Driving in Bali
Updated April 2016
Indonesia, like other countries of the region, drives on the left-hand side of the road.
Traffic in Bali, particularly in the main urban and tourist areas, is exceptionally chaotic, especially, during the rush hours. Driving is complicated by motorbikes that disregard all traffic regulations. They are the cheapest and most popular mode of private transportation in Indonesia. Always moving in large numbers, motorbikes do not respect traffic lanes and always squeeze their way in between the cars. They avoid accidents, not by following traffic rules but, according to an experienced local driver, simply by instinct! The use of helmets is neglected as well as the number of passengers or the load they can take. Often a whole family of up to four people, including small children, travel on one motorbike, and it is customary to see them carrying incredibly bulky items. It is also normal to see motorbikes making their way against the main traffic.
Driving in country roads presents different dangers: numerous dogs move lazily along the side of the road or cross them usually unaware of speeding traffic. Local drivers seem to ignore them. just as they do in the proximity of people, including young children.
Accidents, slight and serious, are widespread and western drivers who cannot speak the local languages are often made to pay for damage they did not cause. There are plenty of stories of irregular police fines and other illegal demands.
Another problem that complicates traffic is the rainy season that lasts from December till March, although it comes as no surprise to get heavy rain in April or during the typically dry months.
A solution to avoid the traffic problems is to rent a car with a personal driver, which is a highly recommended option as the prices for this service are not high. Private drivers, which are not recommended unless you get to know them well, will ask for approximately US$ 40 to US$ 50, which includes petrrol, for a 12-hour day to drive you in their own car. This is an excellent alternative to explore the heart of Bali, instead of joining an organized sightseeing tour group.