Taking simple precautions such as getting vaccinated, using mosquito nets and insect repellents, and watching what you eat and drink can greatly reduce the risk of exposure to a number of diseases that thrive in the tropical climate.
Consult your doctor before leaving. Besides the routine vaccinations recommended in your own country, you may need to get the following vaccinations at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus-diphtheria.
Several cases of swine flu have been reported in Bali. The Balinese Health Department, proficient in dealing with matters of epidemics, is currently working with the Denpasar Airport Health Office. Any planes that now arrive in Bali from countries confirmed to be infected with the H1N1 virus will be sequestered briefly at a remote aircraft parking area where the plane and its passengers will be sprayed with disinfectant. Passengers will then disembark and be subjected to thermal scanners to determine if any have an elevated body temperature which, if discovered, would earn a more thorough medical examination by the airport's H1N1 containment team. Although this sounds like a lengthy procedure, it is all undertaken very quickly and without much delay.
Bug Bites & Other Wildlife Concerns
Dengue fever is a viral infection that typically causes flulike symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, often followed by a rash, is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the daytime, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Malaria is another common disease transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, which are most active after sundown. Malaria is common in Lombok and eastern part of Indonesia, but not in Bali. You are recommended to take malaria prophylaxis. Purchase your antimalarial drugs before travel as some of the recommended antimalarial drugs are not always available over the counter. Discuss with your doctor at least 3 to 4 weeks before traveling as some of the malaria prophylaxis need to be taken 2 weeks before entering the malaria area.
A few cases of rabies have recently occurred in Bali and the local government has been actively vaccinating dogs to help control the disease. Although there is no official recommendation by the government for humans to get the rabies vaccine, it may be worthwhile for those spending a lot of time in rural areas, working in veterinarian positions, or anyone who may come into contact with bats and monkeys. If you do get bitten or scratched by a monkey or bat during your travel, you must go directly to the hospital and take vaccination procedures against rabies.
Dietary Red Flags
You can't drink the water from the taps on Bali and Lombok, but bottled water is cheap and readily available. Just about every hotel will supply you with a couple bottles or a jug of boiled water -- to be extra cautious, use it to brush your teeth as well. The ice in Bali is generally okay to use as the production is government controlled. Stay clear of ice in nontourist areas where it could be locally produced.
One of the most common illnesses that affects travelers is diarrhea, which usually occurs with a sudden change in diet. Infectious agents are the primary cause and people traveling from developed countries to developing countries experience rapid and dramatic change in the type of organisms in their gastrointestinal tract. To prevent traveler's diarrhea, avoid foods or beverages from street vendors and small warungs that look questionable (the presence of other tourists and locals eating is always a good sign), avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood. Keep yourself hydrated. Any electrolytes solution or tablets will help hydrate you and assist with maintaining the right balance of minerals in your body. For more serious cases, antibiotics can be prescribed at any pharmacy.
Some travelers will also be diagnosed with a stomach bug that we like to call Bali Belly, more akin to an acute case of gastroenteritis, which can be caused by a bacterial or parasitic infection. It is usually passed on by the fecal-oral route. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The illness can last a few days or a few weeks and can leave the victim bedridden and too ill to move. Consult a doctor immediately.
The equatorial sun can burn your skin faster than you think even on cloudy days. In July, the climate feels cooler due to the cool breezes but this is the time when most are unaware of the dangers of the sun. Limit exposure or liberally apply a high factor sunscreen. The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 2pm. Always keep hydrated. Popcari Sweat and other similar rehydrating drinks are sold everywhere but water remains the number-one priority.
What to Do If You Get Sick Away from Home
Plenty of English-speaking doctors are available on Bali; the better qualified doctors can be found in the more touristy areas of Bali and Lombok. If you do need a doctor, ask your hotel or villa concierge first, as they likely have one on call.
Apoteks, Indonesian pharmacies, can be found on most busy streets in Bali and Lombok. They stock some Western brands but mostly local medicine. Kimia Farma is a Japanese pharmacy chain that stocks well-known medicinal brands and toiletries. They also have a doctor on-site who can prescribe antibiotics for less serious illnesses.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor before departure. Pack prescription medications in the original containers with pharmacy labels in carry-on luggage, otherwise they may not make it through airport security. Carry a copy of your prescription form and any other paperwork detailing what the drugs are for and who they have been prescribed to.
We highly recommend that you have an insurance policy in place before arriving in Bali and Lombok. Make sure that it covers medical expenses. While the hospitals in Bali (less so in Lombok) are good, there are some services that they cannot supply and in these cases you may be evacuated to Singapore for further medical attention. Some policies do not cover "dangerous activities," which can include surfing, scuba diving, bungy jumping, horseback riding, and some watersports. For further information visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Purchasing & Using Travel Insurance in Bali & Lombok -- A visitor should be aware that along with the "normal" range of issues that need consideration with regards to health and precautions in the tropics, attention should be paid to ensuring a viable exit strategy in the event of serious illness or accident. As Indonesia is still developing, the standards of medical care are not as sophisticated as those in neighboring developed countries such as Singapore and Thailand. Frequently the issues that one faces require swift decisions and immediate action. In order to ensure one's personal safety in all situations it is essential to hold a good travel Insurance policy.
When purchasing a policy, gather clear information on how to initiate an evacuation, should it prove necessary. Insurance companies are obliged to meet requirements in order to authorize an evacuation and this can be a time-consuming process when medical reports are required to verify the nature of the problem. Discuss this with the potential provider and be sure you understand their requirements. Take a worst-case-scenario approach. "What if" you are incapable of contacting the company yourself? How would someone else do this on your behalf?
Over time we have developed an approach that we suggest you follow.
1. Have several copies of any membership card or policy you hold in different parts of your luggage.
2. Always carry a copy in your wallet or bag. If you are unconscious or incapable of response, hospital staff will seek something to confirm you have medical coverage. Make it easy for them or anyone else who finds it to contact your insurer.
3. Carry a copy of the claim form with you, all companies require these to be filled out and you don't want to be caught without one.
4. It is important to have a copy of contact phone numbers of family and friends who will help you if need be; keep this in the same place as the insurance information.
5. Make a photocopy of your passport and other essential documents and keep them in a separate place from your originals, or even better keep a password-protected thumb drive with scanned copies of your essential documents with you.
-- Richard Flax
Head Bali Emergency Response Team
While Bali is one of the safest places to travel in Asia, there is no denying that traffic plays the most serious threat to a visitor's life. Pavements are constantly abused by cars and motorbikes who see them as quick routes when traffic is at a standstill; at night beware the many gaps in the pavements that have been known to catch the compos and non compos mentis alike. Drivers think nothing of driving at high speeds through villages and towns, overtaking on bends, braking hard or swerving to avoid chickens, dogs, and potholes. If you feel uncomfortable, ask your driver to slow down, and then ask again. Many drivers think that all visitors to the island like them to drive fast and will therefore show their appreciation for this at the end of the day. Your safety is more important.
With regards to riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet and be vigilant at all times especially at night when dogs prowl the streets, kids cycle their bikes without headlights, and locals walk and gather in nonlit areas. Most riders on the island learn to ride a motorbike at an early age -- you'll see some as young as 9 or 10 ferrying their younger brethren -- and they do not have to sit for any road test examinations.
The basic rule you need to keep in mind is that as a foreigner the accident is always your fault. The thinking being that if you had not been here, the accident would not have happened. Take our advice and book a driver.
If you are staying rurally, the local banjar will take pride in the low crime rate and very often will take matters into their own hands should they find any impropriety among their own. Only after they have had their time with the perpetrator, will they call the police.
While much of Indonesia still relies on graft or back handers for the smooth conduct of business, crime itself remains low and especially so in the tourist world. However do take the usual safety precautions you would anywhere. Violent crime is rare, pickpockets are not. Exercise considerable caution by using a money belt, particularly in crowded tourist areas, and being careful not to flash large wads of cash. Most hotels or villas will provide you with a safety box; use them. If nothing else, make sure your suitcase has a good lock on it.
Given the world we live in, and not withstanding the lack of crime, there is still much emphasis on security and you will encounter standard -- if sometimes only rudimentary -- security checks at most hotels and restaurants. Don't be alarmed, they search everyone and will usually also wish to have a peak in the boot or under the bonnet of your car. Take the slight intrusion in your stride. It is for everyone's benefit.
If you have an issue, contact your consulate.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.