Everything you need to know for your first Bali holiday!


Gastroenteritis or Bali belly as it is known, is not a very nice condition to experience so you should take every precaution to avoid it. My advice is to wash your hands more often than you would at home. To limit the chance of infection, apply a alcohol based hand cleanser. My family and I use the Dettol product Healthy Touch instant hand sanitzer.

Important, this small 50ml hand cleansing container should accompany you at all times and will come in handy after handling lots of dirty Rp notes on a daily basis.

Should you experience a stomach upset, buy some imodium immediately or better still ask for your doctors advice before leaving home and have his/her recommendation on hand, just in case. Red cordial taken on a regular basis is another popular belief to ward off the effects of bali belly.

If you are staying at a hotel or villa, ask for their doctor who will prescribe a suitable medication.

In all the time I have spent in Bali, I have only experienced the condition once in the early eighties, which is enough. Providing you drink sealed bottled water and eat good fresh food from my recommended restaurants and wash your hands regularly, the chances of becoming ill is very low. If you love a steak like I do, it may be wise to choose a well done steak if you are not dining at a top $$$ restaurant.

Important: The first three days is vital to your wellbeing by keeping up a good intake of water.

Not only is water good to swim in, shower, or flushing the toilet it is also a very refreshing drink when there is nothing better to have.

On a more serious note, do not drink Bali scheme water because it is only good for giving you Bali belly and flushing the toilet.

You will find any amount of pure spring/mineral water bottled for consumption and available in every restaurant and some shops. The cheapest places to stock up on water are Circle K mini marts and Supermarkets.

Hotels and villas supply fresh water for your use and it is a good idea to carry your own water with you when out touring for the day, at the beach or just out walking and gawking.

The art of drinking water in the tropics is to gulp it down rather than sipping. Too often, people suffer from heat exhaustion so the message here is, your best friend in Bali is to drink plenty of good quality water every day.

Handy Tips regarding hygiene and food:

  • Do not use local water to clean your teeth. Use bottled water for your teeth and also for cleaning the brush.
  • Germs can be passed on through the lack of hygiene at some basic restaurants from unwashed hands, poor methods of washing plates, utensils and drinking glasses or cups. Other causes can come from bad management of meat, fish, chicken or drinking a glass of Bali water.
  • All of the recommended restaurants with possibly the exception of some warungs in this book, have their ice made from bottled spring water but you should ask the question to be really sure and in particular at a warung.
  • Spicy food is something children should avoid anyway but sometimes adults over indulge and pay the price.
  • Because you are on holiday you may tend to over eat with lots of tropical fruit and big spicy meals, which is far from the norm at home. With moderation of your food intake and drinking habits you should be fine.

Health Tips

  • If you ever have an open wound from any type of accident no matter how big or small, treat the wound immediately with antiseptic and clean bandages. If you don’t do this, you will be amazed at how infected it will become in the tropics and in a very short space of time. Pharmacies (Apotec) and Circle K are well stocked with medication in this regard.
  • Mosquitos are also of serious concern just after sunset so be aware and cover up or protect yourself with a good insect repellent like Autan cream or Minyak Sereh (Sitronela), which is readily available along with coils at Bali supermarkets. A tip for use on young children is to buy the Minyak Sereh Sitronela and also some cotton wool pads. Dampen a few pads with Sitronela and place them in a plastic zip bag for use on your child, while you are out and about. Please seek a doctors advice regarding babies. Dengue fever is far more prevelant these days due to climatic changes regarding heavy rains along with poor drainage. The mosquito (Aedes) which carries Dengue disease  will normally bite during daylight hours or if it becomes confused in well lit areas at night, so be prepared. My preference for a repellent is Bushman with deet, which is best for adult use only. However, please read the instructions before use and then make your own decision.  Available in waterfroof gel or a 150gm or 60gm spray can.  It is important to look for the product with a red top and 40% deet heavy duty. Equally as important while you are in Bali, is to limit the possibilities of being bitten by getting into a daily habit of applying a repellent to all exposed areas of your body, soon after you have had your morning swim or shower and again before heading out at night.
  • Caution:The thing to remember when applying deet to your body, is not to over do it and you should ask the advice of your family doctor. Please read the instructions before using on any member of your family.

Following are some important addresses:

  1. (BIMC) Bali International Medical Centre situated just up from the traffic roundabout on the bypass Road in Kuta. Phone 761263
  2. Bali clinic. Jl. Laksmana 54xx br Taman, Kerobokan.
  3. 24 Hour emergency phone 733301 or 7847902

There is an excellent Pharmacy (Apotek) next door to Bintang Supermarket in Jl. Seminyak, which is opposite where I have mentioned earlier for you to exchange your money. You should find everything you require here. Apart from the one I have mentioned, there are many other excellent Pharmacies (Apotek) located throughout Bali. For directions to your nearest Pharmacy, please ask at your hotel or Villa.

Bali has a number of mini marts scattered around the built up areas known as Circle K. These mini marts are small but well stocked with essentials including bintang beer.

Be Prepared

  • During your first three days in particular, drink plenty of bottled water. Don’t sip it, gulp it.
  • Remember if in the event of sickness or an accident you should contact the Bali International Medical Centre, situated close to the traffic roundabout on the bypass Road in Kuta. Phone (+62 361) 761263.
  • Take good quality slip slop slap (sun protection) and wear a hat in the middle of the day around a pool or on the beach.
  • Bali dogs run loose and can be rather intimidating at times. The best tip I can give you is to ignore them and avoid eye contact should the dog become angry when you are near their territory. Don’t ever run, just walk on. In most cases, the dog will get sick of that and waddle off.
  • Rabies has been rife in some parts of Bali so if you are unfortunate to be bitten, go to the Bali international centre immediately for treatment.
  • If you experience Bali belly go to your nearest pharmacy and ask for Imodium or their recommendation.
  • Aqua ear and ear drops are good to have on hand in the event you have a problem from swimming in the pools. Also eye drops if you suffer from dry eyes caused from wind and glare. An alcohol based hand cleanser is also a must.
  • In the event you have an open wound treat it immediately.
  • Personal hygiene is very important and it is good advise to wash your hands regularly and also to apply a hand cleanser after washing.
  • Clean your teeth and the brush with bottled water.
  • Take or purchase in Bali an effective mosquito repellent as suggested.

The following information is provided by Smart traveller Advisory Services:

The best tip I can give you, when travelling overseas is to join smartraveller.gov.au

Smart Traveller strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller’s medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas.

You are encouraged to consider having vaccinations before you travel.At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Magic mushrooms: Smart Traveller, strongly recommends you do not consume ‘Magic mushrooms’ in any form. Whilst not illegal and widely available in places such as Bali, ‘Magic mushrooms’ can cause major health problems such as severe hallucinations, erratic behaviour, anxiety and even psychosis. A number of Australians have been injured, fallen sick and come to the attention of police through erratic behaviour after consuming ‘Magic mushrooms’ in Bali.

Poisoning from alcoholic drinks containing methanol: There have been cases of poisoning in Indonesia, most notably in Bali and Lombok, from alcoholic drinks adulterated with harmful substances, particularly methanol. Locals and foreigners, including Australians, have died or have become seriously ill. Cases have usually involved local spirits and spirit-based drinks, such as cocktails, but supposed brand name alcohol can also be adulterated. A number of deaths have also been reported after drinking adulterated arak – a traditional rice-based spirit.You should consider the risks when consuming alcoholic beverages in Indonesia, particularly cocktails and drinks made with spirits. Drink only at reputable licensed premises and avoid home-made alcoholic drinks. You should be aware that the labeling on bottles may not be accurate and that substitution of contents can occur.Symptoms of methanol poisoning can include fatigue, headaches and nausea, similar to the effects as excessive drinking, but with pronounced vision problems. If you suspect that you, or anyone you are traveling with, have been affected by methanol or other poisoning, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention, which could be vital in avoiding permanent disability or death. All suspected cases of methanol poisoning should be reported to the Indonesian police.

Mosquito-borne illnesses: Mosquito-borne and other insect borne illnesses are common throughout the year. Malaria (including chloroquine-resistant strains) is prevalent throughout rural areas, but is uncommon in Jakarta. Dengue fever occurs throughout Indonesia, including in Bali and the major cities, and is particularly common during the rainy season. In recent years Australian Health authorities have observed an increase in the number of dengue virus infections in returned travellers from Bali. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue. Outbreaks of chikungunya have been reported, while Japanese encephalitis and filariasis are also present, particularly in rural agricultural areas. You are encouraged to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary, ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing. Other diseases and health issues: Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, measles, typhoid and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

Other diseases (including HIV/AIDS, polio and rabies) are a risk for travellers.There is a risk of rabies throughout Indonesia, in particular Bali and nearby islands and Nias (off the coast of Sumatra). A number of people with rabies like symptoms have died in recent years after being bitten by dogs. Rabies is almost always spread by an animal bite but can also be spread when a rabid animal’s saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin. Visitors are strongly advised to avoid direct contact with dogs and other animals. If bitten or scratched, you should immediately use soap and water to wash the wound thoroughly and seek urgent medical attention. Availability of post-exposure rabies treatment in Indonesia may be limited, which may require bite victims to return to Australia or travel to a third country for immediate treatment. If you are planning to stay in Indonesia for a prolonged period or to work with animals, you should consult your doctor or travel clinic about obtaining a pre-exposure rabies vaccination.

You are advised to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and make sure ice cubes are made from bottled water and avoid uncooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Avoid temporary ‘black henna’ tattoos as they often contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions. For further information see the Australasian College of Dermatologists’ website. See our General advice to Australian travellers for information on health risks.

Medical facilities are generally below Western standards and in many regions hospitals provide only basic facilities. Hospitals often require confirmation of medical insurance cover or up-front payment prior to providing any services, including emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to Singapore or Australia is recommended and may cost between $A15,000 to $A90,000, depending on circumstances and location.

Decompression chambers are located at Bali’s Sanglah General Hospital and hospitals in Jakarta and Manado.

Smoke haze: It is typical for there to be a smoke haze across much of the north-west part of the archipelago from July to October. Kalimantan and Sumatra are generally the worst affected areas. You should be aware the smoke haze could affect your health and travel plans. A current smoke haze map can be seen on the Singaporean National Environment Agency website.

Avian influenza: The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Indonesia, including Bali. See our health page for further information on influenza.

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