Can I travel to Bali - is Bali safe?

The effects of Volcano Eruption In Bali

Of course, since the eruption of the Volcano in Bali, Mount Agung, travellers who wish or have planned to come to Bali are concerned about the situation here and ask themselves, whether it is safe to come to Bali
Naturally, everybody needs to decide for themselves what type of risk they take in life, when travelling 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. 

In this short article our editors share their personal view on the the current situation.

Distance from Crater (radius in km)


Personal risks coming to Bali

First of all, if you check out the map you realise, that Mount Agung is far away from almost all major tourist areas in Bali. Tulamben, Amed, Candi Dasa, and Padang Bali are the nearest and even though they have not been directly affected by the latest volcanic activities, they will be hit the hardest economically. 

All other areas, such as Ubud (30+km), and the hotspot areas of Seminyak, Kuta, Canguu, Nusa Dua, Benoa, Pecatu are far away from the volcano 60+km.

Officials are certain and confident, that anybody outside the evacuation zone ( 8-12km radius) will be safe, even in case of a stronger eruption than what we have seen lately. Of course, nobody can predict what might happen, and their is a chance that Agung could erupt massively, which could impact also the people staying and living further away (volcanic ash and debris). 

And to be honest, there are many other dangers tourists face and deliberately step into when coming to Bali. Drugs, excessive drinking, driving a scooter unskilled or recklessly or drunk, prostitution, and many other things, people enjoy in Bali, that they can't or don't enjoy at home. If you are one of those type of travelers, don't worry about the volcano ;-)

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. 

When we look at the current situation outside the evacuation zone, everything is running quite normal. Biasa Saja as we say. It's just more quiet than usual. And yes, it's completely safe here. You won't actually notice a thing, and in any case and in any crisis big or small, people always want and need to 

Room rates have dropped and to be honest, it's quite pleasant, when the traffic is less dense at times and restaurants and shops are less empty or emptier. 

At the moment, the biggest challenge and trouble that travellers faced and still face, is that the flights and airport operation is 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 oven ith the airport is open, might decide not to service Bali for a certain period.

So when traveling to Bali, 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.

Also, because the volcano alert level has been set to 4 (highest level) travel insurances will not allow you to sign up, which for some travellers is really important. So if this uncertainty is difficult for you and you need to make absolutely sure, that your travel dates would not be affected, or if you book with airlines who don't offer any support or re-booking options, then it's not a good time to come to Bali.

But if you are flexible and not much concerned about flight changes, then come here by any means. The Balinese are looking forward to welcoming you to their island. Because today, Yes, Bali is safe; but faces uncertainty.

What is the impact of the volcano eruption in Bali

Not only in the north and north east of Bali, hotels, restaurants are empty and businesses start to lay off people, also the other areas such as Kuta, Seminyak etc have seen massive waves of cancellations. 
Due to the media and news portals, which in many cases highly exaggerated the situation using words that trigger fear and uncertainty in people, many cancelled their travel plans. 

The tourism industry is the back bone of Bali and a decline does impact almost everyone in Bali directly or indirectly. No guests in the hotels and restaurants, farmers don't sell their goods, tais are emtpy, no tours, no purchases in the shops, the street vendors don't have customers etc, a vicious cycle hast started already. 
In Bali, like in other developing countries in the world, one worker usually supports many family members, who all depend on that person financially. Very few people have savings and can wait until the economy picks up again and the social welfare system is (almost) non-ecistent . Hardship kicks in almost instantly. 

The eruption that happened and is still ongoing does indeed have a destructive impact on the environment. Some rivers coming from Mount Agung are filled with ash and debris; rivers flowing down the hills of Bali's mountains and volcanos are crucial to the fresh water supply in Bali. Plants within a radius of 5km are covered with volcanic ash. The people who live within the evacuation zone and have their homes and small farms their, are facing tremendous challenges and hardship. 

Even though tens of thousands of Balinese have been relocated into 220 shelter camps, there is hardly any complain among the people living there. The people handle the situation with grace and show great spirit and courage. The situation for them is far from perfect, and uncertainty about what will happen and how long it will take is troubling the mind.

The government, NGOs, and many locals and residents have shown tremendous effort to support those people; most of them have little income and can barely make a living even under normal conditions.

We will see whether Agung will calm down, or continue at the level it is active currently. In both cases travelers will be safe and can enjoy the wonders of Bali, and not even notice that on the other side of the island Agung does what it does.

Whether Bali's most holy mountain will face us with a more massive and destructive eruption, nobody knows, and yes, it could happen. And nobody would dare to make a prediction or come up with a definite idea about the probability. But most agree, that even then, travellers staying in almost all areas in Bali will be safe and sound and appropriate measures would be taken by government an hotel managements to make sure, it will stay that way.

Mount Agung - Bali's Holy Mountain

The Balinese are very connected with their island, its nature and also with their volcanos. 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 a volcanic eruption, 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.
The event 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.