Need information about renting a car in Bali? You have come to the right place, as we live in Bali and have rented cars on many occasions from several different companies here. If you stay the course til the end of the article you are going to feel confident about the entire car rental process-plus get 10 tips on driving a car in Bali.
If you’ve been looking into renting a car in Bali at all, it’s likely that you have run into some conflicting information about the procedure. There is a lot of confusion about what renting a car looks like in Bali-but don’t worry we are going to clear all of that up in this article!
Getting Started Renting a Car Bali
Why so much confusion about car rentals in Bali? Terminology may be to blame for some of the misunderstandings.
If you are from the US, Australia, Europe and ask to rent a car you are most likely asking to rent a car that you plan to drive yourself. But, in Bali if you ask a hotel concierge, airbnb host or other service provider in the tourism industry about renting a car, most will think that you are asking to rent a car with a driver.
First off, let’s jump into car rentals with a driver since it’s such a popular option here in Bali. Then we’ll focus the rest of the article on renting a self-drive car.
Bali Car Rental With a Driver
Do you prefer to be chauffeured around versus do-it-yourself driving? One of the main considerations here is how comfortable you are driving in a foreign country and one with less than ideal road infrastructure and suffocating traffic at times…haha a bit dramatic but definitely the truth.
Should you hire a private driver? Things to consider:
- Liability. The undersized Bali roads have a lot going on. You will experience heavy traffic congestion made more complicated by large trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and motorbikes-that seem to be squeezing through every crack and crevice to beat the traffic. It’s not uncommon to see entire families loaded on one motorbike and unfortunately often without helmets on. If you’re someone that like to avoid potential liabilities then you should consider hiring a driver.
- Navigation. Google maps work ok in Bali at getting you from point A to point B. But, it is definitely not perfect and with one-way streets, motorbike only roads and road construction, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the Island of the Gods. Drivers generally know the roads better and are up on the current conditions.
- Hassle. It’s not a secret that driving around Bali is no walk in the park. Maneuvering a car through the traffic mayhem and tiny spaces and then trying to find a spot to park can leave you with a big headache.
- Law. It’s not often but it is possible to be pulled aside by the police. Usually there is a reason that they single you out-but not always. They will check your registration papers, rental agreement, drivers license and International Drivers Permit (IDP). If anyone of these things are not in order you will be subject to a fine. It can be a hefty one too!
- Cost. To hire a private driver for the day it generally costs and extra $15-$20 usd per day. You still pay for daily rental fee and the gas.
- Traffic rules spoken and unspoken. Every country has different driving rules and culture-Bali is no different. Understanding the rules and the flow of traffic can really only be learned by experiencing it. It can take some time to fully understand how to drive in Bali.
A lot of things to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a driver for your Bali car rental.
Looking to hire a Private Driver?
Check directly with the car rental companies. They will be able to offer that service for you. If you want to go direct to a private car hire service I recommend contacting Bali Honest Driver.
With all that being said, to truly experience the ultimate freedom to explore Bali where and when you want you’ll want to consider a self-drive car rental. Let’s talk about it!
Renting a Car in Bali – Self Drive
With literally zero public transportation in Bali, your transportation options are renting a car, a scooter, taxi, GoJek (Uber on a scooter) or Grab Car (like Uber or Lyft).
Bali is a rather large island at 2,230 square miles. By comparison the island of Oahu in Hawaii is 596 square miles. If you’re not planning to stay in just one area and you’re looking to explore many different parts of the island then your best option may be to rent a self drive car.
Renting a self-drive car in Bali will allow you freedom to explore North, South, East or West Bali with very little limitations.
We are going to discuss what it takes to rent a car in Bali including car rental insurance questions. Plus, we’ll discuss 10 useful tips for driving around Bali. Ready to learn all about renting a car in Bali?
Let’s get to it, starting with the most frequently asked questions about renting cars in Bali.
Renting a Car in Bali FAQ
Can I rent a car in Bali?
As far as what is required to rent a self-drive car in Bali you really only require these three things:
1. Valid Driver’s License
If you have a valid U.S. driver’s license or one from your native country, you can rent a car in Bali. You are also required to have an IDP (International Driving Permit) though most car rental companies in Bali are not strict about this. However, if you do get pulled over by the police you more than likely will be asked to produce an IDP and a digital photo will not suffice-must be the actual hard copy International Driving Permit from your country. If you don’t have one on your person you will be fined at a minimum and believe it is not cheap-speaking from experience ugh.
Need an International Drivers Permit (IDP)? Apply for one here
2. You Must be 21 Years Old (But preferably 23)
If you’re over the age of 23 you should have no problem being able to rent a car without any limitations. But, like most places in the world, youth is not your friend when renting a car in Bali. You may be able to find a company will rent to under age 23 but be aware of any age policies and/or surcharges that maybe be attached to the rental agreement.
3. Cash and/or Credit Card
Cash is always king in Bali and is the preferred method of payment. Depending on the company, cash will get you the cheapest car rental rate (at least that has been my experience). Also, most of the licensed car rental companies in Bali do offer the option to pay by credit card. Typically Visa, Mastercard and often American Express are accepted for payment, though a 2-3% surcharge will be added to the transaction.
Is it safe to rent a car in Bali?
Yes, it is safe to rent a self-drive car in Bali. Speaking from a safety standpoint, in general, cars in Bali are equipped with modern safety systems (seatbelts and airbags) and most companies do offer booster seats or car seats to rent upon request. Driving speeds are relatively slower than larger more spread out countries like the US, Europe and Australia.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Bali?
You can rent cars by the day, week, or month in Bali. Roughly speaking, you can rent a compact car for about $15 usd per day and a larger car like the Toyota Fortuner for about $65 with tons of in between options. Manual transmission is most common but automatics are available. They will cost you $5-10 more per day. Also, the longer the rental period the better pricing you will receive.
What kind of Bali cars are for rent?
You can rent small compact cars like the Toyota Agya or Suzuki Splash. Medium sized family cars would be like a Toyota Avanza or Innova. There are some mini vans available like the Suzuki APV. If you are looking for an SUV many companies offer the the Toyota Fortuner, Raize or Honda CRV.
What are the top rental car companies in Bali?
While there are some of the larger car rental brands in Bali like Avis, most of the car rental companies are local. Some of the top Bali car rental companies are Drive in Bali, Bali Car Hire, Echo Bali Car Rental, and Bali Matic Car Rental (BMC). Our go to for an automatic family sized car is BMC, check with Ivan for the best rates and service.
Do you need insurance to rent a car in Bali?
Most of the top car rental companies in Bali already have insurance to cover damage to the car included in the daily rental rate. But, always, always check and make sure that you have that spelled out in writing in your rental agreement. There is often an insurance deductible of between $250-$500 usd if you were to need to make a damage claim. Some companies will offer an additional insurance option that will lessen or zero out the out-of-pocket deductible costs.
What is the Best Way to Find a Car Rental in Bali?
Travel booking sites like Travelocity, Booking.com, Expedia and Priceline are not the best way to find a rental car in Bali. Kayak does have a few option as it does partner with Avis Car Rental Bali.
Booking a rental car through your hotel concierge is a great option since they have some accountability to the partners that they recommend. Otherwise, the best way to find a car rental in Bali is to do an online search for the local companies. Google can be a good resource to identify which companies will provide the best car rental service, thanks to their google review system.
Some of the local Bali car rental companies that we recommend contacting are: Drive in Bali, Bali Car Hire, Echo Bali Car Rental, and Bali Matic Car Rental (BMC). Our go to for an automatic family sized car is BMC, check with Ivan for the best rates and service.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed on Your Bali Car Rental
- Make sure to use a reputable licensed company. If the price seems too good to be true it probably is.
- Never pay 100% upfront at booking. If a small booking deposit is required, make sure to use a credit card or PayPal where you have some protections as a buyer. (Most business for Bali car rentals is done face to face and the full balance is required on rental day 1 when you take possession of the car).
- Take lots of photos inside and outside of the car prior to taking possession. (I also like to do a full video walk around of the car making sure to capture the actual odometer showing kilometers/miles).
- Make sure to get a copy of the signed car rental agreement. (I will usually take a photo of the cash paid with the contract).
Should I Rent a Car if Staying in Canggu?
Canggu is one of the most difficult places to drive a car in Bali. The streets are incredibly narrow, parking is limited and the concentration of tourists is one of the highest on the island. If you are just staying in Canggu and not planning to visit any other parts of Bali I suggest not renting a car and either rent a motorbike or use GoJek (like Uber on a scooter) or Grab Car Rental (like Uber).
If you decide to rent a car in Canggu, checkout BMC Car Rental and talk to Ivan.
10 Bali Driving Tips: You Need to Know
1) Drive On the Left Side of the Road
Unlike the US, you drive on the left side of the road in Bali. The drivers side of the car is on the right side of the vehicle forcing your brain to operate opposite of what you may be used to if coming from the US.
2) Go With the Flow
Driving in Bali at first can seem like chaos with no rhyme or reason to what the rules are. But, there is reason and somehow it just works. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Go with the flow and try avoid any sudden stops or actions.
3) Use Your Horn
Contrary to what you are used to in the US, using your horn in Bali is polite. It signals to the other drivers around that you are there, coming through or that you may be passing them by.
4) Carry Your Drivers License and IDP (International Drivers Permit)
This may seem basic but it’s so important. If you happen to get pulled over by the police, they will ask you to show your drivers license and IDP. If you cannot produce either one you are looking at an unfriendly fine.
Need an International Drivers Permit (IDP)? Apply for one here
5) Use Your Turn Signals and Flashers
Make sure to not only use your turn signals when you are turning but also when you are passing. Scooters are much more nimble than cars and use that to their advantage to weave in and out of traffic. Signaling lets them know you are coming over. Also, use your hazard flashers when going straight through a clogged intersection.
6) Don’t Drive Distracted
There is a lot happening on the roads in Bali. You will need your full attention and your best defensive driving skills. It’s best to use audio prompts on GPS to avoid having to look away from the roads.
7) Make Eye Contact With Drivers and Pedestrians
Don’t assume others see and will yield to you. When turning, pulling in or out in heavy traffic make sure that you make eye contact with those whose path you will be crossing.
8) Traffic Lights are Soft Signals
It is not uncommon to have traffic still passing through an intersection well after the traffic light has turned red. Be aware that the red light is not a hard stop. Also, there is an extra step before the traffic light turns green it will flash yellow to prepare the traffic to go. Scooters often take advantage of this and beat the cars to the punch.
9) Be Patient and Keep Your Calm
Make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time when driving in Bali. Add in an extra 30-45 minutes of cushion to account for traffic. Also, try not to take things too personally. Motorbike cutting in and out of traffic is normal in Bali.
10) Gas Stations Are Not Self Serve
You don’t pump your own gas in Bali. Gas station attendants will take care of that for you. Two lines typically form, one for the more premium Pertamax and the other for Pertalite. Lines can be quite long and cash payment is typically required.
Final Thoughts: Renting a Car in Bali
A Bali road trip is one of the best ways to experience some of the best hidden gems on the Island of the Gods. Especially if you want to explore Bali places off the beaten path like the waterfalls near Ubud, Gates of Heaven near Amed, beaches of Uluwatu or dolphin watching in Lovina.
Driving in Bali is generally safe and the rental process is straightforward. You can find a good selection of cars from compact to larger SUV’s that can seat 6-7 people.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when renting a car in Bali is to be sure to use a reputable company making sure to have proper documentation. And don’t forget the ten tips for driving a car in Bali.