What is Bali Belly?| Guide on Symptoms, Cure & Water Safety

Traveling to Bali? Prevent experiencing this during your trip. This is your guide to Bali Belly - symptoms, treatments, and water safety tips for a more memorable and safe trip!

a glass of fresh water

Planning a trip to Bali, Indonesia? One question that often pops up is, "Can I drink the tap water in Bali?" The straightforward answer is NO. But what about other water-related queries, such as brushing your teeth, consuming iced beverages, or eating salads? Let's dive into these details to prevent having a "Bali Belly" so you can enjoy your tropical paradise vacation without worrying about water issues.

Undoubtedly, falling ill while on vacation is one of the last things you want to experience, especially when you're away from the comforts of home and your usual support systems. 

How to prevent Bali belly?

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If Bali is your next travel destination, the quality and safety of the water might be one of your primary concerns. We'll cover drinking water, cooking, personal hygiene practices, and what to expect in hotels, resorts, and restaurants.

This article addresses all your concerns about water usage in Bali so that you can have a memorable and safe trip!

What Is Bali Belly?

How to prevent Bali belly?

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"Bali Belly" is a term for Traveler's Diarrhea (TD). It's typically caused by consuming water or food contaminated with unfamiliar microorganisms. Despite Bali's high tourism, the chance of developing Bali Belly is relatively low if you're careful with what you consume. Symptoms can include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. While usually not serious, it can disrupt your holiday plans.

What are the symptoms of Bali Belly?

Understanding the symptoms of Bali Belly can help you to identify the condition early and manage it promptly. It usually presents as an acute onset of symptoms, which may include:

  1. Diarrhea: Frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements are the most common symptom. This can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience, particularly when traveling.

  2. Stomach cramps and pain: This can vary from mild discomfort to intense pain, often felt in the lower abdomen.

  3. Nausea or vomiting: You might feel sick in your stomach or even experience episodes of vomiting.

  4. Bloating and gas: A feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen, often accompanied by increased flatulence.

  5. Loss of appetite: The discomfort often results in a decreased desire to eat.

  6. Fever: In some cases, you might have a mild fever.

  7. Muscle aches and weakness: General malaise and fatigue are also common.

These symptoms can start within a few hours of consuming contaminated food or drink but can sometimes manifest in a few days.

What is the treatment for Bali Belly? 

Fortunately, in most cases, Bali Belly's symptoms will resolve within 2-4 days. However, there are several measures you can take to help manage the symptoms and recover more quickly:

  1. Stay Hydrated 

    Dehydration is a real concern with Bali Belly due to the loss of fluids from diarrhea and vomiting. Ensure you drink plenty of clean bottled water. Oral rehydration salts or solutions, readily available in local pharmacies, are highly recommended as they replenish lost electrolytes and help in faster recovery.

    a medicine dissolved in a glass of water

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  2. Take a Rest

    Bali Belly may cause fatigue; your body needs energy to fight the infection, so get plenty of rest.

    How to prevent Bali belly?

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  3. Eat Light

    Once your appetite returns, start with bland, easy-to-digest foods like crackers, bananas, or toast.

    How to prevent Bali belly?

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  4. Take Medications

    Over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication, charcoal pills such as Norit, or similar can manage symptoms but should not be taken for extended periods. Antibiotics may be necessary in severe cases or if symptoms persist over a few days. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

    How to prevent Bali belly?

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  5. Seek Professional Help (If needed)

    How to prevent Bali belly?

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    Here is the list of hospitals or clinics you can visit in Bali for urgent medical concerns:

    1. Bali Royal Hospital, Denpasar

    2. BIMC Siloam Hospital, Nusa Dua

    3. BIMC Ubud Hospital, Ubud

    4. Kasih Ibu Hospital, Tabanan

    5. BaliMed Canggu Clinic, Canggu

How can to prevent Bali Belly? 

You can take a few precautionary measures to prevent 'Bali Belly'. These include:

  1. Drinking only bottled or properly purified water, including when brushing your teeth.

  2. Eating at reputable restaurants that are known for maintaining good hygiene.

  3. Washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer, particularly before meals.

  4. Being cautious about consuming raw foods like salads. Cooked food is generally safer as the heat kills most harmful organisms.

  5. Avoiding street food if you're not used to it. While street food can be delicious and a big part of the local culture, the hygiene standards can sometimes be lower than in established restaurants.

If you get 'Bali Belly', it's typically not serious and should pass within a few days. Stay hydrated, rest, and eat bland foods while your body recovers. If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, it would be wise to seek medical attention.

Can I drink tap water in Bali?

It's best to avoid drinking tap water in Bali. While you might encounter differing advice online, tap water in Bali generally isn't suitable for drinking, even if it comes from a regularly used line.

This is because the water purification systems in Bali, while functional, don't necessarily purify the water to the extent seen in many Western countries.

Hence, as a rule of thumb, avoiding tap water in Bali is safer. Some accommodations might have installed their filters, so it's generally safe to drink. However, when in doubt, it's best to steer clear.

Why can't you drink the tap water in Bali?

While Bali has water treatment facilities, tap water must be purified enough to be safe for drinking. Potential contamination can occur due to old pipelines or poor treatment, and the water might carry bacteria, viruses, or harmful particles that could cause illness. Moreover, tap water in some regions of Bali can contain high levels of minerals, making it unsuitable for drinking.

Is drinking tap water in Bali safe? 

For both locals and visitors, it's generally not safe to drink tap water in Bali. It's vital to mention that the condition of the water source and pipeline system plays a significant role here. While Bali's water treatment plants clean the water to a certain extent, it's different from the degree we see in many Western countries where it's purified enough for safe drinking. Therefore, avoiding tap water directly in Bali is highly advisable.

How to prevent Bali belly?

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Like tourists, locals avoid drinking tap water in Bali as it needs to be sufficiently clean for consumption. Instead, many prefer purified water, bought in five-gallon containers from a water delivery service or purchased in bottled form.

That said, you can find exceptions in some hotels or residences where they've installed filtration systems. In these circumstances, tap water might be safe to drink, but it's best to avoid it when in doubt.

What's the preferred bottled water in Bali?

How to prevent Bali belly?

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Bottled water becomes an essential alternative since tap water isn't advisable for drinking in Bali. You can find numerous bottled water brands across Bali, but some of the most reputable and widely available ones are Aqua, Balian, Le Mineral, Evian, and Nestle Pure Life. There's also a growing trend of refillable water bottles that you can replenish at many restaurants, cafes, or hotels, which is both practical and better for the environment.

Where can I buy bottled water in Bali?

Indonesian Supermarket, Indomaret.

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Bottled water is widely available in Bali. You can buy it in grocery stores, mini-markets like Indomaret, Alfamart, Pepito, Circle K, or local "warungs" (small family-owned businesses). However, refillable water bottles are often more convenient and environmentally friendly. Many establishments, including hotels and restaurants, offer refilling services for these bottles.

Can you consume iced drinks or salads in Bali?

How to prevent Bali belly?

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Most establishments in Bali use purified water to prepare ice and wash vegetables, so it's generally safe to enjoy iced beverages or salads. However, choosing reputable places to eat or drink is wise for your safety. Reading reviews from other tourists can help you determine which areas maintain high hygiene standards.

Is it safe to cook with tap water in Bali? 

How to prevent Bali belly?

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When it comes to cooking, the heat should kill most harmful organisms in the water, rendering it safe. However, for added precaution, especially if you're sensitive or new to the region, using bottled water for cooking is a good idea.

Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Bali?

Zero Waste. Bamboo toothbrush

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Although the amount of water ingested while brushing your teeth is minimal, it's still better to use bottled water, mainly if it's your first visit to Bali. This way, you reduce the risk of potential stomach upset.

Is showering safe with Bali water? 

How to prevent Bali belly?

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Absolutely. The tap water in Bali is safe for showering. The amount of harmful organisms that can enter your body through your skin or eyes is negligible, so you don't have to worry about that. However, you should avoid swallowing water during your shower. And as mentioned before, if you're brushing your teeth post-shower, you should use bottled water.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while tap water in Bali is generally unsafe for drinking directly, there are plenty of alternatives, including bottled water and water purification systems. Always take necessary precautions when consuming water and food in Bali to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

>>> Curious to know why Bali is so popular? Here are our 17 reasons to include Bali in your travel list.

>>>Visiting Bali soon? Here's our guide on how to register your phone in Bali!

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