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Can You Drink the Water in Bali?

If you are like us, one of the first questions you are going to have once you have booked your trip to Bali is “Is it safe to drink the water in Bali?” The answer is a resounding NO. Tap water in Bali is not safe for human consumption. This goes for locals and travelers alike.

What’s the Deal With Drinking Water?

Luckily you have a few options for safe drinking water. You can buy bottled water, filter/purify your own water, or boil the water. No matter what option you choose, we recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built in purifier to give you clean safe water at all times.

We recommend the Grayl Geopress Purifier – but more on that later. Likely you have limited time on the island of the Gods, and you do not want to waste any of it sick from bad water if you can avoid it!

What About the Tap Water in Bali?

There are a lot of factors that go into why you should not drink the water in Bali, and you probably have a bunch of questions about specific situations. For example, can you shower, brush your teeth or cook with the water? Is it safe to use ice cubes? What about food washed in tap water?

Who Am I?

I am a physician assistant (PA) with many years of experience. Health is a top priority for me! So I did significant research on the water situation in Bali, and I am ready to share it all with you!

Keep reading to have all of your questions answered.

Can You Drink the Tap Water in Bali?

No. You should never drink water straight from the tap in Bali. It is not safe. Period. This includes everyone – locals, tourists, and expats like us!

Why? Water sources in Bali are surface water, springs, and ground water. Most of these are polluted with everything from industrial waste to domestic sewage. In the more populated, tourist areas, the water is treated at two government owned treatment plants.

However the problem even in these areas are that pipes that carry the water are in poor shape, and you cannot be confident the water wasn’t contaminated again between the facility and your source.

A 2021 report showed 42% water loss through pipe leakage. (PDAM, 2021). If water is leaking out of those damaged pipes, you can bet other things are leaking in. At this point you should be thinking about all of the things that contaminate the original water sources.

In theory if the pipes are good, the water coming from these plants should be drinkable. But there is no way of knowing if you are getting water from intact pipes. So it is better not to roll the dice! Now combine the leaking pipes with a warm, tropical climate that encourages the growth of bacteria and viruses, and you have some serious potential for problems.

Bottom line? Don’t drink the water in Bali. You can’t guarantee it is safe. Don’t do it.

Can locals drink the water in Bali?
Local Indonesian Women Prepare to Carry Offerings of Food Baskets on Their Heads to Their Village Temple

Can Locals Drink the Tap Water in Bali?

No, not even the locals drink the water in Bali. Tap water is not safe, and those who drink it risk getting sick. So even the locals will boil the water or buy large 5 gallon jugs. As a tourist it probably will not make sense for you to get these large jugs unless your accommodations already have them, and you probably will not be taking the time to boil your water.

You can buy individual water bottles, but we recommend avoiding this since single use plastic is horrible for the environment. Make sure to take advantage of refilling from large jugs whenever possible.

However, we also suggest carrying a high quality water purifying bottle like Grayl Geopress. This is important, because it filters and purifies the water resulting in removal of 99.9+% of bacteria, virus, and protozoa, as well as pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals and microplastics. Plus it improves taste, smell and clarity of the water.

You can literally tap into any water source with the Grayl Geopress water purifier, so it will probably be your best bet for guaranteeing access to safe drinking water throughout your time in Bali.

What’s the Best Bottled Water in Bali?

Unfortunately, we know everyone is going to have to buy bottle water at least sometimes. So if you do, here is what you need to know. Watch for professional labeling and an unbroken seal. The cost of bottled water is much cheaper than in more developed countries. However, the cost has increased in Bali over past years. This has resulted in a side market for water where bottles are refilled from unverified tanks.

When you are caught out and about and need to buy water from a roadside stand, always check the seal {even if the labeling looks professional}. This is when your Grayl Geopress water bottle would come in handy! If there is the slightest doubt, put the water in your purifying water bottle first to ensure you are drinking safe water. The minimarts such as Alphamart, Indomaret, and Circle K are all reputable and water purchased from these should be good.

The biggest issue with buying water is the plastic waste that it produces. We all know single use plastic is horrible for the environment. So the best thing to do when you go out for the day is bring your own water bottle.

Most airbnbs, hostels, and hotels buy water in 19 liter (5 gallon) refillable jugs. Take advantage of using these whenever possible! Bali is hot, so you need to plan for adequate water. We carry at least a couple of water bottles every time we go out. We recommend an insulated bottle to keep the water cold, as well as a water bottle with a good filter=>> Grayl Geopress

Best Water Bottle for Bali
Grayl Geopress Filtered Water Bottle

What is the Grayl Geopress Water Bottle?

After researching the many water filters/purifiers on the market, the Grayl Geopress stands out far above the rest as our best pick. It is made from BPA-free high quality plastic, which makes it relatively light and very durable. We love it’s wide mouth which makes for easy filling and cleaning.  

Most importantly, the Grayl Geopress filters 99.9% of waterborne pathogens – including bacteria, protozoa, AND viruses. The part about the viruses is really important. Traditional water filters used for backpacking filter out bacteria and protozoa, which are the big issues for backcountry water sources in the United States. It is a different story with travel, especially in high risk areas like southeast Asia. Viruses are just as big of a risk here as bacteria and protozoa, so it is really important to have a water purifier that covers these.

Ease of use was also really important to us. We really like the Grayl Geopress, because it filters the water with an easy pump action. It takes about 8 seconds of pumping to filter the full 24oz of water. Many of the alternatives on the market use a straw sucking action or a hand squeezing to filter the water.

If you have done either of these, you know your cheeks or your hand get pretty wiped out after a day of using the bottle. I remember one backpacking trip where I actually started boiling water every time I need to refill my water bottle, because hand was cramping from squeezing my filtering water bottle so much. You drink a lot of water in hot climates, and you don’t want to deal with a filter that is difficult to use.

Why Can’t You Drink the Water in Bali?

Drinking the water in Bali can make you sick. Bali is working to improve water standards, but they just are not there yet. So why exactly can’t you drink the water? It all boils down to waterborne illness.

What is in the Water in Bali That Makes You Sick?

Waterborne illnesses includes a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms. These are microscopic organisms that you cannot see with your naked eye. And on top of this, the ones in Bali are also unfamiliar to your body. You may be able to tolerate some microorganisms that you have had contact with in the past. But many of these are new or just microorganisms can lead to sickness in anyone.

What Bacteria is in Bali Water?

In this region of the world, Campylobacter species are the most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea. (Shah et al., 2009) More than 90% of cases of traveler’s diarrhea worldwide are caused by bacteria. Escherichia coli is the next most common bacterial cause. Other common bacteria are Salmonella spp, Shigella spp, and Vibrio species.

Parasites are a risk, too, and they usually result in being sicker much longer. (LaRocque & Harris, 2022b) Just ask Griff. He got a parasite in Bali in 2019. He spent over a week in our villa sick as a dog. Thankfully it was pretty easy to get into an English speaking doctor, have appropriate labs performed, and get the right treatment when he finally admitted this was more than traveler’s diarrhea and agreed to go in.

The risk of getting sick increases with the number of bacteria ingested. So be careful but know that your chance of getting ‘Bali Belly’ is pretty high if you drink contaminated water in Bali!

What is bali belly?
Bali Belly

What is Bali Belly?

It seems like everyone is familiar with Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico. ‘Bali Belly’ is Bali’s Montezuma’s revenge. The real medical term is traveler’s diarrhea. Typical symptoms of bali belly include abdominal cramping, watery diarrhea and decreased energy. Some people get nausea and vomiting, too. Symptoms are generally mild to moderate. You should always seek medical treatment for severe symptoms.

Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common illness in people who travel from resource-rich to resource-limited regions of the world. Bali is in a high risk region of the world. (Greenwood et al., 2008) So it pays to be careful!

It is important to realize that traveler’s diarrhea can happen anywhere in the world. It really boils down to being careful and smart with what you eat and drink in Bali. Traveler’s diarrhea can range from mild to severe. Bali belly happens when you ingest contaminated food or water.

How Can You Prevent Getting Bali Belly?

Be smart when it comes to what you eat and drink. Most restaurants in the tourist areas follow good sanitary practices, and you should be safe to eat anything on the menu from these places. However, when eating at roadside stands and in remote locations, avoid eating lettuces, fruit salads, and any food that has been sitting. Eating from street food vendors does increase your risk of infection (Hill & Beeching, 2010).

However, I would not say you have to avoid them all together. Just make sure that you only eat from busy vendors who do not have food sitting for long periods. The food should be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot to minimize risk. Eat high risk foods (lettuce, fruit salad, meat, etc) only at reputable restaurants.

How Long Does Bali Belly Last?

It definitely depends on which bacteria or other microbe is causing the diarrhea. Many people are only sick for 12 hours and others have symptoms for several days. However, the typical course of traveler’s diarrhea lasts 1-5 days. (LaRocque & Harris, 2022a) The symptoms are not fun, but they are generally manageable.

Treatment For Bali Belly and Traveler’s Diarrhea

If you are otherwise healthy and have mild to moderate symptoms, you do not need to do anything special. The disease will run its course, and your body will take care of it just fine. You can use Imodium or Bismuth to relieve symptoms.

You cannot get either of these medications in Bali currently, so it is worth bringing some with you. The pharmacies will offer you activated charcoal if you tell them you have diarrhea, which will not hurt you if you decide to try it. However, there are not any good studies that this is effective for infectious diarrhea. (There are lots of studies that show it is effective for certain types of poisoning only.)

Antibiotics are not recommended for treatment of mild to moderate cases of traveler’s diarrhea. The side effects of the antibiotics and the high risk of increasing bacterial resistance outweighs the benefit of using them. (LaRoque & Harris, 2022b) If you develop severe diarrhea, fever, or have blood, pus, or mucus in the stool, you most likely do need antibiotics and should seek medical care immediately.

What Happens if You Drink the Water in Bali?

Honestly? Usually nothing. About 6 million visitors come to Bali every year, and only a small fraction of these visitors get sick. (Subadra, 2018) Be careful, but remember that illness depends on the concentration of microorganisms you ingest. So even with mistakes here and there, you will most likely be fine.

Cooking With Tap Water in Bali

Cooking with tap water is 100% safe in Bali. As long as you are boiling the water, you will kill off any microorganisms. The CDC recommends that you bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. (You may have heard 3 minutes, but this is for altitudes above 6,500 feet). (CDC, 2021) We regularly eat pasta, soups, and rice cooked in tap water, and we have never had a problem.

Are Salads Safe in Bali?

A common recommendation for travelers in southeast Asia is to avoid the salads. However, for the most part, this is not true! In the larger tourist areas, fruits and vegetables are being rinsed in clean water. They are safe to eat, and it would be pity to avoid all the amazing plant based foods available in Bali. We eat salads nearly every time we go out, which is multiple days a week!

Is it Safe to Wash Dishes With Tap Water in Bali?

Yes! The process to wash dishes is the same in Bali as anywhere else in the world. Use plenty of dish soap and warm tap water, and those dishes will be totally safe to eat from.

Can you drink ice in Bali?
Ice Drinks in Bali

Can I Drink Ice in Bali?

Yes! All the ice you buy in stores and receive in restaurants in Bali is commercially made using purified water. I know a lot of people say to avoid ice when traveling, and this is generally true. Freezing does NOT kill the microorganisms that cause disease. So certainly do not make you’re your own ice with tap water.

In Bali, commercial ice production is regulated and safe. If you want to be sure, avoid ice in remote areas. However, commercially made ice is easy to spot because the cubes are tube shaped with holes in the middle of them.

Can I Drink Coffee in Bali?

Yes! Most of the time coffee and tea are made with purified water. However, even if not, the water is definitely boiled which would kill microorganisms, too. Coffee shops are plentiful and delicious, so do not skip out because you are afraid!

Can You Drink the Water in Canggu?

No. Tap water is unsafe in all areas of Bali. Bali belly happens even in Canggu! Even though this area is serviced by water treatment plants, the piping that delivers the water to each residence is not reliable. So the chance of contamination between the facility and you is very real.

Can You Drink the Water in Bali Resorts?

No, even in upscale resorts, you should avoid drinking tap water. Most resorts will provide bottled water in hotel rooms and filtered or bottled water in restaurants. If in doubt, ask the staff.

Pro Tip: Many of these resorts have water purification in the kitchen or clean water dispensers in the lobbies. So rather than using single use plastic bottles, just ask where you can refill your insulated water bottle. If in doubt, always run the water through your purifying water bottle.

Is the Tap Water in Bali Safe to Brush Your Teeth With?

Yes! The water in Bali is perfectly safe to shower in. The same goes for washing your hands. It is not necessary to use purified water to wash yourself.

Can I Open My Mouth In the Shower in Bali?

If you accidentally get water in your mouth in Bali, don’t worry too much. The number of microorganisms you were exposed to is likely minimal. Your chance of getting sick is very low. But just like drinking water out of the tap, do not purposefully swallow the water in the shower.

What to Do If You Get Sick From Water in Bali

Most likely your symptoms will be mild to moderate. Use medications like Imodium (link) and Bismuth (link) to help with the symptoms and drink plenty of water. If your symptoms are severe or last more than a week, you should see a doctor immediately.

How To See a Doctor in Bali

The easiest thing to do is check with your host. Your hotel or Airbnb host will help you to set up an appointment with a nearby doctor who speaks English. Unlike the USA, healthcare is very affordable in Bali. When Griff had a parasite, we paid about $120 USD for the office visit, laboratory testing, and the medication. The doctor called us personally with results and was fantastic! Prices will vary, but the point is that the cash pay price for health care is a fraction of what it is in the United States.

Drinking Water in Bali

Drinking Water in Bali to Avoid Dehydration

Bali belly is a real concern in Bali, but it isn’t the only one you should be thinking about. Perhaps more important is to remember to stay hydrated while visiting Bali! Bali is close to the equator and hot year round. Combine that with all the beaches and adventure, and it is easy to get dehydrated if you are not consciously staying hydrated. The best thing to do is to carry a water bottle (or two!) with you at all times. We recommend an insulated water bottle, as well as a purifying water bottle like Grayl Geopress. You will save money and headache by carrying these water bottles with you, and you will be helping the environment, too!

Should I Get Bali Travel Insurance?

Yes, it is always a good idea to get travel insurance. Your medical policy at home may cover some travel related medical expenses, but it is usually out of network and very expensive. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind and may save your bacon if you get sick or injured on your trip.

Final Thoughts : Can You Drink the Water in Bali?

Should you drink the water in Bali? No, but do not spend your vacation obsessing about it! It can happen even when you are careful. Wash your hands often and before you eat and drink. Avoid tap water and high risk foods. And most importantly plan ahead. Try to always carry water with you! Using a water bottle purifier guarantees access to clean water. You are also much more likely to drink more water and avoid dehydration if you have a water bottle on you.

Bali is incredible! Enjoy all the waterfalls, beaches, temples and adventure you can! Make good choices and enjoy the Island of the Gods to the fullest!