Palau Photo

Palau Driving Guide

Palau is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-07-26 · 9 mins

Palau, a country shrouded in mystery, war, and historical colonization, is one of the most remote archipelagos on earth. Composed of 340 coral and volcanic islands, the scenic underwater landscape and the World War 2 relics will blow you away. You will also enjoy staying the night in Palau, where you can have a glimpse of the ocean and witness the vibrant colors the plankton produce reflecting the moonlight.

Traveling in Palau may not be on your bucket list, but it’s worth the try. Palau guarantees you a crystal clear ocean and the coral reefs that match your kayak and scuba diving adventures making Palau one of the world’s best diving locations. Palau’s tropical climate will also boost your experience; it indeed is the best atmosphere a traveler wants. Wander with me as we go through this travel guide that will surely make your travel as easy as possible.

How can this guide help you?

Traveling without a guide can be tricky, especially if you travel alone. People are different in every place you go, but it allows you to learn new things. When you travel to another country, you will experience new traditions, cultures, and policies. Let this guide take you to Palau and its capital city Ngerulmud, also known as “Place of Fermented Mud” Read on and learn more about the things you need to know when driving around Palau.

General information

An archipelago situated in the western Pacific Ocean, Palau was part of the Micronesian group until 1994 independence. The island extends to the Caroline Island’s western chain, and it is a home to almost 300 uninhabited islands, but only nine are inhabited. Moreover, Palau is also one of the world’s youngest and smallest nations; driving in Palau states and regions can bring you to paradise.

Geographic Location

Palau lies in the western Pacific Ocean and southwest corner of Micronesia. Its neighboring countries are the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It has an approximate distance of 1,522 kilometers from the Philippines, close to 1,600 kilometers from New Guinea, and an estimated 2,450 kilometers from Indonesia. Palau’s continent is Oceania, and its coordinates are 7.5150° N and 134.5825° E.

It is a country that offers the best island-hopping and driving adventure across its beautiful cities. These cities are the only inhabited ones; namely, Koror, Kayangel, Angaur, Peleliu, Puluana, islands of Sorsorol, Tobi and Helen’s reef, Airai and Babeldaob includes Ngerulmud. Thousands of travelers go in and out of the country every year, and driving in Palau’s mangrove forest on the east coast should be on your bucket list.

Language Spoken

Palauan and English are their official languages, so there’s no need to be nervous because people in Palau can either use the Palauan and English language as a medium of communication. Although some places in Palau like Tobi Island, roughly 150 people there speak Tobian, Sonsorelese in Sorsorol, and not more than 20 Japanese-speaking people in some parts of Palau, forget about learning Japanese. There are also Filipinos and Vietnamese residing in Palau.

And speaking of language, there is not much of a barrier because it is an Asian country, and it is no secret that most Asian people know how to speak English. When you see a resident, just say these basic Palauan greetings: Alii (a-LEE) for Hello, Ungil tutau (oong-EEL-too-TOW) for Good Morning, Ungil chodechosong (oong-EEL-OTH-o-Song) for Good Afternoon, Ungil kebesengei (oong-EEL-kebba-sung-AY) for Good evening

Land Area

Palau has a total area of 177 square miles or 459 square kilometers. It has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the United Nations. The Palau National Sanctuary Act creates a no-take marine sanctuary within 500,000 square kilometers (80%) of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which protects marine resources. The rest (20%) will be exclusive for their domestic fishing activities; you might also want to add a fishing experience to your bucket list upon driving in Palau. The zip code of the island is 96940.

Although the vast majority of the islands in Palau are unpaved and mostly no cement road at all, it’s not a problem; it’s a thing you should probably enjoy while riding or driving a four-wheel car, feeling the life of a resident. Driving in Palau village and towns may not be easy for first-timers, but we assure you that you will not regret it after reading this driving guide. Make everything smooth when driving around Palau.

History

Palau is historically called Belau and sometimes called the Black Islands. It was inhabited almost 4,000 years ago, and Europeans first explored it in the 16th century. In the 18th century, Spanish colonizers came into possession and later sold to Germany after losing the Spanish-American war in 1898. During World War 1, the Japanese Navy conquered Palau and later made it part of the League of Nations’ South Pacific Mandate

One of the reasons you should visit Palau is its tragic history, and this country was involved in numerous wars and colonization. Palau’s sovereignty had not taken place during those years of war until 1994, when Palau finally claimed its independence upon signing the Compact of Free Association with the United States.

Government

President Tommy Remengasau is both the Chief of State and Head of Government in Palau. Palau’s government name is the Republic of Palau, and its government type is Presidential Republic in Free Association with the United States. Its government branches are Executive, Judicial, and Legislative

Palau experienced a political downfall in the early 1980s. An unknown person assassinated the first president, Haruo I. Remeliik, in 1985. Palau’s third president, Lazarus Etaro Salii, committed suicide because of bribery allegations thrown upon him. Palau is currently a de facto non-partisan democracy, even if there’s no law objecting to political parties’ formation.

The population in Palau is approximately 21,270 as of 2021. Nevertheless, Palau’s people achieved excellent governance and economy as they rarely suffered any economic problems for the past ten years. The experts expected Palau’s GDP to fall -11.9% in 2020 and rise at least 14% in 2021. Driving in Palau island is guaranteed safe because tourism is the island’s main focus.

Tourism

Palau’s major growth in tourism has never been a surprise, ever since the tourist attractions’ discoveries. Palau immediately grabbed the opportunity to enhance its tourism industry and opened its country to all visitors that wish to experience Palau’s exquisite sites. Moreover, Palau cemented its legacy as an archipelago with one of the most visited diving sites worldwide

The number of tourists who visited Palau each year from 2011 to 2021 is five times the number of people residing in Palau. That is more than proof of the wonders in Palau, the tourist spots are not just there to amuse you, but it is there to make you feel like you are living in a paradise that you’ve never been to before. Make sure not to miss driving in Palau East Coast, the home to forest mangroves and magnificent beaches.

International Driver's Permit FAQs

To have a smooth travel experience when driving in Palau, you need to provide the essential requirements. Some countries require an International Driver’s Permit for foreign travelers if their local driver’s license details are not understandable by the authorities. Below are the things you need to know about IDP.

What Is an IDP?

IDP or International Driver's Permit is a translation for your native driver’s license that contains your information such as photo, name, driver’s report, etc. It is a valid identification for over 150 countries around the world. Thus purchasing an IDP will help lessen your worries and give you a smooth travel experience while driving in Palau island.

Our IDP has three different validity periods: one year for $49, two years for $55, and three years for only $59. As you may have noticed, there is not much price difference; thus, purchasing a three-year validity is highly recommended. If you want to understand how this works, visit our pricing page now.

Is IDP Necessary in Driving in Palau?

Yes, getting an International Driver's Permit is highly recommended for travelers, although Palau permits travelers to use their native license. Nevertheless, your IDP will serve as a translation for your original driver’s license. Some local traffic officers in Palau might be unable to read your driver’s license. That is why you need an IDP for them to comprehend your license’s legality upon checkpoints.

Driving in Palau regions or states using your country-issued driver’s license is okay unless you stay a month and beyond, lasting longer than 30 days means they will require you to get a Palauan driver’s license. Along with your native driver’s license should be your International Driver's Permit. Bet you want your travel hassle-free, don’t you?

Where Can I Apply or Get My IDP?

You can get your IDP online quickly in 2 hours or 20 minutes. The only requirements you need to provide are: driver’s license, a phone, a mobile data, a credit card, or even PayPal, and lastly, a passport size of selfie photo because you will be requesting your IDP over the internet.

If you don’t have an android phone or mobile data, just try going to the nearest internet cafe. Locals are friendly, so do not hesitate to ask questions. After applying, you just need to wait for at least less than 30 minutes, and they will send you your International Driver's Permit electronically. You can present it to an officer if he requests you to. We will mail you your physical IDP in 24 hours. Take note; you must be 18 years old or older.

Renting a Car in Palau

Driving around Palau will never disappoint you. You will witness its villages and its green environment with species you’ve never seen before. However, traveling with family or friends can be a little too different from traveling alone, because driving in Palau island is best enjoyed when you have somebody to share the experience with. Thus renting a vehicle in Palau is highly recommended for you not to miss every single detail of the villages and towns you’re driving in

Renting a car can be more efficient and less expensive than commuting, but commuting is good for familiarizing the roads before renting a car. Driving your rented car can bring you to places you want to go to, and you can control the gas consumption. It also allows you to rest whenever and wherever you want. The following things you will read are the guides that will help you get the tools you need upon renting a car in Palau. Enjoy your reading.

Car Rental Companies

To rent a car, you need your driver’s license, IDP, and money. Their money currency is USD, and you must be 18 years old and above. Most car rental companies have online booking reservation options available. Car rental companies also have their drivers if you need a private service and don’t know how to drive. However, it’s essential to not rely on one car rental company, list down the companies and decide for yourself.

Most likely, car rental companies have different approaches to renters that age 18 - 21 years old, some of them charge an extra fee and, some will require you to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver. Some have age limits but, there’s no need to worry; there are plenty of car rental companies in Palau that are not that strict about ages. Read on to know the lists of car rental choices.


These are the list of popular car rental companies in Palau:

  • BH Rent A Car - Ngerkesoaol Koror - (680) 488-3330
  • Budget A Car Rental - Ngerbeched Koror - (680) 488-6233
  • Hot Wheels Palau - Ikelau Koror - (680) 488-0686
  • IA Rent A Car - Office (680) 488-1113
  • Island Car Rental - (680) 587-8881
  • Jungle River Car Rental - Meketii Koror (680) 488-4770
  • PIDC Car Rental - Ngerchemai Koror - (680) 488-8350
  • Pacific Car Rental - Ikelau Koror - (680) 488-5285
  • Palau Limousine Service - Medalai Koror - (680) 488-5087
  • West Car Rental - Dngeronger Koror - (680) 488-5599

Documents Required

To rent a car, you need to prepare the essential requirements. Car rental companies are strict with the documents the car renters provide. However, car rental companies have different requirements. Read on for you not to miss any detail. Below are the possible requirements when renting a car in Palau.

  • Driver’s license
  • Any valid back-up IDs (optional)
  • Online reservation receipt (printed and digital)
  • VISA or passport (optional, if indicated)
  • Credit/debit card
  • IDP

Vehicle Types

The ideal vehicle type to rent when traveling in Palau is an SUV. Considering the rough roads and the heat of the sun, you don’t want to get wet by your sweat and catch the dust on your face. Most cars and even rental cars in Palau are imported from Japan, and it is a left-hand drive, which might confuse the tourists who rent a car. Anyway, all of Palau’s roads are single-lane carriageways to be an easy drive for you.

Palau’s car rental companies’ standard vehicle types are:

  • Economic - 4/5-speed manual, unlimited mileage
  • Full Size - 5 speed automatic, unlimited mileage
  • Compact - 5-speed manual, unlimited mileage
  • SUV - 5-speed manual, unlimited mileage

People in Palau mostly use manual transmission cars, although there are no significant differences, just the gas consumption.

Car Rental Cost

The average car rental cost in Palau is just 47 US dollars a day. That is just the average, and there are a lot cheaper options than that. Renting a car is like booking a flight ticket; it is better online because car rental companies also give discounts when you book online. Booking in advance is highly recommended than renting a car via the airport as it tends to be pricey.

As previously mentioned, car rental companies charge minors an extra fee for car rental. According to the statistics, drivers with age 25 below get into more vehicular accidents than drivers in other age groups. The bottom line is, there is no age limit when renting a car in Palau as long as you can drive

Age Requirements

In Palau, you should be at least 18 years of age to get your driver’s license. As for car renters, you need to be at least 21 years old and above to rent. There is no maximum age requirement, as long as you can drive and have perfect vision with or without eyewear. If you are young and want to rent a car in Palau, choose those car rental companies that don’t charge extra fees for youngsters.

Car rental companies don’t charge an extra fee for renters with age 70 and above. If you’re in this age group, you will be required to have a medical certificate that is valid for three months.

Car Insurance Cost

The minimum car rental insurance cost in Palau is 10 to 15 USD a day. It differs according to what type of insurance you are applying for. There are separate companies that offer car insurance other than the car rental company. They will sell you different car insurance types at different prices, but you need to look for trusted agencies to buy insurance from.

These are the list of common car insurances

  • Super Collision Damage Waiver - $20.00 - $30.00/day
  • Roadside Assistance Cover - $10.00 - $15.00/day
  • Loss Damage Waiver - $9.00/day
  • Collision Damage Waiver - $9.00 - $26.99/day

Some car rental companies will issue their car insurance as a package with the rental itself, while others just charge you for the damage identified upon returning the car you rented. Make sure you take a photo of the vehicle upon pick-up inside and out to make sure there will be no foul play, and even as you return it.

Car Insurance Policy

Securing car insurance is the best way to have a worry-less trip; it protects you and your vehicle financially if you get into an accident. Car insurance is essential for travelers, especially renters. If you get into a vehicular accident and don’t have any car insurance coverage, you are held liable for every damage you cause. Below are the commonly used car insurances in Palau.

  • CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) - only covers the car’s bodywork (only the vehicle’s painted parts), which excludes the tire, windshield, interiors, mirrors, and engine.
  • SCDW (Super Collision Damage Waiver) - covers a lot more than CDW does. SCDW is highly recommended as it lessens the excess pay, depending on the company that issued the insurance. Some follow the “zero excess” policy.
  • RAC (Roadside Assistance Coverage) - covers roadside fees like towing, key lockout, and fuel.
  • LDW (Loss Damage Waiver) - covers any act of nature, theft, fire, vandalism, and collision.
Palau Road Photo

Road Rules in Palau

Driving in a foreign country can be dangerous if you ignore the need to learn the road’s ins and outs. It is essential to know the basic rules and regulations, including the way locals usually do when driving. After learning the tricks and trades of driving around Palau, you’ll be driving like you’re in your hometown country. Make sure not to miss this one, gear up with this knowledge, and enjoy your trip.

Important Regulations

Before you drive on the roads, it’s essential to know first the important regulations in Palau. The authority strictly implements these rules and regulations in hopes of reducing vehicular accidents. Failure to follow the following rules will result in consequences.

  • Always drive on the right side. There will be no confusion since the roads are all a “single-carriageway” or an undivided highway.
  • Never overtake slow-moving cars. Overtaking cars is strictly prohibited. Be careful with the usage of your headlights during the night.
  • Don’t drive when under the influence of alcohol. If you have taken 50 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, this is not allowed.
  • Always bring a driver's license along with your International Driver's Permit. The IDP serves as your driver’s license’s translation.

General Standards

A four-wheel car is advisable, preferably manual transmission, since most of Palau’s roads and highways are not cemented. The benefit of choosing the manual transmission is that it can save you a significant amount of gas when driving in Palau village. On the other hand, automatic transmission cars will be less efficient unless driving on the expressways. Wear a helmet if you’re driving a motorbike, and if you want to overtake, honk only once

Speed Limits

Some drivers love to drive too fast because they enjoy it, but remember you are driving in another country, and it is vital to know the road rules and regulations. The maximum speed limit in rural areas is 45-50 kph, 30 kph in urban areas, and 100 kph in expressways. Anyway, it should be more efficient if you drive slow since you are new to the place, and you might want to memorize the road.

Driving Directions

Since Palau’s roads are mostly one-lane, single-carriageways, you don’t have to be conscious about your driving. But, when merging at some point in an expressway, it is still important to be responsible when driving. It is highly recommended to have a dictionary on your phone if there are signs written in native. Again, no overtaking.

Upon reaching Palau National Airport in Airai, it is better to ask the locals about the essential information you needed, such as taxi fare, cost per passenger, distance, and tolls. Locals know how to speak English, and if you are going to ask how much the fare is, do not ask just one person. When you arrive at the airport, the audience will keep an eye on you, beware, and pretend to know what you are doing.

Traffic Road Signs

Road signs in Palau are not hard to understand since they are all written in English. In its capital city Ngerulmud, some roads are unpaved, cemented, and some are not. Hence, road signs are not that top priority, which means you have to be initiative. Along the way, I believe you will learn something from other drivers on how they deal with that issue.

In case you encounter road signs that are not written in English, take time to read these primary Palauan languages that might be useful for your travel in Palau.

  • Stop - dechor, mad, llel, mechesimer
  • Turn - mengesoim
  • Right - chochoi, choi, ungil, alii
  • Left - katur

Warning signs:



  • Dangerous Prone Area
  • Hard Left Turn Ahead
  • Hard Right Turn Ahead
  • Slow Down
  • Funnel Road (Yield to whichever car enters first)
  • Wild Animals Crossing
  • Road Ramps Ahead
  • School Zone
  • Approaching Intersection Road
  • Road Under Construction

The following are the signs instructing drivers driving in Palau beaches. Warning signs vary on what vehicle you are using.

  • No Entry
  • No Cars Allowed
  • Reserved Parking
  • Visitor Parking Only
  • Reverse Parking Only
  • Sideway Parking Prohibited
  • No Parking Pass 10 PM
  • Loading Zone No Parking
  • Unloading Zone No Parking
  • Guest Parking Zone
  • Bike Parking

Right of Way

Given that Palau is a small yet beautiful archipelago, you will rarely see heavy traffic, tri-lane or four-lane roads. You don’t have to hassle yourself finding the Right of Way on the street; all you need is common sense and courtesy towards your fellow drivers. Do not overtake unless the car in front of you tells or allows you to. There’s no need to rush; simply enjoy your ride.

There are cases that local drivers will just ignore Palau’s traffic law—just ignore it because that does not guarantee your safety against authorities. Remember you are just a visitor in the country; abide by the rules given to achieve stress-free travel. Drive safely, as usual, focus on the road because you are not only dealing with the traffic; you are also dealing with the type of road you are driving in. Do note that some streets are muddy, and some are bumpy

The state’s legal driving age in Palau is 18 years old. For the people in Palau to get their licenses may be student license or professional; they should be 18 years of age. There are no restrictions for drivers 18 years of age. Note that you should be 21 years old if you want to rent a car in Palau. Always bring with you your driver’s license, better if you have an international driver’s license.

Some car hire companies charge extra fees depending on the renter’s age and the distance to where the driver wants to take the car. If you wish to fully enjoy your driving experience with a lower budget, you can book far enough from your travel date in Palau.

Laws in Overtaking

Overtaking in Palau is illegal, though it happens sometimes. It is better safe than sorry, so avoid overtaking, especially when driving in Palau, highways, and main roads. Even in some other conservative countries, they consider overtaking as disrespectful, so be careful. If you need to overtake, use your signal lights and try to honk once or twice, then wait if the car in front of you permits you to overtake.

Driving Side

The driving side in Palau is on the right side, pretty usual. If you are not used to driving on the right side of the road, or maybe it is different from your country, try using a sticky note that says “drive right.” Sticky note is just supplementary; if that doesn’t work for you, try commuting first. Surely your eyes will get used to it. If you feel like driving, drive around the villages where there is less traffic so that you can practice driving on the right side.

Now, sometimes going into another country means you need to adjust. In Palau, most of the cars are left-hand drives, and if you mastered the opposite-hand drive, it must be difficult to re-adjust. What if everything about driving in Palau is different from what you are used to doing? Well, that sounds like a real adventure. Take it as an opportunity to learn something new while on vacation. It’s worth it.

Driving Etiquette in Palau

When driving in another country, there is a lot to expect, and your fellow drivers also expect something from you. It is essential to be courteous and observe proper manners and etiquette because rude drivers are never welcome in all countries. This guide will help you learn more about the driving etiquettes in Palau, some may appear new to you, but they will surely make your travel safe and sound.

There are no strict etiquettes on this remote island because it’s not their top concern. However, as a visitor to this country, always put yourself in the shoes of other drivers. You, too, will not be happy if someone displays inappropriate actions on the road. Yield if needed, and honk if required.

Car Breakdown

Considering the road’s size in Palau, car breakdown is not a big problem because several car repair shops are on the side streets when driving in Palau, highway, or some urban areas. If your car breaks down, you can either call the car rental company you rented your vehicle from, or you can approach the locals and ask if there is any car repair shop nearby, they would be happy to help you

If, unfortunately, you get stuck in the middle of nowhere, maybe somewhere you don’t know about, just open your GPS; it may help you locate your location. Also, consider calling 911, Palau may have an inadequate response and limited equipment, but at least you get someone who knows the road to help you.

Below are some automotive repair hotlines around Palau

  • +680 488 8311 - Automotive Repair in Koror, Palau
  • +680 488 1912 - Ksau’s Motors located at Waisai Building, Malakal, Koror
  • +680 488 7477 - CS Auto Repair Shop located at Koror, Palau

Police Stops

Getting stopped by a police officer can be stressful and inconvenient, but the only thing you should always bear in mind is to stay calm. As some laws in your country may not be applicable in Palau, simply cooperate with the law officials and do not resist nor act suspiciously. However, you need to be vigilant on individuals that may pose as a law official. To identify a police officer, the color of their uniform is aqua blue, and they carry a badge. Know your rights and always remember you came to Palau to enjoy.

When stopped by a police officer, greet him/her and just present your International Driver's Permit along with your native driver’s license. Whenever authorities ask your whereabouts, just be honest and always have a firm answer to the questions to show courtesy. If a police officer happens to be rude, just don’t, it escalates the situation quickly, and you won’t like that happen.

Asking Directions

Asking directions from the locals can be tricky; it is essential to keep it short and straightforward. So, instead of asking where you can withdraw money from, just say the word “bank.” why? Some residents only know a few English words, words commonly seen on the tarps and signage.

When you take a walk around the city or villages, although summer attire is advisable, skirts are not allowed; just wear decent clothes. The locals will love to entertain you if you show them respect and decency. You will encounter several people as Filipinos; calling them Kuya (brother) or Ate (sister) are the best ways to call out their attention. Also, do not be shy; locals are fast to recognize foreign visitors/travelers; it pleasures them to help you.

Checkpoints

When it comes to checkpoints, Palau and the Philippines are almost the same. Usually, the police will just take a peek from the outside at what is inside your car, and it is advisable to lower the windshield. The authority will also expect you to provide your primary driving document, your driver's license. Greet them as they approach; Palau authorities are friendly

Since you are a visitor, you are required to show your valid passport not less than six months from its expiration. You must also have a return or onward ticket, and of course, you will need to show your International Driver's Permit, so you should take time to process it before driving. Have a safe trip and enjoy driving in Palau island.

Other Tips

Besides learning the things mentioned above, it is also essential to know some tricks when driving around Palau. Note that these tips are proven effective according to honest villagers. These tips can save you more money and time than you would expect. Make sure you don’t skip this one; it’s worth learning.

Is it safe to ride alone?

A typical transport vehicle in Palau is a taxi; it is relatively easy to find one since you can ask the concierge to find it for you. Taxis in Palau don’t use meters; they have a fixed rate for specific destinations that they will present to you. When riding a taxi, look for other passengers with the same destinations as you. Since it’s a fixed rate, you can have somebody to share the fare.

What if I caused a car accident?

Being involved in a vehicular accident is stressful, especially if you’re the one who caused the accident. You need to know what to do to avoid excessive expenses and more liability. Below are the steps on what to do if you caused a car accident.

  • Evaluate the injuries of the people and the vehicles involved in the accident
  • Exchange information with the drivers involved
  • Call the police
  • Document everything to avoid a change of story later on
  • Immediately contact your car insurance agent or company
  • Consider getting a lawyer

Driving Conditions in Palau

Expect relatively bad road conditions when driving in Palau, on the east side towns, and in Koror, some roads in the area are coral and dirt. Roads in Babeldaob, the capital city, are well maintained, so are the streets in Palau National Airport in Airai. In the villages, you will experience bumpy and slippery roads because of mud.

Road conditions are generally fair in urban areas, except for the potholes resulting from heavy rain. The road infrastructure in rural areas is poor and can be dangerous, especially during rainy days. You should also be aware of stray pets, unfenced livestock, and pedestrians crossing carelessly. Overall, only 60% of Palau’s roads are well maintained; the rest are a composition of mud, corals, pebbles, and some streets are well cemented.

Accident Statistics in Palau

According to Palau Statistical Yearbook, the latest recorded vehicular accident in 2019 is only 6.42% of total deaths. Only 3 cases of hit-and-run were recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019. There were 16 cases of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol/reckless driving. Car accidents in Palau may be relatively low; it’s still better to instill the safety precautions and be a responsible driver at all times.

Remember that Palau’s roads mostly have no sidewalks or road shoulders, and residents rely on the traffic. Always be vigilant, especially when you are driving around the villages, don’t just open your car’s windshield if someone suspicious approaches you. Be careful with the muddy and full of pothole roads, and as much as possible, do not drive during heavy rains.

Common Vehicles

Typical vehicles used in Palau:



  • Nissan Murano
  • Nissan Elgrand
  • Toyota Alphard
  • SUVs
  • L300
  • Motorbike
  • Bicycle
  • Bus
  • Off-road

Most of the standard vehicles used in Palau are 4-wheeled because they import cheap cars from Japan, usually 2nd-hand vehicles that is why locals can easily purchase them. The road condition is also one of the factors why driving a 4-wheel vehicle is recommended. Motorbike is the least recommended vehicle since the roads are generally bumpy, although riding a motorbike is so good when driving in rural areas

Toll Roads

Considering the economic status and the total land area of Palau, this city has no toll roads. There is this road circling Balbedaob connecting to the capital city Ngerulmud, which they call Compact Road. The road is named after the Compact of Free Association’s terms between Palau and the United States. Well, it seems like you are going to have a free ride after all

We would like to share one Asian tip with you, which is less likely to happen in large countries. While driving in Palau, beaches specifically, do not be surprised if there are random kids who will guide you with your parking; it is their way of living, and they will be happy if you give them a penny.

Road Situations

Road conditions in Palau are generally in fair condition, with no heavy traffic. The only problem is that some village roads have no sidewalks, making you drive slower than usual to avoid hitting unwary pedestrians. In some remote areas where the roads are in good condition, drivers often ignore the national speed limit. Overtaking may sometimes occur but without the surveillance of authorities.

In Babeldaob or even in Koror, the roads are rarely busy; although these two are among the major cities in Palau, traffic jams are rare. When you are driving in Palau, highways specifically, expect to have a smooth trip. However, on the national highway, you must be aware of the sudden appearance of wild animals and the presence of speed limit signs, so be careful.

Driving Culture

Driving in Asia, no matter what part of Asia is, there is only one thing in common, the drivers are less patient. Typically, people get frustrated with the sun’s heat; that is why they are more likely to hurry. On the other hand, tourists from snowy countries enjoy sunbathing even on the road, don’t you? As mentioned, overtaking in Palau is illegal, but there are some occasions that you need to yield for over-takers just to avoid conflict.

Fridays and Saturdays are the best days to have a drink. In Palau, you need to be more cautious when driving at night because drunk-driving in Palau is a severe case during Fridays and Saturdays. Unwary villagers are crossing the road, children playing, livestock coming out of nowhere; you need to pay more attention on the road while enjoying the ride. Do you want to drink? We suggest you just buy the drinks you wish to and consume them in your place.

Other Tips

Besides knowing the basic road rules and regulations in Palau, you should also take time to read some of our tips before driving. These tips are what travelers ask whether it’s legal to take pictures, drinking while driving, or even bring a private firearm. Make sure not to miss these tips.

Am I allowed to take pictures?

Of course, you are allowed to take pictures, but it comes with limitations. In Some places, especially tourist spots like Japan’s headquarters’ relics during World War 2, you cannot take pictures freely, natives will surprise you, and they will ask for a fee. The funny part is that they are hiding behind the bushes and trees, it is part of their living, don’t be afraid, they’re not harmful.

Is drinking with locals a thing?

Asians are known to be friendly; whenever they see foreigners, they welcome them and sometimes offer them a drink. There’s always room for you in their hearts because they treat their visitors as part of the family. But here’s one thing you should bear in mind, DO NOT touch local people’s heads; it is disrespectful to touch their heads because it is sacred. Respect the culture. Let’s drink to that.

Am I allowed to bring a private firearm?

Palau has a strict order that even the president himself cannot possess or bring his private firearm while driving. Even having a mere bullet or a necklace with a bullet pendant is prohibited and is punishable by law. The penalty for possession of weapons is up to 15 years of imprisonment. If you brought a private firearm while driving in Palau villages, make sure you surrender it to the authority, or just leave it in the place where you live.

Things To Do In Palau

Wreck diving, caves, swim-throughs, scuba diving, kayaking, historic places, and relics. These are just some reasons why people go to Palau. People also come to Palau to find jobs; you might also consider finding one; who knows? There are quite several job opportunities in Palau, mainly tour guiding and hotel services. Make sure to take note of the things that interest you

Drive as a Tourist

Driving in the Palau region of Koror, Airai, Babeldaob, Ngerulmud is the best way to explore the gift of nature. To enjoy your ride, you need your driver’s license, passport, car documents, and last but not least, your International Driver's Permit, which will serve as a translation for your country-issued driver’s license. Palauan authorities may be able to speak your language, but chances are meager.

Suppose you don’t have your car, and you are planning to rent a car; some car rental companies may not be able to read your driver’s license written in your native language. You should be ready for that situation. IDP translates your driver’s license’s language into the 12 most used languages globally. Knowing that Palauans know English, they will be able to read your translated license in English.

Work as a Driver

There are things you need to be able to apply as a driver in Palau. You either need a working visa or apply for residency, depending on your decision. To have a residence certificate in Palau, you need to have your home country’s residency certificate as proof. We suggest you bring all your valid documents such as your birth certificate or marriage certificate and passport.


Now, to drive in another country, either you do it as a job or as a visitor, you need an IDP or International Driver's Permit. Applying for an IDP is highly recommended because you would never know when you encounter authorities who don’t speak your language. Some local officers might have problems reading your driver’s license. Unless you translate it to them, that would be a challenge.

Work as a Travel Guide

You can imagine how difficult it is to start from the bottom of everything in Palau, especially as a travel guide, you should know everything about Palau. But, if you are determined to work as a travel guide in this country, there’s always room for you to learn. Anyway, Palau is so small that you just need some time to study, which means you have to stay in Palau for a month or two, learning about life and the economy in Palau.

What you reap is what you sow, you might be having a hard time becoming a tourist guide in Palau officially, but hey, it’s more than worth it. Make sure you process everything, your International Driver's Permit, residence certificate if needed, working visa if required, and you also need to obtain a Palauan driver’s license because you will be staying longer than 30 days in Palau.

Apply for Residency

Relocation to Palau may require you to apply for residency, may it be permanent or temporary residence. The documents you need are as follows

  • Certificate of residency from your native country
  • National IDs
  • Fill out the application form
  • Birth certificate
  • Medical certificate
  • Other requirements depending on your status and the type of residency you are applying for

The embassy in Palau is limited due to its lack of employees, and you might find it hard to apply for a declaration of your residency. You can check on the internet if there is any online appointment available

Other things to do

Even though 80% of the primary purpose of travelers going inside Palau is to enjoy the tourist attractions, there are also people seeking an available job. And since Palau’ is relatively low, while their tourist spots are on the other hand, Palau needs competitive workers in tourism.

Can I apply for a Palauan driver’s license?

For Palauan residents, the required age to get a driver’s license is 18 years old. For visitors/foreigners, an application for a Palauan driver’s license is only applicable for visitors staying more than one month. Anyway, if you want to get a Palauan driver’s license, it’s all good as long as you have the documents they need you to provide, such as a driving certificate and a working visa

Are there other work opportunities for tourists in Palau?

Besides working as a travel guide or a driver for specific companies or food enterprises, there are also several job opportunities on this remote island. Palau is known to be having numerous diving locations and hotels nearby. Cashiers and Hotel attendants are also top of the list when it comes to demand for hiring. If your English communication is good, then you’re good to go.

Top Destinations in Palau

As a country shredded with mysteries and relics from World War 2, Palau is the best for adventurous people who like to take photos and are fond of making journals. This untamed island needs exploration and beauty appreciation. Perfect lakes and volcanic mountains are to complete your bucket list. Below are the top listed destinations to visit when driving in Palau island. Make sure to read the information provided for your safe travel.

Eil Malk Island in Palau

It is also called Mecherchar, and the island’s location is 23 kilometers southwest of Koror. Famous for its untouched crystal clear lagoons inhabited with non-stinging jellyfish that attract tourists and is one of the favorite adventures when driving in Palau beaches. It has the perfect warm climate that everybody loves.

Driving Directions:

  1. Fly to Palau National Airport in Airai.
  2. Ride a taxi to Koror (4 miles).
  3. Ask the locals about where to ride a boat to Eil Malk Island, but it is mostly at the T.Dock.
  4. Take a 45-minute boat ride from Koror to Eil Malk Island.

Things To Do

  1. Go swimming with the Jellyfish

    One of Palau’s pristine tourist attractions is the Jellyfish Lake, full of colorful non-stinging jellyfish to swim with you. Generally, jellyfish are known to have stings, but the stings were utterly lost through the years of being cut off from their natural habitat. Although diving in this spot is prohibited, you can still snorkel your way to witnessing these beautiful species.
  2. Kayak to the Eil Malk islands

    One of the best experiences to achieve while you’re on your Palau island tour is to Kayak, for you to know every nook and cranny. You can rent your kayak and paddle through the beauty of Eil Malk. Take photographs as much as you like.
  3. Scuba Dive and explore the remnants of World War 2

    Dive into the ocean shredded with numerous leftovers from World War 2, shipwrecks, and even cannons under the sea. You can also encounter different friendly species like turtles, manta rays, and Napoleons. Swimming through caves with crystal clear water and witnessing the unspoiled, colorful coral reefs are also a must to be included in your to-do list.
  4. Swim in Clear Lake

    Although it has almost the exact location with the Jellyfish Lake, the only difference is the Jellyfish Lake is elongated to the east-west direction. At the same time, the Clear Lake stretches in the north-south direction. Here you can see the beautiful sceneries under the lake.
  5. Go Island Hopping through the uninhabited islands

    Witness the vast area of white sands in Palau’s island beaches, and ride your way to these white beaches called Milky Way! Charter your boat or even ride along with other tourists and experience hopping into the uninhabited islands of Palau. Enjoy the scenic views with your family and friends and step into the shallow area nearby, composed of mud that is good for your skin while sunbathing.

Palau Escape

Upon arriving at Palauan International Airport, Palau Escape will be the first tourist spot to greet you since it’s the closest one to the airport. It has so much to offer, from water, land, and liveaboard experience that will start your day in Palau. For a hassle-free trip, do not forget to have an International Driver's Permit. It translates your native driver’s license into the 12 most used languages worldwide to make it understandable by local authorities.

Driving Directions:

  1. From the airport entrance, drive south.
  2. Follow the national road.
  3. Upon reaching Shawarma Corner, turn left.
  4. Follow the main street.
  5. Upon reaching West Tropicana Apartments, a few blocks ahead, turn right.
  6. Straight ahead until the second intersection and then turn left.
  7. Drive straight until you reach Palau Escape; it’s on the right side of the road.

Things To Do

  1. Group Dive with your friends

    Palau Escape caters to groups of divers to enjoy an exclusive diving experience. Dive with the diver guides who know where the dive sites and World War 2 shipwrecks are. Each group is limited to 10 persons for comfort and safety purposes.
  2. Experience the VIP Snorkeling Tours

    Discover hidden caves and wrecks through snorkeling and riding your boat for only $120.00 for the whole day. When swimming, do not use sunscreen with chemicals harmful to the species and corals; you can buy “reef safe” sunscreen from the local stores.
  3. Camp With Friends

    Besides lagoons and rock islands, camping in the Northern part of Palau’s islands will also give you a relaxing and peaceful getaway. The package includes transportation, camping equipment, meals and drinks, and state permits.
  4. Joining the IART Open Water NITROX Diver Course

    IART or the International Association of Rebreather Trainers will teach you SCUBA diving at a whole new level. This course is what you need to dive with confidence, even in any ocean around the world. While you enjoy, you learn.
  5. Liveaboard in MV Solitude One

    MV Solitude One is a Japanese research ship situated in Airai Palau, and it is Palau’s premier liveaboard. Live like kings and queens with friendly staff to cater to your needs. Enjoy the spacious rooms and awesome dive decks.

Kayangel Island

Kayangel island is in the far northern part and 50 kilometers away from the main island of Palau. Here, you will have the best beach experience you might miss in your Babeldaob and Mecherchar adventure. The clarity of the ocean, 90% visibility of corals and colorful fishes, and peaceful community with a very few people. Wander each Kayangel atoll and stay the night camping and lighting bonfires.

Driving Directions:

  1. From the airport, drive south and follow the main road.
  2. Upon reaching Shawarma Corner, turn left.
  3. Follow the main road until you reach West Tropicana Apartments.
  4. Few meters ahead, you will see an intersection; turn right.
  5. Straight ahead until you reach T. Dock, and then ask the locals for additional information.
  6. Always bring your International Driver's Permit when driving.

Things To Do

  1. Snorkel in the shallow ocean

    Appreciate the beautifully grown coral reefs’ colorful scenery, healthy seaweeds, and a school of fish swimming around, not used to having humans around it. Please use the advisable sunscreen when swimming to avoid harming the coral reefs and some species.
  2. Meet the locals

    Locals are known to be friendly with their visitors since visiting Kayangel Island is quite an issue due to fewer means of transport. Have a little chat and learn some of their native language.
  3. Visit Ngerebelas Islet

    Ngerebelas is one of the four unique islands in Kayangel. It is uninhabited, but it possesses the true beauty of an untouched beach worth a shot. If you visit this islet, you will wish it is forever.
  4. Visit Ngeriungs Islet

    Ngeriungs Islet Is also one of the atoll islands of Kayangel. Experience a true definition of heaven and breathtaking white sands that stretches like an oval perfect for ball games. It is uninhabited and only has two tour companies access from Palau, which is excellent; this island is yours.
  5. Visit Orak Islet

    The last but not the least islet to visit is Orak. Known for possessing fruits and vegetables for visitors, you can freshly pick them from its trees, of course, with the consent of the locals/tour guides. This islet is also perfect for fishing for your meal, and partner it with white wine. Don’t forget to buy everything you need on your first stop at Kayangel islet.

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