While on the road, an important virtue to have here is patience! Although the road system in the heavily populated areas is in reasonable condition compared to other developing countries, it can be heavily congested at peak periods. Ceremonial processions sometimes occupy the whole road so if you are caught behind a procession, enjoy the colorful experience.
While you are on south of Bali, heading to Nusa Dua, Benoa or Jimbaran area from the airport, Denpasar or Sanur area, it it recommended to use the toll road, called Bali Mandara Toll Road. It is a beautiful toll road. Built in 2013 directly on the sea instead of on the land, so the panorama is very pretty. Not only you will see good panorama along the way via the toll road, you will also avoid a bad traffic jam if you use ordinary by pass road. The toll fee is IDR 11.000, one way.
Roads can also be quite narrow with heavy pedestrian traffic on each side. In less populated areas, roads may not be tarred and the famous “gang’’ (very small road just big enough to accommodate one car, but very often two-way) is ever present no matter what area you may be in. This invariably tests the reversing skills of many drivers!
Take note of several important points while driving in Bali. It is not unusual for cars and bikes to swerve into your lane without indication. A system of “sharing lane” has developed because there are often obstacles on the sides of the road, such as parked cars or the frequent procession of bakso trolleys and paraphernalia salesman.
That’s okay if you’re used to it but can be quite a shock to the new driver in Bali! Be aware that drivers from side streets often don’t look when joining a main road and the larger vehicle is king of the road.
Quite often red traffic lights are considered "only as a suggestion” and there are a few places where traffic in the left lane may turn or continue straight through whilst the light is red with a sign “belok kiri jalan terus”.
Remember to “toot” your horn when going around curves on mountainous roads as drivers commonly drive in the middle of the road here. There are a lot of one way roads in Bali (meant to help traffic flow but it hasn’t really turned out that way). If you miss your turn off, you may have drive quite a distance before being able to turn back. This has resulted in motorbike riders riding a few hundred meters in the wrong direction, as a shortcut rather than following traffic flow. Be alert!
It is not recommended to drive at night especially on the road to Gilimanuk where the ferry to Java island commences. Truck drivers to and from Java are notorious for overtaking on corners. Only a leafy tree branch often marks obstacles such as potholes or road construction. By the time you think, “What’s that there for?” you could well be in a pothole!
You can fill up at any of the numerous government owned petrol stations or in more remote areas as stalls by the side of the road displaying bottled of clear liquid. The quality may not be as good as at the petrol station. Please fill up your Bali car rental at the government petrol station in the beginning of your daily adventure.
If you stay in Sanur and rent a car there most likely you will get the ease to find the petrol station as they are many there.