Scooters are everywhere in Bali, most locals have one and at rush hour in the cities you will usually find at least 20-30 scooters to every 1 car on the road. They are a great way to get around the island on a budget and give you the freedom to go where you like, whenever you like. Having said this there are a few essential things that you should know if you intend to hire a scooter in Bali.
How much does it cost?
If you hire a scooter from your hostel / hotel in an area such as Canggu or the outskirts of Ubud where there are less tourists expect to pay around 60,000- 70,000 IDR / 6-7 AUD per day. In areas where there are more tourists such as the Nusa Islands or Uluwatu, expect to pay between 80,000 – 100,000 IDR / 8-10 AUD per day. If you’re intending to hire a scooter for a few days at a time you may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate.
Where can I hire a scooter?
Most hostels / hotels in Bali will either have scooters for hire on the premises or be within walking distance of somewhere that rents them. However, many of the scooter rental shops on the island don’t have websites or come up on a google search, so it may be best to ask a local or reception at your accommodation to point you in the direction of the nearest one.
Is it safe?
The big question… is it safe to hire a scooter in Bali? The simplest answer is yes. Although there is a lot of traffic on the roads and it can get very busy in the cities with scooters dodging in and out of traffic, usually neither the scooters or cars are going fast enough to cause too much serious damage. It can be some what of a free for all and certain intersections when the roads are busy but as long as you move slowly and with the flow of traffic you should be fine. Having said this, please don’t hire a scooter if you’re not confident on one or have never ridden one before. I’ve seen far too many tourists (including my own boyfriend) with scrapes and burns on their arms and knees from having fallen off. Not to put you off of hiring one but here are some pictures of my boyfriends injuries from falling off at about 20km/h.
You don’t have to be an experienced biker to hire a scooter in Bali, I would just recommend that you take extra care if you have little to no experience on a motorbike especially if you plan on taking a passenger on the back.
Do I need to wear a helmet?
Yes, always. Most scooter rental places will provide you with a helmet but 50% of the time you have to ask for it, depending on whereabouts in Bali you are. ALWAYS ask for one. I’ve seen so many tourists riding around without helmets, especially on the Nusa islands. I know that mainly you’ll be doing a top speed of 40-60 km/h but even if you’re riding slowly and something hits you or you fall off and hit your head, you could still do some serious damage. Granted, most of the helmets have probably been dropped so won’t protect your head as they should do anyway but it will still be much better than nothing. Also, try to get one that fits as snug to your head as possible, a loose helmet won’t give you much protection either.
Are the scooters roadworthy?
This is debatable; in my experience, many of the scooters for hire aren’t safety checked on a regular basis. The speedo didn’t work on three of the ones I hired and neither did the petrol gage on another. Having said this, I hired a total of four scooters in four different locations on the island, I rode them everyday for long periods of time and had no issues at all. In general I would say the bikes are safe but definitely check the tyres and do a little brake & light test of your own before you ride off.
Do you need a licence?
As a tourist I’m not sure what the law is when it comes to having a licence to ride a scooter but we weren’t asked to show our UK driving licences at any point during our stay in Bali; not by any of the hire shops or by police.
How do I find my way around?
My advice – get a Balinese SIM card and use maps on your phone. Road signs are limited and without a detailed map you will more than likely get lost. I’m pretty good with directions and managed to get from Canggu to Tanah Lot Temple without a map but got lost trying to find our hostel on the way back and had to use a phone map, otherwise we would never have got there. SIM cards range from around 80,000 – 200,000 IDR, 8-20 AUD, depending on how much data you choose and where you buy them. You are more likely to get ripped off in the tourist spots like Seminyak and Kuta, try the smaller shops on the outskirts of the resorts for a much better price.
What are the roads like?
For the most part, the main roads in Bali are really nice to ride on and have less potholes than a lot of roads in the UK. However not all of them are like this so make sure that you’re looking at where you’re going, as hitting a rock or pothole at the wrong angle could send you flying off. The roads are particularly bad on the Nusa islands, so be extra careful if you ride on those, they’re VERY bumpy!
Are you liable for damages?
When you hire the bike, the rental shop will most likely ask you to sign a document stating some of your details and this will normally outline what you are liable for. One of the places that we hired scooters from told us that if we got a flat tyre we would need to replace it and if there were damages to the bike we would need to pay $200 USD. This $200 excess was the same for a couple of places we hired from but others were more relaxed. As I said, my boyfriend actually fell off of one of his, scratching the side of the bike and cracking the back light, when he took it back the guy didn’t even look at the scooter to check the condition so he wasn’t charged anything. It really depends where you hire the scooter from but in general most places seem pretty relaxed.
How much will fuel cost and where can you get it?
Coming from the UK, then from Australia, fuel prices are ridiculously cheap. To fill up the average scooter it will cost you around 25,000 IDR / 2.50 AUD. All petrol is put in by an attendant and can be bought either at a petrol station or from a shop on the roadside. You won’t go far in Bali without seeing plastic and glass bottles full of petrol, stacked on shelves outside shops. Expect to pay around 15,000 – 25,000 IDR depending on the size of the bottle. The scooters really don’t use much fuel and the hire shops really aren’t fussed on you returning the bike with a full tank of petrol as its so cheap.
Which side of the road do they drive on in Bali?
They drive on the left hand side of the road, which is nice and easy for us Brits and Aussies!
Do I need to wear sun cream whilst riding?
YES. Please make sure that you’re protected from the sun whilst riding for extended periods of time, as you probably won’t notice your skin burning as the breeze will make you feel much cooler than you actually are. Your forearms, thighs, shoulders and neck are most at risk of getting burnt when riding a scooter in the sun.
Where can I go on a scooter?
Anywhere you want! We rode ours to a mountain, waterfall, rice terraces, beaches, viewpoints, bars, basically anywhere and everywhere that we wanted to go.
Overall, hiring a scooter is a great way to explore Bali, giving you the freedom to adventure at your leisure without having to pay for a taxi or driver. With a scooter you will get to see more of what Bali has to offer aside from the tourist spots and resorts, without spending a fortune. You can see Bali for yourself, finding your own way through the Balinese countryside and sampling real local food from a Warung or visiting a local market, in my opinion is much better than paying a guide to drive you around the tourist hotspots on a schedule. If you hire a scooter just please be careful; wear a helmet, pay attention to what you’re doing and make sure you’re confident enough not to make any silly mistakes!