Road trippin with a rental car around Bali

Enzo and I split up our time in Bali as so: road trip around Bali for a week; Lombok and two of its beautiful islands for a week; Candisasa, Bali for the last week. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you all! This will specifically be about our first week with a rental car in Bali.

When we landed in Bali we were pretty much exhausted and ready to be at our guesthouse. As soon as we went through the “nothing to declare” exits, we were instantly bombarded by Balinese men trying to offer us rides; they even followed us after we said “no thank you” several times. We wanted to exchange our Vietnamese money to the Rupiah, but couldn’t find any money exchanger that would handle that currency. After a man tried to help us find a money exchanger, with no luck the man still stuck by our side because now he wanted to take us in his taxi! 

Tip #1

Never agree to the first price offered. Always try to barter and start by asking for 1/3 of the price they originally asked for. By the time you both go back and forth, with luck, you could end up paying half of what the seller asked for in the first place! There is such thing as a tourist price, especially in Indonesia. You can do this with rental cars, taxi rides, street vendors and activities; so virtually any products or services.

After a couple of days in our guesthouse, we decided that we wanted to rent a car, instead of a motorbike, to drive around Bali for a 5 day excursion.

Pros about rental cars:

  1. Taking all of your baggage with you
  2. Storing food/snacks to stay within budget and never going hungry
  3. Playing music with the windows down never gets old
  4. Chargers already available for charging a phone for navigation 
  5. AC for when it’s just too hot!
  6. Protection from the unforgiving sun
  7. Handles different terrain better than some motorbikes
  8. Safer for you (the bigger the vehicle, the more priority you have on the road – only true in South East Asia)
  9. A place to sleep when you’re all out of options and don’t want to spend extra money
  10. Fun for when you miss driving a car! (Most cars come standard and all drive with the driver on the right hand side of the car- stick shift in left hand, signals and windshield wipers are opposite, foot pedals the same)

Cons about rental cars:

  1. Unable to split lanes and avoid traffic like motorbikes can
  2. More liability for damages to the car 
  3. Trying not to run over other motorbike drivers
  4. Driving without a license from Bali will most likely just result in a fine if caught (international licenses are not accepted). We were never caught 😉
  5. Very narrow roads can make it sketchy (3 point turns are sometimes not even possible if you find you’re going the wrong way)
  6. Most budget rental cars are not that powerful (going up hills is a pain in the arse and terrifying when you’re already in first gear)
  7. You don’t get as much of the sense of the open air that motorbikes can give 
  8. Standard vehicals are a majority of cars offered so you must know how to drive it confidently and with your left hand
  9. Parking is not as convenient, but we never had an issue
  10. When you’re driving on a mountain taking glorious s-curves and switch-backs and all you can think about is “damn, this would be so fun on a motorbike!”

So basically, there’s pros and cons to almost anything, but we decided to change it up and go with the car rental; which of course we haggled for a better price and made out alright.

Tip 2

Always make a contract before agreeing to anything. We made sure that we were paying the price we wanted, got it delivered to our guesthouse, were given the registration for the car, full inspection with pictures to asses any current damages and of course, make sure the car turns on and has enough gas before the sellers leave! 

Tip 3

Take the coastal road. We didn’t really have set destinations because we didn’t have any places booked and we just wanted to stop wherever we thought it gave off good vibes. The coast is a great way to circle Bali and find some cool stops along the way. 

Places we stopped:

  • Jimbaran – first couple of days in a guesthouse (make sure to eat at this local place called Sambal Bakar and order ayam bakar- prepare for super spicy grilled chicken and white rice to be eaten with your hands! It was the best meal I’ve ever had for $1)

  • Semarapura – Slept in the car on the beach

  • Tianyar Tengah – Slept in hammocks on the beach

  • Amed – guesthouse 

  • Ubud – guesthouse 

Tip 4

Camp out on the beach. This was by far one of the best things we did and I’m not just saying that because it’s been a life long dream of mine. Because we didn’t have any place to stay and it was getting fairly late we looked on our map to find a beach that looked isolated so we could camp. It is best to camp in a hammock or ten away from resorts, busy beaches, houses and temples. The tough part was, every beach we went to had a few homes lining the beach and we were limited with our hammocks because we could only stay where there were good trees to string our beds to its trunks. We drove down this dirt path that just fit our car going one way. It was abundant with trees so we thought this was our last chance before it got dark. We came to the end of the road and there were a few houses. We dug up the courage to go talk to the owner of one of the houses to ask them if we could sleep on the beach outside of their house. Enzo used as much hand signaling as he could to explain our goal and after a while they laughed and with a smile said, “OK!” 

They even had us park our car underneath their overhang from their house so our car would be safe from falling coconuts. We set up our hammocks and also asked if we could build a fire to cook our dinner. They kindly said “yes” and we immediately starting making a fire because sun was setting soon. 

More and more members of the house hold came out to watch us as if we were a new source of entertainment for them. This definitely was not a normal thing for them. They were so friendly and if only we could speak the laungage I’m sure they would have been a blast to talk to. Before bed I made a thank you note and gave them a necklace I had made with a sea shell I found on one of the beaches in Vietnam. It was the least I could do to show our appreciation. 

It was great to fall asleep when the sun set. Make sure to wear long pants and sleeves even if you’re hot; mosquitos can bite through the hammock lining! I was hot at first, but it was worth it in the end and it even got a little chilly at night.

I only had one scare while camping… I was woken up around 12:00 am by a green light being shown into my face through the mosqito netting! Out of instinct, I reached up with my hand towards the light and said “hello?!” No one responded, but the green light switched off and all of a sudden I felt a hand brush the entire side of my hammock and my body… chills for days after that. Enzo had his head sticking up for most of the night after he heard me say”hello?!” and then shrieks. He made sure the green light man wasn’t going to come back. Thankfully, he never did, but man was I freaked out for the rest of the night. Plus,  I only had a few more hours I could sleep because we were getting up at 3:00 am to go climb Mount Batur and make the sunrise. Make sure to check out my next blog post on climbing Mount Batur!

Tip 5

Visit a waterfall. Hello, my name is Kayla and I love waterfalls and chase them like it’s my job. There are so many waterfalls in Bali! All you have to do is look on a map and search waterfall and tons of destinations will pop up. The only thing is you will most likely have to drive up a crazy mountain and then walk/trek to get to some of them, but to me that’s part of the fun. The one I went to was called Air Terjune. It is absolutely amazing to swim in and when we went no one else was there! You don’t have to pay either. I would recommend going early in the morning because other people may visit it later on in the day. 

Tip 6

Climb a mountain. Like I mentioned before, we woke up at 3:00 am to climb Mount Batur and watch the sunrise. It is one of the most breathtaking moments I’ve ever had and it was worth feeling like I had asthma during the trek. I’ll be posting more about it in my next article!

Tip 7

Use the app. If you travel anywhere you should download this app. I guess google maps has gotten the offline navigation down now as well, but is still a bit better in my opinion. Just download the region you’re visiting and everything is accessible offline even in airplane mode. You can search places nearby, pin destinations, add new destinations and it even tracks where you’ve been!

Tip 8

Respect locals and where you choose to park. When taking the rental car it is much more invasive than when you’re just parking a motorbike. Make sure that you are parked where you see other cars parked. Leave room for other cars and motorbikes to get in and out of parking lots because most of the lots are tiny. Also, keep any music at a respectful level especially when passing by a temple where prayer is happening. Another tip is that most parking spots charge 2,000 Rupiah for parking so don’t forget to pay it!

Well, I’m sure I would have a ton more advice, but these 8 were what I found most important. Please keep up with my next post to read about climbing Mount Batur and all of its beauty!

~ M + H

P.S. I’m taking a long long time to post another video, but I will have more coming out on all of these adventures on my YouTube chanel! 


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