SAFETY IN BALI
Bali is one of the more than 17,000 islands that belong to Indonesia, a country located between Southeast Asia and Oceania. Therefore Bali is governed by the laws and security of the country to which it belongs: Indonesia. Indonesia is generally a safe country.
If you want to know if it’s safe to travel to Bali, we have to say that Bali is generally a safe place. People are very nice, always with a smile on their face and an open attitude towards tourists. But this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do your part to make sure you don’t get in trouble during your stay on the Island of the Gods.
The term safety is defined as the absence of danger or risk, or as the feeling of total confidence in something or someone. It, therefore, covers many topics. We will discuss the following: multiculturalism, natural disasters, health (medical care and vaccinations), traffic and roads, robbery and theft, nightlife, water activities, island animals, and other dangers (adventure activities, trekking). Finally, we will provide you some useful information to use if needed.
Before any trip, you should do a research about the area or country you are going to visit and its possible dangers, if there are any. Some of these may sound familiar to you, but the important thing is to take the right precautions to have a peaceful trip. Many times danger is easily avoidable and it’s very important to be well informed and know how to avoid it.
Indonesia is a multicultural country where different dialects, religions, and customs coexist. With the exception of Bali which is a Hindu island, Indonesia is a Muslim country, and therefore there are certain rules of conduct that must be respected (particularly for women). You also need to take into consideration that, as this is a religious country, the clothing used when entering religious temples must be appropriate in order to avoid offending the locals.
Sacred temples and offerings
For the balinese people, temples are spiritual places, places for prayer, and ceremonies in which everything has to be charged with positive energy and must be kept clean. Keep this in mind and try to respect and keep these places clean. No one will stop you from visiting these places as long as you do not disrespect the balinese people.
Be very careful with home temples or those which are not open to tourists. It’s simple: don’t enter! This is a sacred place for the balinese people and it’s disrespectful to do the opposite. Remember, religion is very important to them, so respect it.
Even if you like taking pictures of yourself doing funny things or climbing the temples, it’s better not to do so and ask first in order to avoid offending the locals. Remember, you are the one who is in a foreign country, so you have to respect the laws, religions, and customs of that country.
The same goes for the offerings. Do not step on or touch the offerings you see on the street, inside the temples, or anywhere else. No matter how much you like them, these little baskets filled with flowers and food are offerings for the gods. Please respect this.
Other small details that are good to know if you want to avoid offending the Balinese, even though it may sound weird to westerners: don’t use your left hand to receive or give something, don’t point with your foot, don’t kiss people when greeting and don’t touch people’s head.
As part of the Indonesian archipelago, which is one of the most sensitive areas in the world, Bali is located in a geographically dangerous area. It’s part of the so-called Ring of Fire, the most active chain of volcanoes in the world. This means that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even tsunamis are frequent. Most such natural disasters are unpredictable or do not cause major damage, but it is important to remain calm and know what to do in the event of a disaster. The more developed areas of the island are adapted to the movements of the earth and have protocols adjusted for possible alarms. No one can do anything about nature, but by managing the people and the situation well, damage can be minimized.
It is important to note that Indonesia has a National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB – Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana) that is responsible for reacting to any natural disaster, whether it is a volcano eruption, an earthquake, a landslide or flooding caused by heavy rains or high tides.
It is important to mention that Bali is not the main island of Indonesia, so the medical facilities may be deficient in many aspects. In the event of a serious accident, it is necessary to transfer the people affected to Java, the main island.
Although it is usually easy to find pharmacies, keep in mind that you may not be able to find all the necessary medicines, so we recommend that you bring some basic medicines from your home country. Our number one health advice is to get a travel insurance before visiting Bali. In most cases, you won’t need it, but it’s better to be prepared than to pay huge amounts of money in case of an emergency. Nowadays there are many affordable packages depending on the duration of your stay on the island.
GET YOUR INSURANCE BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH A 5% DISCOUNT
In case of emergency you can go to the following hospitals (most of them speak English):
- Kuta Clínic – Jl. Raya Kuta No. 100X (Kuta) – Tel: +62 361 753 268
- BIMC, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No.100X (Kuta) – Tel: +62 361 761 263
- Nusa Dua Medical Service, Grand Hyatt Hotel (Nusa Dua) – Tel: +62 361 771 118
- BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua, Kawasan ITDC Blok D, Jl. Nusa Dua (Nusa Dua) – Tel: +62 361 300 0911
- Wing Amertha RS Sanglah, Jl. Kesehatan No.1, Dauh Puri Klod (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 221 911, +62 361 227911, +62 361 225483 o +62 361 265064.
- RS Umum Badung, Jl. Raya Kapal Mengwi (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 7421880.
- RS Umum Dharma Usadha, Jl Jend Sudirman, 50 (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 7421880, +62 361 227560, +62 361 233786 o +62 361 233787.
- RS Umum Manuaba, Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto, 28 (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 426393, +62 361 226393.
- RS Umum Surya Husadha, Jl. Pulau Serangan, 1-3, (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 233787.
- RS Umum Wangaya, Jl. RA Kartini, 133 (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 222141.
Manuaba, Jl. Raya Kuta Nusa Indah Plaza Bl IX, (Kuta) – Tel: +62 361 754748.
- Siloam Hospitals, Jl. Sunset Road, No. 818 (Kuta) – Tel: +62 361 779 900.
- Surya Husadha, Jl. Danau Buyan, 47 (Sanur) – Tel: +62 361 285236.
- Surya Husadha, Jl. Kartika Plaza, 9-X (Sanur) – Tel: +62 361 752947.
- Surya Husadha, Jl. Kartika Plaza, 9-X (Sanur) – Tel: +62 361 752947.
- SOS, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, 505X (Kuta) – Tel: +62 361 710505.
- Ubud Clinic, Jl. Raya Ubud, 36 (Ubud) – Tel: +62 361 974911.
- Klungkung Hospital, Jl. Flamboyan, 40-42 (Klungkung) – Tel: +62 366-21172.
- Prodia Clinic, Jl. RA Kartini 12 (Singaraja) – Tel: +62 362 24516.
- Kerta Yasa Clinic, Jl. Ngurah Rai, 143 (Negara) – Tel: +62 365 41248.
* If necessary and to ensure that everyone understands you, remember that hospital in Indonesian is Rumah Sakit.
Other hospitals you can go to in case of emergency (outside Bali):
- MRCCC Siloam Hospitals Semanggi, Jl. Garnisun Dalam No. 2-3 Semanggi – Tel: +62 211 500 181.
- Rumah Sakit St. Carolus, Jl. Salemba Raya 41 RW.5 – Tel: +62 213 904 441.
- PGI Cikini Hospital, Jl. Raden Saleh 40 RW.2 – Tel: +62 213 899 7777.
- Bank Permata RS Medistra, Jl. Gatot Subroto No.Kav 59, RT.1/RW.4 – Tel: +62 215 237 788.
- Metropolitan Medical Centre (MMC) Hospital, Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said C 21 – Tel: +62 215 203 435.
- Rumah Sakit JIH (Jogja International Hospital), Jl. Ring Road Utara No. 160 – Tel: +62 274 446 3535.
- Public Hospital Dr. Sardjito, Jl. Kesehatan No.1 – Tel: +62 274 631 190.
Before heading to the Island of the Gods, we recommend you go to an International Vaccination Center at least one month before you start your trip so that they can advise you on the vaccines you need. There are no mandatory vaccinations required, but our advice is to visit an International Vaccination Centre to receive information from the experts in this field.
Traffic and roads
The traffic and the roads in Bali are a bit peculiar. You will probably see often a lot of double overtaking or unusual overtaking as many Balinese have their own driving style. If you hear the double whistle, don’t panic, it’s for everyone’s safety and it means hey, I’m overtaking. The roads have been improving slowly, but as soon as you get off the main roads you can find very narrow roads or unpaved paths. The only thing we can advise you is to be patient and drive carefully, this way you decrease the probability of having a traffic accident.
If you are going to use taxis, make sure you choose the official ones from the Blue Bird company and always ask them to activate the meter. Keep in mind that there are many scammers pretending to be official taxis.
The best way to get around Bali is on a motorbike. People in Bali use them all the time because it’s a family-friendly form of transportation. What makes it less safe to travel on a motorbike is that they do not usually wear helmets, they go faster than permitted, they ride in flip-flops or carry containers that obstruct visibility. Once again, don’t be negligent, ride carefully, always wear a helmet, carry proper documentation (including the International Driving License) and always check that the bike includes insurance.
Nowadays using the navigator on your smartphone has become essential. If you are going to use it in Bali, you have to take into account that the internet service is not that good and it can be quite deficient in some areas of the island. There may also be roads, paths, or detours that Google Maps doesn’t recognize or routes that lead to roads in bad conditions. Be patient, ask the locals, and be prepared to change your route to get to your destination. Also, do not expect to find signs on all roads, apart from the most popular places. If you do not have a physical map, you can use other alternatives such as downloading the Google Maps map on your smartphone before starting your route and using it later in offline mode. Another app you can use is Maps.me.
If you rent a motorbike or a car you have to check the fuel level and keep in mind that if your journey is too long you have to be careful and fill up the tank earlier than usual. In Bali, there is a lack of gas stations, but you will always find family gas stations anywhere on the island. Usually, they are located next to the warungs (traditional restaurants) and they have affordable prices.
The police in Bali (Polisi) is a bit peculiar. In general terms, you won’t have problems at airports or customs, but on the roads, if you are going to rent a vehicle, we recommend you to be careful. Some traffic agents are corrupt and they will try to give you a fine for anything. It’s better not to give them any reason, so drive slowly, do not disrespect them and always carry your passport and International Driving License with you.
Theft and scams
Although Bali is a safe island and there are very few cases of theft, you shouldn’t be careless either. It is advisable to leave your wallet, passport, important documents, and anything of value in a safe place or, if possible, carry them with you, to avoid any possible theft.
The most common theft is one of the smartphone, and many times it happens while you are walking on the street. You should also be careful about carrying your backpack on your back, especially in tourist areas such as Kuta. Whenever you can, carry your backpack in the front.
Another kind of theft you may have heard of involves the robber monkeys. These are the monkeys from places like the Monkey Forest in Ubud or Uluwatu temple. Plastic or shiny objects attract their attention and they can steal glasses, smartphones, jewellery, or water bottles. Our advice is to keep everything well stored and avoid leaving things lying around (caps, glasses, bags, hats, earrings, jackets, etc).
Be aware of duplicate credit cards. Make sure you withdraw money from ATMs that are inside the bank and try to avoid ATMs you find on the street. Also, try to pay with cash whenever you can.
If you’re looking to exchange money, pay attention to this:
- make sure they give you all the money, do the math yourself because sometimes they can scam you by giving you less than they should.
- That the commission is established before entering the establishment and exchanging money
- Only exchange in official exchange offices or banks.
Extra: Always carry extra euros or dollars as a precaution in case the cards don’t work or you run out of rupees.
If you are thinking of going out in Bali, great, just don’t get in trouble, always go with someone else and make sure you know your way home as this is a new place for you. In places like Kuta, the party goes on until the early morning and you can use Grabcar, GoJek, or similar to avoid any problems as you will always have the driver identified. If your accommodation is outside the city, it is possible that there is no night lighting, so we recommend you to bring a flashlight or use your smartphone’s flashlight (also remember to charge your phone).
Water sports are attracting a lot of young people from other countries in search of surfing, snorkelling, or diving in Bali.
You should not ignore the safety aspect of enjoying these water activities. In Bali, there are ocean currents that can make swimming or water sports difficult. If you are going to surf, be careful when riding certain waves so that you do not fall against rocks or coral as they can cause cuts and injuries.
On the other hand, you may find some dirty beaches, with lots of plastic or garbage. Keep in mind that the local cleaning services are minimal, so we advise you to look for another alternative or bathe with caution. And the most important thing: keep beaches clean, take your waste to the bins and even help with the cleaning of the beach (if necessary).
If you’re going to do some diving take the right precautions. Book the activities with reliable agencies that provide the right safety measures and that have well-maintained equipment. It is also important to have travel insurance that covers water sports accidents. In case of any type of injury, the insurance will help a lot.
Animals on the island
As a tropical country, in Indonesia insects have heat and humidity as their ally. Although not common, there is a possibility that mosquitoes (especially during the rainy season) can transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. We recommend you to use mosquito repellent every day. Also, it will be great to have a mosquito net in your room so you can sleep safely in your room. Mosquito bites are very annoying and can affect your health and spoil your trip, so don’t hesitate to use repellent several times a day.
If you are going to do any activity in the wild where you will find monkeys (especially long-tailed macaques), keep in mind that they are wild animals and as much as you would like to take a picture with a monkey, you have to be careful. If you are going to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, keep in mind the following:
- Follow the directions of the staff
- Don’t make eye contact with the monkeys
- Don’t feed the monkeys
- Take good care of your belongings
- You can observe the monkeys, take pictures and record videos but maintain a safe distance (at least 1 or 2 meters).
- Don’t trust that they are cute and won’t hurt you
- If you get bitten by a monkey you must go urgently to the hospital to receive a rabies vaccination.
The same applies to bites from any animal (dog, cat, bat, etc.). It is very important to be vaccinated against rabies as a precaution and to have your vaccination card updated before you start your trip.
More than dangers these are precautions you should take before starting your journey to Bali. Regardless of the activities, you choose to do (rafting, trekking, surfing, snorkelling, diving, canoeing, etc) make sure you book them with reliable agencies that are serious about the safety measures and that have equipment in good condition. As we mentioned before, having a travel insurance that covers adventure sports is essential.
Trekking is one of the most famous activities in Bali, especially on Mount Agung. This volcano is active, but with no imminent danger. Please be cautious and inform yourself about the situation before starting the trek. Also, pay close attention to clothing (it is quite cold up there) and proper footwear as you will be climbing to the top of a volcano after all. Wearing inappropriate footwear can cause sprains or chafing that will be uncomfortable during your entire stay on the island.
Another thing to keep in mind is to check the weather. Although Bali has a dry season and a rainy season, some drizzle is common during the day anytime. Always carry a small raincoat that can protect you and your belongings (documentation, money, equipment, etc).
Be careful when walking during the night and use a flashlight, or at least the flashlight of your smartphone, as there may be holes in the sidewalk that can cause falls.
Try to wear comfortable footwear during your stay on the island. As you may be visiting temples, waterfalls, or rice fields, you will need to walk on slippery or rocky paths. Don’t make the mistake of wearing just a simple pair of sandals or flip-flops. We advise you to put in your luggage some sport shoes and a pair of good flip-flops.
To avoid possible food-related stomach problems, we recommend you to always drink bottled water and eat in touristic restaurants. Otherwise, if you don’t mind eating in a warung (small family restaurants serving local food), we recommend you to choose wisely. If you have food poisoning, try to keep your body hydrated and if it doesn’t get better in a day, go to a pharmacy or health center.
Last but not least, SMILE! Be kind and let the local people help you because they do it from their hearts. Be polite and respectful. Don’t expect perfection, but know that the service they provide is different: more human and less professional.
Ambulance phone number: 118.
Free service from Red Cross Indonesia: +62 361 480282.
Police phone number: 110.
Search and rescue: 115 or 151, +62 361 751111.
Police for tourists: +62 361 754599 or +62 361 763753.
Police headquarters Bali: Jl. WR Supratman (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 227711.
Badung Regency Police Headquarters: Jl Gunung Sanghyang (Denpasar) – Tel: +62 361 424245.
Other police stations:
- Denpasar: Jl. Ahmad Yani, +62 361 225456.
- Sanur: Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, +62 361 288597.
- Kuta: Jl. Raya Tuban, +62 361 751598.
- Nusa Dua: Jl. By Pass Nusa Dua, +62 361 772110.
These are the precautions to be taken into account before traveling to the Island of the Gods. We hope that they will be useful. Traveling to Bali is safe as long as you take precautions and follow these instructions.