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Travel Guide > Asia > Indonesia > Bali

Bali Health & Safety

  
 
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Health

Healthcare

Although the standards of healthcare and emergency facilities have improved greatly in recent years, they remain below what most visitors would be accustomed to in their home country. Minor illness and injury can be adequately treated in the ubiquitous local clinics. Most overseas visitors would not be comfortable having serious problems dealt with in a local hospital, and insurance coverage for emergency medical evacuation (normally to Singapore or Perth) is therefore a wise precaution.

Be aware that the purchase of travel insurance still means that most clinics and hospitals require payment in advance. Any claim is then made to the insurance company on your return home. This is almost always the case if the problem is one that can be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Make sure that your insurance company has an agreement with a hospital or you will also be landed with a bill for an inpatient stay. Bali International Medical Centre (BIMC) appears to have the most agreements with insurance companies and is a well serviced hospital. This is however a relatively very expensive option and even they ask for payment for outpatient treatments.

Sun

The midday sun in Bali will fry the unwary traveller to a crisp, so slap on plenty of high-factor sun-protection and drink lots of fluids. There is though no need to carry litres of water as you can buy a bottle virtually anywhere. The locals tend to stay away from the beaches until about two hours before sunset, when most of the ferocity has gone out of the sun.

Mosquitoes

Bali is officially a malaria-free zone but dengue fever is a problem and all sensible precautions should be taken against being bitten by mosquitoes.

Food safety

Take care in restaurants and bars; although it is very rare nowadays, some may use untreated/unsafe tap water to make ice for drinks otherwise made with clean ingredients. Tap water in hotels should not be used for drinking or brushing teeth unless explicitly labelled as safe.

Both drink adulteration with methyl alcohol (methanol) and drink spiking in bars and clubs is not uncommon in Bali. Sensible precautions should be taken when buying and consuming beverages. During 2009/2010 a number of Indonesians and visiting tourists in Java, Bali and Lombok/Gilli Islands were poisoned by consuming drinks containing methyl alcohol resulting in fatalities. Methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) and other contaminants are highly dangerous and have been found in some locally produced alcoholic drinks including locally made Arak. The initial symptoms of methyl alcohol/methanol intoxication include central nervous system depression, headache, dizziness, nausea, lack of co-ordination and confusion. If methyl alcohol poisoning is suspected seek medical assistance immediately.

HIV

The HIV infection rate in Bali is increasing, mainly amongst sex workers of both genders and intravenous drug users. If you engage in any risky activity, always protect yourself.

Safety

Bali is, in general, a safe destination, and few visitors encounter any real problems.

Terrorism

Bali was the scene of lethal terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005, with both waves of attacks targeting nightclubs and restaurants popular among foreign visitors. Security is consequently tight at obvious targets, but it is of course impossible to protect oneself fully against terrorism. If it is any reassurance, the Balinese themselves—who depend on tourism for their livelihood—deplored the bombings and the terrorists behind them for the terrible suffering they have caused on this peaceful island. As a visitor, it is important to put the risk in perspective: the sad fact is that Bali's roads are, statistically, far more dangerous than even the deadliest bomb. It may still be prudent to avoid high-profile western hang-outs, especially those without security measures. The paranoid or just security-conscious may wish to head out of the tourist enclaves of South Bali to elsewhere on the island.

Drugs

Bali is increasingly enforcing Indonesia's harsh penalties against the import, export, trafficking and possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. Several high profile arrests of foreigners have taken place in Bali since 2004, and a number have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or (very rarely) execution. Even the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use puts you at risk of a trial and prison sentence. Watch out for seemingly harmless street boys looking to sell you drugs (marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, etc.). More often than not, they are working with undercover police and will try to sell you drugs so that they can then get uniformed officers onto you. The police officers will (if you are lucky) demand a bribe for your release, or, more likely, look for a far larger payday by taking you into custody. Just avoid Bali's drug scene at all costs.

The unfortunate people who are caught and processed will find there is little distinction between personal use and dealing in the eyes of the Indonesian legal system. 'Expedition fees', monies paid to shorten jail or prison time, can easily run to US$20,000 and are often a lot more.

There is a fair chance that you will be offered magic mushrooms, especially if you are young and find yourself in Kuta. Indonesian law is a little unclear in this area but with the whole country in the midst of a drug crackdown since 2004, it is not worth taking the risk.

Water safety

If you see a red flag planted in the sand, do not swim there, as they are a warning of dangerous rip currents. These currents can pull you out to sea with alarming speed and even the strongest swimmers cannot swim against them. The thing to do is to stay calm and swim sideways (along the shore) until out of the rip and only then head for the shore. The ocean is not to be trifled with in Bali, and dozens of people, some experienced some not, die by drowning every year.

Scams

Petty scams are not uncommon, although they can usually be avoided with a modicum of common sense. If approached on the street by anybody offering a deal on souvenirs, transport, etc., you can rest assured that you will pay more if you follow your new found friend. Guard your bags, especially at transport terminals and ferry terminals. In addition to the risk of them being stolen, self-appointed porters like to grab them without warning and then insist on ridiculous prices for their "services".

Timeshare scams are common in Bali with several high profile, apparently legitimate operators. If you are approached by a very friendly street canvasser asking you to complete a survey and then attend a holiday resort presentation to claim your 'prize' (this is inevitably a 'free' holiday which you end up paying for anyway), politely refuse and walk away. If you fall for this scam, you will be subjected to a very long, high-pressure sales presentation and if you actually buy the 'holiday club' product, you will certainly regret it. Timeshare is a completely unregulated industry in Indonesia, and you have no recourse.

Transporting glass items home

When leaving Bali, if you have anything glass in your baggage (such as duty-free alcohol) the security guards may put some pressure on you to have it wrapped to keep it safe, and it can seem like its a requirement rather than a suggestion (it is Rp 60,000 a bag). Similarly, when arriving in Bali, some airport officials may offer to take your bags for you and walk you through customs, be generally friendly and helpful, and then demand a tip.

Changing money

The money changing rule is simple: use only authorised money changers with proper offices and always ask for a receipt. The largest is called PT Central Kuta and they have several outlets. If you are especially nervous, then use a formal bank. You may get a better rate at an authorised money changer though.

Avoid changing money in smaller currency exchange offices located within shops, as they more often than not will try to steal money by utilising very creative and "magician"-like methods. Often the rate advertised on the street is nowhere near the rate that they will give you in the end. Many times the rate is set higher to lure you in so that they can con you out of a banknote or two, and when this is not possible, they will give you a shoddy rate and state that the difference is due to commission. This even applies to the places which clearly state that there is no commission.

For many, the largest irritant will be the hawkers and peddlers who linger around temples, malls, beaches, and anywhere tourists congregate. It may feel difficult or rude to ignore the constant come-ons to buy souvenirs, food, and assorted junk, but it can be necessary in order to enjoy your holiday in semi-peace.

Monkeys

Last but not least be wary around the monkeys that occupy many temples (most notably Uluwatu and Ubud's Monkey Forest). They are experts at stealing possessions like glasses, cameras and even handbags, and have been known to attack people carrying food. Feeding them is just asking for trouble.

Clinics in Bali

Doctor Ubud Clinic
On the 7 March 2012, I had a cut on my finger that required stiches. A clinic in Uluwatu charge me IDR 450,000. (reasonable) But when we were in UBUD, we went to UBUD CLINIC 24 hours at Jl Raya Campuhan 36. A lady doctor changed my dressing/p... more
in Ubud
 




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