In April 2010, new driving laws were introduced by the Indonesian government. With fines payable or even prison sentences! However, unless it is a serious incident, it is more likely that a fine will be payable, not necessarily the official amount and with a receipt issued! It is common knowledge that tourists are an easy target for being stopped by the police and issued with a fine, if only to boost their official figures!
A word of caution: Scooters are easy to hire, but are not necessarily well maintained or come with insurance.
There are various ways of getting around Bali.
There are agencies that rent mountain bikes in the tourist resorts and also companies that specialise in day excursions by bike, especially around the Ubud area.
If you just want to dip your toe in the water and have a short bicycle ride in the country without going on a tour, take a look at this route.
BY HORSE CART
Small horse carts called Dokar can be found in some towns in Bali. Negotiate as you would do normally.
Made for short supple people with tiny bottoms!
Apart from energetic things like walking or cycling, a bemo is the cheapest form of transport in Bali. The main bemo terminal is in Denpasar, the islands capital, from where you can catch bemos all across the island. In some of the resorts, the drivers will toot and slow down hoping you have had enough of jalan jalan!
If you are making a journey across the island, bemos tend to go when they are full so you may have a little wait until the driver feels the numbers on board justify his journey! As they are the number 1 mode of transport used by locals, be prepared to share the bemo not just with them, but also their purchases from the market, including their chickens!
BY TOURIST BUS
Tourist buses are great for the independent traveller or for going on longer one-way journeys; and definitely more comfortable than a bemo! Tourist bus tickets can be booked at most travel agencies which are found just about on every corner!
Taxis are plentiful, the biggest company in Indonesia being Bluebird. Taxis are clearly identified and are good for short single way journeys as not only do they have a meter, but they are also satellite monitored by the company, cutting out any overcharging by the driver.
All taxis are blue, Bluebird taxis are identified by their name written on the side of the car. The other taxis have meters, although some drivers don't always use them, charging what they think they can get which is often much higher than the usual fare.
The other day, we were quoted by two different taxis 150,000 and 70,000 rupiah for the same journey. We took a taxi that was happy to use his meter and it cost us 18,500 rupiah! Some difference, so always confirm they will use the meter before you get in the taxi.
The scooter is the most common form of transport in Bali. It is also the most risky! The Balinese are not the most disciplined of drivers and I am sure that the only reason Bali is not in the worlds top 10 worst places to drive is because apart from not driving as fast as we in the west, when they do have an accident, unless serious, they just make sure that each other is not hurt and they go on their way, no claims, no paperwork and no insurance like we have in the west!
It is always recommended that if you only see or come upon an accident, do not stop! The less scrupulous will see you as a meal ticket and before you know it, you are blamed for the accident and at best will ultimately have to part with your cash to placate the injured party! Crash helmets are compulsory!
A local permit issued at the police office or an international driving permit is required for driving in Indonesia.
Police checks on foreigners driving cars and scooters are frequent as they are deemed to be a soft target for a fine! Police wages are a pittance, and some see their badge of office as a means of bolstering their income!
BY PRIVATE CAR AND DRIVER
Whilst travelling in various countries throughout Asia, we generally take the bus, the bemo or the jeepney, but here in Bali, hiring a driver is very economical, even for 2 of you. Unless you are backpacking on a very tight budget, it really is the only to travel!
When we first went to Bali, we used several drivers, most of them were o.k., but we always detested having to negotiate with them. I think, being in tourism and well travelled, having the boot on the other foot so to speak, has made us wary of someone trying to make a fast buck off us or us paying for a mediocre service.
Jalan Jalan means to go walking or to take the air, always our reply to touting taxi drivers!
When a driver asks you if you want to take an excursion (and it is the tenth one of the morning), do not be rude or ignore them, they are just trying to earn a living for themselves and their family. Take a leaf from their book, just smile and gracefully say no thanks, not today! Of course, they will reply maybe tomorrow?!
On our second trip we met Nyoman, like most drivers, on the side of the road looking for his next clients. With a lovely friendly smile and a quietly confident assurance of a great day out, we committed ourselves to him for the day. Of course, it was a great day and we have been on a journey with him ever since!
He has escorted many of our friends and family over the years and as a conscientious and fun person to be with, we are always keen to introduce Nyoman to anyone that has Bali on their itinerary!
If you want Nyoman to take care of you during your stay, let us know and we can arrange this for you. In addition, if you have no fixed plans, then let us know how long you intend to stay in Bali and we can even create an itinerary to personally suit you!
Click Here to Enquire
ABOUT NYOMAN (NORMAN)
Nyoman who is married to Wayan, obtained his license and started as a tour guide when he was 20 years old.
He is now the father to Wayan Dewi, (cute as can be!), the priest of his village and now also teaches yoga and meditation. Oh yes, his English is great, as is his German, (so we are told!) and he continues to master his Japanese!
Ferries leave from Sanur or Benoa to Nusa Lembongan daily. You can take either a private ferry shared by everyone at a fixed reasonable rate or you can get the public ferry. When you go into the ferry office, they will offer you the private or public one, explaining that the public one will not go until they have a certain amount of passengers. Of course, you will call his bluff and say you will get the public one, at which point he will give you the pad to write your name down on. It is no surprise to find that you are the first passenger on the list! Needless to say, most will take the private ferry!
Do not use touts for the ferries, but sometimes, it is the boatmen themselves that will direct you to the ferry office, just so they can fill their boat and get going. To be sure, pay the ticket office direct.
Fast boats also leave from Padangbai, Sanur, and Serangan for the Gili Islands and Lombok. There is also the public one, (with the same empty passenger lists)!. Shop around! Most agencies quote 500,000 - 600,000 rupiah one way but there will always be someone to cut a deal a for lot less. I think last time we paid about 350,000 rupiah to The Gilis and Lombok and when we got to the Eka Jaya office in Padangbai for the outbound trip, they let us pay the same for a open return ticket. If you buy the return ticket on Lombok or the Gilis, they will charge you the full price as they know you invariably have to go back to Bali!
Ferries to the other islands, not used so much by tourists, and are therefore less negotiable and a standard rate applies.
If you are traveling to Lombok, check out the flights from Denpasar. These can be very inexpensive, in fact sometimes cheaper than the fast boat, but not so convenient though if you are going to The Gili Islands.
BY CAR RENTAL
You can hire a car in Bali, but you have to be bonkers to do so! A car and driver are so inexpensive, apart from the fact; I guarantee you will get lost every time!