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Getting Around Bali

There are many different ways of getting around Bali. By far the most popular and accessible form of transport these days is the moped. Modern mopeds are economical, automatic, very ergonomical, and should all be fitted with silencers, and hence not make the wretched explosive sound that they would have done fifteen years ago. In general you should pay around 3USD a day for rental. A liter of petrol costs you (at time of writing) 4500 Rupiah, or around half a US dollar. It is cheaper to fill up from Pertamina petrol stations as the fuel sold on the roadside in bottles could be diluted as is always more expensive. A full tank in most mopeds is about three or four liters, and this should be enough to drive you nearly from on side of Bali to the other! Always be sure to get insurance and tick the insurance box on the paper carbon copy of your rental agreement. Without insurance you could be liable for unto 1000 US dollars fees in the event of fire or theft. Also ask your rental man to fix you up with a short term license. These work for some road checks, but to be sure you should try and arrange an International Drivers License from your country before departing for Indonesia. Normally this is just simple paperwork and a cheap fee paid at your local post office. Helmets are compulsory so be sure to ask your rental guy for one, otherwise you’ll get pulled over and fined at the first opportunity.

The second preferred form of local transport is the bemo. This is a small and cramped van that can squeeze over 16 bodies in. You’ll be amazed at how well locals can pack these bemos with people, livestock, agricultural produce, kids, and so on. The ride will be bumpy, surprisingly cozy when fully squished in amongst rotund elderly ibus, probably confusing since it is almost impossible to see anything other than the people packed around you and hence not see out the windows or get your bearings, but it is a valuable cultural experience that should be lived at least once or twice. The bottom line is they are very cheap, but not always easy to figure out the routes or times unless you already know from past experience or from a local. Most bemo drivers upon seeing a bule (Westerner) will immediately try and rent it out privately to you and often ask for more money than it would cost you to hire a car and driver for the day.

Private cars and drivers are the preferred means for those wishing for luxury and who don’t mind spending some money. Simply hire a driver and car (usually in shifts of up to ten hours), and tell them where you want to go. Be thoughtful towards other road users and tell your driver you’ll tip him if he drives pelan pelan (slowly and responsibly), since you are considered to be in an exclusive and executive type of locomotion when using these hired cars, and locals will drive as fast as possible and force other drivers off the road because they think that is what is expected from them – so just remind them your on holiday and you’re not in any hurry, and things should be fine.

Taxis are a good bet for getting simply from A to B and can be found all over Bali. Make sure the driver puts the meter on and you won’t get ripped off. The ride is usually fairly smooth and direct.