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Bali Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE


Bali has a reputation of being close to paradise, depending on who you talk to.  There are resorts for the wealthy and discerning and cheap places to stay where nightlife is part of the scene.  But there’s a lot more to the island and its warm and friendly inhabitants, that many people miss, and a rental car is a fantastic way to seek out those special places and get closer to the real Balinese.

Unlike several of our other drive guides associated with locations using cities; we have approached the drives on Bali differently, with particular journeys between some great places.  We have almost covered the island.  Speaking with locals, and listening to those that have travelled there and know the roads well, this is what we have come up with.

Sanur to Candidasa

1 h 19 min Sanur to Candidasa (50.5 km) via Jl. Prof. Dr. Ida Bagus Mantra

The direct coastal drive is what we have listed above here, but there’s a better route that will take you much longer and reward you with stunning vistas and places to photograph. So take that in one direction and the above route in the other.

Drive via this alternative inland set of roads via Sukawati, Gianyar and Klungkung to Padang Bai and Candi Dasa.

To do this make sure you get on to the Kusamba Road and drive to Ketewel, next turn left up to Sukawati, then negotiate the hairpin bends through the rice growing region until you get to the south side of Gianyar.

Since there are no signposts and your gps will not be working out here, we suggest that you invest in a good old fashioned paper map and carry this with you as your guide. As part of the experience expect to get lost and factor in a couple of extra hours for stops and photos.  The journey will take you through Giwang, Sukawati, Saba, Belege and Bona to Gianyar. You will not be disappointed with the scenery and there is very little traffic as well.

There is a sandy black beach at Goa Lawah which has many with beachside warungs (a small family-owned casual shops or restaurants where you can have a bakso (Indonesian meatball or meat paste made from beef surimiand) and a cold drink for some small change.  Once you’ve eaten you might want to stop at the temple in Goa Lawah which is one of Bali’s main place of worship.

From Goa Lawah it is around an hour’s journey to Candi Dasa, but you may want to turn off to Padang Bai which has a fantastic blue lagoon which is great for snorkelling. There are also some wonderful seafood restaurants here, if you have not eaten earlier.   

  • Amed to Lovina

2 h 31 min to Lovina (Arrive around · Leave around · 93.1 km) via Jl. Kubu  via via typically

  • This coastal drive is easy and the traffic is light. Along the way you start to head inland towards Culik and then head west along Bali’s northern coastal areas. There is a diving centre at Tulamben worth visiting if this is your scene, where you can visit the wreck of USAT Liberty that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. Lava from the Agung volcanic eruption pushed the beached ship off the sand and into the sea several decades ago where it has been ever since.
  • Singaraja is the northern capital, so to speak of Bali, and the traffic here is a little heavy, but in no time at all you will be out the other end and driving another 15 minutes to arrive in Lovina. It’s a quiet place with black sands and glorious waters.
  • There are ample opportunities to see pods of black dolphins up close, by joining fisherman on their boats.  It is ideal camera candy for your friends and families back home.

Several villages surround Lovina which are all picturesque, but Kalibukbuk is the central area with lots of places to eat, drink, stay and chill out.

  • Lovina to Pemuteran
  • 1 h 4 min to Pemuteran (47.7 km) via Jl. Singaraja-Gilimanuk
  • We dropped this trip in as it part of the journey suggested to get to your next leg of your drive. To break up the journey we suggest that you take a turn to the Banjar hot springs for a refreshing bathe before continuing.

Pemuteran has three well known temples and is also the place you would stop to take a trip out to Menjangan Island and also West Bali National Park which are considered stunning. If you choose to do this we recommend that you leave your rental car at a place where you can pick it up later, or maybe leave at a place where you can overnight in some accommodation.

A 29 min (26.1 km) drive via Jl. Singaraja-Gilimanuk will get you to the entrance of the West Bali National Park but we recommend you do this instead by organising a tour guide in advance which may include the drive as well.  Trekking through the forest should put you in contact with the local macaque monkeys, but be aware that is very hot and humid so ensure you have plenty to drink.

  • Pemuteran to Medewi
  • 1 h 55 min to Medewi (87.0 km) via Jl. Singaraja-Gilimanuk and Jl. Raya Denpasar Gilimanuk

This is a fairly congested drive at times where the traffic gets a bit heavier. There are a couple of inland towns where Christian Catholics were exiled to in the 1930’s at Blimbingsari and Palasari, which is good to get to if you can. There are no clear signposts, so again you will need to consult your map carefully.

Medewi has a good reputation for surfing, so if you are not into that, maybe you will consider continuing on.

Medewi to Munduk

  • 1 h 34 min to Munduk (58.4 km) via Jl. Pekutatan - Pupuan

We recommend that you take the inland road since the views back over the beaches are incredible. It’s definitely the place to get some of the best scenic shots of Bali.

There are two turn offs to Munduk, which work their way around to the right of Munduk which is on top of a ridge which links up to the volcano’s slopes.  This is a beautiful area of forests and waterfalls and spectacular views, not to be missed, definitely photographed and well worth parking the car and trekking.

As with all of these places you may want to take time out to stop off at accommodation along the way. There’s plenty of this in Bali and our website Cheaperthanhotels caters for all tastes and budgets. We would like to think that the great deals you get on our car rental discounts will contribute to a lot of your time to spend less and do more with the money that you save.

Enjoy your trip

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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