Bali’s city roads and main highways range from the 4 lane Bypass, to single track potholed lanes, and having a car – no matter how modest – to drive on them can make the difference between exploring and feeling like you are on just another package tour. In short, BaliBlog recommends hiring a car during your visit.
Renting a car in Bali can be a lot less informal than in westernized countries. The office of a car rental place may be nothing more than a 10ft by 10ft street side room with a wooden desk. The choice of vehicle limited to the 2 or 3 in the curb, plus ones that aren’t being used by the owner’s relatives. Very often you will be told a car is on its way. What is happening is a friend or relative has a car and after draining the fuel, it will be delivered. Many of the local street side car rental places open at 9am. If you rent a car it is for 24 hours and you might prefer to pick it up the morning of your trip, rather than the night before. You can arrange this in advance and on occasion the renter has given me the keys the night before, telling me he would bill me as if I picked it up the next morning.
• Some of the cars a few years old have a few dings. Sometimes much can be made of these. Before you drive off, walk around the car and check the dings and dents. Better still, photograph the car from all angles. In my experience a couple of things that can make a trip unpleasant are seats that don’t stay upright and air conditioning that doesn’t work. Remember to check these too.
• In Bali all foreign drivers are expected to have an International Driving License. The renter doesn’t care if you don’t, and actually doesn’t care if you have a license at all, he just wants the car rented. Filling out the rental form you can get away without having ID or a passport. Just write your name, address, passport number and say ‘can’t remember’ to the other stuff. You can pay extra for insurance, which might cost 45,000rp a day. I have rented cars without the insurance, and have never been in an accident, so don’t know the process that ‘actually’ occurs.
• The owner of C.V Amertha Dana in Legian told me if I got into an accident, to call him and he would sort it out. In real world Bali, if you get into an accident with a local, you will pay. A crowd will gather, the other driver will start shouting and in 2 minutes 50 people will be stranding there telling you to hand over money. If the police arrive they will almost certainly back them up. Your best bet in these situations is to quickly hand over 100,000 – 200,000rp, even if the fender bender is the other guy’s fault. If a crowd gathers it will go to 1 million rp very fast. Your insurance is worth as much as 2 dead flies in situations like this. The advantage in having it is the damage your car will be covered…supposedly.
• When you receive a rental car in Bali, the petrol gauge will always be on ’empty’. You will still be able to make it to the nearest petrol station and the renter knows that you will leave more petrol in the car than you picked it up with. When you fill the car up at the petrol station, bear in mind you will not be reimbursed for the extra petrol. Try to do a rough estimate of how much petrol you will need. If its just a day trip to Ubud, no need to use more than half a tank. A trip around the island means you’ll fill up. At the petrol station it is ‘full service’ meaning the attendant will fill up the car. Occasionally they will not reset the pump back to zero from the last customer and you will get less than you paid for. The times to watch out for, are when the attendant is using a pump facing AWAY from you so you can’t see the dial. In that situation get out of the car, walk around and watch the whole process, from start to stop.
• If you get pulled over by the police, they will charge you on the spot for not having a license. If you are in this situation try to pass off 50,000rp and act like its no big deal. Never hand money directly to a policeman. Either put it inside the registration, or if you get out of the vehicle, on the car and let him pick it up.
The most common vehicles you will find in Bali are :
• Suzuki Katana, ideal for 2 people of medium / small stature looking to do some city driving or some exploration around the island. Good gas mileage, has AC, not much power, bumpy ride. In Kuta, you can hire a Suzuki Katana (1990’s model – about as modest as it gets) on a monthly basis from anyone of a 100 different street side places offering car hire. Perfect for backpackers on extended stays.
• Toyota Kijang, ideal for 2 – 4 people looking to do city driving as well as explore the island. Comfortable ride, okay mileage, has AC, no power uphill.
• Diahatsu Feroza, good for people who want city, island exploring and a bit of rough exploring. The Feroza has a higher clearance and shorter wheelbase than the Kijang. Some are fitted with bigger tyres and can handle rough conditions better. Comfortable ride, has AC, okay gas mileage. Good for 2 – 3 people.
• Toyota Landcruiser, there are many of these in Bali, but not so many for hire. If you really want one be sure a local will find you one. Most are from the 1970’s, horrible gas mileage, plenty of power, huge wheels, no AC, and nasty seat configuration. The 2 rear seats are raised up and face inside. This vehicle is good for 2 people, who want a vehicle that can go anywhere.
• Mitsubishi Kuda, 1600cc in-line 4-cylinder 12-valve petrol, Rear-wheel drive, 5 to 7 passengers.
Most of the cars are stick shift, particularly the older ones. There are some auto’s, but you will have to ask to make sure. For me the Feroza is the best option if you want an all island car.
Bali Car Rental Service offers the ability to reserve a car online. You can choose from an array of decent Kijang type vehicle and have it delivered to the airport, the harbor or your hotel. This is a low stress way to find a car, assuming you are ready for the Bali roads the second you arrive. Minimum booking 3 days.
Bali Car Rentals, offers car with driver for around US$50 a day. You might enjoy your vacation more if you let someone else do the driving.
•In the past I have arranged a driver for people. The old car, an old Kijang and driver cost 600,000rp for 4 days. That’s an awesome deal, ask anyone. Renting an older car will bring the price down and a driver is actually easy to arrange, there are plenty of locals hanging out with nothing to do. You can in fact get a driver within an hour for a 3 day trip. Ideally you want a driver who speaks English, isn’t a drunk, can drive and will not take you to a succession of silver jewelery stores. You have to tell him where you want to go, he’ll figure out how to get there. At night give him 20,000rp and he will find somewhere local to stay.
Hertz has a desk at Ngurah Rai airport.
Denpasar Airport Tuban Bali
Location Type: Licensee
Phone: 62 361 768375
Fax: 62 361 768373
Hours: Mon-Sun 0830-2200
Chauffeur Driven Vehicles available
• Bali has a Yellow Pages with car rental places. Your hotel will have a tour desk and car rentals will be part of that. You will in fact have so many people offering car rental you will be spoiled for choice. Always feel free to negotiate, even in a hotel.
Car rental prices in Legian
C.V. AMERTHA DANA
Pura Bagus Teruna #104
1 day 80,000rp
1 week 70,000rp
1 month 60,000rp
1 day 250,000rp
1 week 225,000rp
1 month 180,000rp
1 day 180,000rp
1 week 150,000rp
1 month 140,000rp
C.V Amertha Dana only has 1998-2006 cars, not the really old ones. This means reliability is okay, but your prices will be higher. In the past I have rented some junkers for 120,000rp a day.
I day 45,000rp insurance. Insurance if you have an accident, call the shop and the owner will come. Insurance does not cover other cars. Insurance will cover more than one person, but you must have them registered at the rental shop.