Bali Travellers – Don’t leave commonsense at home

The island of Bali has for many years been the number one tourist destination for Australians. In particular West Australians are frequent visitors as it’s a cheap hop, skip and a jump away. However, travelers must also be mindful that this ‘Aussie Island Playground’ is still a developing country with different laws, traditions and health standards. 



West Australians are becoming alarmingly complacent about basic health and safety precautions while holidaying in Bali, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) (WA) said today.

“GPs are seeing an increasing number of illnesses and accidents from patients returning from Bali,” AMA (WA) Vice-President Dr Michael Gannon said.

“Bali is now our new playground with more than a million Australians visiting every year – but tourists unfortunately often forget that the rules in a developing country are very different from Australia,” Dr Gannon said.

“Around 400,000 West Australians travel to Bali every year. With a huge increase in the numbers of travellers heading for Bali over the Christmas and New Year break, as well as school holidays, all travellers must be aware of a range of potentially dangerous health conditions. These include the dangers of blood-borne diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, rabies, whooping cough, measles, gastroenteritis, dengue and typhus,” Dr Gannon said.

“Our message is basic and clear: don’t take a holiday from common sense when you travel and always observe basic health and safety rules, such as wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, making sure food is freshly cooked, drinking only bottle or boiled water, and making sure fruit is washed. I also strongly warn visitors not to drink anything that you are unsure or have any doubts about.”

The warning comes on the back of a number of reported cases of Bali tourists drinking local spirits mixed with harmful substances such as methanol.
“You wouldn’t drink something in Australia that you had any doubt about so why would you do it in a developing country with very different health and safety standards?” Dr Gannon asked.

Other tips include:

  • Make sure you have talked to your GP before travelling and ensure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Wear loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
  • Do not pet dogs or monkeys as they can carry rabies.
  • Protect yourself against mosquitoes which can carry the debilitating dengue fever virus.


“It goes without saying that you should NOT have a tattoo done while you are in Bali. While there has only been one HIV positive case reported from a Bali tattoo, there are a number of other blood-borne diseases that can be passed by an unclean needle,” Dr Gannon said.

The WA Health Department warned last year about the dangers of contracting HIV from tattoo parlours in Bali after a report of a WA traveller who was HIV positive after a visit to a local parlour.
“We also recommend against Henna type tattoos as they carry a powerful dye that can cause serious and long-term skin reactions,” he said.

[Source: Australian Medical Association  (WA)]

We often refer to Bali being in our ‘own backyard’ but it is a very different ‘yard’ and as travellers we face many threats that are becoming more and more prevalent, particularly over the last twelve months. Insurance is paramount when travelling to any international destination and Bali is no exception. So leave your complacency at home and talk to us about travel insurance and go and enjoy that well deserved holiday!