Great food and drink are some of the biggest reasons why Indonesia is such a popular travel destination. However, if you don't dine and drink carefully, you could get very ill while abroad. Alongside minor illnesses like food poisoning and diarrhoea, eating and drinking in Indonesia also carry the risk of contracting a serious disease like cholera, hepatitis or typhoid.
Most travellers know the golden rules of eating abroad—avoid salads, for example, and steer clear of street food. However, many people forget that it's just as important to drink carefully too. Here are five tips for enjoying beverages in Indonesia without getting sick.
Only Drink Bottled Water
As in many countries across the world, it's best to avoid drinking tap water while you're in Indonesia. That's because Indonesian tap water is often contaminated with bacteria and microbes that can lead to illness. Instead, make sure you only buy and drink bottled water. Make sure the water is sealed when you buy it, as some vendors may refill old bottles with tap water to increase their profits.
Don't Ask for Ice Outside of Bali
In Bali, the ice in all bars and restaurants is government controlled, ensuring that it carries no harmful contaminants. However, the same cannot always be said for other locations across Indonesia. If you'll be travelling outside of Bali, it's best to tell your server that you don't want ice in your drink. If you do need a cold drink to cool you down on a hot day, buy a chilled, bottled water or soda from a reputable shop instead.
Avoid Fruit Juices
Freshly squeezed juices may look tempting, but you shouldn't order one when you're in Indonesia. Just like you should avoid eating raw vegetables and salads because they can contain harmful bacteria, you should avoid eating raw fruits too. Since the fruit used to make juice isn't cooked before squeezing, that means fresh juice is off the menu. Thankfully, there are plenty of safe, appetising drinks to try in Indonesia. The country's tea, for example, has a rich history and it's safe to drink because it's boiled.
Don't Try Arak
Another drink you should never order in Indonesia is arak, a distilled rice spirit found all over Bali and other locations across the country. While arak won't give you food poisoning or typhoid, it can kill you. Arak's deadly nature lies in its distilling process—when done improperly, the brew can end up contaminated with methanol. When you're in a bar, it's best to stick to quality-controlled alcoholic beverages like well-known spirit brands.
Above all, one of the best ways to avoid getting sick from drinking in Indonesia is to get all the right travel immunisations before you leave. In particular, the Hepatitis A vaccine is strongly recommended. Hepatitis A is usually spread through contaminated food and drink, so getting immunised against it will go a long way in keeping you safe. You may also want to consider the typhoid vaccine, as well as the cholera vaccine if you'll be staying in an area with little access to clean drinking water.