The Definite Guide to Renting & Driving a Motor Scooter in Bali, Indonesia
Exploring Bali and its hidden treasures should be on the bucket list of everybody who is lucky enough to travel through Southeast Asia.
However, as we experienced first hand, renting and driving a motor scooter in Bali can’t be compared to doing the same in Europe or in the so called “Western World”.
To spare you all the troubles and to help you to avoid the common mistakes we put together our “Definite Guide to Renting & Driving a Motor Scooter in Bali”.
At a glance:
⇃ Pin it for later ⇂
Get your International Driving Permit (IDP)
You were able to get a driving license in your home country? Congratulations, you are awesome!
The thing is though, that this driving license will NOT be valid in some country that is half way around the globe, like for example Indonesia.
What you have to do is to get an International Driving Permit.
This is basically a document that helps the police or other officials to translate your driving license into a standardized system so everybody around the world will know what you are allowed to drive.
This is how you get it:
Usually your country’s Automobile Club is the first go to station you want to try.
- United States Citizens (approx US$ 20):
Get your IDP from AAA or AATA
- UK Citizenes (approx 6 Pound Sterling):
There are 3 ways how to get your IDP – in a post office, in a AA Folkstone shop or sent via post.
- Austrian Citizens (starting at € 14,10):
For your “Internationaler Fühererschein” you have two options, either get it from ÖAMTC or ARBÖ.
- German Citizens (approx € 15):
Well sorry to break it to you, but you have to go to the “Amt” (of course). More precisely to your “Führerscheinstelle”.
What to bring:
- Your original Driver’s License
- A biometric picture of yourself (like for passports)
Why you have to rent a scooter in Bali:
If you think about renting a car in Bali, just don’t.
There might be some downside when renting a scooter in Bali, however the benefits definitely outweigh them.
Benefits of renting a scooter:
- Save time!
Instead of getting stuck in traffic you can breeze through and be at your destination in no time.
While the car will take at least one hour or more.
- Save nerves!
Well, not being stuck in the traffic jam and missing that beautiful ‘once in a lifetime’ sunset is definitely better than sitting in your car and scream your lungs out.
- Get the local vibes!
Keep in mind:
- You will feel like a heavy chain smoker after 5 minutes of driving. ;)
That is a given.
Some say you can even taste the brand of vehicle in the exhaust.
We definitely recommend you to either buy a bandana (& support a local dog – The Bali Bandana Project) or if you want to buy it beforehand try these medical mouth masks.
- You’ll get honked at – a lot!
So if your a short tempered one, you’ll either loose your mind or scream so much that you won’t see where you are going.
Always keep in mind though, it’s not an insult to be honked at
It’s more like a “hey i’m here, don’t crash into me” message.
On your hands, in the neck, on your knees or even on your toes.
Because of the driving wind you won’t feel getting burned.
The weapon of choice for us is that lovely SPF 50+ sun blocker.
Bali Scooter Rental – where to rent & prices
Nowadays everything can be googled and booked online
However, when it comes to renting motor scooters in Bali the old school face two face conversation is still the best way to go.
Where to rent your scooter
All in all you have 3 options on renting a motor scooter in Bali.
Either talk to your host/hotel to organize one, go in to one of the many shops on the streets, or book online.
The easiest, the fastest and cheapest one as well.
Our hosts always helped us to get the best price and even did some negotiating on our behalf.
- Book Online
It seems, that there is still some potential for rental services that offer online booking. We only found two shops: Bali Bike Rental and Bali Big bike.
Usually those come with 24/7 road side assistance, insurance, secure payment and many more things.
- Street Shops
Well just go in and get a quote. Please do compare the prize from different shops and check their bikes, equipment before you decide where you rent.
- BONUS TIPP: Check the ratings on tripadvisor to get a feeling for the shop.
Motor Scooter Rental Prices
As close to everything in Bali it depends on your Bargaining skills.
You will get a better price if you rent your scooter for more than just a few days, but you definitely have to ask for a discount.
To get you a feeling for prizes, here are some rough estimations:
Daily: Rp. 50,000 – 75,000.
Weekly: Rp. 300,000 – 400,000
Monthly: Rp. 600,000 – 800,000
You might be the best motor scooter driver in town and never had an accident or a near miss.
However the devil never sleeps!
That’s why you should always think about protection when driving.
- Wear a helmet (we recommend the ones with a visor)
- Put on sunscreen
- Buy/Borrow a rain coat so you stay dry and comfy
- Although, close to nobody is doing it, for longer rides put on your jeans
- If you are sensible to wind wear a kidney belt to protect them from getting too cold
Driving your Motor Scooter in Bali
Where to get Fuel
Getting fuel for your motor scooter is definietly the easy part.
There are 3 places where you can get them.
- Ordinary Fuel Station (cheapest)
It’s like your Shell, Esso or whatever your favorit fuel brand is called in your home country.
You’ll find them on every main road approx. each 10-15km or in every bigger village.
The price range is between Rp. 6,500/l to Rp. 9,800/l.
Expect to pay about Rp. 30,000 for a full tank.
- Village Fuel Station (medium prized)
That one was quite uncommon for us to see, as it’s mostly a blue and red box outside of shops where “Bensin” is written on.
The fuel will be hand pumped from the shop owner and it is a little more expensive than from an “Ordinary Fuel Station”.
The price range is between Rp. 8.500/l to Rp. 10.000/l.
Expect to pay about Rp. 40,000 for a full tank.
- From Bottles (expensive – only when in dire need)
You find this shelves with bottles of blue/red/yellow liquids near shops.
Only use it when you really really really do not have any fuel left in your tank.
Unfortunately sometimes the fuel in the bottles are stretched.
If really necessary get a bottle of it and keep looking for a proper petrol station.
The price range starts at 10.000/bottle.
Expect to pay too much for a full tank. ;)
5 simple hacks to feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road
As you may know, some countries of this world are still refusing to drive on the right side of the street.
As Indonesia was a colony of the Dutch, not the Brits, we were surprised that they actually do drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
So we did some research and came up with 5 simple hacks that help to adjust to the left side life:
- When in doubt, stay left.
Memorize it! Repeat it!
Do not start this the day you rent your wheels.
Start memorizing and repeating it at least a week before you arrive at your destination.
- If possible take a co-pilot.
Your beloved sidekick, best friend or significant other is joining you?
Awesome – they too should follow rule ‘#’1.
Furthermore, your co should also be on the watch and remind you, if you are getting close to the right side of the road.
Yes, this did happen a few times to us. ;)
- Automatic is the way to go!
Doesn’t matter if you rent a scooter or a car.
Go with the automatic option.
It will decrease the complexity of shifting with your left hand, watching the traffic AND staying on the left site of the road.
- Get a feeling for your wheels.
When you pick up your rental, test your driving on the lot or on roads less crowded.
It makes no sense if you test your skills on that overcrowded 6 lane main road.
- Insure yo’self!
Check if your credit card will cover damages to the rental and if it covers health expenses.
For our travels we specifically chose the American Express Platinum, as it fits all our needs.
If you are not sure please check with your insurance or credit card provider or even ask your Automobile Club for guidance.
- Bonus Tipp:
Expect the unexpected.
Here in Bali people do drive on the left side of the road, but apart from that, there seem to be no official rules in place.
So watch closely what others do and adapt.
The ‘Everything Flows’ Approach – the way you should drive
International Driving Permit? Check!
Bargained a good price for an awesome scooter? Check!
Helmet on? Check!
Well, then let’s hit the road.
Because you want to drive off with the scooter.
However, nobody will let you in and you are too afraid to just plow into the traffic.
We quickly found out that there might not be such a thing as proper rules on the streets of Bali.
Let us introduce you to the ‘Everything Flows Approach’ so you can actually enjoy driving your scooter.
What it says is, that you should never ever ever ever stop.
Just go with the flow, set your blinker and it will magically happen that you reach your destination.
Do not break to much, but instead honk so that people will know that you are somewhere behind or on the side of them.
That’s the Bali way.
Likewise for your self.
Do not hit the break if somebody honks at you, just realize that somebody is near you and stay in the (traffic) flow.
Same goes when you reach a crossing. Look around you, if there are enough scooters that go in the same direction as you are just follow them and stay close. It’s the easiest way to get around.
Or in other words: Stay with the herd.
Because as an individual scooter you are vulnerable, but together with others you are powerful. :)
Note: It does not mean to drive reckless, do look around you and in front of you to actually see what’s happening and adapt early to the circumstanzes.
How to deal with Police
You will get in contact with the force, just prepare for it, it’s really nothing special.
Always be nice and do not get in their face.
Do not be annoyed that they only seem to target tourists, it’s just the way to go.
If you got your international driving permit, a functioning head light and your helmet on you will not be bothered at all.
If you are missing some of the above mentioned items you might get fined (not so common) or your wallet will loose one or two of those pink Ruphia’s (depending on your bargaining skills).
That said, enjoy your scooter rides and stay safe!
What’s your scooter story? Did we forget something? Just let us know in the comments!