Bali Driving Guide

Are you ready to drive in Bali? Learn more about some helpful tips, rules, and facts before driving there in this page!

2023-12-13 · 7 mins

If you've been dreaming of a beach getaway, chances are, you've considered going to Bali. This province in Indonesia has become a favorite among travelers, attracting an estimated 1.5 million international tourists annually.

Bali offers a perfect mix of stunning scenery and peaceful relaxation. Yet, it's important to note that this calm doesn't extend to the island's bustling traffic and frequent motorbike mishaps.

Living the island life in Bali, you need to have an open mind and that goes with understanding that driving in Bali is very different. Each day can present you with a new challenge. One day there might be road works due to flooding and the next day there might be a cremation and the road is closed.

An expat named Simone Collins shares in her post, An Expats Guide to Driving in Bali Traffic, published on the Our Year in Bali travel blog.

Drive with Caution in Bali

Marlin, a travel expert of Bali, shares the following experience in his post, Driving in Bali: Rules, Requirements, and Safety Tips, published on the Travelepsy travel blog:

While driving in Bali can be relatively safe, it can also be challenging due to some Balinese drivers who break traffic rules such as ignoring red lights, driving in the wrong direction, and overtaking other vehicles aggressively.

Driving in the city areas of Bali is relatively safe, but I wouldn't recommend driving outside of town and into the forested areas as it can be dangerous navigating narrow roads on the edge of cliffs.

Despite the challenges of driving in Bali, we recommend you take the opportunity to drive and discover the island. Let Bali quench your thirst for adventure, provided you do so with thoughtful preparation and a careful approach.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Bali

Before diving deeper into Bali's driving culture, here are some interesting facts about the "Land of the Gods".

Geographic Overview

Bali is an island and a province in Indonesia, nestled within the Lesser Sunda Islands. Separated from Java by the narrow Bali Strait, it covers an area of 2,232 square miles (5,780 square km). The province's population was 3,151,162 in 2000, growing to 3,890,757 in 2010.

Linguistic Diversity

In Bali, multilingualism is common. While Balinese and Indonesian are widely spoken, English is prevalent in tourism. Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, is the linguistic bridge uniting Indonesians across this vast archipelago of over 13,000 islands.


Bali's landscape is predominantly mountainous, extending Java's central mountain range. Its highest point is the active volcano, Mount Agung, known as the "navel of the world," reaching 10,308 feet (3,142 meters). The primary lowland stretches south of these central mountains.

Climate and Ecology

Bali experiences a dry season from May to November, coinciding with the southeast monsoon. Its flora includes tropical rainforests, occasionally interspersed with teak and revered banyan trees. The western part of the island is home to a range of fauna, including deer, wild pigs, and, historically, tigers.

Historical Roots

Bali's rich cultural heritage mainly blossomed during the Majapahit Empire era (1293-1520 AD), under the rule of Hayam Wuruk. This period saw the influx of Hindu-Javanese culture, shaping Bali's arts. Following internal conflicts and the decline of the Majapahit Empire in the 15th century, many Hindu priests, intellectuals, and royal court members sought refuge in Bali, further enriching its cultural tapestry.


Since the influx of visitors in the 1980s, tourism has soared, propelling Bali's economy by 80%. Notable attractions like Pura Ulun Danu Batur Temple, Kuta Beach, and Uluwatu Temple draw in travelers. Beyond tourism, Bali hosts cultural events like the Indonesian International Film Festival, offering a glimpse into the vibrant cultural landscape of this Indonesian gem.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Do I Need an International Driving Permit in Bali?

Yes, it's advisable to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your native driver's license. The IDP serves as a translation of your original driver's license into several languages, including English and Indonesian, making it easier for local authorities to understand your credentials.

While your native driver's license might be accepted by some car rental agencies, having an IDP ensures you comply with local regulations and avoid potential issues with law enforcement. It's essential if your native license is not in English, as an IDP can facilitate smoother communication and compliance with local driving laws

How Do I Get an International Driving Permit?

To secure an IDP, visit the International Drivers Association website and select a package.

Can I Drive in Bali with Only My Native Driver's License?

While some car rental agencies may accept your native driver's license, it is advisable to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) for driving in Bali. The IDP serves as a translation of your original license and can help ensure smoother communication with local authorities, especially if your native license is not in English.

What Are the Driving Regulations in Bali?

Bali follows Indonesian driving regulations. Ensure you drive on the left side of the road and adhere to speed limits. Seat belts are mandatory, and helmet use is required for motorbike riders. Avoid using a mobile phone while driving, and be cautious of local road conditions.

Are there Toll Roads in Bali?

Yes, Bali has toll roads, such as the Mandara Toll Road connecting Nusa Dua, Ngurah Rai Airport, and Benoa Harbor. Be prepared to pay toll fees, and ensure you have sufficient local currency for payment. Toll fees can vary based on the distance traveled, so it's advisable to check the current rates before embarking on your journey.

Renting a Car in Bali

Bali, known for its picturesque landscapes, is best experienced by driving. Renting a car, bike, or scooter offers an intimate way to savor the island’s beauty and serenity.

Car Rental in Bali

While some sources may discourage driving without a driver in Bali, it is entirely feasible. Many people opt to rent a car or bike for a day trip to explore the island and take in the sights. With so much to see, a full day of sightseeing can be both enjoyable and tiring.

Do I need a Bali driving license to operate a scooter or car in the province? Not necessarily. This requirement typically applies to those intending to drive and reside on the island for more than three months. If you are on a tourist visa for less than three months, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is sufficient.

Preferred Vehicle Types

Cars offer a safer travel option than motorbikes, with mini SUVs and hatchbacks like the Toyota Avanza and Toyota Agya being popular choices. These vehicles suit Bali's challenging road conditions, characterized by off-road terrain and potholes. However, scooters are a great alternative for those seeking a more adventurous Bali experience, especially for navigating narrow roads.

Car Rental Costs

Rental prices vary by vehicle type and rental duration. On average, car rental in Bali costs around $49 per day or $346 for a week.

Age Requirements for Driving

In Indonesia, the National Police issues driving licenses. The eligibility age for a license is 17 years (for class A), with specific age requirements for different license classes. Applicants must pass both theory and practical driving tests.

Car Insurance in Bali

The average annual premium for basic car insurance in Indonesia is approximately Rp385,000 ($25.76 USD) for total loss-only coverage and Rp2,182,525.47 ($141.38) for comprehensive coverage. Factors influencing premiums include the car's make, model, year, and additional coverages.

Since 2017, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has regulated insurance premiums based on vehicle type and region. While not mandatory for private vehicles, car insurance in Bali offers financial protection against accidents and theft.

Standard policies typically cover vehicle damage, theft, and claims at non-authorized workshops. For additional protection, riders can be purchased at an extra premium from the best car insurance in bali.

Understanding Bali's Road Rules

Navigating Bali’s roads requires familiarizing yourself with local driving regulations, even as a tourist. Here’s a guide to the essential road rules in Bali:

Driving on the Left Side

Like in many countries influenced by Dutch colonization, vehicles drive on the left side of the road in Bali. This practice aligns with Japan, Indonesia’s second colonizer, where left-side driving is the norm.

Overtaking Etiquette

Overtaking in Bali doesn’t follow strict rules. The key is courteous driving - a simple beep to signal overtaking is common. Drivers often disregard lane markings and drive centrally, allowing motorcycles to pass on either side. Even when large tourist buses are on the road, motorbikes usually have room to navigate through narrow spaces.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Bali vary by location: urban areas are generally limited to 50 kph, rural roads to 80 kph, and highways to 100 kph. Due to numerous reports of motorbike accidents, adherence to these limits is crucial for safety.

Seatbelt Regulations

In Bali, similar to the broader Indonesian rules, drivers and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts. Failure to comply can result in fines from traffic authorities.

However, backseat seatbelt usage is less strictly enforced. When traveling with infants or small children, using child car seats is highly recommended for safety, even though it’s not legally enforced.

By respecting these road rules, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable driving experience in Bali.

Tips for Your Bali Adventure

Bali is a renowned global travel destination, so planning well for your first visit is important. Start booking your flight early, then arrange your accommodation and travel insurance. Organize your itinerary carefully, keeping these key tips in mind:

1. Use Digital Maps and Communication Apps: Before exploring Bali on a motorbike,
download Google Maps on your device, as well as WhatsApp, since they are
commonly used throughout Bali.

2. Consider Hiring a Driver: If you're uncertain about navigating Bali's roads alone,
hiring a driver through your car rental service is a viable option. They can assist with
pickups and drop-offs, and you might even opt for a half-day tour to get acquainted
with local driving customs.

3. Prepare for Crowds: As a top tourist hotspot, expect Bali, especially Ubud and
Canggu, to be bustling. Plan accordingly to navigate the crowds, especially at famous
beaches and attractions.

4. Bring Appropriate Attire: Some bars and venues in Bali have dress codes. While
enjoying the nightlife, pack formal wear alongside your casual outfits, as beachwear
and overly revealing clothes might not always be suitable.

5. Respect Local Culture and Religion: As a visitor, respecting Bali's cultural and
religious practices is crucial. Research beforehand to avoid unintentional disrespect.
Even as a valued tourist, understanding and adhering to local customs is essential for
a harmonious visit.

Top Destinations in Bali

Explore the best places to visit in Bali, each offering a unique blend of natural wonders, cultural heritage, and vibrant experiences.


Nestled amidst lush terraced rice fields and surrounded by dense rainforests, Ubud is Bali's cultural heart. Renowned for its vibrant arts scene, visitors can explore traditional markets, art galleries, and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The town also offers a serene escape with its yoga retreats and scenic landscapes.

Uluwatu Temple

Perched on a clifftop overlooking the Indian Ocean, Uluwatu Temple is not only a sacred sea temple but also a spectacular vantage point for stunning sunsets. The traditional Kecak dance performances against the backdrop of the ocean add a touch of cultural richness to this majestic site.

Tanah Lot

Set on a rock formation just offshore, Tanah Lot is one of Bali's magnificent sea temples. Surrounded by crashing waves, this temple becomes a surreal silhouette during sunset, creating a breathtaking panorama. The cultural significance and natural beauty make Tanah Lot a must-visit destination.

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

The Tegallalang Rice Terraces present a mesmerizing landscape of intricate, emerald-green rice paddies sculpted into the rolling hills of central Bali. Visitors can explore the terraces on foot, capturing the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site and engaging with local farmers who maintain this centuries-old agricultural tradition.

Seminyak Beach

Seminyak Beach is renowned for its upscale resorts, high-end shopping, and vibrant nightlife. The beach itself offers golden sands and excellent surf breaks. Visitors can indulge in beachfront dining, upscale boutiques, and trendy beach clubs, making Seminyak a perfect blend of relaxation and sophistication.

Get an IDP to Explore Bali

The Pura Ulun Danu Batur Temple, Kuta Beach, Nusa Lembongan, and other popular Bali attractions await you. Secure an International Driving Permit to fully experience the island's stunning beaches and rich culture!


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