The cost of leasing a car compared to a motorcycle in Bali is so negligible that it’s hardly worth consideration especially given the savings of a few dollars could mean your life and that of the person saddled behind you.
Of the 95 foreign tourists and expatiates who died in Bali in 2015, almost double the 49 foreigners who died in 2014, many succumbed from motorcycle accidents. Health-e suggests visitors to Bali simply rent a car. Even if you are as adept as Valentino Rossi on two wheels, expect the unexpected on frenetic Bali roads which could be a dog running in front of you or a cargo truck or tourist bus that gets too close or from poor road conditions.
On the other hand, self-drive holidays (four wheels!) can be ideal for those looking for more freedom and independence while travelling around the beautiful island of Bali. Start by finding an established car hire and you can do so by asking the concierge at your hotel or by simply going online. Most car rentals are privately owned roadside enterprises with a fleet from a few to a few dozen vehicles of various models and size.
We recommend not opting for an insubstantial Suzuki Jimny (they are just famously unsafe) instead look for a Toyota Avanza or an Innova preferably with an air bag feature. Before setting off, you should also ensure the vehicle is working properly; check the lights and brakes and and give it a thorough look over including under the hood.
Driving in Bali is a challenge for most visitors as road rules and markings can often be absent or ignored and the most common and most threatening are drivers running red lights so be sure to look for any straggler coming through the intersection and they often do so quickly and dangerously. Another notable and commonplace hazard are the many undisciplined motorcycle drivers that are forever too close, many travelling in the opposite direction right at you on your shoulder of the road.
Health-e recommends these rules for self-driving Bali:
- Obtain an international license before you leave home and note they are usually only valid together with your “real” driving license. You can get a temporary Balinese driving license (tourist driver’s license) from the police station in Denpasar within a day with a cost of about US$30.
- Be sure you have a first aid kit in the car.
- Always check that the car’s lights are working and tires are in decent condition.
- Rent a car of decent size and ask for one with air bags (seatbelts are of mandatory use in Indonesia).
- Go for the car plus driver option and if you wish to get behind the wheel for some driving fun, change seats with your driver when you break free of the congested south of the island and are in more open rural areas and on coastal roads. A driver will also park the car for you at stops along your journey and help you find your way in what can be very manic driving conditions.
Health-e reporting with sources: bali.com; Travel Fish