Before I visited Bali I had heard of something called Bali Belly. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew it didn’t sound good. Unfortunately, I found out firsthand what Bali Belly was during my trip.
In this post, I’ll share my experience with Bali Belly and provide tips for avoiding it.
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Discalimer: My Experience
When I was in Bali I was there for a month and did all the things you aren’t meant to do;
I drank the water
Ate pretty much only street food from dodgy (but delicious) Warungs
Had ice, fruit, veggies, you name it.
I didn’t get sick at all.
Meanwhile, my girlfriend got horrendous Bali belly. Enough to warrant a doctor’s visit and antibiotics.
We’re pretty sure it was from some babi guling (roast pork) that we both ate but can’t be 100% sure.
So the takeaway is that your individual mileage may vary. You may be susceptible to picking up bugs, or you may just be unlucky. so please take what’s written in this article with a grain of salt and know that you (very likely) may be fine on your Bali holiday.
What is Bali Belly?
Bali Belly is a general term used to describe an upset stomach or diarrhea that is often experienced by travelers to Bali. The most common cause is a bacterial infection from contaminated food or water. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. In severe cases, fever, vomiting, and dehydration can occur.
Bali Belly vs Food Poisoning
Bali Belly is different from food poisoning in that it is caused by bacteria, while food poisoning is caused by toxins produced by bacteria. The symptoms of both illnesses are similar, but the treatment may differ depending on the cause.
Bali Belly vs Other Illnesses
Bali Belly is often confused with other illnesses that can be contracted while traveling. For example, dengue fever is a viral illness spread by mosquitoes that can also cause flu-like symptoms. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of different illnesses so that you can seek appropriate treatment if necessary.
What causes Bali Belly?
Bali Belly is caused by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated with bacteria. This can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Eating food that has been prepared in unsanitary conditions
- Drinking water that has not been properly treated or bottled
- Eating raw or undercooked food
- Eating food that has been left out at room temperature for too long
Why is it so common?
Bali Belly is common in Bali because the sanitation standards are not as high as in some other countries. Additionally, the bacteria that cause Bali Belly may be present in food and water sources that travelers are not used to. This means that even if you are careful, you may still be at risk for Bali Belly.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Bali Belly typically include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. In severe cases, fever, vomiting, and dehydration can occur. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more.
My 6 Tips to Avoid Bali Belly
While there is no surefire way to avoid Bali Belly, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. Here are seven tips to help you avoid Bali Belly:
1. Drink Only Bottled Water
One of the easiest ways to avoid Bali Belly is to drink only bottled water. Make sure the water is sealed and has not been tampered with before you drink it. Avoid drinking tap water or water from other sources, such as lakes or rivers.
2. Avoid drinks with Ice
Ice is often made from tap water, which can be contaminated with bacteria. To avoid Bali Belly, skip the ice in your drinks or ask for drinks without ice.
3. Eat Off Dry Plates
Wet plates can harbor bacteria, so it’s best to eat off dry plates. If your plate is wet, ask for a dry one or wipe it down with a napkin.
4. Take Care With Fruit and Veggies
Fruit can be a healthy snack, but it can also be a source of bacteria if it’s not washed properly. To reduce your risk of Bali Belly, avoid fruit that has been pre-cut or has been sitting out for a long time.
Fresh vegetables can also be a source of bacteria if they are not washed properly. To reduce your risk of Bali Belly, choose cooked vegetables instead of raw ones.
5. Eat Thoroughly Cooked Food, Especially Meat
Undercooked meat can be a source of bacteria, so it’s important to make sure your meat is cooked thoroughly. Avoid rare or medium-rare meat and opt for well-done instead.
6. Be Mindful of Warungs
Warungs are small family-run restaurants that are popular in Bali. While they can be a great place to try local cuisine, they may not always follow the same sanitation standards as larger restaurants. Be mindful of the cleanliness of the warung before you eat there.
What to Eat in Bali to Avoid Bali Belly
While there is no guarantee that you won’t get Bali Belly, there are some foods that are less likely to cause it. Here are some foods to try in Bali that are less likely to give you Bali Belly:
- Nasi Goreng: Nasi Goreng is a popular Indonesian dish made with fried rice, vegetables, and meat. It’s a safe bet because the rice is cooked at a high temperature, which kills any bacteria.
- Mie Goreng: Mie Goreng is another Indonesian dish that is safe to eat. It’s made with fried noodles, vegetables, and meat, and is typically cooked at a high temperature.
- Bakso Ayam: This is a local noodle soup. It’s delicious and super cheap but most importantly is cooked in a boiling broth, so there’s no chance of bacteria surviving.
- Satay: Satay is a skewered meat dish that is grilled at a high temperature, which makes it safe to eat. It’s typically served with a peanut sauce that is also safe to eat.
What is the treatment for Bali Belly?
If you do get Bali Belly, the best thing to do is rest and drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can be a serious complication, so it’s important to drink water or electrolyte drinks. Medications such as antibiotics or antidiarrheals may be necessary in severe cases. It’s important to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe or do not improve after a few days.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe or bloody diarrhea
- High fever
- Symptoms that last for more than a few days
How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Bali Belly?
Bali Belly can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more. The length of time depends on the severity of the infection and how quickly treatment is sought. It’s important to rest and drink plenty of fluids to help your body fight off the infection.
FAQs About Bali Belly
Q1. Can you brush your teeth with sink water?
It’s best to use bottled water to brush your teeth to reduce your risk of Bali Belly.
Q2. Should you cancel your trip to Bali?
While Bali Belly can be unpleasant, it’s not a reason to cancel your trip. By taking the proper precautions, you can reduce your risk of getting sick and still enjoy all that Bali has to offer.
In conclusion, Bali Belly is a common illness that travelers to Bali should be aware of. By taking the proper precautions, such as drinking only bottled water and eating thoroughly cooked meat, you can reduce your risk of getting sick. If you do get sick, it’s important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Remember to seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe or do not improve after a few days. With a little bit of caution and preparation, you can enjoy your trip to Bali without worrying about getting sick.