Renting a Car in Bali

Everything You Need to Know About Bali Car Rentals

    Here’s how to rent a car in Bali, with some tips and advice to ensure you have a smooth, safe and pleasurable time on the island. With so many things to see and do in Bali, it’s one of the best ways to get you around, enabling you to explore the sights and attractions of the island at your own pace, freely and at a lower cost when compared to taking multiple rides by taxi.

    A big advantage of renting your own car, you can enjoy spontaneous stopovers and create your own adventure. Be it driving through the central highlands to see Bali’s mountain temples and lakes or traversing the southern peninsula for its collection of great surfing beaches, your road starts and ends only whenever you decide. Safe journeys! Or, as locals bid you, “Selamat Jalan!”

    Travelling around Bali in a car is safer than a motorbike, for the obvious reason that it’s a lot harder to fall off a car and the safety features of the vehicle make collisions more survivable. The most common types of cars available for rental are mini SUVs and hatchbacks – usually models like the Toyota Avanza and Toyota Agya, although brands and models vary across car rentals in Bali.

    You can choose from daily, weekly and monthly services. You also have to choose whether you want a chauffeured or self-drive rental, the former being with a driver’s fee added to the rates. Some companies also offer a guide in addition to a driver. Car rentals can often be arranged through your hotel’s concierge desk and are a good option if you’re a long-staying guest.

    There have been common cases of rentals having their cars stolen, so don’t be surprised if owners or companies can be quite pushy at times. If you don’t return your car within 48 hours of the agreed return time and date, they won’t hesitate to file a police report for car theft.

    Do you need an international license to ride a car in Bali?

    If you’re self-driving, yes. It’s mandatory, actually. Traffic police in Bali routinely stop and check foreign drivers to make sure that they have the appropriate paperwork. Usually, your home country-issued international license in addition to your regular driver’s license is enough. If you don’t have them with you, be prepared to pay a fine.

    You can apply for a temporary tourists’ license (with limited validity) at the international services of the Poltabes (city police headquarters) on Jalan Gunung Sanghyang in West Denpasar. You will need to present originals and photocopies of your passport, KITAS permit, and pay a fee of around Rp 250,000-350,000.

    Do Bali car rentals come with insurance?

    Major rental companies include insurance in their rental rates. Small, locally run operators offer limited or no coverage, so it's often safer (if more expensive) to use one of the larger companies. Your hotel concierge will have a good idea of which companies offer which level of coverage and at what price.

    How much does it cost to rent a car in Bali?

    Depending on the type of car, daily rentals are normally in the region of Rp 150,000-500,000. Automatic transmission cars are usually a little more expensive than manual gears.

    What to check for...

    Day rentals are for 24 hours and, if you exceed that time, you’ll normally be charged for additional hours, ranging between Rp 50,000 and 75,000 per extra hour, or a full day’s rent for over 3 extra hours. You’ll usually be informed of the company’s specific rules in this regard while signing the paperwork, but it’s good to call and inform them should you wish to use a few extra hours without being charged for another full day.

    Check for the overall condition of the vehicle, both inside and out. Inspect the car’s body for any scratches or dents and point them out to the rental company if you find any. Ideally, you should photograph any such damage, too. Also, check the tyre pressure and tread conditions and make sure the air-conditioning is fully functional. Finally, fuel – most companies give you a quarter-tank but others supply a full tank. You might be required to return the car with the same amount of fuel you took it out with.

    Tips and advice

    Driving in Bali is on the left-hand side of the road, with the driver’s seat and steering wheel on the right. Driving a car in Bali can be stressful, with chaotic traffic and many motorcycles that zigzag in and out. Don’t assume other drivers will follow the typical rules of the road – remain constantly vigilant and err on the side of extreme caution.

    Unprecedented roadblocks, be it ritual temple pilgrimages and religious processions, are also a thing in Bali and you may get stuck behind one for up to half an hour or more. Watch your fuel level and stock the car with some munchies and drinks.

    Some locally-managed car rentals can be found in most popular resorts such as Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Ubud, with signs clearly bearing, “Rent a Car”. It’s easier to ask your hotel’s concierge, who might also refer and arrange for you.

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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