Where and What to Hire
A good range of car rental firms are available on Bali. At Ngurah Rai International Airport local companies Toyota Rent a Car and Panorama offer car hire. In the central north of the island on Pulau Bali there is Jimbaran Car Rental while the central East of Bali there is a choice of Savari Rent Car and Safari located near a dive resort. A little way northwest of the airport, close to and around the capital Denpasar are local firms Bali Sapta Pesona, Jepun Bali and Auto Bali Ca Rental. Bali Car, Kuta Rent Car and Birma Sakti Car Rental are located in Kuta while Bali Trip Car Rental, Rent A Car, Bali Car Rental and Avis are all available in Ubud.
The driving experience in Bali depends on where you are. While much of the island lends itself to tranquil journeys on long, quiet roads, cities like the capital Denpasar are a frenetic, chaotic tangle of scooters, motorbikes, rickshaws, pedestrians and cars. The ‘right-of-way’ rules we are used to in the west are largely ignored on Bali so don’t expect someone to let you out – right of way usually goes by size rather than rule of law. Road signs are not the clearest while large roads can turn into narrow alleys in the blink of an eye. One-way roads are also very common while food-carts, potholes and animals are a few additional hazards to watch out for.
In Bali, parking is quite a free-for-all where a lack of traffic wardens mean drivers leave there cars in all manner of places, regardless of safety. Be careful not to block driveways, roads or shops when parking. Some parking is ticketed with local ‘banjar’s’ issuing tickets to customers for around 500rp. Many restaurants have their own staff dedicated to the task of helping people ‘park and un-park’ their vehicles from the melee outside.
Where to Go and What to See
Having a car is almost essential on Bali – whether you decide to hire a driver or simply drive it yourself. There is so much to see on this little island. For lively non-stop nightlife, beach bars, buzzing markets and a chaotic feel, the capital Denpasar is the place for you. Despite being the capital it is not a major tourist hub and therefore visitors here get a taste of the ‘real’ Bali. Head eastward for beautiful Candidasa, a quiet coastal town where visitors can chill out in tranquil resorts, pootle around on mopeds through lush green countryside or make the most of the spectacular scuba diving in the region. For those who love surfing the waves, Kuta beach offers the best, as well as plenty of shopping and night-life for adults, and entertainment for kids in the form of Waterbom Water Park with its pools and slides. Near Gianyar, in the south east, Bali Safari and Marine Park, another kid’s favourite, boasts elephant rides, a safari, an aquarium and many a rollercoaster. South of Kuta is Jimbaran where seafood is some of the best on the island. Enjoy dinner on a balmy beach while the kids play in the sand and the sun sets behind the sea. If white sandy beaches are becoming a little ‘samey’, why not head for Lovina where dark, black volcanic beaches and idyllic coral reefs line the shores. Tranquillity can be found in Padang Bai, a lovely little fishing village that boasts some excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. Seminyak is the destination of clubbers and night-owls who want to dance the humid nights away in trendy clubs and cocktail bars while Ubud’s breath-taking scenery, green forests, wild monkeys, arts and crafts and roads that wind high into the hills are an antidote to hectic Bali life.