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How to Ride a Scooter in Bali: 11 Essential Tips

People keep telling me that riding a scooter in Bali is extremely dangerous and that I am going to get in an accident. I’ll wake up in the hospital and my parents wouldn’t know what had happened to me. Well, I know that you can’t control everything that happens, but somehow Jake and I have lived in Bali for 4 months without getting in a single accident by following these 11 tips for riding a scooter in Bali.

But why do we even try it?

But why do we even try to ride a scooter in bali?

Well, first of all, the taxi services in Bali are CRAZY expensive. Not only that, but they are a terrible rip-off. Our first week in Bali we were too scared to hop on a scooter right away, so we decided to take an Uber to get where we wanted to go.

Whoops… Can’t do that. In most areas in Bali, there are laws against Uber drivers (or GoJek, Grab, other pick-up services used in Indonesia) even entering in the area!

There are giant signs that say “Drop-offs only! No Uber!” Therefore, our millennial brains were stumped.

Since we were living in a more local area in Canggu, Bali, we just started to walk. We thought “We’ll just keep walking until we find an area with Wifi that allows us to get an Uber.” Instead, we walked for about 15 minutes and were not finding any free Wifi…

So, we stopped a blue taxi car and showed them the address on our Google Maps. He said he could take us there for 100,000 rupiah (about 7 bucks). Problem solved, right?

Nope, he took us about two streets down and told us that we were there. “Uh… no, this isn’t it.” He insisted it was, and we showed him the map again.

Nusa Penida Motorbike

He got all angry and sped off, immediately demanding double what we had agreed on in order to get us there. I was not about to get ripped off since we showed him the exact address on a map and it was his fault.

He kept yelling and asking for more money, and I said “100,000 or drop us off here because you aren’t getting any more money than that.” So the loser dropped us off on the side of a busy road, about a 30 minutes walk from our destination.

It’s safe to say I have never stepped foot inside a Bali taxi ever again. And that is why we decided to drive a scooter. It’s the cheapest option and the quickest.

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So now that you know why, here are the keys to understanding driving a scooter in Bali:

1. Honking your horn does not mean what you think it means.

People in Bali aren’t angry people. In America, when I honk at you, you can safely assume that I am pissed off and have already sent a stream of cuss words your way. In Bali, the honk means “Hey buddy, here I am!

Kuta Beach Bali Motorbikes
Kuta Beach

Don’t forget about me! I’m just right here.” Since most people scooter in Bali for transportation, this is extremely important to understand. Whenever you want to pass someone, or you are unsure at all if they have seen you, just honk!

2. There are no rules about how many cars can fit into one lane.

It’s chaotic, but you fit somewhere. Any space that is open will be filled, so don’t be afraid to fill it!

Motorbike Bali Mountain View

3. The Balinese generally don’t look both ways when switching lanes.

They really don’t. They just go. Which is why honking your horn when you plan to pass by someone(either a car or a scooter) is very important. Chances are, if you don’t, they might just hop over unexpectedly because they are assuming that no one is there.

4. The Inside or the Outside?

When there is traffic (which there always is) you will be so happy you are not in a car. However, you shouldn’t be swerving through cars. Our rule here is to choose the inside or the outside of the line of cars, depending on where the locals are going and how much room there is to drive.

Rules Riding Motorbike Bali

That means you can either pass the cars in front of you by going close to the sidewalk or by crossing into the oncoming traffic lane. That sounds more dangerous than it actually is.

It is very common in Bali for cars to drive for short or long periods of time in the opposite lane in order to pass slower cars, and there are no markers telling you when to do this.

5. Wear a helmet

Not just any helmet either! Make sure that it actually buckles and that it fits your head! If you rent a bike from somewhere, you can trade out the helmet if you don’t like the one that they gave you or if it doesn’t work properly.

Motorbike Ubud Rain

Plus, it’s the law. If you are a tourist and aren’t wearing a helmet, you will get pulled over and fined. You will get fined for not wearing a helmet AND because you probably don’t have an international driver’s license (whoops, those are pointless.)

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6. Don’t drive too late at night

We try to be home by 10 at the latest if we are taking the scooter in Bali. Yeah, we’re married so we don’t really “party” and this may sound like a boring rule, but it has kept us safe!

It’s fine to drive at night as long as your bike has lights but driving too late at night means you could run into drunk drivers or worse: dogs that run into the road without any warning.

7. Drive much slower when you enter a local area

Just like in the States, except for different reasons. When you are driving in America and you have to pass through a small town, you should slow down because that’s usually where the cops are.

Motorbike Ubud Bali

In Bali, that’s where tourists and dogs are. Both of them have a hard time judging when it is a good time to cross the road.

My friend, Nate, was coming home from a grocery store pretty late at night and had a head-on collision with a dog. He flew over the handlebars of his bike and his groceries were strewn all over the road.

Luckily, the Balinese are quick to help when something goes wrong, but he got a few good cuts and the dog is most likely dead.

8. Slow Down

There are no speed limits in Bali. None. But that doesn’t mean you should drive like a maniac as fast as you can. Things can change very quickly in traffic, especially if you are following a car or a taxi. Just be smart and SLOW DOWN.

Bali Scooter offroad

9. Watch out for the U-turners

On the busier roads, there are a lot of opportunities for illegal U-turns. I say “illegal” because there are signs and roadblocks up saying don’t do them, but everyone does.

Even in front of cops, and nothing happens. Just know that these people come into oncoming traffic going much slower than they should be and at times you have to come to a complete stop(especially if it is a car).

10. The Security Guards

When I first came to Bali, I had been warned thoroughly on the internet about Balinese Police stopping tourists to get their money. So when I first heard the whistles blowing and a man walking out into traffic while waving his hands, I thought we were in trouble.

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Turns out, this is super normal here!

Getting Gas Bali

Businesses will pay a security guard to help their customers enter and leave their business without waiting for centuries for an opening in traffic. So the little man will walk out, blowing his whistle while most Balinese rush past him trying to ignore him.

Eventually, he gets traffic to stop, the car (or in the worst-case scenario, the tour bus) gets out of the parking lot and onto the road. Then the security guard waves everyone past and the world goes on.

This happens a lot, and if you are on a scooter, you can usually just pass them without having to stop. However, if everyone else is already stopped and the car is coming out, don’t be that guy.

And last, but the most obvious:


This really should be obvious, but since we’ve lived here two Australians have died while driving scooters in Bali… and guess what? Alcohol played a role in both of them! We don’t drink, so that’s about the only advice I can give you on that subject

four people on a scooter
…or with FOUR people (three of them aren’t even wearing helmets!)

so, basically…

Renting a scooter in Bali is a huge part of the experience itself. As long as you are smart and very careful, it will be a highlight of your trip!

Where to Rent a Motorbike in Bali
Here is a picture in front of Edy’s motorbike rentals

If you are looking for a place to rent from, we rented from Edy’s Tour (it’s about 10 steps away from the Google Maps location and is called “Edy’s Tour”, not “Rent Bikes”) for $35 per month (you may have to haggle to get this price).

Of course, when you rent monthly the price will be a lot lower than if you are renting daily or weekly.

Well, hopefully, this post helps you stay safe in Bali! Comment if you have any questions or worry about riding a scooter in Bali or elsewhere in Asia! (:

If you want to learn more about our time in Bali read this post about How 6 Months Rent in Bali Cost Us Less Than $2,000.


Remember to be safe! Pin these for your next trip to Bali or Southeast Asia!

11 Rules You Should Follow if You Want to Ride a Scooter in Bali
11 Rules You Need to Follow to Not Die on a Motorbike in Bali
11 Rules You Need to Follow to Not Die on a Motorbike in Bali