Can I travel to Bali - is Bali safe?

Natural Disasters in Bali and Indonesia

Bali's Mount Agung showed increased volcanic activity since 2017, mid 2018 several earthquakes near the neighboring island Lombok did cost the lives of almost four hundred people in Lombok.
An earthquake of magnitude 7.7 and a following tsumani hit the island of Palu in Sulawesi in September 2018 displacing more than 70,000 people and killing hundreds. All those natural disasters are due to the fact that Indonesia Bali is part of the infamous ring of fire.
Even though Sulawesi is thousands of kilometers away of Bali and even the earthquakes near Lombok had little effect on Bali, travelers are concerned about coming to us.
 
Truth of the matter is, natural disasters are part of life here in this region. But how dangerous is it really? Is Bali Safe?


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Is it safe to travel to Bali?

The current status is, that all is well in Bali. To be honest, nobody really knows when and where another earthquake will strike near Bali or in Indonesia, and what would be the impact.
Indonesia extends 5,120 kilometres (3,181 mi) from east to west and 1,760 kilometres (1,094 mi) from north to south. The media loves to exaggerate and highlight the bad in order to get their reader's attention. They therefore sometimes simply do not mention the vast distances between the islands suggesting that things are bigger than they truly are and they often use Bali as a reference because this is the most famous island here in Indonesia.
Bali fought with this media phenomena during Mount Agung volcano eruption in 2017.

Even if Mount Agung would show again increased activities, back to the level of 2017, life in Bali would go on, and some tourist would not even notice unless the airport traffic is affected. "Biasa Saja" as we say.

Most people we talk to feel still very safe in Bali. The quality of construction of buildings is probably the main factor for the amount of damage an earthquake causes, and in that regard, Bali is doing more or less ok. Not perfect, but much better than other areas in Indonesia.

During times of volcanic activities that are enough to make it into the mainstream media, travelers start to cancel their bookings. And it gets just more quiet than usual. Room rates drop and to be honest, it's quite pleasant, when the traffic is less dense at times and restaurants and shops are less crowded.

Uncertainty
The biggest challenge and trouble that travelers face, is that the flights and airport operation could be affected. DPS Airport can close due to the volcanic ash in the air (depending on the wind conditions) without notice. Airlines have their own set of rules, and even if the airport is open, might decide not to service Bali for a certain period.
So when traveling to Bali during some volcanic activities, you have to anticipate that your flights could be delayed or canceled and that you might have to take a bus to or from Surabaya, if flights are re-routed. Particularly when the volcano alert level has been set to 4 (highest level), since then airlines start to react and some travel insurances will not allow you to sign up, which for some travellers is really important.

Living with the imminent threat that nature can strike has been part of live in this and many other regions in the world since decades and centuries. Therefore, naturally everybody needs to decide for themselves what type of risk they take in life, when traveling or otherwise. Almost everything we do in life can be dangerous, and it might be safer to be on an island where there is a volcano spitting ash, than traveling to Miami or Rio de Janeiro - depending what we do or where we go.

Truth of the matter is, there are many other and much more real dangers tourists face and deliberately step into when coming to Bali. Drugs, excessive drinking, driving a scooter unskilled or recklessly or drunk, prostitution, surfing, swimming while currents are strong, and many other things thousands of people everyday engage with.
Even concerned parents, whose kids come to Bali for the November Spring Break or for partying in Kuta, should be less concerned about the volcano than about the many things their kids might wish to "experience" while they enjoy to be away from home.
Earthquake in Lombok

An earthquake on 29th July shocked the Indonesian island of Lombok, killing according to the government sources more than 400 people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Smaller quakes followed and geologists expect that other quakes might follow.
Tourists particularly visiting Gili Islands near Lombok left either to Bali or left the country.
Adding to the trouble of such a disaster the impact on the local economy due to a certain level of dependency on tourism in some regions are rather bad. The collapsed buildings need to be rebuilt and people need resources and support to rebuild their lives.

Bali has not been affected much by these quakes. Yes, they could be felt and in the north some buildings did collapse but overall, life on the island was unaffected.


Mount Agung - Bali's Holy Mountain

The latest volcanic activities of Mount (Gunung) Agung since 2017 are for the Balinese signs of the gods. The Balinese are very connected with their island, its nature and particularly with their volcanoes. Agung, the mother mountain plays a significant role in their ceremonial calendar and Besakih, the mother temple of all Balinese is built at the foot of Gunung Agung.


Balinese see everything in the light of Karma, of cause and effect. Events like the volcanic eruptions in 2017, and also the one that happened in the 60ies and caused the death of 1,600 Balinese, will be interpreted through their religious understanding and belief system.
Those events will be woven into their understanding of their own history; everything has in itself a special religious meaning. Events are taken as signs and guidance from the gods and words spoken to them by their island itself. For the Balinese, life is about balance and everything is connected. Depending on the meaning the healers and religious leaders will assign to Agung's wake up in 2017, they will as a society react to it.
Many feel it's a wake up call. A soft but loud enough warning for the Balinese, to stay connected with their heritage, with their cultural and nature. A demand from nature to take care of their island and resources.