A television show screened last night in Australia titled, “The Dark Side of Bali”.  The statistic of one Australian dying every nine days in Bali was used to promote the show.  What does this figure actually mean?  Is Bali a dangerous place to travel to?  Over 400 people die in Australia every day.  Does that make Australia a dangerous place to live?

When you look however at the number of Australians visiting Bali, the number of deaths is put into a little more perspective.  Indonesia ranks just behind New Zealand as the most popular overseas destination for Australians. In 2011, 788,644 Australians visited Bali and in 2012 there were 968,849 visitors (source: Jakarta Post).

The Statistics

In 2012 48 Australians died in Indonesia maybe around 40 deaths in Bali.  So it’s about one in 24,221 people who meet their death in Bali.  A risk that I think most people would accept. There were more deaths in Thailand (111), Philippines (68), Greece (60), Vietnam (54) and the US (51) in 2012.  If you look at the deaths per visitor, the Philippines has the highest rate.

Thailand 930,599 visitors, 111 deaths (0.001192%)
Philippines 191,150 visitors, 68 deaths (0.03557%)
Vietnam 289,844 visitors, 54 deaths (0.01863%)

One of the major causes of deaths in Bali is traffic accidents, particularly motorbike accidents.  Speed, lack of experience, no helmet and alcohol are the main causes of accidents.  You also have people dying from drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning.  Bali has quite a large expat population, including a number of retirees. So included in these statistics are people dying from natural causes.

Bali can be a dangerous place, especially if you ride around on a motorbike with no helmet; get drunk in nightclubs and get into fights with people.  Indonesia is still a developing country and lacking a lot of infrastructure.  I think when people travel overseas they perhaps take more risks and carry fewer inhibitions than they would in their home environment.  Many tourists are not familiar with the laws of the country they are traveling to and some who abuse the perceived lack of law enforcement.

Much of the trouble that gets reported with drunken tourists in Bali, takes place in a small strip in Kuta.  That area in Kuta where the nightclubs are located is as representative of Bali, as Kings Cross is to Australia.  Just by using your own common sense and not losing your usual sense of judgment, I think Bali can be a safe place to visit or even live.  Yes, there is an element of danger and chaos, but certainly no better or worse than many places in the world.

Do you think is Bali a safe place to live or travel?  Does the Australian media exaggerate the situation in Bali?