Thinking about renting a scooter in Bali? Don’t do it before you read this post! Riding a scooter in Bali can be great fun, as long as you know how to stay safe and avoid the scams. Read on for your complete guide to Bali motorbike rental.
What’s in our guide to renting a scooter in Bali?
2. Where to Rent a Scooter in Bali
3. How Much Does Scooter Rental Cost in Bali?
4. What Do You Need to Rent a Scooter in Bali?
5. Caught by the Cops
6. Can You Ride a Scooter in Bali Without a License?
7. Safety Tips and Rules of the Road in Bali
8. Common Sense Tips for Driving a Scooter in Bali
9. How and Where to Get Gas / Petrol for Your Scooter
10. A Final Note About Renting a Scooter in Bali
Would it shock you to know that for my first four trips to Bali, I avoided renting a scooter? I spent my first days in Bali on a bicycle, having cycled all the way from Beijing in the preceding months.
As you can imagine, we experienced some crazy things on the road.
But none of those roads were as crazy as the roads in Bali!
On our first day in Bali, I was forced over to the edge of a bridge by a mini van who didn’t know (or didn’t care) that I was there. I swerved hard to avoid a collision, hit the foot-high curb instead, swerved back and was promptly rear-ended by Stephen as he swerved to avoid the car behind him.
Because we’d been cycling almost every day for the past 2 years, we both had the strength and the ability to stay on our bikes during this near-accident. If one of us had gone down, the traffic would have run right over us. It was the worst, most dangerous experience of our 2-year bike trip.
After that, the idea of learning to ride a scooter in the traffic-choked insaneness of Bali’s narrow, winding streets just seemed like lunacy.
Sadly, Bali is difficult and expensive to get around if you don’t drive a scooter. Conundrum!
This year, we decided to face our fears and learn to ride scooters.
In preparation, we rented scooters for a day in Vancouver, where the roads are wide, well-paved, and the rule of law is alive and well. With that experience under our wings, we were ready to rent scooters in Bali!
If you want to hire a scooter in Bali too, read on for our…
Complete Guide to Renting a Scooter in Bali
You’ll also want to check out our other Bali guides, including Is it Safe to Travel to Bali?, guides to the best vegan food in Ubud and Canggu, and our advice if you want to take a trip to Nusa Penida.
Should You Rent a Scooter in Bali?
This is a question only you can answer — it really depends on the type of person you are.
Undoubtedly, scooters are the best way to get around when you’re in Bali. Any other form of transport ends up being a hassle or expensive. And walking around the streets in Bali is never very pleasant. I have enjoyed Bali so much more on a scooter than I did on our previous trips.
Plus, the actual act of driving a scooter is really easy and fun once you get the hang of it.
If you have never driven a motorbike or scooter before, I’d think long and hard about renting a scooter in Bali. The traffic is unimaginably wild — if you’ve never been here before, just walking across the street can be a scary experience. It is definitely not prime ground for learning to drive a scooter.
If you don’t have much driving experience or you are prone to flights of panic, jumping on a scooter is a one-way ticket to injury.
If you still don’t believe me, at least read this article before you hop on a scooter in Bali.
If you’re coming to Bali and you really want to hire a scooter, I strongly suggest spending a day learning to ride a scooter back home, where you already know the traffic rules.
Practice driving over curbs, along gravel paths, in and out of traffic, and around lots of corners, just so you have some confidence when you hit the messy roads in Bali.
Where to Rent a Scooter in Bali
Just like all other parts of Bali life, there are some scooter scammers around. They have a few rackets going which I won’t detail here — they all end with you having to pay extra or get into a big, stressful confrontation.
To avoid this, always book your rental scooter:
- Through your hotel or Airbnb. Email them before you leave home and tell them you’d like a scooter. When you arrive, a nice little 125cc scooter will be waiting for you.
- Through a friend. If you have friends living in Bali (doesn’t everyone these days?), just get in touch and ask them to recommend someone. You might get a better deal if you go through a local friend.
How Much Does Scooter Rental Cost in Bali?
Renting a scooter in Bali is incredibly cheap. It’s one of the reasons so many people do it.
- If you get your scooter hire through a friend, you’ll probably get your bike for 50,000 IDR (less than $4 USD) per day.
- If you rent through your hotel, it’ll be between 60–70,000 IDR ($4–5 USD).
- Monthly rates are significantly cheaper, coming in around 800,000 IDR ($55 USD) for a month.
What Do You Need to Rent a Scooter in Bali?
If you’re going through a reliable rental agency, then you will need a driver’s license and some cash to rent your scooter.
According to Balinese laws:
- You need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive a scooter in Bali.
- You must wear a helmet when driving or riding a scooter.
- You should obey all speed limits and other road rules.
According to what tourists get away with, you don’t have to follow any of the above. However, injury is way more likely if you don’t wear a helmet and if you drive like an idiot. Trouble with the police is best avoided by getting an International Drivers License before you leave home.
So stick to the rules to avoid the worst possible side of riding a scooter in Bali.
What if You’re Stopped by the Cops?
In many towns in Bali, the police make a habit of stopping foreigners on scooters. Why? Because most of them are breaking the law!
So many foreigners ride without a helmet it’s crazy. What possible advantage could this give you? I will never understand it. Lots of bule (slang for foreigners, pronounced ‘boo-lay’) also drive too fast or too recklessly.
But the most common transgression is driving without an international license. For want of this $25 piece of ID, many foreigners end up paying fines / bribes to the police. Avoid having to pay by getting an International Driving License before you leave home.
With an IDP in hand, the police will let you go as long as you’re also wearing a helmet. After all, they’ve got dozens of non-licensed foreigners to “fine”.
Can You Ride a Scooter in Bali Without a License?
If you don’t have any drivers license
If you don’t have any drivers license at all, you might have a problem finding a Bali scooter rental. Most reliable rental agencies want to see your license before they will rent to you. Of course, there are always ways around this, including going to an unreliable rental place, where you open yourself up to scams.
Another caution: if you’re not a driver in your home country, it will be even more dangerous and difficult to learn to ride a scooter in Bali. Driving experience will at least give you some understanding of how to manoeuvre in traffic.
If you don’t have an international license
So you’re already in Bali without an IDP?
Most rental agents will only ask to see your home country drivers license, so you’ll easily be able to rent a motorbike. If you’re cautious and/or lucky, you may never have to show anyone your license after that first transaction. We rode around Canggu for two weeks and never saw any signs of police stopping foreigners.
If you do get stopped, be prepared to pay a “fine” to the police.
Here’s what’s likely to happen.
- At some point after you are pulled over, the police will tell you to pay them an exorbitant fine, like 3 million IDR (around $200). That’s when you start to negotiate.
- If you happen to have a big wad of cash, be prepared to lose a lot of it.
- If you’re smart, you’ll have hidden most of your cash away and only have a few smaller bills in your wallet. Pay what you have and chalk it up to experience.
- If you refuse to pay the fine, the police might threaten to arrest you — and though this is unlikely to happen, you really don’t want to take that risk.
When you’re talking to the police always stay friendly and relaxed and do everything with a smile on your face. In Balinese culture, signs of open anger and aggression are not acceptable.
Plus, chances are you did break the law, so you don’t have much firm ground to stand on here.
A final note about scooter licenses in Bali
I want to be clear that I am not advocating for driving in Bali without the proper international license. It’s an easy and inexpensive document to get and it will help you avoid a huge amount of hassle should you be stopped by the police.
Finally, if you do get into an accident, driving without a license will most likely invalidate your insurance. That means all the bills are yours to pay alone!
Safety Tips and Rules of the Road in Bali
If you’re Western, you’re not only going to have to learn how to drive a scooter in Bali, you’re going to have to learn a whole new set of road rules. Stephen and I were lucky to learn these rules of the course of a few months on our bike trip. Because of this previous experience, it’s been fairly easy for us to acclimate to Bali traffic.
Here are some basic road rules you need to know before you drive a scooter in Bali.
Mind When You’re Behind
In Western countries, you’re expected to know what traffic is behind you and avoid making any turns or swerves that will get in the way of this oncoming traffic.
In Bali, the opposite is true.
Drivers coming from behind has a responsibility to avoid the traffic ahead.
It makes sense, right? It’s so much easier to keep track of what’s happening in front of you than what’s going on behind!
What this means in practice is that, you have to avoid hitting someone if they:
- Swerve or turn across the lane in front of you
- Pull out from a side street as you are approaching
- Back out from a parking spot into the street
- Step out from behind a parked vehicle
We’ve seen so many foreigners shouting and swearing as other people pull out in front of them but it’s because they don’t understand the rules. What we would call “cutting you off” at home is just business as usual in Bali — it’s up to you to not run into anyone!
To avoid the worst:
- Drive slowly, especially in areas where bikes are parked along the road or a lot of people are walking.
- Don’t drive on the very edge of the street. Instead, leave a little space between you and the curb for people to hang out, walk, or back their motorbikes out.
- Always be aware of what’s happening ahead of you and slow down or go around if someone gets in your way.
Obey the Traffic Rules
There aren’t that many rules on Bali roads.
Honk if You Want to Be Noticed
In Bali, honking the horn means “Hey, I’m here. Don’t drive into me.” It’s not aggressive or angry to honk — it’s a public service.
Use it if you want to overtake a motorbike driving slowly, if you’re driving past unwary pedestrians, or if you’re rounding a blind corner.
Use Your Turn Signal
Your scooter has a little clicker on the left side which is your turn indicator.
Even though 75% of all the other scooters on the road don’t use them, you should. Why? Because you’re smarter than 75% of the people out there, right?
As we just discussed, drivers behind are responsible for not running into drivers ahead. It makes their job easier if you make it obvious when you’re about to turn or about to pull out to overtake. So use your turn signal!
Just be aware that scooter turn signals do not automatically cancel after you go around a corner like the ones in cars do. Instead, once you’ve made your turn, just push the signal button to cancel it.
Keep Calm and Carry On
One of our first evenings in Canggu, Stephen and I were walking down Batu Bolong and we heard the crunch of metal on metal nearby. This was quickly followed by terrified screams.
We looked up to see a foreign woman careening out of control down the street on her scooter. Behind her, a poor Balinese guy was picking up his dented motorbike from the street.
We quickly put together the story of what happened.
The woman, clearly new to driving a scooter, had been going along the edge of the road when a local backed his motorbike out without looking. She drove straight into him and then panicked.
Instead of letting go of the accelerator and braking, she pulled back with her right hand and sped off down the road. That’s when we turned around to see her swerving down the street, screaming at the top of her lungs!
Whatever happens, keep calm.
If your arms tense up in panic, you run the risk of revving the motor, rather than releasing the accelerator to slow down. Before you know it, you’re the one careening out of control down a busy street, or straight into a sewer ditch, or into an oncoming vehicle.
If you’re prone to panic, take lots of deep calming breaths as you drive. Or better still, let someone else drive you around!
Common Sense Tips for Driving a Scooter in Bali
Make Sure You’re Covered
Everyone who travels to Bali, whether you’re renting a scooter or not, needs to get travel insurance. But did you know that some travel insurance doesn’t cover riding scooters? And even if your insurance covers that, it probably won’t cover you if you don’t have a proper license or if you’re not wearing a helmet.
So make sure you get the right insurance and make sure you follow the rules.
There are two insurance companies we recommend. We’ve heard great things about both from fellow travel bloggers and friends. Both cover scooters and other adventure activities (check the policy).
World Nomads is the original insurance for adventurous travellers. It’s easy to sign up, easy to make a claim, and will only cost you a couple of dollars per day.
SafetyWing is ideal for those who want maximum flexibility with their travel insurance. They operate on a month-to-month plan, so you don’t have to have a definite return date in mind — keep travelling as long as you want!
Wear Your Helmet, Stupid
Not only are helmets the law when riding a motorbike in Bali, it’s just plain stupid not to wear one.
Never mind that you see plenty of foreigners and plenty of Indonesians driving around without them. Why, people? It makes no sense!
Driving in Bali is tricky and dangerous. No matter how great a driver you are, you don’t control the idiot who speeds by you on the wrong side while you’re trying to turn a corner or the car who slams on its brakes just inches in front of you.
Accidents do happen. In Bali, they happen a lot.
Make sure your head doesn’t smash on the road like a dropped watermelon; wear a helmet.
Oh, and by the way, wearing a helmet without doing up the strap is even dumber. A loose helmet is no protection in an accident, so why bother putting in on in the first place? Trust me, you’re not too cool to do up the damn strap.
If you’ve ever fallen off a bike, you’ll know what road rash is like. That layer of gravel mixed with blood and pus is not something anyone wants. In Bali, roads are extra dirty and gritty. If you get into a fender bender or slip off your bike and all you’re wearing is short shorts and a tank top, there is going to be acres of road rash to disinfect.
While I was getting used to driving, I wore long pants and a long-sleeved shirt just in case. But even I know Bali is too hot for that all the time.
At the very least, throw on a cover-up and a pair of shorts so you have a little protection. Ideally, keep your knees and elbows covered, as they will be the hardest hit in case of an accident.
You’ll see tons of people wearing flip-flops to drive around Bali. Do your feet a favour and put on shoes that at least give you a little protection. You will have to put your feet down in all kinds of unpleasant places while driving and shoes will protect them. Plus, flip flops can easily fall off and if you’re in traffic, they’re probably lost for good.
Go Extra Slowly at Night
Night time is the right time… for accidents to happen. At night you’ll see stray dogs running out from dark alleys, unseen piles of gravel and debris, and giant pothole not quite visible until you’re right on top of them.
At slow speeds, none of these things is really a problem. If you’re flying along at 60 kph, they could kill you. It’s Bali, you’re not in a rush, so take it slow!
Don’t Overestimate Your Abilities
Once you get confident on your scooter in Bali, it’s tempting to leave behind all the cautions you took as a new driver. After a couple of weeks, I was feeling like a pro, driving faster, cornering quickly, and being generally more reckless. Don’t overestimate your driving skills.
Sure, everything’s great when all is going according to plan. But what about if you have to swerve or break suddenly?
That’s when the true test comes in. So don’t become too cocky too soon… or ever. It’s overconfidence that leads to unadvisable behaviour — and that leads to accidents.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Nothing leads to hubris and stupidity like having a few beers. Driving a scooter can seem super easy, so you might think driving a little drunk is no big deal. But you know it slows down your reaction time and increases your cockiness.
This is the time when accidents — hitting a hole at speed, swerving to avoid a dog and crashing into the sewer, revving instead of braking and hitting an oncoming car — are most likely to happen.
Do you want to leave Bali in a box? If not, don’t drink and drive.
Don’t Be an Obnoxious Dude
There are a few rental companies in Bali that rent super-loud super-chunky dirt bikes. Barf. Don’t be one of the guys (it’s always guys) who goes roaring around the streets on one of these obnoxious rides. It’s noisy enough in Bali without you adding to the chaos.
How and Where to Get Gas / Petrol for Your Scooter
Your bike should be full of gas when you get it and you can drive a long way on one tank! But, eventually you’ll need to get petrol.
This little chore is part of the fun.
As soon as you need gas, you’ll start noticing little gas stations everywhere. Spoiler alert: They’re nothing like the gas stations in Europe and North America.
In Bali, petrol is sold in two ways:
- From glass bottles — usually old vodka or gin bottles — at small shops. If you see a row of bottles containing brightly coloured liquid, you know you’ve found your gas. Bottles cost about 10,000 IDR each and you can fit about 4 bottles in your scooter.
- From little petrol stations, where different colors of gas is visible in large glass tubes with prices marked down the side. Gas at these shops is a little cheaper — probably around 8,000 IDR per litre.
To get gas:
- Pull up at the shop or gas station.
- Tell the attendant you want gas. At a gas station with different grades of petrol, you’ll have to choose what grade you want.
- Open the seat of your bike. The gas tank is usually filled from there.
- The attendant will fill the tank for you and deal with the gas cap.
- Pay and zoom away, knowing you have plenty of fuel to get you where you’re going.
A Final Note About Renting a Scooter in Bali
Riding a scooter in Bali can be incredibly fun and it’s undoubtedly the best way to get around. But, it can also be a scary and sometimes deadly experience.
Usually, I encourage people to break out of their comfort zone and do that which they fear.
However, when it comes to Bali motorcycle rental, a healthy dose of fear is actually a good thing.
Before you do it, take a good, long look at yourself and your skills. Do you have any relevant experience (e.g., driving a car or riding a bike on busy city streets)? Are you a naturally calm and collected person or do you panic at the first sign of trouble?
Only you can decide if renting a scooter in Bali is the right decision for you.
We hope you liked our guide to renting and driving a scooter in Bali. We believe every trip has the power to change your perspective and transform your views — and we hope your trip to Bali does this for you! If you have any questions about Bali, just email us or send us a message on Instagram.
♥ Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J