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Recent Tragedies In Bali Highlight Why Travel Insurance Non-Negotiable

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Everyone wants to be frivolous and fancy-free on vacation. A little bit of fun in the sun is the very least we all deserve.

But recent tragedies in Bali have shown that in order to have the vacation of a lifetime, a few non-negotiable must be put in place first. 

IV Drip in Bali Hospital.jpg

Travel and health insurance are essential when traveling anywhere in the world, but especially in Bali.

Recent tragedies that have affected a number of tourists on the island should serve as an important reminder to tourists to make sure they are fully insured before jetting off into the sunset. 

Medical costs are expensive anywhere in the world, and sadly, the cost of unexpected and emergency treatment always mounts up quicker than even seems possible.

An Australian tourist in Bali was shocked by the amount of money he was charged for treatment for food poisoning at a hospital in Bali. 

@travelwithholl my top 5 tips to avoid getting sick in Bali & south east asia! Also let’s normalise not calling it ‘bali belly’ and understanding it’s just food poisoning! #balitips #bali2023 ♬ original sound – Hol🏝️

The tourists took to social media to help better understand how he was charged nearly AUD 700 for treatment for suspected food poisoning.

The man told the Facebook group Bali Boagns that he has medical insurance but has to pay the bill upfront and reclaim the hospital fees when he is back in Australia. 

He shared a photo of his medical bill, which amounted to IDR 6.75 million. The Perth-based holidaymaker had constructed food poisoning while on the Gili Air as part of his visit to Bali.

Doctors’ fees amounted to AUD 50, and injections to help curb the acute gastroenteritis he was suffering from cost $172, and a further $350 for other costs related to treating the food poisoning. 

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No problem with the local food just the time we decided to get a fancy western dinner 😭🙅‍♀️

♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

The tourist feared that he had been overcharged while fellow Bali lovers shared similar experiences. Thought the general consensus revealed that the average cost of food poisoning treatment in Bali is much closer to AUD 150, not AUD 700. 

Thankfully, the tourist has travel insurance and can, at the very least, submit a claim and hopefully get reimbursed; without travel insurance, the AUD 700 is gone forever. 

There are many reasons why tourists may need to call upon travel insurance while in Bali, even when they have followed all the best travel guidance. 

@tee.a.gardner I mean this with no disrespect, just educational purposes for those travelling into Bali and looking at partying which is one of the most popular things to do here. Be aware of these things and have a good time 💙 #bali #thingstodoinbali #partyinbali ♬ original sound – Tee | Bali | Real-life

This week a traveler from New Zealand was hospitalized with methanol poisoning. The tourists enjoyed a few drinks at a ‘reputable’ five-start establishment in the heart of Canggu.

A few hours after returning to his accommodation, the man started showing signs of methanol poisoning, a kind of poisoning that happens when comes someone consumes bergs that contain methanol rather than safe alcohol. 

Symptoms of methanol poisoning included severe abdominal pain, rapid and erratic breathing, loss of vision, loss of coordination, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and in too many cases, even death.

This is a serious issue in Bali, and tragically, there are reports of both local people and tourists losing their lives every year after drinking even a small amount of alcohol tainted with methanol. 


This is another reason why travel insurance is so important; though having insurance won’t protect tourists from getting menthol poisoning, it will help ensure they get the treatment and care they need should the worst happen, without concerns about how to pay medical bills. 

There are a series of steps tourists can take to reduce the risk of methanol poisoning in Bali. The simple safety mechanism is to not drink hard liquor or spirits in any form.

Methanol poisoning awareness campaigner Colin Ahearn has urged tourists not to “drink anything that gets free poured from a bottle behind a bar.” 

He adds, ”Cocktails, shots, simple vodka, and coke, any spirit that is poured from a bottle and mixer added, just NO.”


Another potential health issue that tourists must be aware of in Bali is the use of harmful black henna.

Across the southern beach resorts, many street vendors offer black henna tattoos to tourists.

Black henna is not to be confused with traditional henna, which is made from natural ingredients that do not cause allergic reactions in most people.


Black henna contains paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which causes severe allergic reactions in many people resulting in blistering skin, burning rashes, and even lifelong scarring.

Many tourists, especially children, have ended up in hospitals needing urgent and costly medical care in order to treat the chemical burns caused by black henna. 

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Tuesday 8th of August 2023

How about dogs ? I heard many tourists bitten by dogs. Many dogs in the streets


Sunday 6th of August 2023

Folks if you get sick or have a medical problem in Bali go to the "BIMC Hospital Rumah Sakit BIMC Kuta" there they speak good English and have good doctors. BIMC Hospital is an Australian oriented Hospital


Monday 7th of August 2023

@Wim, Why BIMC? I do not see this hospital having a reputation much above other private hospitals? As per BIMC Kuta website they do not have MRI, so will need referral to another hospital.

In any case people should always seek second opinion as these hospitals will often recommend expensive treatments and/or surgeries often not required.


Saturday 5th of August 2023

Any experienced traveler knows that that all Medical Degrees in Bali are bought, not earned by hard study and discipline and the holder is most likely less competent than any nurse in Uganda. If you get injured or sick, use your smarts to know how to get your own medicine here which is cheap, and if a serious situation, get out of here immediately. Singapore is the closest and the best medical care in the world. Malaysia is great, but more difficult to manage the weave of BS there. Thailand is great but only if you know the ropes. Most of their medical 'so called' professionals are a bunch of clowns. Going to a hospital in an ambulance here is an invitation for them to rob you. Be careful


Sunday 6th of August 2023

@joe, Yes. In Indonesia students will likely have to pay a lot to be admitted to medical schools. The lower grades the more it cost. Next they will have to pay to get into the best jobs. I have heard from quite a few they actually have to pay up front to get a job due to corrupt hiring managers. A rotten system.


Saturday 5th of August 2023

I have lived in Bali for 15 years, never had any insurance.Worst was 6 Staples in my head from a surfing accident...paid it myself.Have traveled the world for 50 years..never had insurance...limit your risks and keep healthy..its free.


Saturday 5th of August 2023

Has anyone compiled a list of places where incidents of Methanol poisoning have been recorded? Is there a reddit thread or Facebook group for example? I can imagine this website cannot publish the names of establishments.