I am going to Indonesia for 8 weeks over the summer and was thinking about hiring a car with 3 friends and driving around Bali or Lombok. Has anyone had any experience with car hire? Is driving in Indonesia very different to England? (Last summer we went to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia so I have had some experience of the crazy Asian driving-styles!) Any tips, warnings, recommendations are welcome. Thanks!
#1 camillasw has been a member since 28/4/2011. Posts: 4
I would say driving a car is VERY different to what you are used to at home - but it's doable. All road rules as you know it will no longer exist!
I hired jeeps in Bali and Lombok without any problem. They are readily available, and reasonably cheap. Key thing is to take photos of the car on the day that you pick it up (especially noting any existing damage), and make sure there is some sort of insurance coverage.
Driving around the busier areas of Kuta/Legian is nightmarish in that the roads are incredibly narrow and you have to be on constant alert for pedestrians, motorbikes and dogs that will have no hesitation in jumping out in front of you, and/or will go the wrong way down the road. Once you get out of that area, it's reasonably good driving around. Just don't expect the vast motorways that you are used to in England!
In Bali in particular, you may become a target for the policeman who sit on all the main intersections just waiting to pull someone over on some trumped up charge. Basically, you hand over a small amount of money to pay the 'fine', or they will take you downtown to court or some such thing. I had no problems with this on my last trip, but the previous trip I had to talk myself out of paying two bribes...er... fines. But it took 1/2 hour each time of politely sitting with them and shooting the breeze. (It helped that I could speak the lingo.... at least I could, until they got to the part about paying the fine.... then things got a bit lost in translation!)
Anyhow - do it! It's a great way to get around both islands - and MUCH safer than trying to ride a motorbike in those areas.
Thanks for your help! Do many of the car hire companies offer insurance as well? As my travel insurance policy definitely doesn't. Also, possibly very stupid question, do they drive on the left or right?!
#3 camillasw has been a member since 28/4/2011. Posts: 4
No such a silly question really - they drive in the centre normally! Nah... they drive on the left - supposedly.
I did a quick google and came up with this: http://www.driving-in.com/indonesia/ It makes amusing reading. "Earlier, it was not uncommon for police to throw stones at a car that crossed a red light" I hadn't heard that before! But nor did I ever experience it.
Dont' forget to bring an international driver's licence with you. You'll have to apply for that at home before you leave.
If you rent a car from the more 'reputable' firms (Avis, etc) I am sure that they will provide insurance. But I hired from a local guy that had a couple of jeeps sitting out in the front of his office. For the life of me, I can't remember if insurance was included or not?!
I just looked it up and it looks like we paid 100,000rp per day for a 9-day hire in Bali, and 110,000rp per day for a 5 day hire in Lombok. This was for a small 2-door jeep which just had room for 2 people plus our packs.
I have the misfortune to drive here in bali most nearly every day. Once you get used to it, there is really no method to the madness.
That said, cars are very very cheap to hire and also not all that pricey if you want one with a driver (which will address many of the insurance issues).
If you want to self-drive you need an international drivers license (which should be straightforward to get in the UK) or a temporary Indonesian license (which you can get near Denpasar in a few hours).
They drive on the left.
Watch out for motorbikes!
#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,652
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Driving cars in Bali is underrated. I know every man and his dog gets a motorbike when holidaying in Bali, but these people are the target of police AND you get wet when it rains. Getting a car is quite easy. Find a guy on the side of the road - any guy really - and ask him if he knows where you can hire a car. He will call his friend and you will negotiate a price. Ask for a Jimny, the jeep-like vehicles. They can be as cheap as 80,000 per day, but you generally get what you pay for. My last time in Bali I had one for 80,000 and one day I heard a clunk and only an hour later did I realise that it was the side mirror flying off. Also, the brakes were dodgy, but it did the job. It's a great experience.
As for insurance, this is where things get dodgy. You can get insurance for the car you're driving and this may or may not cost any extra. But the real problem is if you hit another car or bike or kill someone's chicken. No matter what happens and irrespective of fault, you are going to be asked for money and insurance or not, it's going to be a sticky situation.
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#8 eazyrent1 has been a member since 4/6/2013. Posts: 2