beach bali

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.

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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.