Transportation

By far the easiest way to get around is by motorbike.  Motorbikes are like a cross between a scooter and a motorcycle, and you will see anything from one person to a family of four riding on one (although this is not recommended).   They are extremely cheap to rent (about 3-4 dollars a day), and once you have one you have the freedom to go wherever you want. Honda’s are the best brand of bike, and whatever you do, do NOT get a Yamaha.  They are gas guzzlers and huge and run poorly.  I recommend the Honda Vario, they run well, use gas efficiently, and are easy to drive.  Gas is also cheap, and it usually costs only about 10,000-20,000 rupiah to fill a tank that will last you a few days.  If you are comfortable with the idea of driving one of these, I highly recommend using this as your primary form of transportation.

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Balinese Motorbike

Some things you must know if you are going to rent a motorbike is the Bali style rules of the road.  First, they drive on the left side of the road.  At any time, however, you can pass into the other side of the road to pass a slower bike, as long as there isn’t any oncoming traffic.  Some places have painted road stripes, and the rules are the same as in the US: pass on dashed line, don’t pass on solid line.  Honk if you are going to pass someone, or if you are turning a tight corner that you cant see around.  People in Bali typically tend to follow their own rules and will drive the wrong way on one way streets, pass people in the knick of time, and just seem like they are all out crazy.  Somehow, their weird logic seems to work, and its not that hard to get the hang of it after a couple of days.

I would recommend always wearing helmets if you are unskilled drivers or in a busy area, but the law is that only the driver must wear a helmet.  Cops will try to give you tickets for not buckling the helmet too, so make sure it is buckled correctly.   One more thing, if you get in an accident, it is ALWAYS your fault.  The Balinese logic to this is fabulous: “Im from here.  Youre not from here.  If you weren’t here, then this accident wouldn’t have happened.  Therefore, this is your fault.” Everyone is pretty good at avoiding you, but watch your back and just drive at a pace that is comfortable for you.

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International Drivers License

To drive in Bali you will need an international drivers license, which is available at any AAA store for $20 and you can get it in a few minutes.  You will also need to make sure that when you rent a bike it comes with the registration papers and insurance (which is your rental agreement).  If you get pulled over, this is probably what they will be checking for.  Also, always keep 20,000 rupiah in your international drivers license in case you do get a ticket.  The cop will try to take you for way more then this, but just insist that 20 is all you have, and it should be fine.

If you don’t want to rent a motorbike, you can also get around by taxi.  Finding transport is probably the easiest thing to do in Bali.  Anytime you are walking somewhere, you will be yelled at from all directions asking if you need transport.  This can actually get annoying after awhile, but that means that there is competition among taxis and you have room to bargain.  Always bargain the price of a taxi, because if that guy wont come down, someone else will.  This is by far the most expensive way to get around, and the cost will add up if you are in Bali for a while.  Another option for short, in town rides is to hop on the back of someone else’s motorbike for 10,000 rupiah, and don’t ever pay more than that.   Of course for short distances you can always walk, but nothing in Bali is really ever THAT close and you will probably want to go out and explore, so walking can get a bit tiring.

The final way to get around for longer distances between cities is the perama busses. These are public busses that run from stations in major cities for pretty cheap.  You will see signs for them throughout the towns, and if you cant find the nearest one just ask for “bus” and you should be pointed in the right direction.  The typical fare is about 50,000 rupiah per person.  These busses are slow and usually crowded, but if you are on a budget this is the way to go.  If not, then I would avoid these busses all together and just go for the taxi.