Is It Safe to Travel to Bali?

The beautiful island of Bali is one of the safest and most peaceful places on the planet. Known for its verdant scenery, palm-fringed beaches, tourist-friendly resorts, and tranquil yoga retreats, Bali is a favourite travel destination for so many. While Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, Bali’s population is mostly Hindu. Culturally, this island feels worlds away from the rest of the nation, and the Balinese are said to be a much more open, liberal and relaxed kind of people. They’re extremely friendly to foreigners, and you’ll be made to feel welcome wherever you go.

This isn’t to say that Bali doesn’t have its risks, so buying insurance before you go is essential. As a volcanic land set on convergent boundaries of tectonic plates, the island has had its fair share of natural disasters over the years. But the threat of volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes hasn’t been enough to halt the influx of tourists. On the whole, Bali is a very safe place to travel to. As long as you take the necessary precautions as you would in any South East Asian country, you should have no problem during your stay.

Here are some of our top safety tips to help you get by when travelling to Bali.

rice fields bali

Health Concerns in Bali

Before travelling to Bali, it’s vital that you get your vaccines. Check with your local clinic or the NHS Fit For Travel website in advance, as many jabs or medications need to be administered before you travel.

Vaccinations:

Boosters that are advised by the NHS include Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, and Tetanus. Other vaccines to consider are Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. It’s important to note that while some vaccinations are free from the NHS, others you will need to pay for. So be sure to factor in these costs before you plan your trip.

You should also talk to a health professional about measures to prevent the spread of these diseases, especially if you have a long trip duration, will be living in close proximity to others, or are volunteering in local communities. For instance, Diphtheria is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets and risk is higher in poor, overcrowded living conditions. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water, so personal hygiene and sanitation are essential.

Rabies is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. This usually happens with a bite or scratch or from the animal licking broken skin. This is common in dogs, cats and bats, and potentially even monkeys (although there are no documented incidents). So it’s important for travellers to be careful when around domestic or stray animals, or if they are visiting areas where wild animals roam such as the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

Common illnesses:

Dengue fever is common in Bali, and is widespread throughout the tropics and subtropics. It’s so common in fact that there are 100 million clinical cases every year. Although it can make you feel extremely ill if you contract it, the most severe cases usually only affect young children who live in these areas. Symptoms can include the onset of fever, headaches, muscle pains, or a rash. The flu symptoms will subside in a few days, and complications are rare. The fever is caused by a virus spread from the bite of an infected mosquito. If you are prone to getting bitten, it’s important to travel with insect repellent.

Be aware that the Zika virus is also in Bali. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should think very carefully before booking your trip, as the virus is known to cause birth defects.

Getting medical care:

Getting Asia travel insurance with 24 hour medical assistance is a must for anyone travelling to Indonesia or Bali. You never know when you might need to see a doctor or get emergency treatment. The good news is that Bali’s healthcare infrastructure is excellent, with world-class hospitals and doctors, air ambulances and emergency services, plus multilingual staff on hand in most clinics.

Food and Water

Like with any destination in South East Asia, extra caution should be taken when consuming food and drink. Although most warungs, food stalls and restaurants are clean, it’s important to remember that food hygiene standards may be different from what you’re used to at home. Enjoying street food is all a part of the Balinese experience, so don’t be put off when you see a humble vendor on the roadside. The best way to avoid getting an upset stomach is to take notice of where the locals eat. If a street seller is popular with the local crowd, it’s testament to their great cooking skills!

Drinking tap water is not advised in Bali, so it’s important to plan for your hydration needs at the start of each day. Bottled water is popular with tourists, and many find that it’s a good idea to stock up at their hotel or apartment. If you want to reduce plastic waste, use a filtering system or a water steriliser instead. This can also work out cheaper as you will be able to filter tap water instead of having to buy bottled water.

When it comes to brushing your teeth, bottled or filtered water is also advisable.

bali beaches

Crime

Street crime can be a problem in some parts of Bali, with the most dangerous area being Denpasar. Bag-snatching and theft have been reported in busy tourist zones such as Ubud and Kuta, so be extra vigilant if you are walking through a crowded area.

The most common types of theft involve men on motorbikes targeting pedestrians or tourists on other motorbikes. Make sure your bag is secure and your valuables are kept out of sight at all times. Phone-snatching happens in some areas too, so try not to walk around with your phone in your hand. Keep it secured and hidden in your bag or pocket, and if you need to use it, be aware of your surroundings.

Terrorist Threats

According to the Gov.uk website for foreign travel safety, terrorists are likely to carry out attacks across Indonesia, including the island of Bali. Attacks that have happened before include suicide bombings and small-arms fire in public places. While the threat remains high, the Indonesian authorities are working hard to improve public safety.

The most recent attacks took place in Surabaya in East Java on 13th and 14th May 2018, at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta on 24th May 2017, and in central Jakarta on 14th January 2016. The last terrorist activity in Bali, however, was in 2005 and 2002, but both involved suicide bombs and coordinated bomb attacks.

Travellers should be vigilant at all times, and be extra careful around Christmas and New Year, Chinese New Year, Balinese New Year, Ramadan, and other holidays or events. There is also a risk of kidnapping at sea, particularly around the Sulu and Celebes seas.

Bali Safety For Families

It’s a destination that has something for all ages, and kids are always made to feel welcome. For the most part, Bali is a wonderful place to holiday with your little ones, and extremely safe. And some of the big hotels will have facilities such as children’s pools, childcare services and family-friendly restaurants on site.

One of the biggest safety threats in Bali is traffic on the road, so be sure to hold your child’s hand when walking near or across a road. It’s also important to choose safe modes of transport. Taxis are the easiest way of getting around – make sure your whole family wears their seatbelt though as road safety can be a little slack.

Tourist buses are a cheap alternative to taxis, and they have air conditioning so family travel will be comfortable. But be aware that some bus stops are located very far from the centre or attraction, which makes getting to more remote areas difficult or even dangerous. You may need to walk long distances to get to where you’re going. This is not recommended if you’re travelling around at night and have kids in tow.

bali

Female Safety

This beautiful Indonesian island is one of the most popular destinations for solo female travellers, and many consider it to be a friendly and welcoming place. It’s one of the best destinations for backpacking and for meeting other travellers, so you won’t have to feel lonely on your trip. Making friends is easy, but it’s also just as fun to explore Bali on your own.

By taking a few precautions, you can make your travels as a safe as can be. Select your accommodation wisely so you always have somewhere secure to go back to at night. By reading reviews from other female travellers, you will get a better understanding of whether the accommodation is right for you.

When out and about, try to be respectful of religious customs and traditions. The main religion is Hindu, but Bali is multi-religious, with Muslim, Buddhist and Christian minorities too. In the main tourist areas, you won’t have to worry too much about what you’re wearing. Shorts and t-shirts and bikinis on the beach are just fine. But if you’re in a rural village or exploring temples, please try to dress appropriately and cover shoulders, arms and legs. Not only is this a sign of respect, but it will prevent unwanted attention.

Staying in a group when out at night is better for safety reasons, and you should avoid walking anywhere on your own when it is dark. As a solo female traveller you will be a prime target for bag-snatchers, so try to choose secure bags like a backpack with anti-theft features or a cross-body bag.

Tips for Staying Safe in Bali

If Bali is on your bucket list, make sure you follow these important health and safety tips:

Check your insurance policy

Never leave home without adequate travel insurance. Whether your trip is short or long, be sure to have at least 24 hour medical assistance and enough cover for any sports and activities. It could also be cheaper to get couples insurance or family insurance, but if anyone has pre-existing medical conditions they may need additional medical cover.

Plan vaccinations in advance

Don’t leave vaccinations until the last minute. Some boosters need to be done 4-6 weeks in advance in order to give you the right level of protection when you’re away. Malaria tablets are not necessary for Bali, but some clinics may recommend that you still take them as there is a low Malaria risk. Be sure to check when the course of medication should begin/end to coincide with your travel dates.

Protect yourself from the sun

The heat in Bali can be extremely intense, particularly during the wet season when humidity is at its highest. Staying hydrated is important, and taking regular breaks when hiking or walking around outdoors is essential too. Sitting in the shade can help to keep you cool when it’s hot and help to prevent sun stroke. It’s also important to wear sun cream and reapply throughout the day to avoid burning.

Avoid locally distilled alcohol

A popular rice spirit called Arak can be found everywhere on the island. It can be purchased from shops, street sellers or airports. But badly made Arak can be deadly, and a few tourists have been killed. The worst incident was in 2009, when 25 people all died from one single bad batch.

Don’t get a holiday tattoo

Despite the popularity of holiday tattoos, this isn’t a very good idea in Bali. This is due to the health and hygiene standards not being quite as stringent as the UK. There has been at least one known incident of HIV being transmitted from dirty tattoo needles in Bali, so it’s probably best to wait until you’re home in a tattoo parlour that you trust.

Keep your distance from monkeys

It’s not just the Monkey Forest in Ubud where you’ll see these cute little creatures. The Macaque species overrun some areas of the island, and they’re not afraid of humans. They’ve been known to steal food, steal purses and handbags, or even attack people. If a monkey tries to grab something from you, try not to resist as this can end up in them biting you. Also, avoid smiling directly at the monkeys, as showing teeth can often be seen as a sign of aggression.

Is It Safe to Travel to Morocco?

Being prepared before you travel to any country is important, but Morocco is one of those places where travel insurance is an absolute must. This is due to much of the country being made up of desert and mountainous terrain, so finding medical facilities can be difficult when there’s an emergency. For some holidaymakers, there is also concern over general travel safety and terrorist attacks. But for the most part, this magical country is safe to visit as long as you take precautions and follow the necessary travel guidelines.

Moroccans are a peace-loving nation, and most of the people you will come across are friendly and welcoming of tourists. In fact, tourism is a main industry and many Moroccans rely on tourists from around the world to keep their businesses running. With over 12 million visitors in a year, and such close proximity to Europe, this is a path well-travelled – but with the sense of being totally off the beaten track!

The tourism sector is strong and stable, making it easy for you to get around, book tours, and see all the amazing sights. Whether you dream of experiencing the hustle and bustle of Marrakech markets at night, the spellbinding views and tribal villages high in the Atlas, or camping under the stars in the Sahara, a holiday to Morocco is truly unforgettable. It’s a great destination for families or couples in search of some romance, as well as groups wanting a variety of city, beach and culture.

desert morocco

Health Concerns in Morocco

There are public hospitals in Morocco, located in towns and cities. But it’s important to remember the level of healthcare may not be what you get back home in the UK. There’s a growing number of private facilities too, but you will need to check what your insurance covers. Speaking to your family doctor or health consultant is recommended for anyone who has pre-existing medical conditions. If you think there is a good chance that you will require medical treatment during your time away, it’s important to do some research on nearby hospitals and medical centres.

At the very least, you should make sure your travel insurance policy includes 24 hour medical assistance.

When it comes to vaccinations, the NHS advises all travellers have Hepatitis A and Tetanus boosters. Other vaccinations to consider include Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. The spread of Hepatitis A is increased through poor sanitation, so packing anti-bacterial hand gel and ensuring you wash your hands before food are highly recommended.

Hepatitis B is advised for frequent travel to Morocco, for long stays, for those who require medical treatment during travel, or for young children.

Food and Water

Moroccan cuisine is delicious and tasty. And being mild in spice yet bold in flavour, it’s liked by most who try it – even picky children! Getting an upset stomach is generally rare in Morocco, but it’s important to take the same food hygiene precautions as you would in any other foreign country, particularly with street food.

While the famous street food markets such as Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh, Skala du Port in Essaouira and other large markets are very safe places to eat, travellers must remember that cooking conditions may differ from back home. If you’re concerned about food hygiene, or are prone digestive issues when abroad, be selective about the type of street food you indulge in. Only eat fruit or vegetables that have been peeled, washed or cooked. And try to stick to the food stalls that are popular with the locals.

Many guidebooks will tell you to avoid drinking tap water, but filtered water (available in most hotels) is considered safe to drink. Bottled water is preferred by many travellers, but the Moroccan government are working hard to reduce plastic waste so bringing a filtering device or water sterilising pen is advisable.

morocco

Crime

Street crime isn’t a major threat for travellers in Morocco. Just like anywhere in the world, pickpocketing and bag-snatching can happen in crowded areas. But this can be prevented with secure bags and by keeping valuables out of sight. Busy tourist cities such as Marrakech or Fez may have more petty crimes, but the main danger for holidaymakers is scam artists.

Hustlers and con artists can be found on busy streets trying to sell you counterfeit goods, or trying to trick you into paying for a service. The easiest way to prevent being caught out by a con is to refuse street sellers politely. The Brigade Touristique are the tourist police, and they help to manage the industry by catching fake guides and scam artists. But some of these fraudsters slip through the net, so holidaymakers should be extra vigilant when approached by strangers.

Things to look out for when approached on the street:

  • People pretending to be students – some scammers may start talking to you and tell you that they just want to practice their English, but will try to lead you into a shop and pressure you to buy something.
  • Vendors offering “free gifts” – do not accept any gifts as this is often a scam where recipients are later accused of stealing and forced to pay extortionate prices.
  • Guides claiming everywhere is closed – this is a trick to get you to follow them to a certain shop / attraction / restaurant where they will receive commission.

If you are approached, the best thing to do is avoid eye contact and walk swiftly on. If they continue to follow you, refuse politely but firmly. Some of them can be persistent, but they will leave you only eventually.

Terrorism Risks

According to Gov.uk foreign travel advice, terrorists are likely to carry out attacks in Morocco, and travellers should be vigilant at all times. Despite this, many holidaymakers still consider Morocco to be one of the safest destinations in Northern Africa.

Incidents in the past have included the 2003 Casablanca bombings, the 2011 explosion at the Argana Restaurant in Marrakech, and the killing of two foreign nationals whilst hiking near Mount Toubkal in 2018. Although there have been terrorism cases linked to extremist groups such as ISIS, and the threat against British Nationals continues to be heightened globally, Moroccan security forces are in place to protect visitors to their country. Armed security officers can be found in busy tourist areas, and many hotels, malls or public buildings may employ their own security personnel.

Some travel experts may advise that it’s best to travel with private tour operators and smaller groups than to join large tour parties in order to avoid being a target. But for travellers looking to explore the remote parts of the country, safety in numbers may be better. This is due to potential kidnapping threats, with terrorist groups being linked to past kidnapping of civilians, tourists and government officials for financial gain or leverage.

The people most at risk of kidnapping are those who are travelling alone in remote areas, humanitarian aid workers and journalists. It’s a common misconception that volunteers and aid workers are safe from these kind of threats, but your reason for being over there will have little influence on your safety. So it’s important for both tourists and workers to remain guarded and aware of their surroundings at all times.

Morocco for Families

Despite some of the concerns, most areas in Morocco are very safe for families. There are many fun activities to choose from that are suitable for all ages, including young children. Any many resorts are designed to be family-friendly, with all the facilities you could need. If your child has a pre-existing medical condition or a disability, it may be hard to navigate around the cities, but most parents will find that travelling with the kids in tow is easy. It’s even possible to travel here with a toddler, as long as you’re organised and research amenities.

Moroccan culture is very family-orientated and they love children, so they will always be made to feel welcome. Although parks and green spaces are lacking, kids will be able to enjoy exploring the colourful souks, the lovely beaches, and will have access to pools and play areas within resort grounds.

If you’re looking for a safe, secure hotel, choose somewhere with on-site security and private beach areas that are closed off from the public. It’s also important to keep an eye on your children at all times when walking about in busy areas, ensuring that you hold their hands in crowds and stay in well-lit areas when it gets darker.

beach morocco

Morocco for Women

Travelling alone as a female can be a liberating, exciting and fulfilling experience. But women should take extra care when they are in Morocco, and should avoid walking alone at night. Due to the extreme contrast in cultures, it can be a shock to the system for British women to experience the male and female dynamics in an Arabic and Muslim society.

It’s not unusual for men to be particularly forward and try to talk to you, or even propose marriage. Even females travelling in groups can be vulnerable to unwanted attention or harassment. Moroccan men may shout things that seem strange or inappropriate, but if you ignore them, walk away and politely decline any propositions, they will generally leave you alone. Even the more persistent men will give up eventually, and don’t mean you any harm.

Women should also be wary of starting relationships with men in Morocco (or going over there to meet someone after talking over the internet). There have been multiple incidents of marriage fraud and attempted extortion of foreign nationals.

As well as being cautious of local men, it’s important to remain alert when travelling anywhere alone. There is a threat of kidnapping by many groups operating in North Africa, particularly groups from Libya, Mauritania, and the Sahel region. Remote areas and the desert pose an increased risk, so staying in a group when out of busy tourist zones is advised.

Tips for Staying Safe in Morocco

Morocco is considered to be the safest destination in North Africa, and offers excellent amenities and support for tourists. But for many British travellers, there may be a culture shock when you first arrive. Here are some tips to help you make your stay as safe, comfortable and risk-free as possible.

Buy the right insurance

Having the right travel insurance before you travel is key. Ensuring that 24 hour medical assistance is covered will give you greater peace of mind, and including sports or activities means that you can enjoy a range of pursuits when you arrive. Try to find a country-specific insurance policy, and make sure you look into a higher level of cover if you decide to go skiing, sky-diving or anything extreme.

Dress conservatively

Although there are many tourist resorts and areas in Morocco, it’s important to remember that it is a Muslim country. This means that the way you dress needs to be respectful, otherwise you could run the risk of offending people or drawing unwanted attention. Women should keep their midriff covered, and try to cover knees and arms if possible too. Both men and women should keep swimwear to the pool and beach areas only. Women should also avoid topless sunbathing, as this isn’t culturally acceptable in Morocco, not even within the confines of a resort.

Dine with care during Ramadan

If you are travelling during Ramadan, be careful when you eat and whom you eat around. Although non-Muslims can eat and drink during this period, it can be rude to eat and drink in front of those who are fasting. Stick to tourist restaurants to avoid offending locals, or be discreet when in a public space.

Don’t drink on the street

Whilst it’s fully acceptable to drink in public areas in the UK, alcohol can only be served in restaurants, hotels and bars with a license. If you are caught drinking on the street, you could be arrested.

Choose transport wisely

Traffic accidents happen 9 times more often in Morocco than in the UK, according to the Gov.uk website. Beware of taxi drivers breaking road laws, and avoid hiring a car by choosing public transport instead. Train travel is popular and can be a safe alternative to travelling on the roads. However, most tour companies and tour buses will be driven by full-trained, professional drivers and should be safe and compliant.

3 Fantastic Places to Visit in South America

South America attracts from all over the world in droves every year as people come to visit the amazing countries, world-renowned icons and breathtaking environment on show. Whether it is backpackers on a round the world trip or just people coming for their annual holiday people marvel at this incredible continent year after year.

The main problem that people have when they visit South America is choosing where to go! With so many stunning countries on the menu, it’s hard to pick the best one for that two-week break and which to stop off at on your round the world itinerary. To try and help narrow it down for you, we’ve picked out 3 of our favourite spots in South America which should be included on any itinerary…

IGUAZU FALLS

Iguazu Falls is an incredible sight. You can catch a glimpse of it from Argentina and Brazil, each offering an equally breathtaking view. Just when you think you’ve seen the edge of it, you turn a corner and there are more stunning falls to take in. It blows Niagara Falls out the water in our opinion, make sure it’s on your list…

 

PATAGONIA

Many people leave Patagonia off their South America trip as they feel it is too far south to make the journey. If someone advises you to do that, ignore them! It is like walking into a winter wonderland on a different planet. With glaciers as far as the eye can see, many bits of which drop into the water as you sit watching, you’ll feel truly enchanted. Then there’s also the chance of a penguin strolling round the corner. Make the trip, you won’t regret it.

 

MACHU PICCHU

One of the most popular stops on a trip around South America, Machu Picchu is usually the culmination of the Inca Trail and many hard days of trekking through the Peruvian hills. When you arrive and walk out to be greeted by the towering hills of Machu Picchu, it makes all the effort worthwhile. Our tip – hike up Wayna Picchu and get the amazing views looking down on the whole area…

 

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to these amazing places and need travel insurance for South America then get in touch and we’ll help you get the best possible deal so you can have peace of mind in these exotic lands.