Updated on May 15, 2019
The first thing is that I would like to say is that, about the problems I list, I just had to deal with some vendors harassment and sunburn.
Bali is so modern and touristic, sometimes you forget is in a Southeast Asian developing country. Unfortunately, almost every day something will make you realize that. The more independent the travelers, the more they will meet the real Indonesia:
- Natural disasters. Most of Indonesia is seated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the area with the highest seismic-volcanic activity in the world. Almost the entire country is from volcanic origin and Bali is not one of the exceptions. Tsunamis and earthquakes are a consequence of this activity, but in the most recent years the main danger and inconvenience is the continued activity of Agung volcano, one of the most important on the island, which has been in and out of eruption for more than 3 years, most recent on April 22, 2019, only 3 weeks since the update of this article. Alert level is 3 out of 4, and the current exclusion zone is 4 km. By now there are no problems for takeoff and landing of airplanes, but in previous eruptions there have been, with delays and cancellations of unpredictable duration.
- Scams and theft. In general, Bali is safer than most cities in developed countries. The Balinese are quiet and peaceful people, but many other Indonesians, mainly from Jakarta, are not so much. Many criminals all over the country come to the island with the sole purpose of taking advantage of tourists.
- The chances of suffering robbery or other violent situation are in any case virtually nil. The most common ones are pulling bags by men riding motorcycles.
- Most are small scams and robberies. The victims are distracted tourists on the beaches and in other agglomerations, or thefts in vehicles and hotel rooms. Kuta and Seminyak have the worst reputation in the island. Scams related to currency exchange are explained in the post “Essential information”.
- A widespread practice is to grab your luggage to help you carry it as soon as you put a step aside a transport. If you are going to allow that person to do it, it is very important to agree in advance the price of the tip. This can happen even with airport security guards.
- For those who want to climb Batur volcano, which is open for visitors, or less likely considering its volcanic activity, Agung volcanoe, it is well known that local guides relentlessly pester hikers who refuse to hire a guide, saying it is illegal (that is false).
- Some policemen are corrupt and will wait for a bribe to turn a blind eye for infractions, especially traffic involved, that the tourist had committed or that the police say they have committed, even if it is not true. The amounts they usually ask for are small, around 50,000 Rp (about € 5), enough for the visitor to think that it is better to pay and continue than to be involved in complaints and long procedures at the nearest police station.
- The street vendors. They are not a scam if you haggle well, but they can be a nuisance. You have to understand they intend to do their job, but they can overwhelm the tourist. If not interested, you should ignore them or cut the conversation quickly, but without being rude.
- The monkeys. They are not only in the Monkey Forest, but also in many temples and other places. It’s great to see them and photograph them, but there are things to be avoided:
- The typical tourist photo with a monkey on your head? Good idea if you want to have lice.
- I will feed them these so funny monkeys … Good idea if you want the monkey to climb on you, try to take your food, your iPhone X or whatever he can.
- Even without approaching them, most of these monkeys can at any time approach and take away your belongings. There have been cases of rabies bite.
- Illegal substances. There have been cases of tourists intoxicated by adulterated alcohol with low-quality alcohol in low standard establishments. As for drugs, the penalties even for small quantities for personal consumption range from years in an Indonesian prison to the death penalty.
- The traffic. We must consider how difficult driving in these countries is and the condition of the roads. Should pay close attention as much as pedestrian as a driver, especially those who rent mopeds. For those who go on boat trips, it is also advisable to ensure the condition of your boat before getting to the sea.
- Health problems:
- The most frequent: sunburn. The sun here is much stronger than it seems.
- Mosquito bites can be terrible. You need to put repellent as soon as it starts to get dark.
- Traveler’s diarrhea, related primarily to the non-potable water intake (water, ice, not cooked food) is the most common condition, but not as much as in most of the Southeast. Of course, you should never drink tap water and should not trust all restaurants.
- Apart form these, the standard of health in Bali is acceptably high, although you should be alert; the chances of contracting tropical infections are very low, and the only vaccine recommended not included in the immunization schedules of developed countries is Hepatitis A.
- Bali is a surfing paradise for a compelling reason and the sea can be very dangerous. The beaches have lifeguards and are marked with flags depending on the currents.