Kellaw's Travelogue: Concise guide to driving in Bali

Well, you have booked your hotels for your trip to Mystical Bali. Now what? How the heck do I get around? Is driving easy? Do I rent a Motorbike or a Car? Would it be wise to get a driver? What about license and which side of the road I would be driving on? Is it easy to find my way there? So many questions. Fret not, this is why I wrote this guide.

Surely if a monkey could ride here, so would I right? Nah.. Trust me when I say you wouldn't be the first to be shipped out in a box nor would you be the last.

Ok, let's start with some real simple facts:
  • Bali, Indonesia and most of the countries in South East Asia drives on the LEFT side of the road and always uses a RIGHT hand drive car(you could always import a left hand drive)
  • If you are from Europe, you need an International Driving Permit(IDP) along with your home country driving license. You could always get one from the police station but never ever drive without a license(at your own risk)
  • If you are from members of the ASEAN countries (ASEAN not Asian, meaning Assoc of South East Asian Nations), you are in luck. License of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are recognized as per the AGREEMENT ON THE RECOGNITION OF DOMESTIC DRIVING LICENCES ISSUED BY ASEAN COUNTRIES Kuala Lumpur, 9 July 1985. This means you DO NOT NEED an additional license or IDP to drive in the member countries provided you are driving the same vehicle class as your original home country license.
  • It's always safer to drive a car than a motorbike in Bali(more reasons later)
  • You are generally responsible for anything in front of your vehicle. Anything at your back is the responsible of the drivers at your back but do use the magic wand located next to your steering wheel called the signal indicator.
  • Rental for car(they call it mobil) typically costs about 300k IDR per day(24 hours calculation) for automatic transmission(they call it Matic). More if you are foreigner of a non Asian and you don't speak the language. 
  • ALWAYS book your car before you arrive. Google for contacts and whatsapp, wechat, email them beforehand. Most have pick ups and drop off right at the airport. DO NOT try to get the car off touts at the airport as they would just overcharge you. Also check the car rental insurance coverage
  • Get a LOCAL SIM(75k IDR with 7GB data for Telkomsel but not from the airport please), plug it in and find your route through google maps or Waze(Install beforehand)
  • Seriously driving here is rocket science but why drive when you could hire a driver? Right? Wrong! Drivers have a maximum numbers of hours they are allowed to drive and they overcharge for those extra hours to sky rocket prices. You would definitely be shoo-ed from one place to another and kiss that sunset at Tanah Lot or Uluwatu goodbye
  • Oh yeah and one more thing. The speed limit are in KM/Hour. Not Miles/Hour
  • If you run afoul of the traffic rules and gets stopped, stay calm and try talking your way out of it. Usually they would check more on foreigners. If all else fails, try to settle the fine on the spot. 

Be prepared to be stuck in Jam after work hours like anywhere in the world. Also in this part of the world, Bigger vehicles have right of way so it makes sense to follow behind one =) Remember a car is always safer than a motorbike

If you get stuck for an extended period, you would notice road peddlers, yes ROAD peddlers selling you food, drinks and even hands free right to your doorstep, or in this case windowstep.

It's common to see vehicles parked at the road side leaving only space for a single vehicle to pass, refer the larger vehicle rule and first come first serve rule when passing through.

Most roads are made with one lane no matter how they draw the lines so it's common to drive on curbs and tight spaces coupled by motorcycles swerving next to you. Just drive slowly or you would find yourself swimming in the paddy fields on a sharp turn.

Also be careful of motorcyclists coming out between cars on the opposite lane. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Do also note that the tourist and local pedestrians alike have a suicidal tendencies and they would just run across the road in front of you.

Even their motorcyclist have suicidal tendencies. They would just do a U turn right in front of you at times.

I couldn't stress enough on being patient while driving. At times you would need to share the same lane with the other lane due to unforeseen circumstances

One thing to note is that if you see a bloody bush at the road side, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE OVER THE BUSH! Chances are you would be stuck or should I say your Vehicle would be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They usually have a monument wrapped in checkered sarongs behind those bushes. Trust me that's the last thing you would wanna get stuck on. If you are on a motorbike, you would be transformed to superman instantly. So rent a car instead

When a vehicle is stopped on the road and a reflective triangle is not available. everything else makes it.

Now comes to the interesting "roundabout". The "" because it's the shape of a triangle. Do you go around it to get to the right side?

No.. You just treat it as just another junction and go to the right of it if you want to go right. Just move with caution.

So that's all from my survival guide for driving in Bali which I churned out after driving for a week there. Have fun and good luck. Also do get a car instead of motorbike. The weather could be real hot during a sunny day or real wet when it rains.

p.s. Go grab all the guide/holiday package leaflets you could get so you get to plan where you could drive to. Also it's crucial to do your homework on where you want to visit most before you embark on your trip.


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