With so many tourists visiting this tiny island, Bali is notorious for its traffic. This was one of the reasons I seriously did not like it when I first visited and that was back in 2010. The traffic back then was horrendous. Trust me it got even worse over the years, but I do love the island nowadays. How is that possible? Just avoid the overcrowded touristy areas like Seminyak and Kuta and you will find some truly magical places this island has to offer.
So if traffic is so bad, how to get around in Bali? I would definitely not suggest to rent a car as driving in Bali is nothing like you are probably used to, unless you are living on an island somewhere in Philippines where traffic is just as horrible. If you really want to travel around the island in a car I would suggest hiring a driver for those days you need one. They are probably even cheaper depending on your negotiation skills plus you can sit back and relax. Some drivers talk a lot, so if you are tired of listening to them just tell them that driving safely is your priority! ;)
How to get around in Bali
The best way to see Bali is by renting a scooter and drive around yourself. For me this is definitely the number one way how to get around in Bali. I can understand that the busy roads scare you a little, but I would not suggest you to rent a scooter straight away on the airport. First go to places like Canggu or Ubud that are a little quieter and then arrange a scooter to explore the island. Got to my Canggu Bali Guide for tips on where to eat and what not to miss or click here for amazing places to see in Ubud.
Renting a scooter in Bali
The hidden gems that are not yet discovered by mass tourism are those places that make the island so magical. Local restaurants, guesthouses, amazing viewpoints, waterfalls and temples are hidden in the hilly countryside in the North and can best be discovered by renting a scooter in Bali. I still have never done it myself, but I know a bunch of people who stored their suitcase in a guesthouse rented a scooter for a couple weeks and literally just left without a plan. Remember Traveltomtom always says getting lost is not a bad thing! So guess what I will be doing next time I am in Bali! ;)
Driving in Bali
Of course there are risks involved! Just like in Thailand there are a lot of people who get involved in accidents which can ruin your whole trip. Driving in Bali is not for the faint hearted as roads are winding and super narrow. The island is actually not designed for heavy traffic and cars hardly fit next to each other on the road. Every time I am in a car I close my eyes so now and then when my driver is making a move I am not completely confident about. If you decide on driving in Bali whether a scooter or a car just don’t get too confident and always be aware of the risks. Driving in Bali is only for the experienced drivers or the ones that drive carefully. Be aware that road conditions can be really bad especially if you go off the beaten path.
It can of course always happen, but in general renting a scooter in Bali is very safe. The rental companies are super chilled and mostly don’t ask for anything. They make you sign a super simple contract, but there is no need to check your scooter for scratches, etc. Looking to rent a scooter in Ubud? Rent it through this lovely family: +6281246774696. Prices are negotiable and for 1 week I paid 280.000 ($22). Read more about my adventures around Ubud including the best waterfalls to visit in my 14 places to see in Ubud blog.
Bali scooter rental scams exist, but mostly involve corrupt police. A lot of people I know have been stopped and asked for an international drivers license. If you cant show them they will ask for money, you will mostly get away by paying them a couple dollars. Always pretend to not have any cash on you!
Scooter lessons in Bali
If you are not comfortable driving a scooter take a lesson before renting a scooter in Bali. This guy: +6287861210161 is a professional scooter driving instructor and charges $20. He will pick you up, bring an extra scooter for practising and will teach you how to drive in 2 hours or longer if you still don’t feel comfortable. He has a modified scooter with a build in speed regulator. You will start practising on a parking lot first. According to friends, this guy is highly recommended!
Best way of transport in Bali
There are many ways to get around but for me a scooter gives me the freedom to go everywhere I want to and at any given time. Whenever I am driving in Bali on a scooter it makes me smile and seriously gives me a happy feeling. Plus we are only talking about $3 per day in most Bali scooter rental places If you are an outdoor person forget about transportation in a car, the weather is mostly lovely and even when it starts pouring down it wont get cold, just drive a little slower. I once had to drive an hour through the pouring rain, eventually it cleared up and I can hardly describe the first rays of sunlight on my body. Being out in nature exploring the island is what makes me so happy being here! I love you Bali!
Where to stay on the island? I have been visiting in a bunch of resort, take a look at these amazing Hotels & Resorts!
Interested in staying in Bali a little longer? I searched for a long term house for rent in Ubud, read here my experiences! More blogs from this lovely country on my Indonesia page, including my amazing sailing trip in Raja Ampat!
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