Bali is one of the most popular destinations for the spiritual travelers, digital nomads, and hippies of the world. At peak travel, over 6 million tourists visited Bali annually.
There is plenty to reward the people who venture to this Indonesian island. Bali has beautiful beaches, natural wonders such as Penida Island, and elaborate temples such as the famous ones at Ubud.
Many people come here to soak up the famously relaxed culture, spas, and great infrastructure for remote work. Before planning your trip to Bali, you probably want to know if the photos of this tropical paradise are too good to be true or if the reality is really just as beautiful.
Are there any ugly elements of life in Bali? Before visiting anywhere, you should research the safety of your destination.
But don’t worry — our travel experts have done the hard work for you; we’ve put together this in-depth guide to any safety concerns you might encounter in Bali. Let us be your guide!
Is Bali Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Bali is generally a safe place to visit. In fact, it’s one of the safest parts of Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Tourists do sometimes experience petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams, and rates have increased since the pandemic decimated the tourism industry, but more violent incidents are rare.
Most foreign governments, such as Canada, advise their citizens to exercise a high degree of caution when visiting the country of Indonesia overall due to the risk of terrorist attacks and political tension.
However, Bali is one of the safest regions in the country. Terrorist attacks and riots do happen here because it is a highly populated region, but they are rare.
Just be aware if there are any political events, such as international summits, going on while you are on the island, as you may encounter protesters. Crime is a concern for many people when traveling, and Bali is no different. Luckily, violent crime in Bali is fairly rare.
The most common crimes people encounter are:
- Bag snatching
- Sexual assault
- Drink spiking
Some basic precautions and spatial awareness when you’re moving around Bali can help you avoid being the victim of a crime. The natural environment is one of the biggest dangers to tourists and locals alike in Bali.
Bali is prone to many natural disasters, including tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Bali’s Mount Agung volcano erupts regularly, forcing residents to evacuate.
Ask your accommodation about disaster evacuation protocols, and make sure that you stay alert to the news while relaxing on the beach. Even when there isn’t a natural disaster occurring, the jungle of Bali is no joke, and it pays to be cautious.
Apply regular sunscreen as the UV rays are powerful. Bug spray and mosquito netting are a must-have on Bali as there are a lot of insects, and many people on the island suffer from mosquito-borne diseases.
Finally, be careful when swimming in Bali, as some beaches have notorious riptides that have killed tourists in the past. One last thing to be aware of in Bali is the roads.
The roads are notoriously dangerous, but some tourists are unaware of this and rent scooters despite not having a lot of experience. Many Bali car accidents are fatal, so think twice before getting behind the wheel.
There are definitely concerns about safety when visiting Bali, but they are not what you might think. Terrorism is barely a factor on the island, and crime is petty instead of violent. Beware of natural disasters and disastrous drivers instead.
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Crime in Bali
Bali is lucky to have a relatively low crime rate, making it a safe place for locals and visitors alike. In 2020, Bali experienced only 60 crimes per 100,000 people.
Obviously, these numbers were low in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the opportunity for criminals to move around due to lockdowns in 2020. It does show that, overall, Bali is safe with a low crime rate.
Anecdotally, people say that the crime rate has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic and the easing of lockdowns. It is difficult to find concrete English-language statistics to support this trend, but enough people have reported it, making it likely that it must be true.
That makes sense because the pandemic decimated Bali’s travel industry, which is the economic backbone of the island, pushing many people into economic desperation.
What makes Bali even safer is that it has an even lower rate of violent crime. For example, the rate of homicide by firearm is 1.4 incidents per 100,000 people, making murder rare for such a populous island.
The few violent incidents that do occur in Bali often affect locals, not tourists. Property crime is the most common crime on Bali. Local criminals take advantage of tourists through pickpocketing and scams.
There have been situations of more violent forms of robbery. For example, the Australian government warns its citizens that sometimes thieves lie in wait at villas in Bali and rob tourists as they check-in.
Female travelers are generally safe in Bali, and many women travel here due to the island’s popularity in the “Eat, Pray, Love” circuit, but sexual harassment and even assault sometimes happen.
Incidents are more prevalent in party areas, so try to go with friends or travel buddies when you are planning to go out partying. Taxi drivers are also sometimes perpetrators of sexual assault, so be careful that you only take reputable taxi drivers.
The most common crime that tourists experience when in Bali is pickpocketing and other forms of petty theft. These are crimes of opportunity that take advantage of people’s distraction by Bali’s beauty (and sometimes inebriation) to carry out robberies.
Although people claim that pickpocketing only arrived on the island recently, the local newspaper The Bali Times published a list of tips to avoid pickpockets as long ago as 2007.
The tips for avoiding pickpocketing in Bali are the same as they are anywhere else. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or other valuables that single you out as a valuable target.
Put your valuables in a secure location, such as your front pocket. Don’t use your phone too much or let yourself otherwise get distracted. Most pickpockets in Bali operate in a group.
If you get approached by a group of children or young men wanting to joke with you, don’t be rude, as the Balinese are famously friendly, but keep a firm hand on your valuables just in case.
Sometimes, these groups operate on tight streets or corners, where you’re forced to squeeze by them. Like elsewhere, Balinese pickpockets operate by distracting you so they can get a grip on your valuables.
Places where you should be careful are crowded streets, especially nightlife districts, festivals, and public transportation hubs. If you decide to go out partying in Bali, be careful as sometimes thieves operate in nightclubs, taking advantage of people’s distractions.
Also, keep a close eye on your drinks as drink spiking occurs sometimes, and people try to rob their incapacitated victims. Another form of petty theft that is common in Bali is bag snatching.
Thieves will grab purses and tote bags right off the shoulders of unsuspecting tourists. Many thieves operate from motorbikes and weave through Bali’s notoriously complex traffic.
Make sure your bag is secured firmly across your chest and on the side of your body that is away from traffic. Walk facing towards traffic so you can see thieves coming towards you. Never let your bag hang off the back of your chair in a restaurant or café.
Scams targeting tourists are also very common in Bali. Since there are so many tourists coming to visit the island annually, it makes sense that there is an entire ecosystem of people looking to relieve those foreigners of that money.
Beware any time you have to deal with money. ATMs sometimes have card skimmers. Only use ATMs inside businesses such as banks and make sure that you aren’t being watched and that you cover your pin number.
Many tourists get taken in by money exchange tables in the market promising much better rates than official places, only to get scammed. Make sure you only use official money exchanges.
Criminals often pose as taxi drivers and scam or rob tourists. Always make sure that you are using a licensed taxi and that your driver turns on the meter when you get in.
Sometimes, fake taxi drivers will suddenly drive away when tourists get out, departing with your luggage. Never leave bags with valuable objects in taxis unattended, even for a second. Also, beware of people aggressively asking you for money while you’re out and about.
These include airport porters, fake temple guides, market touts, and even scammers posing as Buddhist monks who offer a blessing that they will actually charge you for. Be polite but firm, and feel free to ignore the many demands on your attention.
Finally, some scams are not so harmless that you’ll just walk away with your wounded pride and a few dollars poorer. Some criminals run underground gambling rings that they lure foreigners into.
Not only do they scam foreigners out of considerable amounts of money, but they also turn people in to the authorities, as gambling is illegal in Bali. You don’t want to run afoul of local authorities, so avoid any invitations that seem too good to be true.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are no parts of Bali that are necessarily dangerous, but there are certainly areas that are seedier than others. First, the Kuta nightclub strip is one of the most popular places to go out, but that also makes it a magnet for criminals.
Watch your drink and keep a close eye on your valuables when you are here. Also, watch out for gangs of local men who like to make suggestive comments to foreign women.
Canggu and Seminyak also have slightly elevated crime levels. The good news is that most of this crime is petty theft, nothing violent, but you still want to keep an eye on your valuables here.
Things to Consider
Here are some other things to keep in mind when visiting Bali:
- Drugs are highly illegal in Bali, and some amounts even carry the death penalty for trafficking. Avoid partaking while you are in town, especially since police often set up stings in Bali to catch foreigners taking drugs.
- Ask your accommodation about evacuation protocols in case of a natural disaster and read up on basic safety tips.
- The monkeys in Bali are no joke, so if you visit the monkey sanctuary, don’t bring any food because they will steal it! Don’t try to pet them because some monkeys have rabies.
- Don’t drink arak, the local homebrewed liquor, as tourists have died from poisoning due to bad alcohol before.
- Ask your doctor about what vaccinations you should get before visiting Bali.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still want to know more about Bali? These questions might help:
What should I avoid in Bali?
Avoid things that might make you sick, such as drinking tap water, eating unwashed fruit, and not using bug spray. Avoid breaking social norms when visiting the temple, such as entering with shoes on, wearing revealing clothes, or visiting while on your period.
How safe Is Bali for female tourists?
Bali is pretty safe for female tourists because there are always a lot of people around, including many other women. However, certain areas, such as rowdy party districts, are more dangerous for women, so you should only visit in groups.
What are the negatives of Bali tourism?
Many people who visit Bali don’t know about the impact their visit might have. So many people come to the island that it strains the local infrastructure, such as sewage pipes, and causes pollution. Try to travel mindfully and be aware of the impact of your trip.
Can you kiss in Bali?
Balinese society is a conservative one, and people usually frown on public displays of affection. You should also beware since the Indonesian government recently made cohabitation of unmarried partners illegal.
The law shouldn’t affect foreigners, but you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself if you’re traveling with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Do they speak English in Bali?
Most Balinese, especially those who work in tourism, speak at least a little bit of English. However, it’s polite to at least learn a few phrases of Balinese or Indonesian, the two local languages.
So, Should You Travel to Bali?
|📈 Overall crime rate||60 per 100k (extremely low)|
|👮♂️ Most common crime||Petty theft|
|🏠 Worst neighborhood||Kuta nightclub strip|
|❓ Safety tip||Don't drink homemade liquor|
Bali is one of the safest places to visit in Southeast Asia. As long as you beware of petty crime and aggressive monkeys, you should have a good time. So what are you waiting for — book our trip to this island paradise today!