Driving in a foreign country can at first be quite a frightening act for even the most experienced drivers. Even though driving styles of Balinese drivers may vary, the rules of the road are exactly the same as in other developed nations. With a little bit of focus and patience, driving will give you independence to travel, become entirely manageable and an enjoyable experience in your life.
Having the international driving license already in hand will make things easier for you once on the road. It is possible to have one issued here, however the process can be difficult. If you don’t have international driving license be prepared to pay a fine when police stop you feel free to face that situations.
- Traffic in Bali can be slow moving and unpredictable, but being patient and taking in the beautiful scenery can become an enjoyable experience.
- Temple ceremonies, cremation ceremonies, kite festival processions can slow your travels, but do not honk or attempt to overtake – it is a part of Bali life and can be a wonderful way to experience true Bali culture.
Motorcycles will be sharing the roads and they are known to weave in and out through traffic.
- Be aware of your blind spots.
- Proceed with caution through intersections and when making turns.
- Use your indicators and your horn to keep things smooth.
Road conditions in some areas of Bali can be less then perfect. Driving at a reduced speed and being on the look out for potholes, road construction and other obstacles are advised. Navigating these conditions is more comfortable in a car, as opposed to a motorbike.
There are very few pedestrian crossings, so be on the look out for people crossing the streets. Also, dogs, cat, cows and other animals can wander into the roadways so keep aware.
- Parking in Bali is surprisingly simple – street parking is acceptable almost everywhere.
- There will be signs indicating where it is not okay to park so follow these rules and look out for public parking areas or parking attendants to assist you.
- Many restaurants, hotels and other recreational areas have valet services for a low cost.
- Parking in a public lot should cost you 5000 Rupiah (the rough equivalent of $.10-.30 cents US).
Maps are easy to buy and if you need additional directional assistance, do no hesitate to ask a local for help – the Balinese people are notorious for their hospitality. Make note of which direction you are headed in, as most will answer you with a north or south rather then a left or a right.
The most common trouble you can get into is being stopped by the police. Things operate differently here, and when the police stop you, the best thing you can do is be polite and stay calm.
- Arguing will most likely get you nowhere
- The police will not want to actually write you a ticket, as it means you and them have to go down to the station at a later date. With a small amount of money they will generally let you go on your way
- 50.000 - 100.000 rupiah (around $5-$10) is the typical amount that will get you out of most common problems. They will initially ask for more, but bargaining the price down is expected
Remember that things are less structured here and try to apply your own driving knowledge and "common sense" to each and every scenario. There are signs and traffic lights to guide things, so keep alert and focused while driving.