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So, you have decided you are traveling to Bali.
Congratulations on that! Because Bali is a very interesting place to travel to. I didn’t like Bali at first, but now I love it and keep returning to again and again. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. How to get around in Bali?
Is riding a scooter in Bali a good idea? Is it safe to drive in Bali?
Are there any other things you need to know before renting a scooter in Bali?
Answers to all these questions (and not only) you will find in this article.
Let’s get started!
How to Get Around Bali
1. Public Transport in Bali
There is public transport in Bali. Buses and mini buses.
And I usually like to use public transportation whenever I travel. But in Bali it’s hard.
Because it’s not going everywhere, far from that. And it’s very tricky to find a bus stop in Bali. Unless it’s a longer ride and you are close to a bus station, I would say, that it’s not worth the hustle. Or if you are with a local, who knows when the bus is coming and where. Most don’t know, because they don’t use public transport. They drive scooters.
So, better don’t rely on it. You never know how long is it going to take you to get where you want to.
If you have lots of time then it’s probably not an issue. Otherwise I would recommend against this option.
2. Shuttle Buses in Bali
Then there are Kura-Kura shuttle buses, traveling between most popular tourist destinations in Bali.
It’s a great option if you are staying somewhere near these places where they stop.
3. Grab, GO-JEK and Uber in Bali
Can you use Uber in Bali? Not anymore.
Thanks to the efforts of local taxi companies Uber was having hard times in Bali. And as of May 2018 Uber has “sold its business” to its Southeast Asian rival – Grab. Same like Uber, Grab is a ride-hailing application. It’s widely used in Southeast Asia. In many countries it’s operating freely.
But Bali is… another story.
In many places around Bali ride-hailing apps are illegal.
Yes, people still use them. They use them a lot. But, unfortunately, there are many places, where your driver will tell you, that he can’t pick you up from there. For example, you can’t get Grab from the entrance of the airport. You have to leave the airport first, which is rather difficult in Bali, where there are no sidewalks leaving the airport.
And then there are places, where they can’t drop you off. Luckily, you can go to the airport using Grab.
GO-JEK is an Indonesian ride-hailing app. I’ve used it a lot and can recommend.
There are GO-JEK and Grab scooters in Bali as well.
As of 2019 you can rent a car with a driver in Bali using Grab.
4. Taxi in Bali
Getting a taxi in Bali is relatively easy. There are a lot of them. Blue Bird Taxi is the most reputable company.
And you can just walk to one. But be prepared to haggle about the price.
It’s easy… as long as you aren’t too far away from the main Bali tourist spots. If there is no one around you, walk into any hotel or restaurant and ask if they can help you and call one. Hopefully, they will be able to help you. But, again, be prepared to haggle about the price.
Alternatively you can try the Blue Bird Taxi app.
Renting a Scooter in Bali: How? Where? How Much?
Most of Bali bike rental shops aren’t shops in fact.
Often these are just individuals who have a few scooters that they are renting out to tourists.
At the same time it has made scooter hire in Bali very easy. Head out of the airport and there, already at arrivals, will be a bunch of man willing to rent you a scooter right away.
Just to be on the safe side, if it’s your first time in Indonesia I will recommend to rent a scooter through your hotel.
It might be a bit pricier, but more safe as well.
1. Bali Scooter Rental Price
A daily rate is about 50 000 – 70 000 IDR for a simple, automatic scooter.
Honda Scoopy is a good choice. Better ones, like nMax, will set you back around 100 000 – 150 000 IDR a day.
Monthly rate is around – 1 000 000 IDR, and up to 2 000 000 IDR.
Mostly there is no deposit.
You just have to pay in advance for the number of days you agree on.
2. Bali Scooter Rental Shop Recommendation
During my trips to Bali I have tried several scooter rental shops, a couple of whom were recommended by my hotel.
1. Recommendation Number One – Made
But in the end I’ve been returning to one place, to one guy.
If you will be staying in or near Ubud, I can highly recommend you this one Ubud scooter rental. It’s a very small shop, offering tours and renting scooters (on this junction, on Jl. Arjuna, a little bit to the right from Jungut Inn). What I like most about him is his attitude.
Something is broken? No problem, he takes the bike to the mechanic and gets it fixed right away.
Have you decided to use the bike for a few more days? No problem, send him a message on WhatsApp.
Wanna return late at night or early in the morning? No problem.
We could always easily agree on everything with him.
2. Recommendation Number Two – Purnama Bali Hostel / Rental
Bigger choice of scooters.
The same as nice and professional attitude.
It’s here – Purnama Bali Hostel. Also in Ubud.
If you prefer to travel in style, think of renting a vespa in Bali.
3. Renting Scooter in Bali Without License
Renting scooter in Bali without license is possible.
Simply because most probably you will not even be asked to show your drivers licence. If at one place you are asked to show a licence, you can always walk to the next one.
Do so at your own risk!
Remember – driving in Bali is nothing like driving in Europe or US.
Bali Travel Tips: Riding a Scooter in Bali
I’ve been to Bali several times in last 2 years. Every time I’m in Bali, I rent a scooter.
Is riding a scooter in Bali same like in the photo above?
Let’s say… that not always everything is as beautiful, green and peaceful, haha.
Bali is a relatively small island. But it’s a home to more than 4 million people. And about a million tourists visit the island every month. Hence the traffic here can be busy, sometimes very busy. In comparison driving a scooter in Thailand or Malaysia mostly will be much more relaxed.
At the same time scooter is the most popular mode of transportation in Bali.
And not without a reason. Because with a scooter in Bali you can get anywhere you want, often faster than if driving a car in Bali.
It’s the best mode of transportation for getting around Bali.
If you prefer video over text, here is one good video.
It answers some of the most important questions about riding a scooter in Bali:
1. Is It Safe to Drive in Bali? Yes and No
And I hear you asking yourself – should I drive in Bali?
If you don’t have any experience riding a scooter in Asia, I think Bali is not the best place to start. If you have a chance try riding a scooter at home. It can be very hard here for a beginner. For most part it’s nothing like you see in the photo above.
I’ll talk more about it later.
But in short – traffic in Bali mostly is intense, and roads are narrow.
Driving on the wrong side of the road is nothing out of ordinary here. If in Europe you can only overtake on the left side of the other driver, here it happens on both sides. And Bali driving culture is also completely different. Seeing how close everyone is driving to each other here may also make you feel very, very uncomfortable at first.
Street lighting is almost non-existent. Or it’s bad.
People are walking on the roads, since there are no sidewalks on the outskirts of towns. It’s happening in towns as well.
And, yes, quite many bikes in Bali don’t have lights. Pay attention to it when you’ll be renting a bike in Bali.
If that doesn’t scare you off, go on and rent a scooter in Bali.
2. Always Wear a Helmet When Riding a Bike in Bali (and Pay Attention to the Road)
Because while roads in Bali mostly are OK, there still are potholes.
Sometimes very big potholes and potentially very dangerous potholes. And also on a very good quality roads.
Traffic is hectic in Bali. And many tourists have very little if any driving experience in Asia.
3. In Bali You Drive on the Left Side of the Road
4. Try to Avoid Kuta, Denpasar and the Area of the Airport in Afternoons
Because in the afternoons traffic there looks like in the photo above.
Well, it’s always busy there. Also during the day and late at night. The road there is wide and mostly the quality of it is very good, too. It’s just the main road in a very populous part of Bali, and there are just TOO MANY people driving. In the afternoon it’s that bad there that even on a scooter and driving on the sidewalks, you might be moving only slightly faster than pedestrians.
5. Take Into Account That the Same Happens in Ubud, Too
Because Ubud is a very popular town.
And there are just too many people and vehicles on these narrow two-lane roads.
Thousands of scooters going in all directions. Cars. Big tourist buses. Trucks. Occasionally some cyclists. Although, you don’t see that many people cycling in Bali. And I would highly recommend against it. Because it’s dangerous to cycle in Bali. It’s dangerous being on a bicycle with all this busy Bali traffic constantly all around you.
At the same time riding a scooter in Ubud and near Ubud is safer than on the highway near Kuta or Denpasar.
Simply because traffic here is more slow.
But, yeah, don’t be surprised to end up in a long, long traffic jam, when… going for a yoga class in Ubud.
6. Never Keep More Than 200 000 – 300 000 IDR in Your Pocket
Let’s start with a disclaimer. No, I’m not saying that it’s OK to break a law. It’s not.
However, this is what’s happening on the roads in Bali.
If you are driving in Bali, chances are you are gonna be stopped by police at some moment. The chances are higher if you are driving on the highway near Denpasar and Kuta. What happens next if there is some issue with your documents or driving, you’ll be “offered a help” to solve it now and on the spot.
If you pay a bribe.
Just Google and you’ll find a lot of stories.
If you don’t have International Driving Permit, you may even be asked to pay 1 000 000 IDR.
Once I was asked to give “all the money I have, because afterwards it will cost me A LOT”. I was pulled over by someone who I’m not even sure was a police officer ,and I didn’t have drivers licence. Which I think you’ll agree with me doesn’t sound like a normal situation.
Unfortunately for him and luckily for me I had only a few bucks in my pocket (around 50 000 IDR).
He took all of it and left.
From that day on I never kept more than 200 000 IDR in my pocket when riding a scooter in Bali. And I would recommend you to do the same.
How to Get International Drivers Licence in Bali
You can’t get international drivers licence in Bali. Or International Driving Permit.
Because it’s being issued only by your state.
But you can get local drivers licence in Bali.
Obtaining Indonesian Driving License in Bali
It’s possible to get Indonesian drivers licence even if you are in Indonesia on a tourist visa.
With so many foreigners living in Bali long-term it’s not a surprise there are quite a few articles on this topic. But they all seem to be saying something different. Some say you can just show your licence, pay the fee and get Indonesian scooter drivers licence. Some say the fee is 1 000 000 IDR, others say it’s 500 000 IDR.
Some also say it’s easily possible to buy a drivers licence in Bali.
I haven’t done it myself. But I have a friend from Latvia, who in spring 2018 got his licence for 100 000 IDR.
To get it done he had to go to the police headquarter in Denpasar. With his Latvian drivers licence, passport and a copy of passport and visa. There he had to do a theoretical exam as well as a driving exam. He did all of that and soon got his licence.
Note that theoretical exam is only in Indonesian. You can use Google Translate. But you have to be FAST.
Licence is valid for 5 years. The best part about it is that you can use it also in other ASEAN countries.
Think of it if you’ll be staying long-term and are thinking of renting a scooter in Bali.
See You On the Road in Bali?
One last thing – Bali isn’t as small as it looks.
I remember coming to Bali and thinking of riding all the way around Bali in a day. You can probably do it. But it’s gonna be a very looooong day. So, how long does it take to drive around Bali? More like 2-3 days. Depending on how much you will want to stop along the way. And that’s also if you drive more or less along the coast.
Have you been to Bali? What’s your experience renting a scooter in Bali?