Tips for Scooter Travelers in Bali

Are you preparing your next trip to Bali and would you like to rent a scooter on the Island of the Gods? Here is everything you need to know for renting a motorcycle in Bali in the form of 5 practical tips on driving a 2-wheeler that will help you before your trip but also once there: Driver’s license, insurance, price scooter rental and fuel, safety and road conditions.

You can explore Bali by scooter but also Lombok, Flores or Sulawesi. The scooter is undoubtedly the best way to fully enjoy Indonesia in complete freedom. But there are laws and rules of conduct to know and respect.

Here is the outline of this blog post on scooter rental in Bali:

1. Scooter safety on the roads of Bali
2. The price of a scooter rental in Bali
3. Road conditions in Bali
4. Where to refuel your scooter in Bali?
5. What driving license and what insurance to rent a scooter in Bali?
6. Get a good insurance to cover during your stay

If you are reading this article, it means that you will surely go on vacation to Bali! All our Indonesia travel stories can be accessed from this link. We take you to Bali but also to Lombok, Gilis, Komodo, Flores or Sulawesi. And yes, Indonesia has been our favorite playground since forever. This is how we have become experts on the destination for international travelers and tourists.

5 Tips for scooter travelers in Bali

1. Scooter safety on the roads of Bali

To visit Lombok and Bali by scooter, know that you have to drive on the left. Better to know it from the start! It can be unsettling at first for some but you get used to it quickly.

Wearing a helmet is mandatory with permanently attached strap. Avoid riding at night for your safety and due to the lack of public lighting. In Bali, it gets dark around 6 p.m. in summer.

Be careful, you can be arrested at any time by the local police, unfortunately still too often corrupt. Avoid them as much as possible and if possible ignore them. At red lights, avoid being in the front line! They love to stop tourists on this occasion. Even if you have nothing to reproach yourself with, they will always find something to complain about.

What to do in case of arrest by the local police?

If the policeman is alone, hand him a small ticket or demand a ticket (or fine) and tell the policeman who is often more of a rural warden (for towns) that you are asking for the case to be settled in the court of justice of Denpasar. This is how it should normally be. However, the policeman will not want to go and waste half a day in the capital for that. Know that in 2016, only 52 tickets in all were filed in court! He will therefore let you go in 99.9% of cases, always trying to get something in the end. It can go as far as a candy!
If it is a police roadblock, stop and present all the requested documents. If you are in good standing, the police have nothing to ask you to pay.
The villagers can also warn you of possible roadblocks and offer you to cut across the field. It has already happened to us on the road between Ubud and Mount Batur.

2. The price of a scooter rental in Bali

The scooters for rent in Bali are mostly 110 or even 125 cc, which is more than enough to explore the island, even if the coasts can be steep in some places. FYI, two with two backpacks, we traveled Bali and Lombok on a single scooter the first time but it is not necessarily the most practical, we grant you. It is therefore better to plan to travel light in this case.

Renting a scooter is very simple. Speak to your host as soon as you arrive in Bali. In any case, he will be able to either bring your scooter directly to your accommodation or he will tell you about a scooter rental company nearby. And scooters, in Bali, that’s not what’s missing!

Read also: Itinerary in Bali, Lombok and Gilis in 3 Weeks Stay

Scooter rental prices in Bali are low and decreasing depending on the duration, but you can also rent a scooter for a single day from any village.

The average price of renting a scooter varied between IDR  50 000 and 60 000 per day, or around €3.50. A price that starts to be negotiated if you rent the scooter for more than 3 days. For 1 month’s rental, we paid IDR 800 000 or around €50 after negotiation.

Good to know: Near surf spots in the south such as Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu or on the Bukit peninsula, the scooters are equipped with a rack on the side to carry your surfboard!

3. Road conditions in Bali

Visiting Bali by scooter means taking roads that are generally in good condition. Many have even been redone in recent years. Traffic in the south of the island is generally very dense and even becoming denser. We could see the evolution of the traffic between 2011 and 2019 because we go to Bali every 2 years. It is better to be used to riding a scooter and in any case not be afraid of traffic.

You have to let yourself be carried away by the flow of other scooters which do not hesitate to take sidewalks or other verges, especially in the south of Bali. So be extra careful in the big cities and especially in the alleys of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and in Ubud which are often congested and where respect for the highway code becomes secondary.

For information, we took about 45 minutes to reach Ubud from the beaches of southern Bali. In July 2017, it takes more than 2 hours! It becomes hellish and more and more dangerous, especially because of the trucks that have become ubiquitous.

Rent scooter bali travel blog OneDayoneTravel
Watch out for potholes everywhere else. Last point, the roads around Sidemen are often in poor condition.

Bali scooter breakdown! Watch out for the road of death!

Last important point: Absolutely avoid the seaside road between the beaches of southern Bali and Java. The road is nicknamed the highway of death. Indeed, it is the road (which does not look like a highway at all but rather a secondary road) that thousands of trucks take daily from Jakarta to/from Denpasar.

Drivers in Indonesia are used to driving more than 50 hours in a row. They take substances that we will not describe here which allow them to hold. They are not in their normal state behind the wheel and you can imagine that it is not a small scooter that stops them. There are a lot of injuries and especially deaths on this road every year.

5. What driving license and what insurance to rent a scooter in Bali?

Before you leave and before you can visit Bali by scooter, get an international permit from your city hall.

Know that in Indonesia, as in Thailand, the French car license which normally allows you to drive a scooter of less than 125 cm³ in France and in many countries in the world is not sufficient to legally drive a scooter in Indonesia.

So there are 2 solutions:

Either you drive illegally at your own risk and in the event of an accident, it could cost you extremely dearly because the usual insurance does not cover driving 2 wheels outside France and therefore in Indonesia. So, we still found a solution in case you hurt yourself (slip, broken arm, sore knees, etc.) by subscribing to one of the travel insurances which will reimburse you for hospitalization costs. On the other hand, if the accident involves third parties and the police on the spot block your repatriation, for example, because you are not in the legality, that will be another problem. We contacted Chapka and the case fortunately never happened but you should know that you could have very big problems.

Either you want to drive legally. The 1st solution is to have a motorcycle license passed in your country and the stamp well placed on your international license. The 2nd solution is to obtain directly on the spot in Bali a temporary local permit reserved for tourists, the Surat Izin Mengemudi also known in Indonesia under the name of SIM C for motorcycles of less than 250 cm³.

This local permit is obtained from the police (Polersta) in the city of Denpasar. It is then necessary to plan to block 1 whole day for the steps which can prove to be very long and to go to the following address: Jl. Gunung Sanghyang No.110.

Provide photocopies of the passport and the residence visa as well as a medical certificate of good mental and physical health which must be established in Bali (possible in the small hospital located opposite the police station for IDR 25000).

There is normally then a theoretical exam in the form of a MCQ of 30 questions and a practical exam. It is very common that the temporary local permit is issued without going through these examinations for a small ticket.

The theoretical total cost to obtain this permit is normally IDR 200000 but you will often be asked for more. Now you know why! Significant additional consequence: saving time. This is how to be completely legal to drive a scooter in Bali and therefore not have any problems with the Police, especially in the event of an accident involving third parties and thus be insured.

Your international license will be required when renting the scooter. You will have to present your national license and your international license during controls as well as your valid passport. Check before finalizing the rental, the vehicle papers of course but also the brakes, the tires, the light and most importantly the horn, essential for driving in complete safety. Do not hesitate to take pictures of the scooter or even film it before leaving the rental company.

Also check the license plate. The expiry date of the insurance appears as 09-2022 for September 2022 for example. This date must always be valid otherwise during a possible control, you will have to pay! And visiting Bali by scooter can end up being expensive at the end of the stay if you are unlucky.

Be careful but everything is easy in Indonesia. It happened to us to die in the middle of nowhere, locals brought us their help only 5 minutes after our forced stop. In short, you will always find a villager who will struggle to help you. And it’s an opportunity to meet locals!

The scooter is one of the ideal means of transport during a trip to Indonesia because it brings unparalleled freedom of discovery.

With the traffic which has developed enormously since, we advise you now rather to take a taxi, an Uber (not accepted everywhere on the island), a Grab, a Gojek, or a car with driver to make the journeys between each step and then rather to rent a scooter to radiate around the drop points. This remains the least dangerous solution. So ready to visit Bali by scooter?

6. Make sure you have an insurance to cover

There are thousands of tourists who circulate without any problem with rental motorbikes.
Scooter travelers in Bali take risks, but in the vast majority of cases, they have no worries / accidents. It is true that this allows a very appreciable feeling of freedom.
Driving in Bali is not as diabolical as some people write. There’s no real priority, but people drive quite slowly.

Make your insurance cover a scooter accident in Bali.

Leave your country with good insurance because it is rare that “all included” insurance includes a 3rd party.

Remember that in Bali, medical costs are very important and you will be asked for your insurance before any intervention. Or if you don’t have an insurance, they will ask you to pay first.

Also keep on you papers allowing you to identify yourself, address of your hotel, copies of identity papers. It’s tempting to go surfing with your board and swimsuit. The consul of France related a few years ago, how a comatose victim, whose path had crossed that of a dog and of which no identifying document was found on him, remained in the state for several days and finally died, because no one could identify it, authorize the interventions and foot the bill.

In the event of an accident, you are likely to be held responsible. Especially because the Balinese are uninsured or uninsured and they know you are. Often cars and motorcycles are rented without full insurance (it’s up to you to claim them knowing that they may not cover all the damage caused).

Know also that the rule is that wherever you come from, whatever happened, you go into someone, even if he came from nowhere: you are responsible!

There are few accidents, no more than in France in any case, they are however more serious because they often involve motorcycles. We also sometimes find trucks in the ditch – probably after a risky doubling. You will be able to note on the spot, that the cars of the Balinese are less dented than ours, testimony of a more “careful” general conduct and this despite appearances. Be aware, however, that scooter accidents are the number 1 cause of death for tourists in Bali.

If you cause damage to a third party, whether bodily injury in the case of an accident, for example, or property damage, your civil liability may be incurred. The costs to be reimbursed can in extreme cases amount to several million Euros or Dollars. Travel insurance therefore has ceilings high enough to cover significant damage.

It should also be noted that travel insurance includes reimbursement of search and rescue costs which can be significant if a boat or a helicopter are mobilized.

Sources: Wikipedia, United Nation Treaty Collection of Road Traffic Convention Agreements (treaties.un.org)

Photo credit: Max Pixel (CC0 Public Domain)