A trip to Bali usually has most of us daydreaming of palm trees, cocktails and white sandy beaches, with a bit of local culture thrown in for good measure.
What many visitors don't anticipate are days holed up in their hotel or villa room due to a dreaded case of "Bali Belly" or even worse, a trip to the Emergency Room because of dengue fever.
In this blog post we share with you our top 5 local products we suggest you stock up on when arriving in Bali to help keep you healthy and out of the doctor's room. Most can be purchased at the minimarts that are on just about every corner in popular tourist areas and are very affordable so even backpackers on a tight budget don't have an excuse!
There's no avoiding them in Bali - even the most luxury 5 Star resorts can't promise guests a mosquito-free environment. Many hotels and villas do their best by regularly "fogging" the grounds but this doesn't guarantee anything.
One of the best things about a warm, tropical climate like in Bali is the popular indoor - outdoor design of many villas and the allure of a semi-outdoor bathroom and showering under the night sky. This of course is great for an Instagram picture but not so good for keeping the mozzies at bay.
Particularly during the wet season from November to March, mosquitoes can be downright annoying. Nothing ruins a holiday snap of your tanned legs more than red itchy bites! More seriously, dengue fever is unfortunately all too common in Bali and many cases are reported each year.
The best thing as the popular saying goes is to prevent mosquito bites in the first place. This includes covering up after sunset with loose, long sleeves and pants but realistically who's going to do that every evening?
Our suggestion is using an insect repellent spray to spray your ankles and legs, especially when going out for dinner. Of course there are more natural options such as citronella oil, but we find the locally produced Soffell Mosquito Spray to work very well. It comes in different fragrances (the "Geranium Flower" in the pink bottle is rather pleasant as far as bug sprays go) and there's also a handy travel-size bottle that's ideal for popping in your bag or day pack.
Price : IDR 12,000 (80ml)
You'll see these little green bottles everywhere in Bali. Cajeput oil means "white wood" in Indonesian, and it's grown predominantly in Sulawesi. Locals use the oil for everything from muscle aches to abdominal pains and removing hair lice. It also works as an anti-itch for irritating insect bites, the reason we always carry a small bottle with us in Bali.
Larger supermarkets like Hypermart and Carrefour stock several sizes of cajeput oil - the largest size would last a couple of months for sure!
Price : IDR 7,000 (15ml)
Whether it's from a plate of local food with some extra spicy sambal or accidentally swallowing a gulp of water while showering, "Bali Belly" is unfortunately a very common occurrence for visiting tourists.
"Travelers Diarrhoea" is to be expected in most third world countries, where hygiene standards are questionable at the best of times. This bacterial infection can be caused by handling food, money or ingesting unpurified water like the water that comes out of the taps in Bali.
Symptoms range from mild stomach cramps and diarrhoea to more severe cases with fever, vomiting and body aches & pains. Basically, all your holiday plans are put on hold while you recuperate in your hotel room, not too far from the bathroom.
Again, the best way to avoid getting Bali Belly is by preventing it in the first place by making sure that you always wash your hands before eating (especially after handling money) and don't drink the tap water (even to brush your teeth - most hotels and villas provide complimentary bottled water in the bathroom for this).
If you do get struck down with a case of Bali Belly while on holiday, our recommendation is taking Norit Activated Charcoal tablets. These affordable tablets can be found at many minimarts and also at the apotek (pharmacy), and it's a good idea to get some before heading off on a trek up one of Bali's volcanoes or hopping on to a boat and heading off to one of the smaller islands.
Activated charcoal tablets absorb toxic substances in the gastrointestinal tract, making it the go-to remedy for diarrhoea, indigestion and food poisoning (we've been told it's pretty good for hangovers too). It's also a natural product so it's even safe for children to use.
Six to nine tablets can be taken three times a day for mild diarrhoea (with or without cramping) while for more severe cases of food poisoning from contaminated meat or fish for example, up to 20 tablets can be taken. If symptoms still persist then it's important to get yourself to a doctor or hospital and try and keep hydrated.
Price : IDR 15,000 for 40 tablets
Motion sickness can make your trip seem 10 times longer than it actually is, and there's nothing worse than having to concentrate not to get sick in a bus or car full of other travelers!
That's where these little pink tablets come in. Antimo Dimenhydrinate are the cheapest and most effective motion sickness tablets we've come across and have saved us from feeling nauseous on many a boat-crossing.
Adults and children over 12 years of age should take one tablet up to eight times a day and children between 8 and 12 should take half a tablet up to three times a day. It's best to take 30 minutes before you travel and after that, every four hours.
Antimo are available at minimarts and also some of the larger supermarkets like at Matahari Department Store at Kuta Square.
Price : IDR 7,000 for 10 tablets
And lastly, our final travel tip is to always have a bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag. Not only is it useful for sticky children (or adult) fingers, it's also one of the best ways to avoid getting Bali Belly.
Many local restaurants or warungs may not have hand washing facilities, so being able to whip out a bottle of your own hand sanitizer is the perfect solution. Bacteria from food and water can cause terrible tummy aches and diarrhoea, putting a damper on your precious few days on holiday.
For animal-lovers that can't resist patting Bali dogs while out and about, it's also a good idea to use hand sanitizer before tucking in to that bowl of nasi goreng!
Hand sanitizers can be bought at most minimarts, supermarkets, apoteks and even at some of the smaller roadside stalls in rural villages.
Price : IDR 9,000
That's our selection of local products to always keep with you while traveling in Bali. If you have any other handy suggestions we'd love to hear about them in the comments!