Promising some of the world’s most picturesque white sand beaches and tropical natural environments, Bali is one of the most beautiful and dreamt-about island paradises, attracting over 6 million international tourists yearly.
However, despite its international acclaim, many still have questions about Bali’s general safety as a travel destination. But should you be concerned about visiting this corner of paradise? Is Bali safe? And what are some common dangers on the island?
These are just some of the questions I aim to answer in this post, having spent extensive time on the island in recent years.
When to Go:
Where to Stay:
What to Do:
Best Places To Visit in Bali This Year
Best Day Trips From Bali For 2023
Is Bali Safe to Visit in 2023?
Before I get into detail, let me start by setting your mind at ease. Yes, Bali is generally considered safe to visit.
However, this doesn’t mean the island is without its problem areas. Like anywhere on our planet, visitors should always practice caution when visiting a new place and adhere to local customs.
The unfortunate truth is that petty crimes do occur in Bali, including pickpocketing, bag snatching, and other scams, particularly in the main tourist hubs of Kuta and Seminyak. While I was never a victim of these crimes, I have met more than a couple of travelers whose bags and phones were snatched while staying on the island.
While rarer, violent crimes also occur in Bali and can include everything from robbery to sexual assault and drink spiking.
Despite this, Bali is considered safe for solo travelers. Still, visitors should practice caution, and female solo travelers, in particular, should avoid walking alone at night.
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Bali
Bali’s safest neighborhoods, and, tend to be the quaint residential areas in North County:
The safest neighborhoods some of the best areas to stay in Bali for travelers tend to be tucked away from the island’s tourism center, promising a quiet setting for enjoying the quaint island vibes.
- Sanur — Nestled along the island’s southeastern shores, Sanur offers a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood near the heart of Bali’s tourism scene. It offers plenty of beachfront activities and provides convenient day access to the numerous attractions of Kuta while offering a safe location to retreat to at night.
- Lovina — Situated on Bali’s northern shores, Lovina is about as removed from Kuta as you can get and promises one of the best neighborhoods for enjoying the romanticized Balinese experience, complete with world-class beaches, Hindu temples, and adventurous tropical landscapes.
- Ubud — Located near the island’s center, Ubud is Bali’s cultural hub. It is surrounded by paddy fields, Hindu temples, and majestic waterfalls, making it the ideal setting for escaping Kuta’s bustling crowds to safely explore the island’s traditional staples.
- Uluwatu — Boasting some of Bali’s most picturesque landscapes, Uluwatu is another safe neighborhood located on the southwestern corner of the Bukit Peninsula. This secure neighborhood also has quiet beaches and the surreal Uluwatu Temple overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Conversely, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Bali are those that seem to host the brunt of the island’s international tourists, with many scam artists and pickpockets targeting areas of heavy foot traffic.
- Kuta — As Bali’s most popular tourist destination, Kuta has long been an area targeted by pickpockets and scam artists looking to take advantage of the unwary traveler. A higher degree of caution is advised at night when violent crimes become more prevalent, particularly in the region around Kuta’s nightclubs.
- Seminyak — Also popular amongst international tourists and boasting a vibrant nightlife, Seminyak is another region in Bali with an elevated crime rate towards international visitors. However, the crime in this area is primarily petty theft, so visitors should keep a firm grasp on their valuables.
- Canggu — Like Seminyak, petty crimes are common in Canggu, but violent crimes seldom occur in the area. I highly suggest that visitors in this area leave their valuables in a safe place at their accommodation and avoid walking alone at night.
Crime in Bali
Bali is generally a safe destination for international tourists, boasting a very low crime rate. In 2020, Bali’s annual crime rate amounted to only 60 crimes per 100,000 people, with annual patterns seeing a steady decline nearly every year since 2009.
Of these crimes, most are petty theft, the most common being pickpocketing, bag snatching, and phone theft. Luckily, violent crimes are much rarer in Bali, with approximately only 1.4 incidents of firearm deaths per 100,000 people, and those that do occur typically affect locals and not international tourists.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic closing international borders, Bali received a significant increase in reports of both petty and violent crimes. This is to be expected considering the number of jobs lost due to the island losing its dominant industry.
However, while these numbers are expected to come back down now that the island’s tourism industry is beginning to recuperate, visitors should continue to practice a higher degree of caution until concrete reports are confirmed of Bali’s crime rate returning to numbers reflective of its pre-pandemic status.
Common Scams in Bali
While Bali is considered safe for international tourists, there are still plenty of scams visitors should be aware of. Luckily, these scams don’t involve physical harm. But, there are plenty of locals looking to take advantage of unwary tourists, and the lack of diligence can often leave an unaccounted-for hole in your budget.
Perhaps the most prevalent scams involve a money exchange table in popular market areas. Promising better rates than official money exchanges, these scam artists can short-change tourists out of a significant lump of cash.
Similarly, another common scam is card skimmers on publicly accessible ATMs. To avoid both of these inconvenient fraudulent practices, visitors should only ever use official money exchangers and ATMs at banks or similar services.
Another scam to be wary of in Bali is the prevalence of fake taxi drivers. Masquerading as a licensed cabbie, these cars will drive their patrons to their destination only to take off the moment you step out of the car, making off with all your luggage and valuables.
The easiest way to avoid this scam is to book your taxi directly through the front desk of your accommodation or instead opt to engage one of Indonesia’s popular transportation apps, such as Gojek or Grab.
Finally, while this one is not really a scam, it is common for scooter-bound locals to snatch the bag or purse off of an unknowing tourist. So when walking the street, keep your bag on the other side of your body and ensure you are out of reach from anyone on the street.
While most visitors to Bali tend to travel by private car or taxi, the local bus network does offer a cost-effective way to explore the island for the budget-weary traveler.
Beyond common concerns of our post-pandemic world, such as spreading diseases and illnesses, Bali’s public transportation is also a common target for the island’s pickpockets. To avoid this, I find wrapping my bag’s strap around my ankle always a good practice when putting my bag down. That way, I can feel any motion should someone touch it.
Luckily, considering the low cost of engaging a private taxi, most visitors won’t have to concern themselves with the risks of public transport, as split cab fare between three or more people can often result in prices on par or better with that of a bus ticket.
Unfortunately, the threat of terrorist attacks is a serious concern across all major regions in Indonesia. While these attacks are rarer in Bali, they do happen, with the most infamous of which being the 2002 bombings in Kuta that killed 202 people, many of which were tourists.
Smaller-scale attacks and threats have been prevalent in the two decades since, with the Balinese government scaling its national security in 2016 to combat these threats. Still, travelers to the country should pay attention to local news and avoid areas of concern when visiting the island.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters
One of the biggest threats to the safety of Bali’s tourists is the looming potential of a natural disaster. While the island’s location within the Pacific Ring of Fire has resulted in the region’s breathtaking natural landscapes, it also puts the island at risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions.
The most prevalent of these disasters are earthquakes, which Indonesia as a whole is known to have in abundance. In fact, Indonesia experiences thousands of earthquakes every year, many of which can be felt on Bali’s idyllic shores.
While most of these earthquakes are minor, some can be catastrophic. If you feel any seismic activity, it is best to head inland towards a safe zone away from the coast. If you happen to be indoors at the time, you should quickly head outside and away from the building.
Similarly, due to the region’s tectonic activity, Bali is also at risk of tsunamis, particularly along the island’s southern coast in the Kuta, Benoa, and Sanur areas.
Luckily, tsunamis aren’t as common in Bali, with the last major being the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Still, if one happens during your visit to the island, heed the sirens and follow the planned routes to the nearest safe zone.
Bali boasts two active volcanoes — Mount Batur and Mount Agung. Mount Batur last erupted in 2000 but had experienced no less than 20 eruptions throughout the century prior. While it has been over two decades since its last eruption, Mount Batur is still active, and the threat of future eruptions continues to loom.
Unlike Batur, Mount Agung has only erupted a handful of times over the past 200 years. However, the volcano has been highly active in recent times, having undergone a series of eruptions between 2017 and 2019.
Luckily, these eruptions are typically not sudden occurrences and can often be predicted ahead of time. As such, tourists are cleared from the immediate area ahead of the eruptions, and the designated danger areas remain closed until the activity has settled.
Additionally, the threat of a volcanic eruption is only of concern within a few miles radius of the volcanoes, meaning your beach holiday along the southern coast will remain unhindered.
Things to Consider – Safety Tips for Bali
- Avoid walking alone at night.
- Drink responsibly. Counterfeit alcohol is common in Bali and can be deadly.
- Respect local traditions & dress appropriately when visiting religious monuments.
- Only use official currency exchangers and ATMs at reputable banks.
- Secure your valuables when in high-traffic areas.
- Only swim in designated areas.
- Be wary of pushy vendors.
- Be cautious around wild animals. And that includes the dogs.
- Pack plenty of sunscreen.
- Don’t drink tap water.
- Don’t do drugs. It is a capital offense in Indonesia.
- Flash signs of wealth.
FAQs About Bali Attractions
Is Bali safe for tourists?
Bali is safe for tourists and is even a favorite destination among backpackers and solo travelers. Still, like any other destination in the world, Bali isn't without its crime, and solo travelers are often the easiest targets. Therefore, caution should be practiced, and solo female travelers should never walk alone at night.
How safe is Bali for travel?
Bali is considered extremely safe for travel, with pre-pandemic crime rates amounting to 60 crimes per 100,000 people in 2020, with the majority being petty crimes and property theft.
What are the biggest dangers in Bali?
The biggest danger threatening bodily harm in Bali is the threat of natural disasters. Earthquakes are very common in Indonesia, while volcanoes and tsunamis add additional concerns for tourists.
What is considered rude in Bali?
Bali is a very spiritual destination, and visitors should aspire to honor its traditions. For starters, beach attire should stay at the beach, and it is particularly important to cover up when visiting religious sites.
Visitors should also note that it is considered rude in Bali to shake hands, point, or interact with anybody using your left hand. Sorry lefties, but using your right hand in Bali is considered proper etiquette.
Are there sharks in Bali?
There are three types of sharks in Bali. Luckily, all three are considered harmless, making Bali safe for surfing or diving.
What areas are the most dangerous in Bali?
The most dangerous areas in Bali for petty and violent crimes are regions of high tourism traffic, such as Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu. Extra precautions should be taken when visiting the nightclubs and shopping centers in these areas.
Is Travel Insurance Necessary When Visiting Bali?
While the chances are that your vacation to Bali will go off without a hitch, it definitely doesn't hurt to get yourself travel insurance ahead of time. You never know what may happen. After all, travel insurance did save me a hefty $700 hospital bill during my visit to the island.
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