Before visiting Southeast Asia we found terrible reviews online about renting a motorbike in Bali. From accidents to being pulled over by corrupt police officers, everyone had a negative experience to share . Despite all of this we found the freedom and price of a bike very appealing. Although the roads can be hectic and the traffic laws are virtually non-existent, motorbike is by far the best way to see Bali!
You aren’t limited in where you can go and it is certainly the cheapest way to travel. Having a motorbike in Bali eliminates the need to book tours or hire a driver. With a little practice the motorbike adventure will be the highlight of your trip! You drive through beautiful rice fields, amazing small towns and places you would never know about if you didn’t have a bike to get there.
Most hostels or homestays will rent motorbikes for $50,000IDR ($3.75USD) per day. You can expect to pay about $1,500 IDR ($1.15USD) to fill up the tank.
I’m not saying you should drive without a care in the world, but if you are smart and careful it can be an outstanding experience. Here are some tips on how to feel most comfortable driving on the island:
Drive a Motorbike Before Going to Bali
David practiced in little towns in Vietnam and Thailand to get comfortable before renting a motorbike in Bali. If Bali is your first stop, you could practice at home before visiting. You can also practice on the smaller roads outside of the cities to get comfortable.
Get an International Driver’s license
There are some stories of corrupt police officers pulling over tourists for invalid reasons and demanding a payoff. In the rare event that this does happen to you, show them your license and tell them to write you a ticket. If they have no grounds for a ticket they will eventually give up and let you go. That being said, we had nothing but positive experiences with the people in Bali. The law enforcement and the locals were very accommodating and helpful.
Drive on the Left Side of the Road
Keep in mind that in Indonesia you drive on the left side of the road, which may be opposite from what you’re use to. This can be particularly confusing on busy streets or when making right hand turns.
Even on the highways, the average speed of a motorbike in Bali is 30-40 km/h. The injuries you could face in a crash going faster than that are not worth it. Go slow, be safe and try to enjoy the scenic ride.
Wear your Helmet
I know, you’re hot, sweaty and you want to enjoy the breeze while you drive to your favorite surf spot. The reality is that motorcycle accidents are VERY common in Bali. The roads can be busy and unpredictable so it’s important to protect yourself.
Know Where You`re Going Beforehand
Trying to navigate and drive at the same time is stressful. Especially on a motorike in Bali, it is so important to stay with the flow of the traffic. Being lost, going too slow, or stopping suddenly will put you at a higher risk for an accident. Before driving anywhere unfamiliar, pull up a map in Wi-Fi or on the maps.me app to be able to navigate.
Learn About the Traffic in the Area Before You Drive
Kuta is much more congested than the rest of Bali making it more intimidating to drive. We chose to taxi through Kuta and rented motorbikes on the rest of the island where the roads are much less busy.
Stop Signs and Red Lights are Optional
In Southeast Asia, it`s less about traffic laws and more about following the flow of traffic. People will go straight through red lights or weave in and out of the lanes frequently. Instead of waiting for a break in traffic while merging, people will move over and accommodate you. You will be expected to do the same when others are merging. Use the horn to let other drivers know where you are on the road or if you are passing. There is no offence taken like there would be in many other countries; if someone honks at you they are simply letting you know they are there.
The larger cities will have gas stations similar to the ones your are use to. If you are venturing to smaller towns or anywhere off the main streets you will be buying gas from small shops on the side of the road. They will have a wooden rack with old 26 bottles filled with gasoline. It costs between $5,000 -$10,000 IDR ($0.38 – 0.75 USD) per bottle, and on empty your tank will take about 2 bottles to fill.