Is Bali Safe? How to Navigate Through the Dangers
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Bali - Paradise with Dangers
We recently covered in our latest blog the top sights to see in Bali. While this paradise island is famous for its stunning natural landscapes and affordable prices, it's important to be aware that travelling anywhere including in Bali includes some risks or even dangers. Compared to other popular holiday destinations, Bali can be less safe. However, taking some basic precautions can help ensure your safety during your holiday trip to Bali. We listed some of the possible dangers when travelling in Bali and tips on how to avoid them.
Dangers of Travelling in Bali and How to Avoid Them
Here are the top hazards to be aware of in Bali, along with tips on how to avoid them.
Rabies is a severe infection which is transmitted through direct contact usually from the bite of a rabid animal. It can be transmitted by various animals most commonly by dogs and possibly by monkeys. The risk of infection becomes high if the infected animal's saliva enters the bloodstream. Early in 2023, two foreign tourists were the victims of canine attacks which were positive for rabies in the Legian area of Kuta in Bali.
There is a need to evaluate the benefits of a rabies vaccine. If you are planning an extended stay in Bali and intend to explore its natural surroundings, it is strongly advisable to get vaccinated against the rabies virus. Vaccination costs from 50 to 300 US dollars depending on your location.
In case of an animal bite in Bali, it is crucial to immediately clean the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention at a nearby clinic. You may need to get vaccinated against rabies. This vaccine is highly effective and protects against infection. Additionally, you might be required to receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment.
We bought our rabies vaccinations at a cheaper rate from Estonia and a nurse at a healthcare centre in Finland injected for us a few weeks before the start of our Bali trip.
If you don't get vaccinated or receive prompt treatment after being bitten by an animal, you run the risk of contracting a deadly infection.
Traffic in Bali is congested. While travelling on the island, we felt as a pedestrian, you have no rights. Cars and motorbikes won't usually stop to give way but you need to wait patiently and find the best moment to cross the street. Since the streets are wide and there is a continuous flow of vehicles, crossing streets is dangerous and difficult. Especially, if you are under the influence of alcohol, you put yourself in big danger. We witnessed one incident when one old female tourist was shouting in panic while crossing the pedestrian lane behind us in a big intersection in Kuta where motorcyclists and cars were making a turn towards the zebra line at a fast speed.Some travellers may also prefer driving scooters themselves. Good driving skills are not enough in Bali. Streets and intersections are so crowded that inexperienced drivers won't survive. Traffic rules are not clear and they are not seriously followed. We recommend not driving a car or a scooter in Bali for inexperienced drivers. Taxis are so affordable that the budget won't be a concern.
Bali is renowned for its breathtaking views that are sure to captivate your senses. Its tropical jungle environment offers an opportunity to explore and discover new experiences while enjoying the pleasant weather. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that the safety standards in Bali may differ from those in other countries. Therefore, it is important to be responsible for your safety.
In many attractions, there are tall cliffs without protective fences. Even the most appealing turquoise natural sea pools can be hazardous when a tide gets high. Reckless tourists may face severe accidents, and seeking assistance in remote locations takes time. It is crucial to prioritize safety and adhere to all written and spoken instructions to avoid any risks while visiting these attractions. A reliable tour guide increases your safety a lot.
Waves and Current
Surfers love Bali since there is always wind and waves. But as a swimmer, it is difficult to find a calm sea. You need to prepare to survive together with the waves and tides. It is common that between moderate-sized waves big ones surprise you. Only skilful swimmers should enter the sea in Bali.
Strong sea currents are another danger. Currents can be so strong that not even the best swimmer can swim against them.
Our advice is to monitor the sea long enough before entering the water. Do you see any signs of currents? Are there other swimmers in the sea and how do they do? Only after careful evaluation, you can consider going into the water.
Always follow written instructions on the beaches. If swimming is forbidden, do not even think of it. Make sure you have a friend who can supervise you when you are in the water. If you still happen to get caught by a sea current, have a plan for how to escape. Usually, the best advice is to swim perpendicular to the current until you have escaped it and then continue back to the shore.
Drugs are strictly forbidden and illegal in Bali. Unfortunately, they still exist.
Do not buy, hold, sell or consume any drugs. They affect your health but you can also get s severe punishment if you get caught. Bali is not the place to try drugs!
To work in Bali legally, you must be Indonesian or have a work visa. During your vacation, you may see foreign tour guides advertising their business in your mother tongue. Quite often, they do not have required licenses or even work visas. Before buying services from non-Indonesian people, make sure they are doing their business legally.
Police may stop groups led by an illegal tour guide. The luckiest result is that you just lose the money that you had paid for the tour. In the worst case, you will also get a punishment.
We recommend buying tours only from reliable companies like GetYourGuide which uses local operators.
Bali is in the tropics, where the temperature remains high and the air is humid. Unfortunately, this warm and damp climate is also favourable for the growth of bacteria. Additionally, there is a risk of contracting various tropical diseases like dengue fever.
It's important to prioritize your health during your vacation and avoid falling ill or contracting a serious infection. By maintaining a high level of hygiene, you can increase your chances of staying healthy and enjoying your time off to the fullest. With good precautions, the risk of getting infected remains low. Travel Medical Insurance helps if the risk realizes and you need medical treatment.
There are also other animal-related threats in Bali besides monkeys or dogs with rabies. Bali is home to many highly poisonous snakes. We spotted one sunbathing on a rock at Nusa Dua Beach but we couldn't identify the exact species. We advise avoiding animals since you can't know how they behave or if they are poisonous.
Snake bites are a serious matter and can even be life-threatening. It's crucial to be cautious when walking in a jungle or any area where snakes may be present. If you are bitten by a snake, seeking immediate medical attention is vital. Getting treatment fast is the key to recovery fast too.
In addition to snakes, Bali has other dangerous animals too.
Weather, Earthquakes and Tsunami
Undeniable, people love to travel to Bali because of its nice weather. You can surely enjoy a lot of sunshine there even though it rains frequently. On average, the weather in Bali is pleasant. That is why it is the home for many nomads, too.
Sometimes, the weather conditions get extreme. Winds can become so high that trees are falling. There may be heavy thunderstorms, rain and floods. It is important to follow local weather reports and comply with the advice given by the authorities. You will stay safe as long as you protect yourself from the dangerous weather.
High winds create also secondary threats on the sea. Waves become so high that the sea is not any more suitable for swimming. Travelling by speed boats during storms is not a good idea. When the bad weather hits on, forget the activities on the sea. Stormy days are good for shopping.
Unfortunately, Bali is also in a high-risk area related to earthquakes. An earthquake itself can be dangerous but it can also cause a tsunami. We advise making a plan on how to protect yourself in your hotel room if an earthquake occurs. And after the earthquake, there is a risk of a tsunami. Know your route to an elevated place to protect yourself from a possible flood.
Bali is an island so travelling by boat is common. For example, travellers love to sail to Nusa Penida which is only 1-hour ride from Bali.
In Indonesia, there are two kinds of boat companies: safe and not-so-safe. Before booking speed boat tickets to your favourite island, we recommend googling reviews of the company you intend to travel with. If you find that the company is safe enough, it is advisable to travel only when the weather is good. High winds are a bad sign because the waves get high.
When boarding the boat, it is good to pay attention to its safety equipment and escape routes. If you need to abandon the boat for any reason, you can easily survive in the sea for a long time as long as you are wearing a life vest. It is important to know where the life vests are.
Safe Place to Stay in Bali?
Bali has different kinds of areas to stay. Some people prefer staying in the premium Nusa Dua area while others love the crowded Kuta because parties and nightclubs are there. Ubud with its cultural heritage is another popular tourist destination even though there are no sea beaches.
Kuta is not the most beautiful area of Bali, but for many travellers, it is a practical and moderately safe area to stay. By staying a few kilometres away from the beach, the tsunami risk stays low. All the best medical services are near too.
The traffic and criminal activities are perhaps the biggest risks in Kuta. If you are looking for a more peaceful but still modern environment, Nusa Dua is a more suitable place but also more expensive.
Adventurous people may prefer smaller local-style villages. The more exotic place you select, the more you are on your own.
We stayed in North Kuta in Swiss-Belhotel Rainforest. We felt safe there. Because Bali has affordable taxi services, it was easy to move around the island and see Bali's popular sights. We used taxi services every day but the overall amount of money we spent on transportation remained still low.
How to Book a Hotel Room?
For succesful hotel bookings, follow our simple checklist:
- Compare hotels and their room prices on Booking.com.
- Think about the hotel's location. A good location costs more but you will save time and public transportation costs.
- Check the basic things about the room: size, bedding configuration, amenities and photos.
- Calculate the value of included meals. A complimentary breakfast is a good way to start a new day.
- Read previous customers' reviews. If the hotel has many bad reviews, skip it and choose a hotel with a better rating.
- Double check all the details CAREFULLY before paying the room.
- Pay the booking with a credit card to get extra protection.
Bali is an excellent holiday destination for singles, couples and families. Nature is incredibly beautiful and the Balinese people are friendly. Bali and its nearby islands offer much to see for many weeks not forgetting its delicious cuisine.
Every holiday destination, like Bali, has its dangers. Luckily, travellers can easily mitigate the risks and make the holiday much safer and more comfortable. Managing risk on the holiday is just making wise decisions and being a little more careful than at home. With good preparations, Bali is a safe enough destination but travellers need to understand the major risks.
Have you been to Bali? What is the biggest danger in Bali you have faced? Comment below.