Think of this as your Indonesia travel checklist. It covers the important things you need to sort out before you go on holiday. Not what to pack, and where to go, I’ve covered that in other posts… I’m talking about making sure you get the right injections from your doctor. Deciding if you should bring anti-malarial medicine, the real risk of rabies and of course choosing the best travel insurance for Indonesia.
When you’re organized you can relax. It doesn’t mean that nothing bad is going to happen to you, but it does mean you’re prepared. If you were ever a cub scout or a guide when you were younger you’ll know that’s important 😉
Indonesia Travel Checklist: Health Info
Injections for Indonesia
You need vaccinations for Indonesia. The two main ones are Hepatitis A and Typhoid. The Center for Disease Control is a good online resource for this and other injections you might need. Make sure to contact your local nurse at least a month before your travel date for a consultation. It can take time to arrange injections.
Malaria and Dengue in Indonesia
Indonesia is a high-risk country for malaria. As you can see from the map below, published by the Center for Disease Control, the risk of getting malaria is generally high in the east and low in the west. Papua is particularly dangerous as they have cerebral malaria (the really bad kind).
I’ve never taken anti malarial medicine while in Indonesia. You’ll have to make your own decision. Again, talk to your local nurse, share your travel plans and then decide if you need anti-malarial medicine.
At the very least take a common sense approach to prevention. Use a mosquito net if needed. Wear long sleeve top or trousers around sunset. Apply mosquito repellant (you should buy this before you travel to Indonesia as we only sell the chemical version that melts plastic).
Rabies in Indonesia
Rabies is endemic over large parts of Indonesia. I’ve provided a map below published by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation showing areas of high risk. Bali is particularly high risk. There’s a large population of stray dogs on the island, you’ll find a lot of them around the beaches.
You can get a rabies vaccine before your travels. Book an appointment with your nurse well in advance of your travel date. The vaccination usually requires a course of three injections over a month. The second dose is given seven days after the first. The third dose is given 21 or 28 days after the first, depending on which vaccine is used.
The risk of rabies is very small as long as you’re sensible. Don’t pet stray dogs or play with monkeys and you should be fine. If you do get into problems a well-aimed stone or a handful of sand normally solves the problem.
Healthcare in Indonesia
Indonesia has a two tier healthcare system. The public hospitals offer services to the majority of the population. Alongside the public hospitals you’ll find private hospitals that are often linked to international hospitals based in Singapore or other countries in the region.
Overall the quality of healthcare is pretty good at public and private hospitals. If you have a small problem, something like an ear infection or similar public hospitals are fine. The doctors are normally Indonesian, trained in Indonesia or the region. Hospital facilities are quite basic. While you need to pay for the treatment you get at a public hospital, the price is a lot lower than at a private hospital.
For more serious problems, accidents, broken bones, malaria, choose an international hospital. The standard of healthcare is better, the doctors are often trained in Europe or the US, and facilities are better. Of course this comes at a price (your bill for a week in hospital can easily rise to a couple of thousand dollars, which is why I recommend getting Indonesia Travel Insurance).
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
There’s no free healthcare in Indonesia, so I’d recommend arranging travel insurance that at the very minimum covers hospital bills and medical evacuation fees. Before booking any travel insurance research online about the company and read the fine print. I recommend World Nomads. You get good cover and it’s well priced (they’re the same company recommended by Lonely Planet).
That should cover some of the most health information you should know about for planning your trip to Indonesia. If I missed anything in the article just ask in the comments below (I’ll be updating the article with answers to the most frequently asked questions).
Have you got advice for first time travellers to Indonesia? Share your thoughts in the comments below.