Generally most budget travelers shy away from renting a car to do the bulk of their sightseeing. And, in a relatively expensive place like Bahrain, the imagination of what the costs may be are enough to scare many away for considering it. Personal transportation in Bahrain however is inexpensive, the cost of fuel nearly negligible, along with very navigable roads giving you access to a number of remote sites.

bahrain al fateh fort

Competition For Business Working In Your Favor

The large number of car rental companies in Bahrain helps to put a constant downward pressure on the costs and complications of getting your personal ride. A foreign license is all that’s required for an innocuous process and some light negotiating can realistically get you a car for 8-10 Bahraini dinar (~$21-26) per day.

bahrain marketGas Won’t Kick Your…Gas

In general, around Bahrain when you pick up your rental car it will have a nearly completely empty gas tank. Your first stop, as was mine, is a mandatory straight shot to the closest gas station (as you don’t want to have to push your vehicle all over Manama). Gas is pumped by attendants at the stations and after a short wait behind a fairly long line of cars I was greeted by one of them.

Having a long day of driving all around a country that exports nearly 49,000 barrels of crude oil a day, I rolled to a pump looking to fill the tank full. As I handed over 15 Bahraini dinar (~$40), the young Pakistani man’s eyes widened as he wandered into confusion. “You don’t need that,” he said, “unless you want to buy gas for everyone waiting in line.”

Gas costs roughly 29 US cents per liter, or approximately $1 for a gallon.

Getting To Remote Places

In and around Bahrain’s capital city Manama, public transportation consists primarily of taxi and small buses that crisscross town. The bus routes aren’t the easiest to navigate and don’t visit many popular attractions in Bahrain while taxis between all of the country’s spread out attractions can get pricey fast. (Taxis can be hired for an entire day at around 25 Bahraini dinar ~$67 however.)

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  • One good example is the Tree of Life, which is located in the middle of a vast expanse of oil fields in central Bahrain’s desert. Buses don’t go anywhere near it and in a taxi you might miss the life within the temporary villages of oil workers all around. Getting lost, as I often do, I got to watch a soccer game between two groups of workers who lived on either side of a dirt road. Nearby to ask directions again, I also spent some time chatting with a young group of guys who were barbecuing and smoking shisha in an spontaneous picnic area in the desert sand.

tree of life horse

Whereas in many other parts of the world a rental car can act as a barrier for travelers looking for that ever-elusive connection with a place, in Bahrain an automobile can put you in direct touch with an entire nation. The country’s main island is small enough (~750,000 square kilometers) that you can literally get anywhere in the country within an hour or two.

Places In Bahrain That Will Make Glad You Rented A Car

Aside from the previously mentioned Tree of Life and Bahrain International Circuit, you’ll thank yourself when you pull up just south of Zallaq Beach or the Al Areen Wildlife Sanctuary close by. You may even come across Al Fateh Fort (built by the Persians during the 17th century) which overlooks Bahrain’s famous golf courses, stroll through the side streets near Askar’s coast, or watch the spectacle of modified cars that make Arad Fort’s parking lot look like The Fast And The Furious on many evenings.

bahrain souk

Driving in Bahrain, except for the occasional tricky roundabout, is relatively orderly and the speed limits seemingly a strong suggestion but not much more. It’s rare when a private vehicle can work for you on so many travel levels including your wallet, watch, and wanderings; something travelers should consider taking advantage of in Bahrain.