First let me say that driving a campervan in Bali is not hard if you are just aware of a couple things before you set out. So here we go.
Here’s the good news:
If you choose one or more of the camping places that we suggest on our MAP and use the routes that we will give you then you are 100% fine. The following guide is for those who are looking to discover places not on the map (generally not recommended for first timers).
So, if you are taking the campervan into the unknown, the first thing to know is that all roads are not created equal. Bali has some great roads and some roads that are little more than a rice field path. The problem is that Google Maps often doesn’t know the difference. So the result is that you cannot trust Maps 100% of the time and you might find yourself on some very bad roads that the campervan cannot traverse.
While I haven’t driven the campervan on every road in Bali I have traveled around most areas and I know most of the “no-go zones”. These are whole areas that have roads that look like any other in Maps but are actually unpassable. I have marked these roads on the map HERE.
These areas that I have marked are especially important because Google WILL route you through them. This is because according to their imperfect understanding of the road conditions they represent the shortest route. The good news is, for most travel across Bali, if you avoid those red areas you will be fine. Also note that I have shown the correct routes to take in green.
If you are being an explorer and really trying to discover a new camping spot then one rule of thumb for using Maps is to turn on street view.
This will put blue lines over all the roads that the google vehicle has travelled (note that often the Google vehicle in Bali is a motorcycle). If after activating street view you do not see a blue line over the road you plan to check out then it is highly likely that it is not passable. Also note that just because there is a blue line does not mean that it is 100% certain that it is car-friendly. This is just a guideline.
So if you are exploring (i.e. going to places other than those we have suggested) then this can help you figure out how to get there, but remember, nothing is certain and you could find yourself in some tricky spots (not fun!).
Another thing to remember is that if you are following a Maps route down some small roads and you miss a turn the best thing to do is to reverse and take the original turn. If you miss a turn Google WILL reroute you but it will likely be an even worse road, so best to just go on the original path.
My last tip is to turn tell Google Maps to show elevation. Remember that Bali is a mountainous island with a few large volcanos. The more inland you go the steeper the roads become. It’s good to know if your intended route is going up a treacherously steep mountainside.
So that’s about it as far as Using Google Maps in Bali goes. Remember that if you go to the camping places we list and follow our routes you will have NO problems, all the roads are good. We recommend that you do just that, and leaving the known roads should only be for those who are already familiar with Bali and driving the campervan.