It might surprise you to find out that Indonesia is actually made up of more than 17,000 islands, of which 8,000 are inhabited with over 300 languages spoken across them all.
Indonesia has a bit of everything for everyone. Whether you’re looking to experience the palm-fringed beaches and nightlife in Bali, climb the volcanoes in Java, or brave a trek in the deep jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia truly is a hidden gem.
If you’ve ever planned a holiday in Indonesia, you’ve probably been drawn to Bali. In fact, TripAdvisor awarded Bali as “best destination” winner of the 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards, and that’s no surprise as Bali has so much to offer its visitors. For starters, there’s plenty of nightlife (if that’s your scene), beautiful white-sand beaches, lush jungles filled with amazing wildlife, not to mention the hard-to-beat culinary scene.
If you’re looking to take the road less travelled (and a little less touristy), visit the island of Sumatra. Sumatra is the wild, rugged hotspot for adventure and one of the only places in Indonesia where you can still see wild orangutans. If wildlife is on your list, you can’t miss exploring Gunung Leuser National Park, which is home to an abundance of wildlife, including monkeys, variety of bird species and most importantly, organgutans.
Whatever activities you have planned on your trip to Indonesia, it’s important to consider your travel health and ensure you come home with nothing but the best of memories.
Speak with your healthcare professional about how you can best protect yourself from contracting any disease or illness prior to your departure.
Before you go to Indonesia
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all travellers are up-to-date with their routine vaccinations; measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, influenza and pneumococcal. These vaccinations are given as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
For a full list please refer to the NIP schedule, available here. In some cases, you may need a booster or re-vaccination against a disease to ensure you still have immunity.
Other diseases that are considered a risk in Indonesia include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, malaria and rabies. Your doctor will be able to let you know which vaccinations or medications are recommended for you, based on the time of year, desination/s, activities planned and the duration of your stay.
All traveller should be up to date with their routine vaccinations before heading off to Indonesia.
These vaccines include:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- Poliomyelitis (polio) vaccine, and
- Your yearly flu (influenza) shot.
There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A and typhoid in Indonesia, both of which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. People are exposed to the virus generally through food or drink contaminated with faeces (poo), however, close personal contact (e.g.
Depending on where you are staying and what activities you have planned, vaccines or preventative medication may be recommended for prevention of the following diseases:
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Rabies (particularly if you are travelling with young children)
While malaria is not present in the resort areas of Bali, it is present in other parts of Indonesia.
See your doctor before you travel to see whether these are required for you.
In 2017 there were 6,122 cases of hepatitis B recorded in Australia, of which 142 cases were “newly acquired” and 5,980 cases were “unspecified” in regards to the time lapse since first infection.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection of the brain spread by the bite of a particular type of mosquito.
It is best to consult with your doctor or travel health clinic at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. They will be able to advise you about any vaccinations that you may need for your trip well before you leave, based on your specific travel plans.
What your doctor will need to know:
- When you plan to travel (time of year/season)
- The duration of your trip
- The regions of Indonesia you are visiting
- Your planned activities (i.e. if you are going trekking or visiting remote and/or wilderness areas)
- If you will be in contact with animals
- If you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
Your doctor may also conduct a general health check-up. This may be needed for your travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
If you are not up-to-date with your routine vaccinations or if the doctor believes you may be at an increased risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease, then they may recommend you get a booster or be revaccinated against a particular disease.
Some health insurance companies provide coverage for vaccinations. You will need to contact your health insurance provider to see what they cover.
When you see your doctor regarding your trip, Medicare may cover the total cost of your consultation fees (if it is a bulk billing practice), or otherwise a portion of the cost. However, if you need to be vaccinated, Medicare will not cover the cost of the vaccines themselves.
Tattoo parlours overseas may not have the same health standards as we have here in Australia. There is a risk of contracting diseases such as HIV. Hepatitis B and C, as well as other skin infections. Vaccinations are available against hepatitis B, but not for the other diseases. Talk to your doctor before you go.
Try to avoid temporary tattoos, usually made from black henna, which contains a dye that can cause serious skin reactions
If you are trekking in Bali, you should consider vaccination against hepatitis A and typhoid, as these diseases occur in Indonesia. Other vaccines which might be considered include vaccination against Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis B and rabies.
It is also important to ensure that your routine vaccinations are up-to-date including measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, influenza and pneumococcal disease.
The standard of healthcare facilities in Indonesia vary quite a bit to what we have here in Australia, so it is important you a prepared before heading off on your trip.
- Register your trip with Smart Traveller
- Make sure you have enough of your regular prescription medicines;Ensure you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
- Take out travel insurance - to cover you and your family for medical and other costs resulting from unexpected incidents and accidents
- Put together a travel kit with medication for pain, diarrhoeal medicine, oral rehydration salts, antiseptic lotion or ointment, adhesive bandages and other wound dressings, insect repellent, sunscreen, latex gloves, thermometer, motion sickness medicine, water purification tablets and compression stockings
- The tap water is Indonesia is not safe to drink.
- Only drink bottled or filtered water and check the seal on water bottles (some stores sell boiled water in recycled bottles). Avoid ice in your drinks, and check that salad and fruit have been washed with filtered water prior to eating.
- Drink spiking/poisoning from alcoholic drinks is common in parts of Indonesia. Alcoholic drinks have been known to have been contaminated with harmful substances (e.g. methanol). To protect yourself from poisoning, never leave your drink unattended while you are out, avoid home-made alcoholic drinks and drink only at reputable, licensed premises.
- Traveller's diarrhoea is common in Indonesia. Important ways to prevent traveller's diarrhoea include:
- ensure you wash your hands regularly.
- where possible opt for fully cooked fresh food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself.
- Avoid mosquito bites, as you may be at risk of contracting illnesses such as malaria. Malaria transmitting mosquitoes bite predominantly between dusk and dawn.
There is no vaccination for malaria available in Australia. Preventative medication is available and needs to be taken before, during and after visiting the area where malaria occurs.
Other mosquito borne illnesses which travellers need to be concerned about include dengue, zika, and Japanese encephalitis.
- Rabies is a deadly disease and considered a risk in Indonesia, particularly in Bali. It is spread by the bite, lick or scratch of an infected animal, such as a dog or a monkey. Avoid close contact with wold and domestic animals, this is especially important for children. Do not carry food around, or feed/play with monkeys or other animals. Vaccinations for rabies are available– your doctor can advise whether vaccinations are required for your trip.
- Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.
- Diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B can also be spread through fluids such as blood and semen.
To protect yourself, do not inject drugs, do not share needles or devices that can break the skin including those used for tattooing, piercings or acupuncture. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B.
Sources & Citations
- Worldometers, Indonesia Population (live). Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/indonesia-population/ [accessed 18 May 2018]
- World Health Organization. International travel and health. Vaccines. Available at: http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/ [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Information for Travelers to Indonesia. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/indonesia [accessed 18 May 2018]
- Australian Immunisation Handbook, 3.2 Vaccination for international travel. Available at: http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part3~handbook10-3-2 [accessed 18 May 2018]
- Finder, Travel Vaccinations – Can I claim travel vaccinations on my private health insurance? Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/travel-vaccinations [accessed 18 May 2018]
- Travel Doctor. Bali. Available at: https://www.traveldoctor.com.au/destinations/bali [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Australian Government. Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Indonesia. Available at: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/indonesia.aspx#health [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles (Rubeola). Measles Vaccination. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Government of Western Australia, Department of Health. Measles reminder for Bali and other travellers and Perth residents. Available at: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Media-releases/2018/Measles-reminder-for-Bali-and-other-travellers-and-Perth-residents [accessed 18 May 2018].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice, Indonesia. General Health Risks: Malaria. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/indonesia/risk/malaria [accessed 18 May 2018].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice, Indonesia. General Health Risks: Traveller’s Diarrhea. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/indonesia/risk/traveller-s-diarrhea [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travelers’ Health. Rabies in Bali, Indonesia. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/rabies-bali-indonesia2008 [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Travel Guide, The Jakarta Post. TripAdvisor presents Bali with the 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Available at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/travel/2017/04/21/tripadvisor-presents-bali-with-2017-travelers-choice-awards.html [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Bukit Lawang EcoTravel Sumatra. Sumatran Orangutans. Available at: http://sumatra-ecotravel.com/leuser_ecosystem_the_orangutans/the_sumatran_orangutans/ [accessed 18 May 2018].
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Traveller’s Health Pack Smart. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pack-smart [accessed 16 July 2018].
SPANZ.STAMA.18.04.0148 - Date of preparation July 2018Show All