Written by Nadia Crowe Co-written by Dawn Pillay Edited by Beverley Lennon
Going on holiday brings so much joy and excitement, when imagining it you tend to only focus on the potentially amazing things you’ll experience. It’s very important, however, to also remember the dark side of humanity, and the potential dangers associated with a region/country.
Bali is no exception to this rule, despite boasting incredible landscapes, majestic volcanoes, and amazing people, it has its fair share of safety concerns that you should definitely familiarise yourself with before you go!
Don’t let any of this scare you, provided you follow our tips, your holiday in Bali will be memorable (in a good way)!
Recently, we’ve heard whispers about the airport in Bali, travellers have reported that it has become very strict, immigration officers have informed airlines about damaged passports and some have even been rejected of entry onto the plane because of it! To say the least, the Indonesian authorities are very particular about your passport condition.
No rips, no wrinkles, no frayed pages allowed! So before booking your flight, just make sure that your passport is in top notch condition; or get yourself a brand new one to avoid disappointment!
In case of emergency: Hospitals
While nobody wants to end up in hospital whilst on holiday, knowing where to go in case you do need it is always useful. As always, there are clinics and there are hospitals (both private and government), depending on how severe your ailment is, you can choose based on your needs!
However, it comes highly recommended to go to a reputable hospital if you’re a foreigner, as they are more likely able to speak English.
For more info, tap to expand!
RSUP Sanglah Hospital (FREE COVID-19 Testing available 8am-4pm daily!)
Address: Jalan Diponegoro, Dauh Puri Klod, Denpasar Barat, Kota Denpasar Contact: +62 361 227 911
Ambulance service: 118 General emergency service: 112 Bali Tourist Police: +62 361 759 687 COVID-19 Hotline: 119 (Ext 9)
Sometimes transport can be a problem
Accidents, thieves, and getting lost – here’s how to avoid it
1. Driving a scooter might be trendy, but it comes with its own dangers!
Driving a scooter in Bali is probably one of the worst ideas you could have, unfortunately it’s been made popular thanks to Instagram. Most of the accidents occurring in Bali are because of tourists who don’t know the very specific local rules of driving (it’s not the same as legal rules!).
Not only could you be a hazard to yourself and the people around you, but unfortunately there have been more and more cases of people snatching your belongings off you when you’re riding one/driving someone. Many passengers have reported getting robbed while simply using their phones for giving directions to the rider!
Our tips: – Avoid driving a motorbike in Bali if you have never done so before – If you order a bike from an e-hailing app, then make sure you keep your belongings tightly in the centre between you and the driver!
2. Driving in Bali – Use Google Maps wisely!
Take it from us, when driving in Bali, Google Maps is always helpful when it comes to figuring out the route to your destination.
However, take heed to use the app wisely. Google Maps will often show the shortest path, which might not necessarily be the best. Occasionally you’ll find roads that lead to a dead end, or that are so small you couldn’t possibly fit two cars going opposite each other!
Some other apps have popped up recently as well, such as Waze which is considerably better. Still, use everything with a grain of salt, and if something looks wrong, better be safe than sorry!
Our Tips: – If possible, do learn some Bahasa Indonesia so you can ask the locals for directions in the event you are lost. – If you’re really not familiar with the roads in Indonesia, we recommend you to consider hiring a private driver instead. – If you intend to explore the more rural areas of Bali, make sure that the car you are driving has enough horsepower by checking with your provider.
3. Be wary of the very few petrol stations available in Uluwatu!
Uluwatu for instance, is pretty hilly, and there are very few petrol stations around. If you are driving, you have to make sure you have enough (or more than enough!) petrol to get back.
And if you can’t find any petrol stations, do note that you may purchase petrol from some local shops at Rp. 10,000 per 1 litre bottle (Approximately USD $0.73). You may be concerned at the fact that they use bottles of Vodka, or that the petrol appears blue, but it is indeed petrol, don’t worry, welcome to Bali!
Our Tips: – When topping up your petrol, watch your oil meter and calculate the consumption rate to see how much petrol is needed for a certain distance. Once you do this, you will know exactly how much petrol you’ll need for the distance you’ll be driving, and if you should prepare petrol in case you run out. – For starters, a 1 litre bottle of petrol can last approximately 35km on a scooter, and 10km for a car. (These bottles of petrol may be purchased from local shops you pass along the way at Rp. 10,000 (Approximately USD $0.73))
Instagenic accommodations could be a nightmare!
Where you sleep is most important for your safety!
4. Choose your villa location wisely, and check reviews!
Where you stay can make or break your holiday. Make sure that your accommodation is easily accessible, and conveniently located. For first timers, Seminyak is a good place to begin with! Ubud is also considered as being rather peaceful and safe but if we would not recommend Canggu due to the several cases of robberies.
Finding a safe and secured accommodation is especially important for solo and female travellers who might find themselves walking along a small road at night!
Also, we highly recommend you to check reviews, most people mention about the stay’s convenience, safety, as well as whether or not the photos of the accommodation are true to life!
Our Tips: – Check on your stay’s location on Google Maps’ street view or terrain view to assess it’s convenience (distance to shops, restaurants and so on) – Always check reviews on TripAdvisor and other online booking websites to read on past guests’ experiences – Bring a torch light with you or ask your host to give you one for when you walk at night (especially useful in Ubud)
It seems like recently, there have been a growing number of reports of missing cash or valuables at villas. And surprisingly, CCTV cameras often reveal that it is other tourists themselves who are intruding into other guests’ rooms!
If you want to avoid losing your money and valuables (who doesn’t right?), then be sure not to leave any valuables in your villa, always lock your room and be aware of who is staying next to you!
Our tip on how not to get robbed in your villa:
Before booking, make sure to check reviews to see if there has been any mention of robberies. (If there are no reviews available, we advise you to skip it and move on to another stay as a property with no reviews can be a very telling sign.) You should also check how long the villa has been running, just to make sure it’s reliable, since it’s been in business for a good amount of time. – Remember to lock your door from inside when you’re sleeping as people might climb into your villa’s toilet at night (one of us has experienced this before). – Keep all valuables in a travel safe. – If your money or valuables are stolen, make an official report directly at POLDA Bali (+62 361 227 711) the main police headquarters in Denpasar, instead of the local police office. – There’s also a special police force for tourism known as PAM OBVIT Bali which works on the well-being of foreigners. You may contact them on +62 361 759687 or +62 361 224 111, for help with tackling difficult situations while in Bali. – Additionally, you may also make a report to your embassy in Indonesia. Australia // +62 21 2550 5555 China // +62 21 576 1039 Singapore // +62 21 2995 0400 Malaysia // +62 21 522 4974 – For other embassy contact information, please find them at – http://www.embassypages.com/indonesia
Health issues that could be fatal
Your health should always be taken seriously!
Note: Although not compulsory, these are the recommended vaccinations before traveling to Bali and around – hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
6. Avoid drinking tap water and ordering drinks with ice cubes!
Take it from me, someone who was hospitalised with typhoid in Bali, just DON’T drink tap water. Water-borne diseases are nothing to mess around with, and in Bali they don’t have a proper water treatment system to keep you away from these!
If you have a particularly weak stomach, you may not even want to brush your teeth with the tap water. And for the very sensitive, I’d recommend you to opt out from the ice cubes too as most restaurants make use of tap water.
Our Tips: – Avoid tap water whenever possible; you can simply buy bottled water at the nearest convenience store! – Be wary of water served to you in local warungs – Be sure to pack some charcoal pills!
7. Mozzies – they are tiny but could well be dangerous!
Roughly three weeks after coming home from Bali, I fell ill… coincidentally after I had just gotten out of hospital in Bali for typhoid! This time, the culprit was a little black pest, a mosquito!
Dengue is prevalent in most Southeast Asian countries, and so you need to be very careful of places you go to, where you sleep, and where you eat! Trust me it’s not fun and for some people it could be fatal too – fever, rashes, body aches, constant migraine are some of the symptoms!
Our Tips: – Apply and reapply mosquito repellent religiously – Make sure there’s no stagnant water in and around your accommodation, close the windows whenever possible (especially when sleeping at night) – Wear longs when going in nature (especially on hikes)
8. One souvenir that you wouldn’t like is the….Bali Belly
So notorious throughout the travelsphere, Bali Belly is the name given to the unfortunate stomach issues tourists usually get when first coming to the island. It’s been rumoured that Southeast Asian stomachs are less likely to suffer from this because their guts are usually already exposed to the types of bacteria in the food.
While at times unavoidable, definitely try to be more wary of how your food is prepared and where you’re eating! Generally look for crowded or established cafes too, they will be alright! If you’re really keen on street food, then remember to take some charcoal pills after eating.
Our Tips: – If you’re particularly sensitive, don’t eat at local warungs (street food) – Try to ask for drinks without ice cubes – Stock up on charcoal pills; they are life saviors!
9. Our cute little furry friends may not always be friendly, or alive…
Street dogs can be found all over Bali, and as heartbreaking as it is to watch the adorable doggies scavenge for food, they can also be territorial, aggressive, and carriers of rabies.
What’s more, the dog meat trade is still very much a thing in Bali unfortunately, and they don’t advertise it well. While you won’t mistakenly be served dog meat in an established restaurant, be very careful when buying street food. What you can generally look for is the letters ‘RW’ which is the short form of the North Sulawesi term ‘rintek wuuk’, which means ‘soft fur’. Most of these stalls will sell it in the form of skewers (or “satay”)
Our Tips: – Avoid getting too close to stray dogs no matter how cute they are unless you’ve got confirmation from locals that it’s okay – Get a vaccination as soon as possible if you’re bitten by a stray dog! – Read the signs at the local food stalls thoroughly!
All my fellow alcohol-lovers, beware!
Nothing beats a nice cold one, but there are dangers with alcohol too!
10. The problem with Arak and drinking alcohol in Bali
Drinking has become almost a secondary culture in Bali, and as fun as it may seem, it comes with its own danger. Arak is the local go to, a potent mixture made from local sources, but we strongly suggest avoiding it.
Legal and extensively sold around the island, arak can be found in many places from local drinking holes to bars in high-end hotels and restaurants. In recent years however, occasional cases of methanol poisoning have been happening due to the consumption of arak.
This problem is caused by unscrupulous vendors that mix methanol in arak, as it is cheaper than alcohol. Do note that consuming this mixture may cause blindness or death.
This is actually a problem that’s occurring with other forms of alcohol too, so always check where you get your alcohol from whether it is arak or not!
Tips: Don’t accept drinks from strangers, always visit reputable establishments such as these unique bars around Bali and try not to drink so much!
Our Tips: – We strongly urge that you avoid drinking arak, or only consume it at reputable bars, after checking its source from the bartenders. – If you’d really like to try proper Arak though, check out Dewi Sri (Arak Bali and Hatten Wines winery are also under this company!). They’ve been producing traditional Arak since 1968. (Jl. Danau Tondano 58, Sanur, http://www.arakbali.com) – Make sure to keep an eye on your drink and don’t accept any open drinks from strangers or people you don’t know so well! – If you’re feeling off after drinking, inform the closest friend or someone you can trust.
Activities are plentiful, but so are its dangers!
Take note that Bali isn’t all fun and games!
11. Tattoos are a great way to remember your trip, but HIV and scars aren’t!
Not all tattoo places in Bali are clean, as is the case almost everywhere else in the world. Be very careful when getting your tattoos done.
In the worse case scenario, if you happen to visit a tattoo parlour that does not practice a certain level of hygiene and safety (reused needles?!), you might actually contract HIV.
Now, if you’re thinking a temporary tattoo might be safer like the ones offered on the beach, then you’d be wrong there too! ‘Black Henna’ isn’t actually henna at all, and has a chemical in it known to give you horrible scars!
Our Tips: – If you really want a tattoo, visit internationally-owned tattoo shops that follow strict international standards of hygiene. – Do your research before going down to get a tattoo. – Here are 3 safe and recommended tattoo parlours (with really beautiful distinct art too!) i. Taco and tattoos Tuesday at Duex Ex Machina Seminyak – Jl. Batu Mejan no.8 – Canggu / +62 811 388 150 ii. Suku Suku Tatau – JL Nakula No 99 x, Seminyak, Bali / +62 815 9691475 iii. Tattoo Hut Bali – JL Benesari, Kuta, Bali / +62 822-3707-1957 – Avoid getting a ‘henna’ tattoo at all costs (especially not from beach touts)!
12. Respect the ocean, and don’t venture so far out by yourself
As with most beachfront locales, the risk of being swept away by a rip tide is very real. No matter how strong a swimmer you are, a rip tide is nothing to play with and can often be deadly. Popular beaches like Kuta tend to have lifeguards, but it’s definitely not a common occurrence at other hidden beaches around the island, so most of the time you’ll be fending for yourself!
Because of how busy some beaches get, it can be enticing to venture further away from the crowds where it’s quieter. Unfortunately this comes with its own dangers, there have been reports of a woman being stabbed in one of the hidden beaches!
Our Tips: – Pay close attention to the flags, if they are red, avoid swimming! – Try not to go anywhere by yourself, swimming in a group is always best!
Other issues you should take note of
Some places in Bali carry more risks than others
13. Keep your friends close and your bags even closer
Unfortunately, snatch thieves are a common occurrence in many countries, not just Bali. However it is something you need to be aware of. When walking on the road you’ll sometimes find people on motorbikes zoom past you and attempt to take your bag, not only can this cause you injury, you can lose all your belongings!
Not only that, the more discreet method of stealing is through pickpockets. In a crowd you may suddenly find yourself with less belongings than before you get there! It may come as a surprise, but it’s generally kids who do the dirty deed, so don’t think they’re all innocent either!
Our Tips: – Try not to use a handbag, these can usually be cut through or snatched easily. A bum bag or sling bag is best for travelling! – Don’t walk with your bag facing the sidewalk, and keep it held tightly to you! – Don’t keep anything in your back pockets, or pockets in general, and when you’re in a busy place, be extra vigilant – Consider hiring a local tour guide for extra safety (but not compulsory)!
14. Familiarise yourself with emergency evacuation procedures
Bali is home to some amazing natural wonders. Mt Agung reigns as king, the oceans are a force to be reckoned with, and the earth does as it pleases. There is always the off chance that a natural disaster will happen, much like when Mt Agung erupted unexpectedly a few years ago, and when the earthquakes rocked Lombok; felt in Bali and the surrounding islands.
Familiarising yourself with some of the contingency plans and safety travel tips in place for each natural disaster is the best protocol. Fingers crossed it does not come in use, but at least it’s there to know about!
Our Tips: – Ask your hotel where the nearest evacuation point is – Avoid staying too close to the volcanoes in Bali
15. Monkey see, monkey do, monkey bite
When visiting the famed monkey forest in Ubud, make sure not to carry plastic bags, bottles or food with you to avoid getting the monkey excited!
Somehow, the clever primates there have associated plastic bags with food. We’ve seen monkeys snatch visitors’ plastic bags and tear them apart to see if there’s food, when it was only an umbrella.
In some cases, the monkeys may even bite you!
We suggest you walk in with your belongings secured in your bag. Also make sure not to bring food in, as you won’t want the monkeys catching a whiff of that promising meal, resulting in a tussle for your food.
In the event that they grab your things, do not play tug of war. Chances are, once they realise there’s nothing inside for them, they will drop it – and there really is no point getting bitten, especially if there’s nothing important inside.
Our Tips: – Do not carry plastic bags when at the Monkey Forest. – Do not let your kids wander too close to the monkeys. – Keep your accessories like sunglasses in your bag. – Avoid grinning (showing teeth is a sign of threat and aggression to monkeys!) to avoid provoking an unnecessary attack. – If you get bitten, go to the nearest clinic for an injection!
16. Killer waves and Devil’s Tears, Nusa Lembongan
If you’ve read about the Devil’s Tears waterblow in our Nusa Islands’ Guide, you should know that it’s 1) beautiful, and 2) dangerous.
The waterblow phenomenon happens when waves hit the rock cliffs where pressure builds, and water then blows up.
And unlike the waterblow in Nusa Dua, there are no safety railings on the cliffs to provide a bit of security, and the water blow magnitude at Devil’s Tears are way greater than the one in Nusa Dua.
It’s important to keep a distance as the waves can actually sweep you down from the cliff – not something you want to happen as some cases have been fatal!
Real story: One reader was with her friends standing at a corner of the cliff when a wave came and swept all three of them off their feet, hitting the reef pretty bad.
One of them even got swept down to the ocean and eventually swam for 2 to 3 hours until some locals came by trying to help throw ropes to pull her out. It didn’t work and she only managed to survive (thankfully) by swimming to the shore in the end.
Our Tips: – Do not wander too close to the waterblow.
17. Ladies beware in Kuta and Canggu!
Kuta and Canggu are renowned for their nonstop parties, beach bars, and all that hectic stuff.
If you’re a lady, and you’re alone, it’s advisable not to walk alone at night in these areas, as it can attract unnecessary attention. Whether it’s snatch thieves or an attack in an isolated location, you can never be too careful!
By avoiding walking alone late at night in Kuta or Canggu, you’ll be saving yourself some potentially nasty trouble!
Our Tips: – If you have to take a cab back from after a night of partying, make sure the driver isn’t dodgy. Do not just accept free rides back! – Use GoJek or GrabCar to get a ride. You’ll have the ID, name, number and photo of your driver – just in case. – If you do encounter a robbery or sexual harassment, call POLDA Bali (+62 361 227 711) the main police headquarter in Denpasar, instead of the local police office. – There’s also a special police force for tourism known as PAM OBVIT Bali, which emphasises on the well-being of foreigners. You may contact them at +62 361-759687 or +62 361 224 111, for help. – Opt for safer areas like Seminyak, especially if it is your first time in Bali!
18. Watch out for holes on the roads!
If you don’t want to fall into uncovered drains, or basically take a bad tumble, you definitely should pay attention to the paths when you walk.
People have complained about suddenly dropping into manholes that have had their covers left open! You could easily break your leg or get some nasty scratches from this.
Another issue is crossing the road, always be vigilant of motorbikes that are going too fast, and it’s better to take longer than to rush across and risk your life!
Our Tips: – Just make sure to pay attention when you walk – Use a torch if the area isn’t well lit!
While Bali is generally a safe place you shouldn’t be scared to visit, just be wary of all these tips before heading over! Keep in touch with your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Share this with your Bali loving friends so they can be safe too!
PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you! Tell us
Eco-friendly princess, sunset chaser and photography enthusiast, I aim to help people roam the world in ways that are both better for the traveller and for the environment. One of my biggest passions is exploring the unexplored!