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Should You Be Worried About Rabies in Bali? How I Got a Vaccine in Bali (2024)

Rabies in Bali and Indonesia is a Level 1 concern according to the CDC, which means they recommend practicing usual precautions and considering getting a rabies vaccine before traveling.

Rabies isn’t usually on most travelers’ minds when planning a vacation to Indonesia, but while I was living in Bali I was bit by a puppy and needed to seek treatment on the island.

I was able to receive a complete 4-shot rabies vaccine in Bali at a public hospital in Ubud.

✔️ Rabies in Bali Quick Guide

🐶 Stay Away from Dogs – All human cases so far of Rabies in Bali have come from dog bites, rather than monkeys or bats.

💉 Vaccine: Rabies vaccines are available in Bali, but treatment is hard to find due to supply not meeting demand.

💰 Rabies Treatment in Bali Cost: It cost me 2,040,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($137) for a 4-shot Rabies Vaccine treatment at a local hospital in Ubud over 3 sessions.

📈 Stats: Rabies is a big problem in Indonesia, there have been over 74 recorded cases and 66,170 bites in 2023 according to the WHO.

📆 Rabies Treatment Timeline: Full-course rabies vaccination takes multiple months, so if you get bit by an animal while on vacation in Bali you will likely need to continue your regimen after returning to your home country.

Is There Rabies in Bali? 

Yes, there has been an ongoing rabies outbreak in Bali since 2008. It started on the Indonesian island of Flores when an unvaccinated dog was allowed to enter Bali.

Since then the Balinese government has been battling the ongoing rabies epidemic.   

Rabies in Bali is primarily found in dogs and is transferred to humans via dog bites and scratches. 

A bottle of Rabivax Bali Rabies Vaccine.
A bottle of Rabivax vaccine I received in Bali.
A Healthcare worker prepares a Rabies Vaccine in Bali at a local hospital.
A Healthcare worker prepares a Rabies Vaccine in Bali at a local hospital.

Cost of the Rabies Vaccine in Bali

I had read some scary things online, like one Tripadvisor forum saying that the rabies vaccine costs anywhere from $500-$5,000, but that luckily wasn’t the case. 

The entire 4-shot regimen of the rabies vaccine only cost 2,040,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($137) total at the Public Health Center, called Puskesmas, in Ubud. 

Each time I went to receive a dose I had to pay for it in cash at the appointment.

The first appointment was 880k IDR ($59), the second 580K IDR ($39), and the third another 580K IDR($39).

I actually wound up paying $0 for my rabies vaccine in Bali because my Travel Insurance covered it 100%. I highly recommend getting Travel Insurance if you’re planning a trip to Bali, and I’m linking the one I use below. 

👉 I never go on a trip without travel insurance! Stay protected while traveling and sign up with Safety Wing Travel Insurance by clicking here! 

How Long Does the Rabies Vaccine Take?

The treatment plan they gave me takes 3 weeks. On day 1 I received 2 shots, on day 7 I received another one, and then on day 21, I got the last shot. 

I was only staying in Bali for 23 days after I was bitten by the puppy so it wound up working out for me exactly time-wise. 

Be aware that if you seek rabies treatment in Bali and you have less than 3 weeks left in the country you might have to continue your treatment in another country. 

Keling Keling Beach viewed from above on Nusa Penida Island.
Nusa Penida viewpoint.

My Experience Getting Bit by a Dog in Bali 

I went on a day trip to the beautiful Nusa Penida Island where I fell and scraped my arm a little bit. The scrape was a tiny cut and didn’t concern me at all. 

Later when we left Nusa Penida Island it was evening, which means low tide. Everyone who was taking a speed boat back to mainland Bali had to wait on the beach for row boats to take us out to the deep water where the ferries were located. 

We were waiting, and waiting, and waiting when a friendly puppy came over. It was honestly so cute, couldn’t be more than a few months old. 

I had nothing better to do so I started absentmindedly playing with the puppy. He was obviously a stray, as are a ton of dogs in Bali, and he was young and untrained. 

Once I had given the poor baby a little bit of attention he followed me around, jumping on me and nipping my legs for more. 

He was clearly teething and was nibbling on my hand a lot as all puppies do. I didn’t think anything of it until we got on the boat and remembered I had an open cut on my arm, that had definitely just gotten slobbered all over by a stray dog. 

Later I noticed I also had a super tiny bite on my hand, barely noticeable, from the teething puppy. I wouldn’t have even seen it if I wasn’t already worried about the open cut. 

We called my friend’s mother who was a nurse and she said not to worry about it – I was super relieved. 

Until she asked, “What did the dog’s owner say?” …. and we had to explain that the puppy had no owner, it was a stray (as are most dogs in Bali). 

Then she said I definitely needed to get the post-exposure vaccine 😅. 

Ubud's Puskemas or public hospital.
Ubud’s Puskemas or public hospital where I received rabies treatment after getting bit by a dog.

My Experience Getting the Rabies Vaccine in Bali 

I wasn’t able to seek treatment on the day I encountered the puppy because we had to make our way back to Ubud from Nusa Penida Island. 

During the whole ride back I had stressed myself out reading stories online, like this one about a European tourist who contracted rabies after playing with a puppy in the Philipines, and it heightened the importance of seeking the vaccine. 

Like a lot of young Americans, the rabies vaccine wasn’t on the mandatory list of vaccines I had received as a child. It’s also never been required for any of the countries I have visited. 

While I do pride myself on getting most of the recommended travel vaccines, I never bothered with the pre-exposure rabies treatment because it’s a very annoying vaccine to get. 

Both the pre and post-exposure treatment for rabies is the same 4-shot regimen if you were never vaccinated.

You need to get the 4 shots over 3 weeks, and it’s hard to find a clinic back home in New York that has it in stock. 

I’m rarely in the same place for long, so I have never bothered with it.

It luckily just so happened that I was in Bali for 2 months when I was bit by a dog, so I was able to receive my entire Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment on the Island. 

I originally went to Ubud Royal Medical Clinic because it was the highest-rated medical clinic in the area. They referred me to the Public Health Center in Ubud, also called Puskesmas, because they didn’t have any of the vaccines in stock at the clinics.

There is a huge shortage of rabies treatment in Bali, and at first, the clinic didn’t know how to help me. This was super scary because basically, all they said was that I needed the vaccine, but that they didn’t have it and they didn’t know where to find it. 

I was considering flying to a different country for treatment as the doctor went on and on about the island-wide shortage of the vaccine. 

I had to press and the doctor I was seeing made some phone calls and suddenly it went from there being no vaccines on the entire island to I could receive treatment at the public hospital immediately, just a 5-minute walk up the road! 

It all worked out fine in the end but I recommend skipping clinics and going right to hospitals if you need rabies treatment in Bali. 

One thing the doctor at the private clinic told me was that I had to tell the hospital I was bit by the puppy in Ubud, not Nusa Penida, or they wouldn’t treat me due to regional issues.

The public hospital was large and clean. There was no one there but me at the center so I was able to be seen immediately. 

I saw the nurse take out two new single-use needles and was administered one shot in each arm – The vaccine I was administered was Rabivax-S.

The hospital gave me a timeline for when to come back and some paperwork to submit to my travel insurance for reimbursement. 

I did have to pay for the appointments in cash before I could leave, and there were no ATMs around, so pro Bali travel tip is to always carry cash if you’re in Bali – even the hospitals don’t take card! 


Safety Wing Travel Insurance

I’ve been using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for over two years now, and it came in handy when I needed rabies treatment in Bali!

Blogger Katie Caf faces away from the camera at Angel's Billabong viewpoint on Nusa Penida island.
At Nusa Penida.

Rabies in Bali: FAQs

Can you get a rabies vaccine in Bali?

The island of Bali currently has a shortage of rabies vaccines according to Ubud Royal Medical Clinic. I received the three-dose rabies vaccine because I had been bitten by a dog on the Island and needed urgent treatment. 

Currently, it’s unlikely you would be able to find a prophylactic rabies vaccine in Bali unless you had been exposed to the disease. 

Do I need a rabies vaccine for Bali?

It is recommended you get the prophylactic 3-shot rabies vaccine before arriving in Bali since they have a shortage of treatment on the island. 

How common is rabies in Bali?

It’s hard to estimate because the virus is found in dogs and bats, and Bali has a high population of both of those animals. There have been around 120 deaths according to Ulysses Medical attributed to rabies in Bali since the outbreak began in 2008, but the number may be higher due to underreporting. 

Is Bali at high risk for rabies?

Yes, Bali has been considered at high risk for rabies since the island’s rabies outbreak began in 2008. 

How long does the rabies vaccine last?

According to Passport Health USA, the rabies vaccine offers 2 years of protection, and after that, it is recommended you receive a booster if you’re traveling to areas with a risk of rabies exposure. 

Is travel insurance necessary for Bali?

Yes, you need travel insurance for Bali! From Rabies to Dengue Fever, motorbike accidents, etc. There are a thousand things that can go wrong on your trip to Bali! I use Safety Wing because it’s one of the most affordable travel medical insurance on the market, and it covers most countries. 

Can you get a rabies vaccine in Bali?

You can receive Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment in Bali, as I did if you are possibly exposed to rabies, but it is unlikely you can get the preventative vaccine since there’s a shortage on the island. 

How did rabies get to Bali?

According to Research Gate, rabies came to Bali in 2008 via an unvaccinated dog that arrived from the remote Indonesian island of Flores. Since 2008, the rabies epidemic in Bali has been an ongoing problem. 

Do bats in Bali have rabies?

So far rabies has only been reported in Balinese dogs, but if you get scratched by a bat while in Bali you should definitely seek medical counsel. 

Is Jakarta rabies-free?

According to the WHO, Jakarta is one of the rabies-free provinces in Indonesia. 

Do monkeys in Bali bite?

Yes! Everyone you run into in Bali has a crazy story about either them or a friend getting attacked by a monkey. They’re little rascals and very unpredictable! 

You can mitigate your risk of getting bit by a monkey exponentially by either just not going to one of Bali’s numerous monkey forests, or if you do go don’t feed the monkeys and instead observe them from a distance. 

Do the monkeys in Bali have rabies?

According to Research Gate, there has never been an instance of Balinese monkeys having or transmitting rabies. 

Do Ubud monkeys have rabies?

The Monkey Forest in Ubud says it’s partnered with the Primate Research Center of Udayana University to monitor the health and wellness of the Monkeys in the forest. There has never been a case of rabies in any monkeys in Bali, including those in the monkey forest. 

Two monkeys sitting on a moss covered sculpture at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.
Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

Rabies in Bali: Conclusion

Thank you for reading until the end of my article! Just to recap, rabies in Bali is a huge problem, affecting both locals and tourists alike.

Although many tourists get bit by monkeys at tourist attractions like the Ubud Monkey Forest, as of writing this 100% of rabies cases in humans in Bali have come from dog bites.

It’s recommended that you consider getting a rabies vaccine before traveling to Bali by the CDC, but know that if you get bit by a dog while on the island you will still need to seek additional treatment.

The travelers clinics in Bali are not well-stocked, and when I received rabies treatment in Bali I had better luck at the Puskemas, or public hospitals.

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