Is it Safe to Travel to Bali at the Moment? By Someone in Bali Following the Earthquakes

Is it safe to travel to Bali at the moment?

Unfortunately this isn’t the fist time I’ve had to write about whether it’s safe to travel to Bali in the last year. At the end of the last year it was the volcano, Mount Agung, which went off again in June and caused the airport to close. Now in the last 2 weeks there have been a series of earthquakes.

The news reports on the situation have, yet again, been stretching the truth. The earthquakes have caused a huge amount of destruction, but not in Bali. The media have been purposefully misleading people however with headlines saying things like “Earthquake in Bali, Lombok” so I need to clear something up before we go any further:

Bali is not in Lombok or visa versa.

They're not the same place, they are separate islands. The media is throwing Bali into their headlines because it’s such a popular tourist destination and they wouldn’t be able to create such sensationalist news articles if they just mentioned an island hardly anyone has heard of. Bali packs a much bigger punch for them. But these earthquakes didn’t happen in Bali. The quakes were felt in Bali, a lot, but they didn’t happen here.

There were even some buildings and structures that were damaged here in Bali, like the Galeria shopping mall parking area that's shown in the image at the top of this page, but nothing happened that could be descirbed as anything more than "minor damage" here and no one was injured.

As I mentioned when writing about the volcano, I am no volcanologist and neither am I a seismologist (yes I had to look that one up too). All I am is someone in Bali who knows what’s actually going on here and has no desire to exaggerate the situation for my own gain.

In fact, the only aims I have in writing this are to provide you with useful and real information on whether it’s safe to travel to Bali so that you can make an informed decision, and, much more importantly, to raise awareness of what has happened in Lombok and how you help the people who have been effected.

Lombok and Gili Trawangan have been devastated by these events. Hundreds are dead and those that have survived are without basic essentials such as food and water. They have nowhere to sleep and are too scared to go back inside any covered buildings that are still standing. But they don’t have enough clothes to keep them warm through the cold nights sleeping outside. Some friends of mine, who are qualified medical professionals in trauma, flew over the day after the Mw 7.0 quake hit and have been on the ground helping since. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for essential supplies. They’re doing this directly so that there are no delays in funds being processed by going through an NGO. The money will be being used immediately to buy essential supplies and ship or fly them over to Lombok.

Please help support those who have been left with nothing by clicking below to donate.

There weren’t a lot of Westerners severely effected by the earthquakes, and given the horrible state of our world, that means the media will no doubt forget about what happened in a week or two.

Donate to help the Lombok Earthquake Survivors

Whole villages of people there have lost everything in Lombok and will need ongoing support. Please donate whatever you can to help the them rebuild their lives. Even the smallest donation can make a big difference. You can buy a lot in Indonesian for a couple of dollars. Please help support those who have been left without food, water and basic necessities by clicking here to donate.


So, what is actually going on in Bali?

The first large earthquake hit on the 29th July and was measured at Mw 6.4 on the Richter scale. The next, and biggest, earthquake happened on Sunday, 5th August and came in at a whopping Mw 7.0 with a number of aftershocks directly afterwards (all of which measured in the 5-6 region of the Richter scale so they were by no means small). Then on the 7th August there was another that measured in at Mw 5.2 and, as I write, there has literally just been another one that caused the motorway to sway underneath me as I road my motorbike along it (weirdest feeling in the world. Took me longer than I should probably admit to realize what was going on). That one was a Mw 6.1.

Is it safe to travel to Bali at the moment?

Well, yes and no.

Bali is on the pacific ring on fire which is an area with significant tectonic and volcanic activity. So actually it should come as no surprise that this isn’t the first post I’ve written on whether it’s safe to come to Bali. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen in this part of the world. In my time in Bali so far at least 3 volcanoes have erupted (that I can think of off the top of my head) and there have been earthquakes that have been felt in Bali on at least 4 other occasions that I have experienced

Tropical paradise comes with a risk of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in this part of the world.

Most tropical climates come with significant risks of adverse weather conditions in one form or another.

What does that actually mean for those in Bali or who want to visit?

If you’ve never been in an earthquake before the Richter scale readings are probably not so helpful. They sound scary and terrifying but don’t actually tell you what it would feel like, and what would happen, if you were there.

I need to reiterate here that I’m writing this from the point of view of someone in Bali. This is not what the quakes would have felt like in Lombok and Gili and they caused A LOT destruction there (here’s that link again below to donate, hint, hint ).

Donate to help the Lombok Earthquake Survivors

Whole villages of people there have lost everything in Lombok and will need ongoing support. Please donate whatever you can to help the them rebuild their lives. Even the smallest donation can make a big difference. You can buy a lot in Indonesian for a couple of dollars. Please help support those who have been left without food, water and basic necessities by clicking here to donate.


In Bali, when the first earthquake hit the walls of my house literally swayed back and forward as did my bed. It’s a bit disconcerting when the whole of your house moves. The second earthquake I was actually just landing back in Bali at the time. Friends who were at their homes said it was by far the worst one they’d ever felt with walls and windows shaking and water literally jumping up out of the pool. The aftershocks then continued to make the ground move for a long while after.

Is it safe to travel to Bali right now? Ngurah Rai airport in Bali (also known as Denpasar airport) just after the earthquake on Sunday

Is there a risk of Bali being more badly effected?

Of course, although it’s unlikely there would be another quake which does much more significant damage to Bali unless the location of the quake changes. I say that because Mw 7.0 is already very high on the Richter scale. The largest earthquake ever recorded was Mw 9.5 and that happened back in 1960 in Chile. In the last 2 years there have been no other earthquakes in Indonesia that were higher than Mw 7.0.

It’s possible though that there could be a stronger one, or there could be another earthquake closer to Bali, since, as I mentioned before, Bali is on the ring of fire but it seems unlikely.

For reference the last earthquake that was felt this strongly and caused damage to Bali was in 2011.

I’d say that’s a reasonably large gap between significant earthquakes.

So, does that mean it is or isn’t safe to go to Bali right now?

You’re going to have to make the final decision on that yourself but my opinion, actually being here, would be yes, it's safe.

The damage from the earthquakes has been minimal in Bali and aside from it being a scary and disconcerting experience when they happen you would have no idea traveling around in Bali that anything had happened.

Life is carrying on as normal.

Even earlier today, after the most recent quake, people evacuated cafes and restaurants while it was happening but within minutes everyone was back inside getting on with their days.

(The actual earthquakes themselves usually only last a few seconds. The longest one was the once on the 5th and that went on for about a minute.)

So should I still come to Bali?

Yes, absolutely. The island is still reeling from the damage to tourism that the volcano and sensationalist reports of what was happened had. A lot of people in Bali rely on tourism to feed their families. In the wave of the volcanic scare restaurants and hotels had to close and countless people were let go from their jobs because there just weren’t enough tourists. It did a huge amount of damage to the local economy.

Still coming here and enjoying your holiday is the best thing you can do to help support this beautiful island. Also there are a lot of people in Bali who have families back in Lombok so their sustained employment will allow them to best support their families back home.

Is there a risk of getting stuck?

Not really. The earthquake hasn’t closed the airport in Bali at any point yet. If you were to still go to Lombok that would be a different story as it’s possible if there is another bad quake more people might try to leave at the same time and all the fights would get booked up. When the largest earthquake happened however the government got the airport to stay open 24 hours a day so those who wanted to evacuate could.

That said a lot of people haven’t evacuated Lombok as the south is largely unaffected.

Is it safe to go to Bali? After the earthquake in Gili Trawangan

What precautions should I take if I do still come to Bali?

The first would be to be aware of what type of structure you’re dealing with and therefore know what you should do in the event of another large quake.

Someone who worked for 15 years coordinating fireman in emergencies caused by earthquakes posted in one of the community groups here explaining that most of the buildings in Bali are classed as static buildings since they are made with bricks and have little reinforcement, if any, with things like iron beams.

In most western cities the buildings are instead classed as hyperstatic since they are made with heavy iron beams, have strong load bearing walls and are usually tall. Some of the large hotels in Bali would possibly classify as those but most smaller buildings fall into this first category of static.

The usual, advice to find a doorway, or a table, to get under is therefore not correct when dealing with buildings like this.

Instead the aim, when dealing with a static building, should be to get outside and into an open space as quickly as possible.

If you’re staying a few stories up in a hotel obviously that’s not possible but, like I said, the larger buildings are more likely to be hyperstatic ones so then the thing to do would be to get under a table or doorframe and protect your head (personally, if I had to do this one, I’d be putting my motorbike helmet on too for extra protection on my head).

But if you’re only a couple of stories up much better to get outside.

Now the reason supplies such as clothing are needed in Lombok is because no one had anything with them when they fled their houses so this expert has also suggested keeping a small bag by the door with essentials ready to go just in case.

This is not fear mongering but actually just smart.

Who knows what will happened. It seems unlikely they’ll be an earthquake that has a worse effect here than the one on Sunday but there’s no harm in being prepared.

By my door currently I have a small backpack ready to go for this which contains:


For those of you coming to Bali on holiday you’re probably looking at this going:

“Oh heeeeeeeeeeeeeell no, I don’t want to be going somewhere that I need to have an emergency backpack by the door”


But the thing is you don’t need to have an emergency bag. I will probably never use this backpack at all. I packed it in full knowledge that it was almost certainly a waste of time me doing so but that doesn’t matter. Might as well have it there “just in case”.

So, is it safe to travel to Bali right now? It’s no less safe that it usually would be. You may feel some more earthquakes but from someone who is here I still feel perfectly safe and haven’t even considered leaving as a result.

Donate to help the Lombok Earthquake Survivors

Whole villages of people there have lost everything in Lombok and will need ongoing support. Please donate whatever you can to help the them rebuild their lives. Even the smallest donation can make a big difference. You can buy a lot in Indonesian for a couple of dollars. Please help support those who have been left without food, water and basic necessities by clicking here to donate.


*One more time though I’m not a seismologist and you, and only yo,u can be responsible for making the decision as to whether you think it’s ok for your personal safety to come to Bali right now. I’m just providing you with information from which to make that decision but the decision has to be yours.




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