Crime in Bali: Safety Guide
As an American expat living in Bali, Indonesia, I’ve often been asked about crime and safety on this beautiful island. There is crime, but it’s still a paradise…
With its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm, welcoming people, Bali has become a popular destination for both tourists and expats alike. However, it’s natural to wonder about the potential risks that come with living in a foreign country.
In this guide, I’ll discuss the prevalence of crime in Bali, specifically its impact on the expat community, and share some insights into staying safe in paradise.
Indonesia is a relatively safe country and Bali is actually one of the safest parts of the entire nation. So to put simply, it’s a very safe island, particularly for foreigners.
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that crime against foreigners in Bali is extremely rare. In general, the Balinese people are known for their kindness, hospitality, and strong sense of community, which creates a safe and welcoming environment for expats. That being said, no place is entirely devoid of crime, and Bali is no exception.
The most common crimes in Bali are non-violent and opportunistic, such as the occasional phone or purse snatching. To a lesser but notable effect, premium helmets are stolen when the opportunity presents itself to thieves, such as when these expensive helmets are not secured on the bike while the owner is away.
These incidents typically occur in busy, tourist-heavy areas where thieves can easily blend in with the crowds. While these occurrences can be distressing, they are generally non-confrontational and pose a minimal risk to personal safety.
Another common crime that really was only a widespread problem was during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, villa and motorbike theft. When the island was shutdown for extended periods of time, thieves would break into easily accessible villas and steal whatever valuables they can find; laptops, cameras, cash etc. High end motorbike such as Nmax were targeted when the owner didn’t properly lock up their bikes. Although these crimes were always an issue, it was particularly bad during the lockdowns but has significantly eased up since.
Illicit drug use is hardly a problem in Bali, but the laws against them is quite harsh to possession and sales, even with marijuana. So getting caught with drugs will cost you severely. Undercover police are known to act as drug dealers to entrap foreigners in the Kuta area.
Violent crime like murder and rape is exceedingly rare in Bali and is almost never heard of in the news, social media and gossip. But that doesn’t mean it never happens.
The taxi mafia is prevalent in specific parts of Bali but they are not violent or are out to steal, at least not in the traditional sense. They essentially prevent locals and foreigners from using Gojek and Grab (Uber) in order to force you to use them instead, often with exorbitant pricing.
A type of crime that has long persisted in Bali is ATM skimmers. This is when a criminal would attach a device on top of an actual ATM in order to steal unsuspecting victims’ debit card details.
Staying Safe in Bali
To minimize the risk of falling victim to crime, it’s important to practice common-sense safety measures. Some tips for staying safe in Bali include:
Be Vigilant in Crowded Areas: Pay attention to your surroundings, especially in busy markets, restaurants, and popular tourist spots. Keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying expensive items, such as jewelry or smartphones.
Avoid Shady ATM’s: Use only ATM machines that are attached or are inside of actual banks. These are safer and are much less likely to be equipped with skimmers. Or ATM’s placed on brightly lit main roads, not tucked away in an alley with low traffic.
Use Reputable Transportation: When traveling around the island, opt for reputable transportation providers or arrange for transport through your hotel or use Gojek. This can help minimize the risk of encountering dishonest drivers or scams.
Secure Your Accommodations: Whether you’re staying in a hotel, villa, or rented apartment, always lock your doors and windows when leaving the premises. Consider using a safety deposit box for valuables if available.
Avoid Walking Alone at Night: While Bali is generally safe, it’s still advisable to avoid walking alone in poorly lit or unfamiliar areas at night.
Build Connections With The Local Community: Developing relationships with your neighbors, Banjar and the local community can help create a support network and provide valuable insights into staying safe in your area.
The Most Dangerous Parts of Bali
It is difficult to pinpoint a single “most dangerous” part of Bali for foreigners, as the island is generally safe for visitors – there is no “bad part of town” here. However, certain areas may pose a higher risk due to a higher concentration of tourists and nightlife, which can attract opportunistic criminals. Some of these areas include:
Kuta: Known for its bustling nightlife and popular beaches, Kuta tends to attract a large number of tourists. The dense crowds and lively atmosphere can create opportunities for petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching.
Seminyak: Similar to Kuta, Seminyak is a popular tourist destination with many bars, clubs, and restaurants. While the area is generally safe, the concentration of tourists can make it a target for opportunistic crime. Certain Russian nationals are known to be illegally working as real estate professionals, scamming foreigners into renting villas that are not actually for rent.
Denpasar: As the capital city of Bali, Denpasar has a higher population density and a mix of both residential and commercial areas. Petty crime and traffic accidents may be more common here due to the urban environment.
Canggu: The nomad hub of Bali that’s notoriously more foreigner residents than locals by a large margin. This areas has seen an uptick in petty and sometimes violent crime by a select few Russians targeting other foreigners. As well as dangerously driving their motorbikes creating traffic issues and accidents – fleeing the scene.
It is important to note that, overall, Bali remains a relatively safe destination for foreigners – in fact one of the most expat cities in the world. Bali remains a relatively safe destination for expats, with crime against foreigners being a rare occurrence.
By taking basic precautions and remaining vigilant, you can enjoy the many wonderful experiences that this beautiful island has to offer, secure in the knowledge that you are living in a welcoming and safe environment.