Riding a motorbike is probably one of the easiest ways to get around the island. It’s cheap, relatively safe and a great way to avoid traffic jams.
For most people, the first thing they do is rent a scooter, and if they are into surfing, they will get one with board racks attached.
Imagine being able to bypass all those nasty traffic jams. However, you should follow a few golden rules before getting on your motorbike and exploring the island of Bali.
What You Need To Know When Hiring a Motorbike in Bali
1. Get an international driver’s license
You will need an international driver’s license, or if you don’t have one, you will need to get a Balinese driving license, which you can get in Denpasar. Forget about riding around the island without one. Visit the NRMA site to get your licence online.
Eventually, you will get stopped by the police. This will result in a costly fine and a trip to the local police station. Be prepared to pay these guys if they ask for a payment. It saves a lot of hassle and wasted time. Offer them 100 000 Rp, and that should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, this is how it works here, and it’s best to acknowledge this and move on. Never argue with the police and think that you’ll be able to talk your way out of it because you won’t. Pay them and move on! Also, if you have an accident without an international driver’s license, you will not be able to collect insurance.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes tip: you can get an International driver’s license online, and it’s very fast. They will post it to you within 10 days.
2) You have to wear a helmet.
Again, if the police see you ( especially if you are a foreigner), you will get a fine. Plus, think of the danger aspect. It is quite common to see tourists driving around in their swimwear completely unprotected. Unfortunately, we see these same people fully bandaged, walking around on crutches. Wear a helmet. It’s a MUST! A good idea if you ride a motorbike back home and you intend to rent a bike for a long period is to bring your helmet. Generally a lot safer and a lot cleaner.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes Tip: make sure the helmet strap works and get a decent helmet. Some bike rental places will give you substandard ones, so be careful.
3) You can find a motorbike to rent easily.
There are places all over Bali that offer this service. Start with your hotel, and if they can’t help you, I’m sure the concierge will be able to walk you across the street to a mate’s place to get your bike. Make sure you test the brakes and look at the tyres, as many tourists have punished these bikes. If it looks dodgy, move on to the next bike rental place 5 metres down the road. I will make a bet with you that you can get a bike to rent within 15 minutes of looking. This is especially true in tourist areas such as Seminyak, Kuta or Legian.
4) Watch out for the traffic
Be 100% alert, as driving in Bali is completely different from driving here in Australia. The rules are much more relaxed, and I find that the larger vehicles tend to rule the road – keep clear of these trucks and other bigger cars – especially those water trucks, as they drive like absolute lunatics!
5. Don’t drink and drive
Driving after you have had a few drinks seems to be quite commonplace in Bali. But, again, if you are silly enough to do this, you will likely end up in an accident. They do not have drunk driving rules in Bali, and the police won’t care how much you have drunk, but don’t risk it for your safety. Taxis & Go Jek are plentiful and cheap enough so go with that option.
6) Make sure your horn is working
Make sure the horn is working on your bike. You will need it as everyone honks, beeps and hoots in this place. Overtaking requires that you sound your horn.
7) Don’t get ripped off when renting the scooter
Rental prices for motorbikes can vary – generally, around Rp 50 000 – Rp 100 000 per day should cover the bike hire and insurance. That’s between AUD 5 – $10 for a standard Vario 125cc or a Scoopy 125 cc.
Petrol is additional and is quite cheap. You will need to find a petrol station called ‘Pertamina’, or there are street vendors selling petrol at a premium price. It’s best to avoid these vendors as the petrol contents can be questionable. Having said that, in most cases, it’s fine.
‘ Bali Villa Escapes tip: It’s OK to bargain when renting a scooter. Try to get the price down by 10-20%. If you’re renting for an extended period, they should be agreeable to this.
8) Avoid driving at night
Try to avoid driving too much at night as in some areas there are no street lights and the roads can have some big potholes. If it’s doing the rainy season and you are driving at night, take extreme care. Also, if you are driving at night in popular tourist areas like Seminyak, Legian, Kuta and Canggu, people get on their scooters after a few drinks so take care when you are near bars and clubs. The Batu Bolong & Pantai Berawa area in Canggu is notorious for this as people leave Old Man’s beach bar or Finns after a few sunset Bintangs and head home.
9) Avoid hitting any stray dogs wondering on the street
Stray dogs are everywhere in Bali; they love chasing after motorbikes and barking. Avoid these dogs, and don’t hit them just because they are chasing after you. Drive on as fast as you can and get away from them.
10) Get surfboard racks on the bike
If you have a surfboard, ask for surf bike racks on the side of the bike. This is a great way to check out all the main surf breaks around Bali. You will see lots of surfers getting around this way.
Extra point added: 20/1/20: try not to rent those bikes with loud mufflers. Several bike rental companies offer these types of trail bikes or custom bikes that make terrible sounds. This is common in areas like Canggu, Legian and Seminyak, where young impressionable kids want to rent the loudest bike possible. It’s deafening and adds to the noise pollution. No one likes them ( especially the locals ), and you look like a complete idiot. Avoid these loud bikes, and Bali will be a quieter and much better place for everyone!
Extra point added 24/2/21: it’s OK to fill up your scooter at local petrol vendors. They are everywhere and usually outside local shops or Warungs. It will cost more than filling up at a petrol station such as Pertamina, but it’s much easier as they are all over the island. Plus, you are helping locals earn a few extra Rupiah.
Extra point added 6/1/23: filling up with petrol is much cheaper at the local Pertamina, and they can be found all over the island.
If you are renting a villa through us at Bali Villa Escapes and want a motorbike waiting for you at the villa when you arrive, we can easily arrange this for you. Please speak to your reservation manager, who will be more than happy to organise this for you so that when you arrive, it has a full tank of petrol ready for you to start exploring the area around the villa.
Even better, some villas have scooters for guests to use, so ask about that. If you need a surfboard rack on the scooter, let us know in advance.