Driving in Bali
Driving in Bali - Information and Warnings
So you want to be independent and drive yourself and your family around Bali? Well, be assured that driving in Bali is nowhere near the same experience as it is in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand or the USA. Local drivers tend to follow their own rules, and more often than not they ignore official laws and road courtesy. You will often find that everything has come to a standstill. That is most likely due to a ceremonial procession, especially during holiday seasons like Galungan. Cut the engine and enjoy the passing parade; it’s free.
Many motorists don't recognize the usual rules of right-of-way, often giving way only if their vehicles are smaller than yours and they feel endangered. Motorcycles will swerve into your lane without warning, often several at a time.
The road network can be quite confusing. Many signs are unclear - or missing altogether. Wide roads may gradually narrow down to the point where you feel you may be in a one-way street. Now, that might well be so - because one-way roads are common. You'll have to drive a round trip to return to a chosen location.
Then there are often obstructions, like food carts (Bakso boys) crossing or blocking traffic. There are also the ever-present potholes, and out in the countryside, animals. You will need great skill and patience to drive safely in Bali, so give the matter a lot of thought before deciding on that self-drive rental. If you are a relatively new driver, do not rent a self-drive. Much better to get a car with a driver to shuttle you around. It is still your car but you do not have to do the thinking – or swerving.
If you are American or European, you will also have to get used to driving on the left side of the road, with the driver’s seat on the right.
What else you need to know to drive in Bali
So, despite the cautions above, you have decided to grab the wheel, grit your teeth and go for it. Not so fast. When renting a car, you'll need to show an international driver's license, obtained in your own country. If you don't have one, you can get a tourist driving license at the police station at Denpasar. The license is valid for one month.
Rental cars do not always include insurance in the price. Check with the rental agency about the insurance coverage they provide; often this will be charged as an additional item above the published hire fee. Better a small insurance fee than a large panel-beating charge if somebody hits your car.
Check the car for damage or any other problems before you sign for it. The car rental company might blame you for existing damage to the car, unless you bring it to the agent's attention and have the damage noted in your contract. Most car hire firms will provide a sheet on which to mark existing damage. Get the deliverer to countersign it.
Test-drive your rental car before you sign and pay. Make sure the brakes, hand brake and clutch pedal all work, and check to see that there is a spare wheel and a jack.
Fuel is not usually included in the price, so you may have to head straight to a gas station before embarking on your Bali driving adventure. All are ownd by Government company Pertamina so prices should be the same except inland. Fill up at the coast. Do not buy fuel in bottles at roadside stall unless in an emergency. The contents are often tampered with.
Be careful when approaching intersections. Drivers from side streets often will not look when joining your road. Larger vehicles have the right of way. Some drivers seem to consider traffic lights to be mere suggestions or pretty decorations.
Hit your hooter (horn) when going around blind curves, as some drivers ride on the middle line. If you are still feeling like driving yourself, here are some suggested car rental agencies. You can book online and have your car waiting for you.
Video of construction of Bali Mandara Toll Road, now complete and in use.
Bali Car Rental Companies