Driving by scooter around the island of Bali was definitely one of the best things I did while travelling around the world. It was not only a great and fun way to escape the crowds of the tourist area by Kuta, but the scooter also allowed me to explore independently the real beauty of Bali with all its many beaches, temples and green landscapes. Luckily the roads were usually quite empty, making the ride very enjoyable and easy, even for not very experienced drivers.
It is still good to keep a few things in mind and in order to help you plan better your own scooter drive, you will find all the details of my trip on this page. The image above shows the summary of all 9 days of driving with the highlighted towns where I spent the night, while the maps and texts below give a detailed summary of each individual day with a link to the corresponding diary page. Please note that the mentioned times are theoretical. In reality it took me all day to finish each distance because of all the many extended photo breaks.
Enjoy your ride!
- Shop around in Kuta to find the best deal for a scooter rental and see what is included
- Get a discount for long-term rental, ideally open-ended if you decide to stay longer in one place
- Only rent automatic scooters to have your full attention on the road
- Bring your international drivers license
- Don’t drive without helmet
- Make sure you are comfortable to drive on the left side of the road
- Always drive slowly and passive
- Beware of overtaking vehicles
- Bring warm clothes and a wind breaker for the mountains
- Always make sure that the tank is always full. There are almost no gas stations on the island and gas is sold sparsely sometimes by locals in old liter bottles by the road.
- Use your horn to notify others of your presence
Individual Days of Driving by Scooter around Bali
Day 1 – Kuta via Balangan Beach to Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Drive: Navigating the one way streets and dealing with the traffic in Kuta was a bit of a challenge and the turnoff towards the airport seemed a bit tricky, but driving on Bukit Peninsula was straight forward.
- Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes return
- Distance: 62 km or 38 miles return
- Balangan Beach: A quite nice, empty white sand beach with a small temple and some wooden restaurants right at the sand.
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu: An unimpressive temple that had a great cliff top location and was frequent by lots of monkeys and tourists alike.
Tip: Make this a full day trip, spend time at the beach, explore Bukit Peninsula and be by the cliffs and the temple in the evening to watch the sun set. Also grab a stick to fend off the aggressive monkeys and make sure the light of the scooter works for the ride back.
Photos and more about Day 1: Balangan Beach and Uluwatu Temple
Day 2 – Kuta via Pura Tanah Lot Rock Temple to Balian Beach
Drive: Finding a gas station and navigating Kuta was the biggest challenge. The rest of the drive was on the main roads only and the many signs pointing towards Pura Tanah Lot were very helpful.
- Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
- Distance: 65 km or 40 miles
- Pura Tanah Lot: A great rock temple, surrounded by the sea. The temple itself was off-limits, but the location was great and well worth a visit, despite the many tourists.
- Balian Beach: Wide black sand beach that was very popular with surfers. Affordable accommodation and a nice night market at the main road were available.
Tip: Try to time your visit to Pura Tanah Lot with the tide, low tide if you want to cross over to get your blessing, high tide for less tourists and better photos of the temple surrounded by water. While driving, take the time to leave the main road every once in a while and explore little side roads to see some rural life, green fields and small temples.
Photos and more about Day 2: Off to Pura Tana Lot and Balian Beach
Day 3 – Balian Beach via Pura Luhur Batukaru to Munduk
Drive: Backtracking the main road was uninspiring, but driving up into the forest towards Pura Luhur Batikaru was great. The roads were small, empty and enjoyable to drive on. The drive down into the huge foggy volcano crater to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan was really freezing cold on the scooter. But the last part to Munduk, on top of the old volcano rim was one of the best rides on all of Bali.
- Time: 2 hours
- Distance: 88 km or 55 miles
- Pura Luhur Batikaru: A really great mossy temple that was set in dense forest, at the slopes of volcano Gunung Batukatru. It consisted of wooden pagodas with tiered straw roofs and was well off the tourist path.
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: Not as impressive as the rice terraces in Nepal or even the Philippines, but nevertheless a very nice area to drive through and a great spot for lunch.
- Pura Ulun Danu Bratan: Bali’s beautiful signature temple with a tall tiered roof, set inside the lake of Danu Bratan. The temple complex was quite extensive and a nice ceremony was happening at my time of visit.
Tip: Don’t backtrack all the way to Tabanan and rather take the first turn off on a small road through the fields towards Pura Luhur Batikaru. Take enough time to fully explore both temple complexes. Bring your warm sweater and rain jacket for this area and don’t spend the night in Candikuning, Munduk is a much nicer place.
Photos and more about Day 3: Luhur Batikaru and the Lake Temple
Day 4 – Munduk via Danau Tamblingan to Lovina Beach
Drive: The drive on the rim road was so great, that I had to do it again today. Finding the way down to Danau Tamblingan was easy and the road down to the coast straight forward. In fact, it was a very short day on the scooter, allowing me to spend some time on the beach, and finding the correct intersection for Lovina Beach or Kalibukbuk was the only challenge of the day.
- Time: 1 hour
- Distance: 50 km or 31 miles
- Danau Tamblingan: The smallest of the three volcanic lakes came with a lovely local village, a sunken temple inside the lake and a hiking trail to reach the other lakes.
- Lovina Beach: Pleasant beach town with lot’s of tourist facilities, but not actually many visitors. The beach was grey and empty and the restaurant and local food choices were plentiful.
Tip: Have a tea in one of the small places on top of the rim road and enjoy the views. The area round Munduk is beautiful and hiking to coffee plantations, villages or waterfalls is possible. Lovina has so many guesthouses that shopping around pays off and it was possible to get a room for 50% of the original asking price.
Photos and more about Day 4: Lovina Beach and the Volcanic Lakes
Day 5 – Lovina Beach via Pura Ulun Danu Batur to Toya Bungkah
Drive: Driving along the coast was quick and easy, but once turned inland again, the conditions changed. The road was winding its way up again to higher altitudes and leading through some beautiful scenery. Driving down towards the big crater and seeing all the volcano cones was simply stunning and the drive inside the crater felt quite surreal, because the road was going up and down, left and right, though a moon like desert landscape of black volcanic rocks.
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Distance: 72 km or 45 miles
- Pura Maduwe Karang: Beautiful stone carved temple with many statues sightly beyond the intersection leading inland towards Gunung Batur.
- Pura Ulun Danu Batur: UNESCO enlisted temple complex of the supreme water temple of Bali, set to overlook the big volcano crater and and volcano Gunung Batur.
- Toya Bungkah: Small village by the lake with very few guesthouses and no real restaurant to have dinner. Also the aggressive locals trying to sell hiking tours up the volcano seemed quite a nuisance.
Tip: When driving out of the Lovina area, turn left towards the sea and find a little fish market with food stalls for lunch. Don’t miss Pura Maduwe Karang, just beyond the intersection inland and don’t be impressed by the pushy locals in the volcano area. When they ask for money to watch your scooter and follow you around to sell tours, just completely ignore them.
Photos and more about Day 5: UNESCO Temple at an Active Volcano
Day 6 – Toya Bungkah via Mother Temple Pura Besakih to Amed
Drive: After leaving the big crater, the road was once more following the old volcano rim upwards and providing great views over the crater valley, the lake and the active volcano Gunung Batur. Finding the Mother Temple of Pura Besakih was easy enough, but coming down to the area of Amlapura was tricky as street signs seemed space or non-existent.
- Time: 2 hours
- Distance: 86 km or 54 miles
- Mother Temple Pura Besakih: Set on the slopes of volcano Gunung Agung, this holiest temple on Bali turned out to be a complete tourist trap and many visitors simply avoided the hustle that was connected with this extensive complex.
- Amed: Beautiful fishing village with a black beach and many small-scale restaurants plus guesthouse. Bali’s tallest volcano Gunung Agung made for a picturesque backdrop when walking on the beach.
Tip: Bring your own sarong when visiting the Mother Temple Pura Besakih and ignore all the many people trying to sell you parking tickets by driving all the way to the temple entrance. Watch out for street signs around Amlapura, it’s easy to get lost in that area.
Photos and more about Day 6: Gunung Agung and Bali Hustle Temple
Day 7 – Amed via winding Coastal Road to Padangbai
Drive: From Amed the road was snaking through little villages until a place called Aas. After that the drive went up and down through untouched nature, providing one of best driving experienced and best views on Bali. Finding Candidasa by the waterfront was easy and so was Padangbai on the other side of the bay.
- Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Distance: 54 km or 33 miles
- Candidasa: A former beach town that made a convenient lunch stop with local market and eateries right by the shore.
- Padangbai: Known as the main port of Bali to catch the big ferry to Lombok, Padangbai was a surprisingly nice place to stay with guesthouse options, restaurants and a great local market with cheap warungs. There was also a small beach in town and two very nice beaches a short drive away.
Tip: Since the road is going low at the beaches and high at the protruding areas, make sure to take the time for stopping at the high points and enjoying the great views of the beaches, villages and volcano Gunung Agung in the back.
Photos and more about Day 7: Driving by Cliffs and Beaches on Bali
Day 8 – Padangbai via Blue Lagoon to Ubud
Drive: The Blue Lagoon Beach could be reached within a 5 minute ride, while the second beach on the other end of town was a little bit further away.The ride along the wide highway towards Ubud was extremely quick, but the least inspiring of the whole island.
- Time: 45 minutes
- Distance: 35 km or 22 miles
- Blue Lagoon Beach: A very close ride from Padangbai lay this small white sand cove, overlooked by a restaurant and bar with reclining chairs.
- Ubud: This family friendly tourist town, called itself the cultural capital of Bali, with lot’s arts and craft stores to buy souvenirs.
Tip: Go to the beaches by Padangbai early in the morning as you have them to yourself and can fully enjoy the sun. Both beaches are covered in shade by the afternoon. Instead of the tourist restaurants try the great food of the many local warungs in Ubud.
Photos and more about Day 8: Blue Lagoon Beach to Touristic Ubud
Day 9 – Ubud via Sanur and Nusa Dua on Bukit Peninsula to Kuta
Drive: Driving on the main road while avoiding getting into Denpasar was relatively easy and unspectacular. The wide empty roads of Nusa Dua were easy to navigate and provided some insight into a very different side of Bali compared to the local experiences previously.
- Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Distance: 68 km or 42 miles
- Sanur: Surprisingly low-key beach town that was famous for its expat retiree population. It came with a long stretch of sand and many beach front restaurants.
- Nusa Dua: Resort Town and gated community that looked a bit like a fancy Disneyland with palm tree-lined streets, expensive hotels, golf courses, museums, theaters and white sand beaches.
Tip: Sanur makes a great stop for lunch along the way and is also perfect for staying overnight as an alternative to busy Kuta. Make sure to check out the colorful fishing boats on the beach.Have a look at the beaches in Nusa Dua, they are publicly accessible.
Photos and more about Day 9: Nusa Dua Beaches and last Bali Drive
Would you consider driving a few days around Bali by Scooter as well?
Photo Essays about the Drive around Bali
Driving Conditions on Bali
Crater Rim drive by Munduk
Big Crater ride by Gunung Batur
Winding Coastal Road by Amed