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Don't drive in Bali

Toodyay WA
Level Contributor
5 posts
55 reviews
25 helpful votes
Don't drive in Bali

We have lived in Bali now for 14 Months so feel qualified to give advice in regards to driving a car anywhere in Bali. "DON'T DO IT" For a start you are far better off just hiring a car with a driver as wont cost you any more in the long run and you will retain your sanity? You can hire a car/driver for $50-$60 AUD per day, or if you retain a driver for your stay for a 24 hour service, that means you will have to pay him for every day weather you use him or not for $30-$45 AUD a day and also pay also for any petrol used, this is by far your better option.

The Balinese people are a lovely pachante race of people, that is until they get on a scooter or even worse get behind the steering wheel of a vehicle, then something happens to their minds and they turn into the worst, stupidest, dumbest most dangerous drivers I have had the misfortune to have to drive amongst and I have driven right throughout Asia and if I didn't really need a car, I wouldn't drive ever in Bali and wouldn't even contemplate riding a scooter anywhere in Bali and "WHY" firstly you must have the same mind set as the Balinese people have when driving and if you don't have it, your in big trouble as you will ether have crash or worse hurt someone, the later being the most probable as although there are road rules by Law, no one and I mean "NO ONE" abides by them mainly because 90% wouldn't even have a licence and if they did, they would have paid a bribe to get it and would never have even sat for the drivers exam or driving test and to make matters worse, they would have been taught to ride/drive by the someone who's in the same position hence, total ciaos on the roads, on top of all that, they just don't care or think at all and they just move forward and only have the ability to see, or take notice of what's going on for 10 meters in front of them and as they never, never look in their side mirrors, they wouldn't have a clue what behind them and will just pull out/in/overtake at the most stupidest, dangerous times, and its not that the don't really care, its just that they NEVER, NEVER think? and never presume that because a blinker is indicating a turn that that's what will happen as with scooter blinkers, they are never used and if by chance they do use them, they forget to turn them off, so there never on or never off and just because a right side blinker is on, just be prepared for the scooter to turn left , of course while your deciding what the scooter is going to do, you will have Kamikaze scooters riders overtaking you on both side of you.

I have finally worked out as to why they are such terrible, dangerous car drivers, its because in their minds they still think there on a scooter and drive and park their cars in exactly the same manner, extremely dangerously and if your not in their mind set, then everything will be totally, unpredictable. They also don't have the ability to judge the safe distance on there left side as when overtaking they will go out 2 meters more than is necessary and it doesn't matter if you have the right of passage, they will just come out anyway.

Never, never presume anything in Bali and especially when it comes to driving at night, just keep in mind how they drive during day light, and double those thoughts to even come close to be able to imagine what's it would be like at night? How I haven't nocked some one off their scooters on many an occasion because they hadn't turned on the scooters headlights is sheer luck as you wont see them till your about to hit them, I actually got angry with one lad once and asked why he didn't have his lights on, his answer was, he wanted to save the light globe, Mmmm, say no more.another very dangerous situation is most scooters will have there high beams on all the time which will blind you sometimes and as all Balinese walk on the sides of any roads and in twos, you stand a very good chance of hitting one of them, and all these things I have almost done on quite a few occasions until I finally worked out the mind set for driving here, but until I did, I had 3 x driver side mirrors smashed off owing to the totally unpredictable and outright dangerous driving habits of these people.. In regards to hiring and riding a scooter in Bali, well that's up to you, but just keep this in mind, we have kept a record [for our future blog] on the amount of times we have picked someone up off the side of the roads after having an accident or just loosing control of their scooters, many with deep lacerations and skin scrapped off to the bone, also many that needed to be taken to a hospital and the count for past 12 months so far, is 36 tourists and 2 locals and that's just in the Ubud area and were only on the roads 2 x times a week and please remember that "NO" travel insurance Companies cover scooter or push bike accidents here in Bali, "why", because they are all aware of what I have just tried to advise everyone, so please remember if you still plan to ignore good advise because you recon you can do it, just remember its not you driving ability that's in question, its the lack of any driving ability with the Balinese people that will be the problem and don't think, well its just common sense as here in Bali, when it comes to driving "sense is not common at all"

Having said all, there appears that there is some light at the end of the tunnel as of late I have actually seen qualified driving instructors teaching the locals how to drive and our President is slowly eliminating corruption within the Government departments and one example is that the driving exams are all above board and all must sit and pass the exam and must also take the driving test, I know all that as being an Expat, I had to go through the whole procedure and it was all aboveboard and it can only, in time, lead towards a better driving experience?

coffs harbour...
Destination Expert
for Tulamben, Lovina Beach
Level Contributor
14,589 posts
63 reviews
104 helpful votes
1. Re: Don't drive in Bali

I had a chuckle reading this - and totally agree that to drive in Bali you need to think (and drive) like a Balinese person. It's not at all for the faint heated. You forgot to mention finding a cow walking along the road, or turning a corner and nearly taking out a flock of ducks! Or the two guys on a motor bike carrying a massive pig on the back.

We've been driving (well, hubby has), since our first trip to Bali in 2009 and he has been licenced to drive just about anything for well over 50 years, (although he surrendered his heavy vehicle licence when he turned 75). While we don't drive in the south, the north, middle and Ubud areas are much easier, although we still prefer to get a driver for transfers between places.

Re your advice that "NO" insurance company covers motor bike accidents - that is incorrect. We had cover with Covermore for many years (for an extra cost of $17 per annual policy) as hubby carries his international permit endorsed for riding and always carries his aussie licence as is required. As long as we were wearing helmets and bike no more than 200cc, then we complied with the insurance company requirements as he was legally licenced. We have now moved to another insurance company and also have cover under our current policy.

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
1,698 posts
145 reviews
119 helpful votes
2. Re: Don't drive in Bali

WOW !!

Great advice and a good read

Even though you used probably the 2 longest sentences that I have ever read :)

Wonder how many of the "invincible's" will take note.


Edited: 6 years ago
Kerobokan Kelod...
Destination Expert
for Bali
Level Contributor
12,550 posts
200 reviews
194 helpful votes
3. Re: Don't drive in Bali


Well there are three fewer "invincible's" sadly this week as two Danes in their 20's and a 23 year old Canadian misread the actions of Balinese drivers at junctions last week and died at the scene.

Edited: 6 years ago
Level Contributor
18,156 posts
83 reviews
85 helpful votes
4. Re: Don't drive in Bali

A agree with all that has been said (including the bit about punctuation!) and couldn't agree more.

What bemuses/confounds/confuses me the most is that so many tourists (mostly under 25) think that this chaotic, crazy and unregulated traffic scene is a good place to get onto a motorbike for the first time in their lives - often without a helmet but with a pillion passenger - and teach themselves how to ride - after a night in a bar.

Do some people leave their brains at the airport when they get on a flight to Bali?

coffs harbour...
Destination Expert
for Tulamben, Lovina Beach
Level Contributor
14,589 posts
63 reviews
104 helpful votes
5. Re: Don't drive in Bali

emel -Yes, I believe a lot do!

Armidale, Australia
Level Contributor
1,019 posts
13 reviews
17 helpful votes
6. Re: Don't drive in Bali

Mopar Bali, another chuckle from me, but your post is spot on. My husband has been licensed, insured and driving in Bali for the past 10yrs. For reasons it is not practical for us to hire a tour driver every time we want to go somewhere. We collect our hire car at the airport on arrival and return it there on departure. We do not encourage non-regulars to drive in Bali.

We have experienced all the scenarios you mention and have had to make a small insurance claim for a mishap.....making a right hand turn with blinker on, bike rider behind thinking blinker is a sign to pass on the right side, slams into our drivers side doors, rolls off bonnet and into a brick wall. He survived, after a very stern tongue lashing from hubby!! We too have lost mirrors and have picked up fallen riders.

It is encouraging to hear that driving instruction is happening, as way too many deaths occur, both local and tourists. One thing you didn't mention is the piles of rock, blue metal or dirt dumped on the roads for construction, nothing to indicate it is there, and impossible to see at night.

Level Contributor
19 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Don't drive in Bali

I agree with all that has been said, but one more thing to add.

If you are going to ignore all of this wonderful advice, that is your business, but please, please, please, please, don't take your small children along with you. I can not count the number of times I have seen tourists obviously not familiar with riding a scooter (one fell off while parked!) with their very small kids squeezed on front and back, just in shorts and t-shirts wearing helmets bought from the markets (I'm sure they wouldn't be up to any safety standards).

It truly makes my stomach churn, having been in a motorcycle accident in Australia, I hate to imagine what would happen if they came off, even if at low speed.

Noosa, Australia
Level Contributor
327 posts
8. Re: Don't drive in Bali

Re don't drive in bali

The first time hubby and i visited bali about twenty years ago we stayed at sanur, and as always hubby takes me exploring sanur on foot,we were staying at inna grand we made our way up towards were kfc is , comming across major road twolanes each way it was our first daylight walk.

Standing there i couldn't believe what i was seeing motorcycles mum dad and three kids on one bike ,two guys one steering the other on back holding about ten reo bars about six mtrs long one end on his shoulder and dragging them alongbehind,guys and girls with big balls of woven cane ten foot high trucks,bikes weaving in and out,we stood there for ages just looking ,every time we are in a taxi coming from bali airport watching near misses hubby looks across and smiles says were here

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
2,071 posts
92 reviews
34 helpful votes
9. Re: Don't drive in Bali

One of the best advice posts I have read in ages.Everyone should take heed .

Denpasar, Indonesia
Level Contributor
1,598 posts
14 reviews
13 helpful votes
10. Re: Don't drive in Bali

i born and live in bali.. and bali is the only place i can drive, tried in india, it was much harder...

and in australia too many rules, so i think its where people used to drive they will fell easy..

btw its right that people here drive almost without rules, they dont even follow fast at right lane and slow at left lane rules in big road..