There are many modes of transport to help
you "Jalan Jalan" your way around Bali. A variety of excellent
half day, full day and overnight tour packages are available from many hotel
tour-desk or from the numerous travel agents and tour operators which
abound in Bali. Or you can find a car and driver who will also act as
While walking around in Kuta, Legian and in Sanur, you will be barraged with constant questions of "Transport, transport?". Competition is tight and many drivers know several languages. Tell the driver your desired route and negotiate a fee. Be wary of being taken to his "friend's" restaurant or shop in which you may have no interest, so the driver can collect a commission for bringing you there!
An important virtue to have while on the road in Bali is patience! Although the road system in the heavily populated areas is quite reasonable (condition wise) in comparison to other developing countries, it can be heavily congested at peak periods. Ceremonial processions often overtake the whole road so if you're caught behind a procession, enjoy the colorful experience. Roads can be quite narrow with heavy pedestrian traffic on each side.
In less populated areas, roads may not be sealed and the famous "gang" (very small road just big enough to accommodate one car, but very often two-way) is ever present no matter what area you may be in. This invariably tests the reversing skills of many drivers!
Walking is still one of the best ways to see Bali. You'll be close to the action. Don't forget a sun hat and bottle of water. If you're walking in Kuta be wary of the undulating footpaths and open access holes placed every metro or so in the footpath. Every so often, the access holes are left open or the lid is broken, which can result in a nasty fall especially at night.
The public transport system in Bali can virtually take you anywhere you want to go but slowly. Buses and bemos are often over-crowded and hot and are recommended for short trips only. They do have the redeeming factor of being very cheap! Wait by the side of the road and one will inevitably pass by for you to flag down to stop. Get down where you want, by loudly saying "STOOOOOPP!" Bemos generally cater for local traffic routes not tourist routes, but you can charter empty bemos for a higher price. Metered taxis are readily available at very reasonable prices. There is a minimum charge of Rp 4,000 flag fall and you can book by phone. If the driver is hesitant to put on the meter, insist or change taxi's.
Bicycles are available but bear in mind heavy traffic in Kuta, Legian and Denpasar. Bicycles are ideal in candi Dasa and in Lovina and the countryside if you're fit. A few companies offer mountain biking excursions.
If you're feeling brave, hire cars and motorbikes are the thing for you. You will need your license from your home country and an international driving license for renting a car and a special permit available at police stations for renting a motorbike. The rental company can help you obtain this, but it can take half a day of your precious holiday time. It is obligatory to wear a helmet although the helmets provided are usually no more useful if you were to don a plastic ice cream container on your head! Types of cars available are usually small jeeps or Kijangs (larger car with room for 6 people).
There are some important points to remember while driving in Bali. It is not unusual for cars and bikes to swerve into you lane without indication. Because there are often obstacles such as parked cars or the ever present procession of bakso trolleys and salesmen of all types of paraphernalia on the sides of the road, a system of "sharing lanes" has developed.
That's okay if you're used to it but can be quite a shock to the "virgin" driver in Bali! Be aware that drivers from side streets often don't look when joining a main road and the larger vehicle is king of the road.
Quite often red traffic lights are considered "only as a suggestion" and there are a few lights where traffic in the left lane may turn or continue straight through whilst the light is red.
Remember to "hoot" you horn when going around curves on mountainous roads as it is very common to drive in the middle of the road here. There are a lot of one way roads in Bali, (meant to help traffic flow but it hasn't really turned out that way!) If you miss your turn off you may have to drive quite a distance before being able to turn back. This has resulted in motorbike riders riding a few hundred metros in the wrong direction, as a shortcut rather than following traffic flow. Be alert!
It is not recommended to drive at night especially on the to Gilimanuk where the ferry to Java commences. Truck drivers to and from Java are notorious for overtaking on corners. Obstacles such as pot holes or road construction is often marked only by a leafy tree branch. By the time you think "What's that there for?" you could well be in a pothole!
You can fill up at any of the numerous government owned petrol stations or in more remote areas at stalls by the side of the road displaying bottles of clear liquid. The quality may not be as good as at the petrol station.
One way to beat the traffic is to go by air! There are few companies who provide helicopters for joy rides or charter. Or go by boat. One ingenious individual who wanted to avoid the flooded and traffic jammed By-pass chartered a boat from Benoa Harbor to Nusa Dua. It's all possible in Bali.