Tips for driving safely in Bali

Transportation is always an important thing to think about when you are traveling. Different places have different driving cultures. Thus, when you are on the roads, knowing local rules can save you from a lot of trouble — accidentally running over a chicken, for example.

Such knowledge of road rules is very important, especially in places like Bali where there is inadequate public transportation for tourists.

Taking taxis all the time is very costly, whether for short trips to the supermarket or day-trips to tourist attractions.

Here are some tips compiled by The Jakarta Post Travel should you be looking at the option of renting a vehicle to travel around the island of Bali.

Driving documents
Although you might be excited about hitting the road as soon as possible, make sure you carefully check the vehicle that you are renting before making a deal. Make sure it is equipped with the necessary documents.

The standard registration requirement for vehicles in Indonesia is the vehicle registration certificate (STNK) that comes on blue or yellow paper, usually laminated. This is one of the two documents that the police will ask for if you are pulled over. The other one is a valid driving license; being a tourist in Bali does not relieve you from the obligation of having a license when driving.

The police in Bali occasionally hold raids on the streets to check that drivers are carrying these documents. If you don’t have an international license, you can apply for one at the police station on Jl. Gunung Sanghyang, Denpasar.

Vehicle condition
It is also a good idea to check on the condition of the vehicle that you are renting.

Tires and brakes are components that should check to ensure your vehicle will operate smoothly — you will need the vehicle to have good maneuvering ability to get through Bali’s unforgiving traffic.

Feel free to ask for a different option if you are not comfortable with the condition of the vehicle that you have been given.

Helmet or your wallet
Tom Cruise may have looked cool riding a bike wearing a sunglasses and letting the wind blow through his hair. However, doing that in Bali would land him a ticket. Not because of the sunglasses, but the absence of a helmet on his head.

Helmet are always provided with rental bikes; if you don’t value your life enough to put on a helmet, then you should be worried about your holiday budget being spent on fines from being pulled over by the police — they are very strict about this particular rule.

Peculiar signs
Indonesia uses traffic signs that are recognized worldwide, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to understand them on the road. Nevertheless, there are some rules that have exceptions, which you must know.

There are quite a number of one-way streets in Bali with red and white ‘do not enter’ traffic signs planted at both ends. Some of the said traffic signs also feature the words “kecuali sepeda motor”. This signifies that motorbikes are allowed to pass that particular one-way street even though they are traveling from the opposite direction. However, the words can vary from sign to sign; some will only state “kecuali motor”, or it can even be abbreviated to “kcl spd mtr”.

It is a similar situation at red-light intersections, where you can see signs stating “belok kiri jalan terus” below the traffic light. As Indonesia has a left-hand driving system, this notice means that you can keep going if you are planning on turning left on the intersection, regardless of the red light.

To honk or not to honk
You will immediately notice that Indonesian drivers can be quite trigger-happy when it comes to honking their car horns. Despite this generally being used to channel their road rage, there are actually some occasions where honking is considered acceptable.

One example is when you are coming into a turn with a blind spot, where you can’t see the oncoming traffic. It is also acceptable to sound your horn if you happen to pass a friend on the street.

However, you should never honk when there is a religious ceremony happening nearby. Balinese Hindu ceremonies often include parades on the street that can take up a whole lane, causing heavy traffic. But, no matter how bad traffic gets during this situation, do not sound your horn, as it is considered very disrespectful.

Tips on cars
Renting a car is a great choice if you plan on making a long trip around the island, especially if you are traveling with a big group. Most car rentals in Bali provide vehicles ranging from seven-seat family cars to minibuses that can carry 14 people.

Car rental businesses commonly offer self-driving packages, but it is better to pay extra for a driver if you are not familiar with the roads in Bali. Even though global positioning systems (GPS) and maps can help show you the way around, many of the tourist spots in Bali feature narrow routes that can be challenging even for seasoned drivers.

Source: The Jakarta Post Travel




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