Transportation in Bali
The main forms of public transport on Bali are the cheap buses, minibuses and bemos that run on somewhat set routes within or between towns. Having your own transport can be arranged; there are bemos, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles for rent. Tourist shuttle buses that run between major tourist centers are more expensive than public transport but are definitely more comfortable and convenient.
This is a generic term for any vehicle that is used as a public transport, which is normally a minibus or van with a row of low seats on each side. It is a great way to meet the locals, even though it is hot, dusty and full of diesel exhaust. The exciting part is that you do not have to get to a bemo stop to board a bemo, just extend your arm and flag one down! The fares may be cheap but beware of pickpockets.
CHARTERING A BEMO
It is easy to charter a bemo or minivan in Bali, and it is an excellent way to travel anywhere with a group or family. The benefits of chartering a bemo are: there is no worry about having a license or insurance, the driver can be a real asset especially in Denpasar or larger towns where they speak English, and you do not have to worry about the horrific traffic.
The chartered bemos with yellow plates are the only ones allowed to carry passengers anywhere around Bali. This type of bemo usually has conventional seats rather than benches and is often air-conditioned. They are more expensive than common bemos but are more convenient and comfortable.
You would only have to listen for the frequent offers of ‘transport’ in the streets around the tourist centers or ask hotel staff; everyone knows someone who runs a bemo service.
Renting a car is simple in Bali but do consider the drawbacks. Firstly, you are removed from the people and the countryside, and you wouldn’t want to stop too long in one place, no matter how appealing the place is as you are paying Rp. 70,000 or more on a daily basis.
Secondly, driving in Bali is potentially hazardous and the consequences of an accident can be quite serious. Lastly, its effects on the environment are obvious and severe. Of course, you must be in possession of a valid Indonesian or international driver’s license.
Petrol is not included in the price and it is advisable to buy extra insurance. Test drive the car before paying in advance.
Motorcycles are popular means to get around Bali, but several tourists are killed in motorbike accidents each year, and many spend time in hospitals. There is no denying the dangers of riding a motorcycle in Bali and the island is no place for beginners to learn motorcycle riding.
If you decide to rent one, drive slowly and very defensively. This is a convenient and inexpensive way to get around the island, helmets are required by law, and the ones provided by rental agencies are not much help when it comes to protection.
Bring your own helmet from home if you know that you’ll be using a motorcycle in Bali. The major advantage of traveling on a motorbike is the enormous flexibility. It is easy to stop wherever you want and recommence your journey whenever you choose. You do not really require motorbikes that are more than 200 cc as the distances are short and the roads are rarely suitable for traveling fast.
The cost of hiring a motorcycle is negotiable in Bali and varies according to the condition of the machine, length of rental, and time of year. Buying insurance is a good idea to avoid being responsible for damages, but be sure to test drive the vehicle to see that everything is in good working order.
A valid International Driving Permit should be in possession or else spend a morning at the Denpasar Police Office to obtain a temporary permit, which lasts for three months, but the process can be a huge hassle. It would be wise to get an International Driving Permit in your own country.
Seeing Bali by pushbikes has become increasingly popular in recent years and the quality of rental bikes have improved. More visitors have been bringing their bicycles with them and there has been an increase in rental outlets. Some airlines will even carry your bike in for free.
The most common ones offered are mountain bikes as their low gear ratios and softer tyres are better suited to Bali. Do make sure that the wheels are aligned properly, the brakes are working well, and that the bicycle has a light.
The most pleasant way to see Bali is by foot as it is a small island. It would be possible to traverse the entire island by foot and many people do day hikes in and around Danau Batur, Danau Bratan, West Bali National Park, and around Ubud.
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