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 first, but now I love it. But how to get around in Bali? Is riding a scooter in Bali a good idea? Is it safe to drive in Bali, you’ll ask. Are there any other things I 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 in Bali?
Public Transportation in Bali
There is public transport in Bali. Buses and mini buses. And I usually like to use public transportation whenever I travel, like for example I like to use local buses in Goa, India. But it Bali it’s kind of hard.
Because it’s not going everywhere and it’s very tricky to find a bus stop. So unless you are starting your journey from the bus station it most probably gonna be a stressful journey and you never know how long is it going to take you. If you have lots of time then it’s probably not an issue. Otherwise I wouldn’t recommend this option.
Shuttle Buses in Bali
Then there are Kura-Kura shuttle buses, traveling between most popular tourist destinations in Bali.
Great option if you are staying somewhere near these places.
Grab, Uber, GO-JEK
Even though Uber is illegal in Bali, it’s still being widely used. Same like Grab (“Asia’s Uber”) and their local competitior GO-JEK. There are various limitations, for example, you can’t get Uber, Grab or GO-JEK right from the entrance of the airport and then there are places, where they can’t drop you off, but people use and love them.
Because all of them (it’s always worth comparing the price, though) are cheap compared to taxis in Bali. And there is no need for haggling.
Taxis in Bali
Getting a taxi in Bali is easy as long as you aren’t too far away from the main Bali tourist spots. Then you can just walk to one. If there is no one around you, you can walk into any hotel or restaurant and ask if they can help you and call one.
Bali Travel Tips: Riding a Scooter in Bali
This year I spent 2 months in Bali.
Is riding in Bali same like in the photo above? Let’s say… that not always everything is as beautiful, green and peaceful. But at the same time scooter is the most popular mode of transporation 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 way to get around 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. 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 their driving culture is also completely different. Seeing how close everyone is driving to each other here may also make you feel 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 of the bikes in Bali don’t have lights, which also isn’t anything out of ordinary in Bali. Pay attention to it when you’ll be renting a bike 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.
3. In Bali You Drive on the Left Side of the Road
Don’t forget that!
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 busy there that even on a scooter, driving on the sidewalks and moving on relatively fast your speed most probably will be only slightly bigger than of walking.
5. Know 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 bike with this 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. You are fully responsible for your own actions. And, 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 gonna be 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 (if you pay a bribe) to “solve it now”. 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.
When I was pulled over by someone who I’m not even sure was a police officer and I didn’t have drivers licence the officer asked me to give him all the money I have. Which I think you’ll agree with me doesn’t sound like a normal situation. Unfourtunately 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 then 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. And 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 scooeter drivers licence. Some say the fee is 1 000 000 IDR, others say it’s 500 000.
Some also say it’s easily possible to buy a drivers licence in Bali.
I haven’t done it myself. But I know a Latvian traveler, 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 drivers licence, passport and a copy of passport and visa. There he had to do a theoretical exam as well as a driving exam.
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. You can also use it in other ASEAN countries.
Renting a Scooter in Bali
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 will be a bunch of man willing to rent you a scooter right away.
Just to be on the safe side for the beginners I would recommend to rent a scooter through your hotel. It might be a tiny bit pricier, but more safe as well.
Bali Scooter Rental Price
A daily rate is about 50 000 – 60 000 IDR for a simple scooter. Honda Scoopy is a good choice. More better ones will set you back around 100 000 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.
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 a drivers licence.
Bali Scooter Rental Shop Recommendation
During my time in Bali I tried several scooter rental shops, a couple of whom were recommended by my hotel.
But in the end I kept returning to one place, to one guy. If you will be staying in or near Ubud, I can highly recommend you to rent a scooter there. He has 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 liked most about him is his attitude.
Something is broken? No problem, he takes the bike to the mechanic and gets it fixed right away. You want 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.
See You On the Road?
One last thing – remember that Bali isn’t that 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 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.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.