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Driving in Bali: Navigating the island by scooter or car

Bali Village

Bali’s picturesque landscapes, bustling streets, and scenic coastal roads make it an ideal destination for driving adventures. Whether you prefer the thrill of riding a scooter or the comfort of a car, exploring Bali on your own terms can be an unforgettable experience. However, understanding the local driving regulations and requirements is crucial for a safe and enjoyable journey. Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Bali, including the type of license required.

Driving in Bali: The Basics

1. Traffic Condition:

- Bali’s traffic can be quite chaotic, especially in popular tourist areas like Kuta, Seminyak, and Ubud. Be prepared for narrow roads, busy intersections, and the occasional livestock crossing.

- Traffic drives on the left side of the road, following Indonesian traffic laws.

2. Road Conditions:

- Major roads are generally well-maintained, but smaller roads can be uneven, with potholes and sharp bends. Drive cautiously, particularly in rural areas.

- Road signage might not always be in English, so having a GPS or a reliable map app is recommended.

3. Driving Etiquette:

- Balinese drivers often use their horns to signal intentions, such as overtaking or alerting others. Don’t be alarmed; it’s a normal part of driving etiquette here.

- Patience and attentiveness are key. Be mindful of scooters weaving through traffic and pedestrians crossing unexpectedly.

Scooters: The Popular Choice

Motorbike Rental

1. Why Ride a Scooter?:

- Scooters are a popular mode of transport in Bali due to their affordability, fuel efficiency, and ease of maneuvering through traffic.

- Renting a scooter allows for flexible and spontaneous travel, giving you the freedom to explore hidden gems off the beaten path.

-Only ride a scooter if you are an experienced rider

2. License Requirements for Scooters:

- International Driving Permit (IDP): To legally ride a scooter in Bali, you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) with the motorcycle endorsement (Class A). Ensure your IDP is valid and carries the appropriate endorsement for motorcycles.

- Local License: Alternatively, you can obtain a temporary local license from the police station in Bali, though this process can be time-consuming.

3. Safety Tips:

-Always wear a helmet, which is mandatory by law. Both the rider and any passenger must wear helmets and you should have experience riding a bike. The roads are dangerous.

-Drive defensively and stay alert to avoid sudden obstacles and erratic driving by others.

-Avoid riding during heavy rain as roads can become slippery and visibility may be poor.

-Watch out for other riders who have no consideration for road rules

-Never ride a scooter under the influence of alcohol or you insurance will be void.

Cars: Comfort and Convenience

1. Why Drive a Car?:

-Renting a car offers greater comfort, safety, and the ability to carry more luggage, making it ideal for families or groups.

-Cars are better suited for long-distance travel across the island, especially if you plan to visit multiple regions or travel with children.

-Cars provide more protection in the event of an accident.

2. License Requirements for Cars:

- International Driving Permit (IDP): Similar to scooters, you need an IDP with the appropriate endorsement (Class B) to drive a car in Bali.

- Local License: A temporary local license can also be obtained, but having an IDP is generally more convenient for tourists.

3. Driving Tips:

- Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. Ensure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.

- Use caution when navigating through crowded areas and be prepared for sudden stops or slow-moving traffic.

- Parking can be challenging in busy areas, so look for designated parking zones and avoid illegal parking to prevent fines or towing.

Renting Vehicles in Bali

1. Rental Agencies:

- Numerous rental agencies offer scooters and cars at varying prices. It’s advisable to choose a reputable company with good reviews to ensure the quality and safety of the vehicle.

- Check the rental agreement for insurance coverage details and understand what is included in the rental price.

2. Insurance:

- Comprehensive insurance is crucial. Ensure your rental includes insurance that covers damage, theft, and third-party liability. Many locals drive without insurance so if they hit you they are not insured.

- Verify what the insurance policy covers and consider purchasing additional coverage if needed.

3. Documentation:

- Always carry your IDP, passport, and rental agreement while driving. These documents may be required at police checkpoints or in case of an accident.


Driving in Bali, whether on a scooter or in a car, offers an incredible way to experience the island’s beauty and culture at your own pace however it can be dangerous. It is essential to understand the local driving regulations (?) and ensure you have the proper licenses and insurance. The traffic can be very stressful and dangerous.

At Bali Insight Living we would recommend that you hire a driver to see the island, you can sit back enjoy the view and let the driver take control. Drivers also act as a guide and are full of useful information and insight and know there way around, where to stop for lunch or a break. If you just need to travel from A to B then we recommend you use a Grab or GoJek which provide either scooters or cars at very reasonable rates. Scooters can be handy in more populated areas to skip through the traffic.

Bali Insight Living offers a comprehensive concierge service for those considering retirement in Bali. We assist with every aspect of your move and help you seamlessly transition into the Bali lifestyle, guiding you on where to go and where to find everything you need and what you should and should not do!

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