Updated: Nov 1, 2019
Before arriving to Bali, everyone told me that riding a scooter will make it easier and more enjoyable to get around. So if I paid soo much to arrive in Bali, I thought why shouldn't I try to make the most of it and see it on a scooter. But If you are like me then the initial thought of learning to ride a scooter in Bali and having it be my primary form of transport was TERRIFYING!! Add to that I also needed to take my then 5yr old child with me...this became an important skill to learn. But guess what? I learned! I overcame my fear and after couple of hours on the scooter I drive like a pro. Now I love it and can't imagine exploring or living in Bali without it.
I am going to share my experience and tips with you so you can navigate Bali via the easiest (...and fastest) form of transportation available.
Let's start with safety!
1. Helmet Having a quality and properly fitting helmet is #1. When you rent your scooter you can usually ask for a helmet to be included. This might do the trick if you are only in Bali a few days, but if you are planning to stay in Bali longer, or this helmet has seen better days, then buying/or getting a good helmet is the way to go.
It's a no brainer to buy your own helmet since they only cost 200,000 to 500,000Rp ($15-35), and could save your life. Children helmets are also readily available for sale and often are not available with your rental. Our recommended spot for helmet purchase is along Jl. Cok Gede Rai, Ubud.
2. Take a lesson If this is your first time riding a motorbike then it's highly recommended to take a lesson. A simple 1 hour lesson will get you off and cruising safely so you have a much more pleasant experience. Terrific Lifestyle does offer motorcycle lessons and you can book yours now via email.
3. Don't use your phone while driving!
Please don't be one of "those" people who try to look at Google Maps or that text message that just came in while driving. Staying alert on the roads in Bali will keep you alive. Get a cell phone holder, they are inexpensive and so much safer. Another reason is that, near the beach, there are some reports of cell phones being snatched from the hands of tourists while they are on their scooter. Having it attached to your bike will save you and your wallet the heartache of replacing your phone!
4. Cover up
It is also always recommended to follow the lead of the Balinese and wear long sleeves while zipping along in Bali ...this will save your skin from a "Bali tatoo" should you happen to tip and fall and protest you from the sun. 5. Have a medical insurance
It's important to have a medical insurance that cover for extreme emergencies. You can always get patched up locally, but if something really bad happened and you need serious medical care, you want to make sure that you are not paying $100,000 USD or more to be flown to Singapore to get a proper medical treatment. We use SafetyWing which is a very affordable medical and travel insurance for just $37.
Rules of the Road
Ok so now that you know how to operate and are ready to feel the wind in your hair it's time to learn some Bali driving etiquette.
1. Signal - I find the Balinese are actually pretty good at signaling which is so helpful...the common scooter problem is people forget to turn the signal off after turning. I've created the habit of hitting the off button constantly, likely 4 times for every turn! But hey it works...especially since I can't see over my kids head in front of me if it's on or not. Something new I learned is that cars will use their hazards to signal for going straight, actually makes loads of sense! Left, Right, or Both for straight ahead at an intersection.
2. Go slow, go with the flow. When not sure how to cross an intersection pull up close to a car or scooter going the same direction and use them as a guide (and a shield!). If you go slow everyone just magically goes around you. If you make no sudden moves everyone just flows around you and you are safe.
3. Right of way goes to whomever is bigger, or in front. One of the biggest hazards is that no one shoulder check and everyone just pulls into the road and expects you to avoid them. If they are in front of you then they can do anything. Expect the unexpected and give yourself sufficient space to react.
4. Hati Hati! Translated means Caution! You may or may not see this sign to let you know there is a pile of sand, hole, or other obstruction in the road. Watch for cars and others slowing down and waiting their turn to go around the problem.
5. One way streets. A do not enter symbol with "Sepeda Motor" below means that the One Way only applies to cars...you can actually proceed with caution as the cars coming toward you will take the right of way.
Get a Box
I like to call it my "cake box" because the day after I installed it I got to safely transport a birthday cake! I feel safer having my son ride on the back now that I have this box because he doesn't always hold on. The one I bought, like below, has a back rest cushion for his comfort. It's also much better for groceries than balancing them between my feet. It also attaches to my signal lights.
I bought mine at ACE Hardware but there are also motorcycle shops that sell them. What I found out after purchasing is you need to also buy bars to install them on your bike. This was harder to find but once I found Surabaya Motosport on Jl By Pass Dharma Giri they were very friendly and the staff easily installed it for me.
Buy Your Own Scooter
Scooters hold their value in Bali very well. If you are staying longer than 6 months you will have paid off the cost of an owed (used and sometime new) scooter vs. renting. Even if only here for 6 months you can resell your scooter for close to the price you paid for it.
To buy new you will need a local friend to have their name on the paper work. This makes buying used easier as it will just come with the paperwork. For more information on how to drive in Bali, rent or buy a used/new scooter in Bali, get the Ultimate Guide for Moving to Bali below: