Tips for taking a road trip in Bali

Covering an area of 5,780 square kilometers, Bali is home to many tourist destinations and visitors have many ways to easily explore the island to discover them.

One of the most interesting options to ultimately enjoy your vacation in Bali is by taking a road trip. For instance, you can easily leave Denpasar at dawn to watch the playful dolphins off Lovina Beach at sunrise, continue your journey to Bedugul or Kintamani to explore the breathtaking landscapes, then drive back to Denpasar on a one-day road trip.

For a longer road trip, you can always overnight in one area and continue your adventure to the other side of the island the next day. But, as always, take time to prepare and plan well before you go. This includes choosing your exact destinations and pit stops, calculating your timing for the trip and checking the safety of your vehicle.

Here are other tips that you should consider to make sure you have a fun, yet safe, journey.

Forget the southern part of Bali

Many popular tourist destinations are nestled in the southern part of Bali, including Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Ubud, Sanur, Seminyak and, of course, the oh-so-popular Kuta. But they only cover a quarter of the island.

There are many more breathtaking places of nature waiting for you outside the south of Bali. For example, you can make your way from Denpasar to Bali Barat National Park via Jl. Raya Denpasar Gilimanuk and make pit stops at Gede Perancak Temple and Rambut Siwi Temple in Negara.

Or opt to go to the northern part of Bali via Bedugul, where you will find the splendid trio lakes of Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan in Bedugul, and the amazing waterfalls of Gitgit, Singsing, Alingaling and Melanting, and other hidden waterfalls that you might never heard of, in Singaraja. You can also enjoy the breathtaking view of Batur Lake and Mount Batur if you are heading north from Ubud. Dolphin watching off Lovina Beach at sunrise is also a must-do attraction that you will discover in the northern part of Bali.

For divers, you might want to consider planning a road trip to the eastern part of Bali. A number of highly recommended dive spots are there, such as Padangbai, Candidasa, Amed and Tulamben. Afterwards, continue your trip to Menjangan island via Singaraja to enjoy some more underwater activities.

Prepare for lower temperatures

As an island, most of Bali has tropical weather with warm temperatures. This is true when you are on a beach or taking a road trip along the main western, southern, eastern and northern coast.

But if you are passing through the central part of the island, from the south to the north, you will immediately feel the temperatures getting colder, especially at night, in the higher areas such as Kintamani and Bedugul.

To anticipate this temperature difference, you will need to bring a jacket or warmer clothes. You might want to bring a flask of hot coffee or tea as well to be easily sipped whenever you need it.

Preparing a stock of food in the car is also a great idea as you will not stumble upon many convenience stores, food stalls or restaurants at night.

It is okay to drive a city car

You don't necessarily need an off-road vehicle to do a road trip in Bali as the island's main roads are quite developed and well- maintained. Driving a 1,000-cc city car is adequate enough to explore the region.

Besides the cliffs in Uluwatu, the roads in the southern part of Bali to the west are mostly flat. But when you go further up, to the north and east, the land is higher and the roads become rather steep and twisty. At some points in Bedugul, the roads can even be frequently covered in thick fog or rain.

If you are heading to Gilimanuk or Padangbai, you should also prepare for narrow roads and a number of huge trucks heading to the nearby ports to cross the strait.

Utilize the GPS feature on your smartphone

Another advantage of having a road trip in Bali is you can easily rely on your smartphone to navigate on your trip.

The simplest way is by using the Google Maps feature on your phone. This online map application is not only useful in downtown areas, such as Seminyak and Kuta, but also a great guide while you explore other parts of the island, especially popular destinations.

Use your GPS-enabled smartphone and map app to navigate, track, or save your current spot if you don't have a dedicated GPS device. But bear in mind, not all apps are accessible while offline.

If you tend to go to places with no access to the internet, it's best to pick up apps like Here Maps, which is free to use and available for Windows Phone and Android. But if you have an iPhone, Garmin or Navigon is your best pick.

Leave the main road

Some people say that the art of a great road trip is to get lost and face an unexpected experience. This can also be applied to your journey in Bali.

While traveling in Bedugul, opt to leave the main road after Beratan Lake and head to the lake areas of Buyan and Tamblingan.

As these lakes are situated side by side, you can easily enjoy the view from the top of the hills while sipping coffee and eating instant noodles at a nearby food stall or cafe.

If you keep following the steep road from Buyan, it will take you to the Tamblingan Lake area. Though the thick mist and the narrowing road might leave you with doubts about continuing the trip and it seems like you are getting lost, do not worry as you are indeed heading to the lake's entrance gate.

Park your car in the parking lot and then walk to the edge of the lake to enjoy the view. The thicker the fog covering the area, the more beautiful the scenery you will get to admire around the lake.