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Bali Lovers Growing Frustrated With Lack Of Action On Traffic

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Bali’s issue with traffic congestion is no secret. One only has to have a quick look on social media to see hundreds of viral videos in the ‘expectations vs. reality’ style template to see that traffic all around the island is only mounting up.

Local leaders have reached out to the media to share their frustration at the lack of urgent action. 

Traffic in Bali.jpg

The Chairman of the Bali Villa Association, I Putu Gede Hendrawan, has spoken up on behalf of local communities, tourism business owners, and tourists themselves.

He said that although the number of tourists on the island right now is something to be grateful for in the wake of the pandemic, serious and urgent action must be taken to tackle the road infrastructure on the island. 

Hendrawan noted that despite years worth of discussion, seminars, expert studies, and even project proposals, there has yet to be a single impactful solution to the traffic congestion in Bali. He explained that the tourism sector is at risk if nothing is done soon. 

@miaccollison18 You’ll know this feeling if you have been to Bali🥲🥲🥲 #relatable #travellife #anyonerelate #backpackingreality #travelreality #bali #balitrafficjam #balitraffic #comedy #funny #thenorm #traffic #mariocart #mariokart #canggu #seminyak #southofbali #uluwatubali #ubud #backpackingseasia #seasia #fyp #like #follow #slay ♬ sonido original – Carlos Feria

Hendrawan said, “Talking about quality tourism must come from two sides, both the tourists and the tourism products.” He was speaking about a recent announcement from political leaders who want to promote higher-quality tourism in Bali by encouraging higher quality (and higher spending) tourists on vacation. 

He pointed out that the quality of a destination’s tourism offering is about more than the luxurious nature of accommodation. Quality public infrastructure plays a less sexy but essential role in establishing quality tourism. 

@ktravelsuk Completely normal scenes here, trying to cross the road & they'd run you over on the pavement🤣🤣 #bali #seminyak #bikes #roads #bali #traveltok #fyp ♬ original sound – ktravelsuk🌎 | Kirsten

Hendrawan explained that the traffic congestion is impacting both tourist’s experience of the resort island and the quality of life for local communities.

He said, “We are bored here having to go through congested routes so we often look for alternate routes, especially for those who have limited vacation time. Because of traffic jams, we have to spend so much more time on the roads.”

He and others in the Bali Villa Association are calling for meaningful action by the central and provincial governments, municipalities, districts, and local bankers. Hendrawan called on the huge imbalance between the volume of vehicles on Bali’s roads and the quality of the supporting transport infrastructure.

@journeywithchiara be prepared to spend 50% of your life in traffic in Bali #baliliving #balivibes #balitraffic #canggutraffic #instavsreality ♬ september on crack ft. a recorder (Earth, Wind & Fire – September) – frickin weeb

He cited figures from the Bali Province Statistics Agency that show that the number of vehicles on the island vastly exceeds that of the residential population. In 2022, the number of registered vehicles in Bali was 4,756,364, while at official estimate of the population of Bali province was 4,415,000 people in mid-2022.

This volume of vehicles is not only causing issues with traffic congestion but also parking. There have been dozens of stories this year alone of tourist vehicles in turmoil over insufficient parking at the island’s leading destinations.

This results in illegal parking, which often blocks already congested roads, causing traffic to back up even further and in some cases reach gridlock. 


Hendrawan said, “It’s all a dilemma. If vehicle restrictions are implemented it will affect government revenue from motor vehicle taxes, but if this cannot be done, then there must be other options such as adding highways.”

He is also calling on the authorities to take firm action against those who violate traffic laws, especially in areas like Ubud where illegal parking is rife and having a hugely negative impact on local businesses and tourists. 

Traffic Congestion in Canggu

Hendrawan concluded, “If this continues to happen in Bali, how will the image of Bali’s tourism be one that is of being comfortable and safe?”

“Because we are not comfortable on the highway going to a place used private transportation and end up getting bored and fed up with things like this.”

“The long-term effect is that it has a huge impact on the image of Bali tourism. There is no other industry that can replace tourism as it is the backbone of Bali.”


Hendrawan’s comments come as the Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, concludes meetings with the transportation and planning authorities in Bali.

The Minster agreed that Bali will be unable to cope with the volume of traffic on the roads by 2027 if nothing is done quickly.

The Minster and his teams discussed the new Light Rail Transit system, and land acquisition is underway to expand road links into the Uluwatu resort area in 2024, in addition to the already underway Gilimanuk-Medewi Toll Road

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Keith Nash

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

If at least the current rules were enforced and law breakers fined.


Wednesday 27th of September 2023

A huge amount of congestion could be alleviated in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak by stopping taxis, GoCar, GrabCar and private transport driving around all day looking for fares. Look at the availability of parking for bikes on Jl Pantai Kuta versus available parking for cars. Huge problem with cars parked illegally and reducing it to one lane. Create pickup and drop off zones for taxis in popular tourist places. Ban cars from rat running down narrow gangs only wide enough for bikes. Just some suggestions.


Monday 25th of September 2023

How about some basic traffic management as a start. In Ubud no traffic lights and no traffic police, everyone going everywhere. Just keeping traffic on their side of the road would make a huge difference, one way loops through narrow areas. There are some really easy wins here that would make a world of difference.


Sunday 24th of September 2023

Along with wider roads, Footpaths would be a great idea! Tourists actually enjoy walking around and exploring. Currently this is a hazardous activity in most areas of Bali due to the masses of vehicles speeding by and driving up on the road edges due to traffic congestion. Perhaps if Footpaths were in place, local residents might also enjoy walking - instead of always using a vehicle. The air pollution in many areas, possibly due to all the vehicles and rubbish burning, etc - really, really needs to be addressed urgently.


Saturday 23rd of September 2023

I read frequently the articles on this website as I am NOT currently living in Bali but will move there in a year... and OMG, I am already dreading the traffic. I have some experience with gridlocks as living in another SE Asia country and yes, I understand it is not pleasant to be stuck in traffic, whatever the means of transportation you are using. But while reading this article, some questions/comments popped up and be sure that I am not writing in a polemical way but happy to discuss. For info, it took me 2 days to comment on this article as I was playing the devil's advocate with my own comments/questions - instant/hot reactions are never a good thing ;) And again, my apologies if I am missing some points but please enlighten me. Anyway, here it goes: - how can there be more registered cars than population in Bali? Is that because the records are not up to date? Are motorcycles/mopeds included? I assume that car rentals might have more than 4 cars, and probably some hotels have also some cars for rent, but that is just crazy. - and yes, it is not really acceptable to see a 6-seater vans with only 1 or 2 people but maybe some attention should be brought to users or van owners. I remember in Thailand that for shuttle services between small airports and hotels (the vans were stopping at several hotels on their way to final destination), the vans would not depart until all seats are sold. Pain in the bottom because you have to wait for another plane and hope that the van would be full but 8 people plus the driver were using 1 vehicle instead of 4-5 vehicles going individually. - will a highway solve the issue? I am a bit sceptical. Highways are designed for long distance, to go faster and to avoid cities, villages, hamlets. But if a destination is quite famous for any reason, the traffic jam will actually start when exiting the highway. If the road infrastructure at the highway exit is not able to manage the traffic influx, then it's probably back to square one. - I was really puzzled by this sentence : "If vehicle restrictions are implemented it will affect government revenue from motor vehicle taxes,...". So OK, the problem is identified but money is so important that nothing will be done in vehicle restriction? As far as I understand this article and the comments, the risks are that in the long term, the revenue generated by tourism will be in jeopardy. Taking quite a HUGE short-cut, with no more tourists, there won't be any need for cars and it will be a lose-lose situation: both on tourism incomes (for locals) and vehicle taxes (for government). I reckon it is a HUGE short-cut I took, and sorry about this. - because tourism, as any business, is also quite a competitive sector and other countries in SE Asia are not waiting to promote their own paradise, I don't think I will be really happy to spend 4 hours in a traffic jam to go to my favourite place or to show a nice village to family visiting Bali. I will probably stay local, walking distance, and that will be it. A bit of a shame when I understand that Bali has so much to offer but I will pass rather than driving (on my own or with taxi/moped) and be stuck for ages. - don't get me wrong, I do use taxis/mopeds when I can't use public transports because my destination is nowhere near a bus/train station, or when it's chucking with heavy rains (not always the good option as rain tends to make traffic worse anyway). But this is where you can actually help: is that any public transportation on the Island right now? I mean bus mainly. If yes, do you think it serves the needs of the island? - there will be probably some more to discuss, investments to be done (but which ones), limiting the number of tourists (implementing a selection on high-end/rich tourists... who will probably stay in their hotel during the whole time, going on a high-end tour once or twice... will that help the small economy of the island?), increasing the fees on visa (again, selecting the type of tourists, and where does the money goes anyway?) and I could go on and on.. - but some solutions should be considered and put in place because with the era of social media, the reputation of a country/island can also be damaged as quickly as the reputation of an individual. Car-sharing? Shuttles provided by hotels to pick-up their staff along a defined route? Incentives to limit the number of cars/bicycles owned by rentals... - some countries have implemented some solutions, sometimes at the expense of the inhabitants, but with the right balance of restrictions and offers (you can't implement a huge restriction on vehicles if you don't provide some alternatives), the whole experience of travelling within Bali could be a pleasant experience for everybody... but I might be naive or trusting too much in humanity, and forget a major point: greediness. Again, my intention was not to be conflictual but really to understand why it is going so side-ways in Bali. And I will apologise to anybody if any of the above is offensive or just irrelevant. Happy to discuss in a civilised way.


Sunday 24th of September 2023


There are thousands of almost empty minivans everywhere. A driver brings them into the tourist areas early morning, then they wait outside the area. When they get a call they get a Gojek to the car and drive out of the traffic centers. But every kid on this island wants to be a Van Driver. There a thousand of these things here. Most drive around with 10% of their seat capacity being utilized. By mid day the roads are jammed with them.

Next, massive construction boom. Tiny roads and thousands of dirty unmaintained overloaded trucks pounding what's left of the roads into horrific messes of dirt and asphalt. Plus, thousands and thousands of workers zipping around who aren't from Bali. (Nobody has thought about how to get to all these places when they are finished, if ever) There is only some limited road repair going on around the island.

Next, kids on bikes. Zillions of them racing around with their exhausts cut off, showing off to the girls. Nobody walks here anymore. And well, they can't because a sidewalk is not a sidewalk here.

Local delivery Gojek ad Grab. Thousands of them. Bringing all and anything to your house for cheap. Plus drive you around too.

General traffic.

Last are expats doing their business. Some of them driving like they are escaping the Front Line of a War. With their broads on the back with the living room drapes flowing behind in the wind with their almost bare breasts bared and their macho man on the front with his bare chest and gold chain.

Then there's me. Very polite and dignified.


Sunday 24th of September 2023

@Itrustin, Use google map with traffic to monitor interesting areas in Bali and you will quickly identify problematic areas in the south. There are areas with less problems like Sanur (due to Jl Bypass) but that might change with new hospital and new mall.

Bali need to downsize to 2.5 million arrivals. That will also reduce influx of locals to work with tourists. Then the number of people on the roads will be more inline with capacity. More important there are huge problems with trash management, areas in the south having issues with fresh water.

Sorry to say: Bali is overbooked.