Driving in Bali: Rules, Requirements, and Safety Tips

7 min read
by Marlin
October 21, 2023

Indeed, when you visit Bali you'll likely want to travel around the island to see as many destinations as possible during your limited vacation time.

You may be wondering:

Am I allowed to drive in Bali? 🙄

Is driving in Bali the same as driving in my own country? 🤔

Relax, I've got you covered! This article will guide you through everything you need to know about driving in Bali, and as it's written by a local, you'll also get some insider tips.


Can you drive in Bali?

Yes, foreigners can drive in Bali as long as they follow the rules and have all the requirements such as a helmet and international driving permit.

Get yours here: International Driving License

If you fail to follow the requirements, you may be stopped by a police officer and then later have to deal with the court.

traffic in Bali
Traffic in Bali

However, due to the fact that hundreds of tourists break the rules every month, the Bali government has drafted a new regulation that would disallow foreigners from driving in Bali.

This is because most tourists in Bali opt to rent scooters rather than cars, and because they’re not experienced enough in driving scooters, they often put other people in danger.

Bali governor says:

So, tourists are required to travel and get around using vehicles provided by travel agents. It is no longer allowed to use motorcycles or anything else not provided by the travel agent.
Wayan Koster
Governor of Bali

This means that foreigners can only travel around Bali using authorized modes of transportation such as taxis, hired cars with drivers, or as part of a guided tour.

But if you own a car or scooter and have all papers in order, this rule is not going to affect you as long as you drive carefully.

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Is it safe to drive in Bali?

While driving in Bali can be relatively safe, it can also be challenging due to some Balinese drivers who break traffic rules such as ignoring red lights, driving in the wrong direction, and overtaking other vehicles aggressively.

Moreover, the roads in Bali are so narrow and lots of people park their vehicles right on the street. In places like Ubud, you'll see scooters crammed together on the roadside, taking up almost a whole lane.

narrow road in Bali
Narrow street in Bali
narrow road in Bali
Narrow street in Bali
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In contrast to the United States, where people often live in spread-out suburban or rural areas, in Bali, people tend to live in more densely populated areas that are centered around the city.

That's why the roads in Bali are always jam-packed, since it's like a big city with tons of people crammed into a relatively small space.

Driving in the city areas of Bali is relatively safe, but I wouldn't recommend driving outside of town and into the forested areas as it can be dangerous navigating narrow roads on the edge of cliffs.

Places like Nusa Penida have extremely winding roads that only experienced scooter drivers should attempt to navigate.

I recommend taking a taxi or joining a tour if you're planning to visit Nusa Penida or venture outside of town.

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Driving in Bali vs in the US

Driving in Bali is likely to be different from driving in your own country even though some rules are the same or similar.

In the US there are strict traffic rules that most drivers follow but people in Bali don't always follow all the rules, even though there are still rules in place.

I'll mention a few differences between driving in Bali and driving in the US that I could bring up here:


Smaller vehicles win

This doesn’t necessarily mean they can get through a traffic jam quickly, but rather if you’re using a car and you hit a scooter because of their own fault, you are the one who’s gonna be blamed and you’re gonna need a lawyer to get out of the problem.

The same goes if you were using a scooter and you hit someone with a bicycle because of their own fault, it’s you who’s going to be blamed.

But in cases where they hit you due to their own fault, you won't be in trouble.


Pedestrians aren’t the king

In the United States, pedestrians have the right of way and drivers are required to give them space to cross whenever they want to.

In Bali it's technically the same but drivers often don't give them priority and it's the pedestrians who have to wait until there is a gap to cross.

I always feel sorry for the tourists who get stuck in that mess. But they'll get used to it eventually 😐


There is no speed limit

The do actually have speed limit but 99% of people ignore it. People can be driving really fast or painfully slow, blocking up the road and annoying everyone else.

The most annoying thing is when two scooter drivers are driving slowly next to each other and blocking the road while having a chat in the middle of the road.

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Road sign
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Road rules in Bali

Road rules are mostly the same across countries, but there are some differences to keep in mind before driving in a foreign country like Bali.

So if you plan to drive in Bali, here are a few important road rules to follow:

  • Drive on the left side • People in Bali drive on the left side of the road. This means that the steering wheel of a car will be on the right-hand side, which may feel unusual for drivers used to driving on the right side.
  • Average speed • Speed is measured in kilometers per hour (KM/h). The unofficial average speed for bikes is 40 KM/h, while cars typically travel at 50 KM/h.
  • Use of honk • Honking is not considered rude in Bali, but it is commonly used to signal other drivers to move aside if you want to overtake, or to just say hello 👋😃
  • Overtaking • When you want to overtake a vehicle, use your turn signal to let the vehicles behind you know, so they don't try to overtake you at the same time.
  • Vehicle positioning • If you're driving a car, make sure to stay close to the center line at stop lights, because the left side is for bikes.
  • There is no stop sign • At cross roads without traffic lights, you don't need to come to a complete stop. Instead, you should slow down and carefully look at your surroundings to avoid colliding with other vehicles.
  • Slow down when seeing children • Some parents in Bali don’t really care about their children playing on the street, drivers are expected to slow down and be cautious when they encounter children playing.
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Driving requirements

The driving requirements in Bali are similar to those in your own country. Drivers must use seat belts and if they ride a scooter, they must wear a helmet.

Scooter drivers also have a rule to follow regarding their clothing. They're not allowed to wear clothing that's too revealing or open.

traffic in Bali
Traffic in Bali

Tourists have been stopped by officers in many cases because their clothing was considered too revealing.

Foreign drivers are also required to have an international driving permit as your home country driving license won't be valid in Bali.

To get an international driving permit (IDP), you can either apply in person at your local automobile association and wait for 10 days, or apply online and have it delivered to you in 3 days. 👇🏻



Number of vehicles in Bali:

Source: Indonesian Statistics Bureau
Vehicle 2019 2020 2021
Car 449,541 460,909 465,282
Motorbike 3,718,636 3,811,957 3,877,595
Bus 9,088 9,205 8,911
Truck 153,722 156,624 159,003
TOTAL 4,330,987 4,438,695 4,510,791

Number of traffic accidents in Bali:

Source: Indonesian Statistics Bureau
Traffic accident 2019 2020 2021
Incident 2,462 1,787 1,984
Deceased 420 405 318
Seriously injured 261 55 56
Slightly injured 3,341 2,560 2,851


It takes approximately 4 hours to reach each destination and 10 hours to circle the entire island of Bali.

You cannot drive in Bali using your driver license from your own country, you need an international driving permit (IDP).

Get yours here: International Driving License

Similar to many old cities in Europe, Bali wasn't built with a well-structured city planning in mind.

Traffic in Bali can be pretty crazy on some roads because there are so many people here and not everyone follows the rules.

The busy hours in Bali are typically around 7 am when everyone is heading to work, 1 pm when kids are getting out of school, and 5 pm when people are finishing work for the day.

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