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Bali is known for its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, but sadly, there are also some negative associations that make travellers hesitate to visit this beautiful Indonesian Island. It’s essential to stay safe while travelling, but also equally important to not let preconceived notions cloud your judgement. We have dived into a few common concerns, sharing tips from our first-hand experience to help you stay safe in Bali.

How to stay safe in Bali






Like many of its neighbouring countries, Indonesia’s tap water is considered unsafe for consumption. This is due to pollution contaminating the water sources, leaving behind harmful bacteria. Drinking this water, whether purposely or by accident, is a common cause of illness among travellers to Bali.


To avoid illness, it is highly recommended that tourists only drink bottled water. It is best to buy bottles from reputable shops, like chain convenience stores, and check they are sealed. Bottled water should be used for drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing fresh food and cooking. Care should also be taken when showering, swimming in pools, participating in water activities or ordering foods like salads and fruits that may have been washed.


Some people bring water filters to avoid buying plastic bottles. We didn’t feel confident enough using these filters, so instead, we brought our standard reusable water bottles and purchased the biggest bottles of water available at the store. We keep that giant bottle in the hotel and just fill our smaller bottles as needed. We are still purchasing plastic, but much less than we used to.


Another common way to accidentally consume unclean drinking water is through ice. When the ice melts, the bacteria contaminate the drink being consumed. However, in recent years, the standards for ice have been improved in Bali, with many establishments now using government-regulated ice that is delivered each morning. Most reputable cafes, bars & restaurants, especially with tourists around, want to ensure the safety of their customers and will supply government-regulated, clean ice. If you are unsure, you can always ask them to confirm if they use this type of ice or ask for no ice in your drink.




One of the biggest worries for travellers to Bali is the notorious Bali Belly. More officially known as travellers’ diarrhea or a stomach bug, this type of illness is caused by consuming bacteria that can be found in contaminated water or food. There are many ways to avoid unsafe drinking water, as noted above. However, avoiding contaminated food can be a bit harder to control.


With bars and restaurants, do your research in advance. Look for places with great Google reviews, ask your fellow travellers for recommendations and read blogs to find popular places that have great reputations to uphold.

For street food, which in many places can be the best way to try the local food and experience the local culture, there are a few things to watch out for. Firstly, look for places that are cooking the food to order rather than leaving it out in the open. This is especially important for foods that easily develop harmful bacteria, like rice and meats. Check out the stalls that have lines of customers, as they will more likely have fresh food in response to the high demand. Also, look out for the plating or cutlery used, as that may be washed in unclean water, which can transfer to the food.


We also swear by the phrase “trust your gut” (no pun intended). If a place or a plate of food feels, looks, or smells off, trust your instincts and avoid it. We learnt this the hard way but will never make the same mistake again.

Finally, before you travel, talk to your doctor about options for preventing or treating food-related illnesses. Many travellers bring medications that can help lessen the symptoms of Bali belly and ensure you stay hydrated as you recover.




While Bali lacks an efficient public transport system, they do have a very large taxi cohort and reputable ride-sharing apps that provide convenient and flexible alternatives for getting around at incredibly competitive rates.


You can pre-book a taxi or private transfer if you prefer, but you will find no shortage of taxi options on the street in popular tourist towns. Make sure you opt for established taxi companies, as labelled on the cars, and be cautious of unofficial operators. You need to barter the price before the trip begins. This can be daunting, but rest assured that it is a completely normal and encouraged practice in Bali. Taxi drivers will overquote you at the beginning, so decide on the amount you are willing to pay before hailing the taxi, then negotiate down to that. Also, make sure you have enough cash to pay for the ride, as credit card options are not always reliable or available.


We recommend pre-booking airport transfers rather than trying to barter with a taxi driver in the chaos of the arrivals terminal. We pre-booked our driver through


Hiring a scooter in Bali

Another transport option you will see a lot is scooters. Hailing a scooter works much the same as a taxi car. If you are considering hiring one to drive yourself, make sure you research the local driving laws and regulations first and only hire from reputable companies. It’s also beneficial to check your travel insurance terms and conditions, as many companies will not cover you for this type of activity, and some may even list riding a scooter as a cause for termination of your policy. Whatever you decide to do, always wear a helmet if you hop on a scooter.




It is important to be aware of local laws and customs when travelling internationally, especially where those regulations may differ from your home country. It is also important to familiarise yourself with the emergency numbers, which in Bali is 112, and the location of the nearest hospital and police station.


One law in Bali that has received a lot of attention due to highly publicised cases, like the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby, is the strict stance on drugs. The punishment for drug-related offences is severe and can result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty. It is crucial to refrain from any involvement with illegal substances and be aware of associated regulations.


It is also equally important to familiarise yourself with local customs surrounding the country’s religion and traditions. Although these may differ from your own culture, understanding and respecting the customs of another country is all part of the travel experience. When visiting temples and sacred sites in Bali, you will need to dress modestly, with both men and women required to cover certain parts of their body, and refrain from entering the temples if you are menstruating. Most tourist sites will have signage informing visitors of these requirements, but it is also good to research in advance.




Ensuring your safety in Bali, or any destination around the world, requires a mix of common-sense practices and cultural awareness. It helps to research destinations in advance, to understand local customs and familiarise yourself with any potential risks.


When planning a trip to a new country, we start our research on the website Smart Traveller. This is a regularly updated Australian Government database designed for Australian travellers. It lists important information on each country, including health and safety warnings, visa requirements, local laws worth knowing, and more.


When travelling, maintain awareness of your surroundings, particularly in crowded or unfamiliar areas. Keep your belongings safe using secure bags or wallets, and avoid displaying valuable items openly. Be cautious when sharing personal information and only rely on trusted sources. If any unforeseen events occur in the area where you are located, stay across local news and trusted media sources for real-time updates and avoid any unnecessary hype from platforms such as social media.


Ultimately, a proactive and informed approach, coupled with an open-minded attitude, is all you need to stay safe while travelling and enjoy your experience wherever your adventures take you.

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