download the Travel CourseBali brochure and registration form (pdf). *Not available at this time*

All information

Program Description

From traditional to contemporary performing and visual arts, handicrafts and piquant cuisine, immerse your senses in a plethora of sounds, sights, fragrances, and tastes unique to the island of Bali. Join the Music and Culture Travel Course and interact with distinguished scholars and master artists, attend concerts, play the instruments, engage in the daily life of local Balinese families, and visit spaces of historical, cultural, and agricultural significance.

The program aims to provide an international, transformative educational experience, grounded in the study of music and culture in Bali, yet valuable to students enrolled in programs across arts, sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences. The course offers a global perspective relevant to a wide range of interests, disciplines, and career trajectories.

The program offers participatory opportunities to enhance intercultural understanding, complemented by discussions linking music to politics, history, religion, identity, and tourism.

Tentative Partial List of Activities

  • Annual Bali Arts Festival opening ceremony and concerts – a grand fiesta that celebrates the performing arts across Indonesia
  • Concerts of Balinese music and dance, including a mebarung at the Ardja Candra Amphitheatre
  • Lecture demonstrations by distinguished scholars and renowned artists
  • Music workshops of six different ensembles led by master artists
  • Walking tours of traditional Balinese villages
  • Tours of the Lata Mahosadi Museum of Indonesian musical instruments and other museums
  • Excursions to the heart of Ubud – the cultural centre of Bali
  • Visits to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and Royal Palace
  • Traditional ceremonies and celebrations
  • Guided walking tour of the majestic Pura Besakih Temple Complex
  • Guided historical tour of Singaraja, the old colonial capital located in North Bali
  • Music performance with local ensembles
  • Practical culture classes: cooking lesson, handicrafts workshop, and pakian adat workshop
  • Visits to the studios of master instrument makers, mask carvers, and more
  • A walk through the rice fields of Campuan Village

Course Credit

This course may be taken for credit or interest. Students taking MUSIC 355 – Music and Culture in Bali, Indonesia for credit need to register in the normal way for either Winter 2020 or Spring 2020. If you are not a student at the University of Waterloo, transfer credit to your home university is usually possible, and should be arranged through your home university.

Course Requirements

Travel Course Preparation (pre-departure)


Daily Reflective Travel Journal/Paper (due by July 22)


Final Reflective Essay (due by July 28)


Participation (prior to, during, and following the trip)


The course has no pre-requisite. Departmental consent required.

Students enrolled in MUSIC 355 are expected to attend three pre-departure workshops, one post-travel discussion, follow the program schedule, participate in group discussions, and complete the required coursework, in addition to completing the University of Waterloo requirements the months prior to departure.

For more information see the MUSIC 355. Music and Culture in Bali, Indonesia syllabus (Spring 2020).


Participants will stay in two centrally located 3-star hotels –– in Ubud and Lovina.

Program Cost*

For Students:

Program Fee

Approx. $1220 CAD

Accommodation (17 nights)

Approx.  $650 CAD

Program Total

Approx. $1870 CAD

Awards and financial aid are available to full-time students taking the course for credit. Submit a written request with your Registration Form (coming soon).

Program Cost for Community Participants* Approx. $2500 CAD

Estimated fee includes: local transportation, admissions to concerts, museums, temples, cultural sites, lectures, workshops, special excursions, breakfasts, and six communal meals (lunch or dinner while in Bali).

Not included: airfare,most lunches and dinners, medical insurance, vaccinations, tuition fee, non-credit participant fee, optional activities, and personal expenses.

*NOTE: Fees subject to change.

Travel and Budget

All information is from 2020!!

Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements to Bali, Indonesia. It is highly recommended that you purchase your ticket through a travel agent recommended by the instructor, and that you coordinate with others departing from Toronto Pearson International airport.

Airport transfers are included in the program fee for participants arriving in the late afternoon to early evening on Day 1 of the program (approx. June 4); and those departing on the morning of the last day of the program (approx. June 21).

Please note that participants arriving in Bali (airport code DPS) on June 4, for example, would travel from Toronto’s Pearson Airport the day before––that is, on June 3. If travelling from another starting point, please verify the arrival time and date is on Day 1 of the program.

More information will be provided at a pre-departure information session in January 2020.

It may be possible for participants who wish to travel in Bali earlier than Day 1 of the program or to depart Bali after the last day of the program to make those arrangements through the recommended travel agent. Please contact Professor Maisie Sum to if you wish to explore this possibility.

Participants are responsible for all additional costs not included in the Program Cost and Program Schedule, such as visa fees (see below), books, and other supplies. An additional $300 to 500 CAD in spending money is suggested.


Vaccinations may be required for travel to Bali, Indonesia. Please book an appointment with the UWaterloo Travel Clinic.

Visa Information

The Government of the Republic of Indonesia grants visa exemptions to citizens from several countries, including Canada, to visit Indonesia with a maximum stay of 30 days. If you wish to stay longer or you do not hold a Canadian passport, please verify the visa requirements.

Within and throughout Bali, participants will travel primarily by van.

NOTE: Participants should be prepared for a considerable amount of walking, stairs, and some climbing. Elevators are not usually available.

Registration and Payment Schedule

All information is from 2020!! 

Registration is limited to 12 participants and will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority given to students taking the course for credit. Each participant, whether or not registering for credit, needs to complete and submit a Registration - Paper Form included in the 2020 brochure or Registration - Webform.

  • Deposit of $500 is due at the time of registration through bank payment to ‘Conrad Grebel University College’ (online, by telephone, at your bank)*
    • To pay your fees at a Canadian bank or via online or telephone banking, you are going to pay Conrad Grebel University College as a “bill payment” and use your uWaterloo student number as the “account number”. Please be very sure that you are using the correct student number. Bank payments take 2 ‐ 4 days to be processed by the bank.
  • Firm prices will be set January 15, 2020
  • The balance is due February 15, 2020


  1. In order for the course to proceed a minimum of six students are required by January 21. If you choose to purchase your flight prior to confirmation that the course is proceeding, you are responsible for purchasing cancellation insurance for your flight.
  2. No refunds after February 15, 2020.
  3. It may be possible to register after February 15, 2020 depending on flight and accommodation availability. However, after February 15 prices may increase from those set on January 15.

For more information, please contact Professor Maisie Sum

gamelan in bali
rice paddy