Everyone knows of holidays ruined by Bali Belly, dengue fever, tainted drinks, accidents, a monkey bite requiring a course of rabies shots or substandard treatment in Bali hospitals. Behind the facade of 4-5 star resorts, hotels and villas, lies a developing country with poor sanitation, infrastructure problems and environmental degradation.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Bali. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include some things not mentioned here.
Most Common Health Issues
Traveller’s Diarrhoea, Giardia and Dysentery
Observe strict food and water safety precautions. Take a water filter and well stocked kit with guidelines for self-treatment.
Dengue and Chikungunya
Mosquito bit avoidance is the only way to prevent these viruses. Dengue causes a short term severe illness with fever, whereas chikungunya tends to be less severe but may cause long term aches and pains.
Accidents, alcohol, illicit drugs and tattoos
Examples include motorbike accidents on poorly lit/maintained roads (wear a helmet), surfing injuries, near drowning, fights and assaults, twisted/broken ankles from potholes in footpaths, and exhaust pipe burns. Alcohol may be tainted/spiked. Be sensible. Make sure you and your friends look after each other and pack a first aid kit. Tattoos carry the risk of HIV/ hep B and C. Drugs carry the risk of jail time or worse.
Do not put yourself at risk. Bali sex workers may present themselves as regular locals. Always use condoms, preferably bought in Australia. Have an STD check on return if appropriate.
Animal bites and scratches
Rabies has only been a problem in Bali in recent years. Wash out and disinfect the wound, then see a doctor in a decent clinic ASAP as rabies shots and a tetanus booster or antibiotics may be necessary.
As well as being up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis B, the following vaccines are often recommended – hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, cholera and influenza. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age and underlying medical conditions.
Security and other general travel issues
See the Australian government’s website: smartraveller.gov.au