After living in Bali for 6 months and traveling back with family, I can tell you that the BEST way to get around the island is by scooter. This guide will cover who should or shouldn’t rent a scooter, what documents you need, whether you should actually get an International Driver’s license, and where the best and cheapest Bali scooter rental is. Let’s get started!
Bali scooter rental: Who should and shouldn’t rent
This is purely my opinion, but after seeing scooter accidents and spending over 2 years in Southeast Asia, I think I can tell you a few things about who should or shouldn’t drive a motorbike in Bali.
People who have had experience with ATVs/motorcycles
I grew up riding “quads” or ATVs and feel very comfortable driving off-road. Of course, ATVs are different from scooters or motorcycles (the way you brake is different, make sure you understand that before getting on!)
However, that experience helped me feel at home on a scooter. Jake didn’t have that experience, but he learned very quickly.
If you are a beginner, I would not recommend learning in Kuta. Try Canggu, Uluwatu or Ubud for a calmer experience and more space while driving.
People who feel comfortable and calm while driving
If you think you’re an anxious driver or just never feel very good at it, scooters will make that much, much worse. The calmer you are on a scooter, the less of a chance you have of getting hurt.
I was pretty young when I learned how to ride a quad, so whenever I put a helmet on I just start humming or singing and it reminds me of really happy times. So when I get on a scooter, I just feel free and happy.
If you get on a scooter and feel nervous or shaky, it’s better that you just don’t do it.
However, I don’t think that fear should stop you from doing something.
Yes, people get hurt on scooters, but in general, it’s a super fun way to experience a place and it is always the highlight of my trips to Southeast Asia.
the documents/ID you need to rent a scooter
This is going to completely depend on who you rent from. I would recommend bringing these things with you when you rent:
- Driver’s License
- International Driver’s License (if you chose to get one)
- Address of your Airbnb or hotel
- Email Address/Facebook/Phone Number (a way they can reach you)
- Cash in Indonesian Rupiah
They will have you sign a contract and then the bike is yours! If your trip ends up being longer than expected, contact them if you can to let them know.
You will just pay the difference when you bring the scooter back.
Should you get an International Driver’s License?
This is a very controversial topic, but one that I have quite a bit of experience in. We lived in Bali for 6 months and have visited since then.
No, you do not need a license to ride a scooter or rent a scooter in Bali. Although there is a possibility that you get pulled over a receive a fine from a policeman, the truth is that you would probably receive a fine anyway.
The only way you might avoid a fine is if you have a Motorcycle license in your home country and then you get an International Driver’s License that is marked as a Motorcycle license.
How do I know this? I’ve tried it! I was pulled over in Bali and received a “ticket” for not having a license.
The word “ticket” is used loosely, as you don’t actually receive any ticket at all. You are actually just paying a bribe to a corrupt cop so that he will let you continue to ride your scooter in Bali.
I was frustrated with getting pulled over, so I decided that on our next trip to America I would get an International Driver’s License.
Although we moved to Thailand after that instead of Bali, we still got pulled over by corrupt cops (most of Southeast Asia is very similar in this aspect).
I gave them our International Driver’s License and they pointed out very quickly that the license is only for driving cars, not scooters or motorbikes.
If you want to get an International Driver’s License, they cost about $20 per person at AAA.
Just know that the cops in Bali want your money, so back in the day having an IDL might have helped, but by now I bet they have learned that you need a motorcycle one and the license won’t mean a lot.
If you get one, to save money just get them for the people who plan to drive. I never had one, even though I drove sometimes.
Jake drives most of the time, so I figured only he would need one. I’m glad I did that too since it proved to be a waste of money anyway!
How much does it cost to rent a scooter in Bali?
We never paid more than $45 per month for our scooter in Bali (just one though, we shared!).
However, the price will also depend on how long you are staying in Bali. Just like you can get better prices on Airbnb if you stay longer, the same goes for renting a scooter.
If you plan to stay for a month or longer, use that to get a better price.
Check out this post for everything you need to know BEFORE traveling to Bali.
You have to gauge how much it costs in your area as well before deciding on the price you want to go for. For example, renting scooters in Canggu or Ubud is a bit more expensive than in Kuta.
I would aim for at least $50 or less per month per scooter in Ubud or Canggu, while you could probably get $35-40 per month in Kuta (only at the place I recommend in the next section!)
If you are only staying for a few days or weeks and will be moving around the island a lot, you will probably be renting day-by-day. The first thing you should do is ask your Airbnb or hotel if you can rent a scooter through them.
Looking for Airbnbs in Bali? Here are a few budget stays we loved!
Since you are staying for a shorter amount of time, this will make the process a lot easier for you and will most likely be the best option.
If they don’t offer those services (which would be rare in Bali!) then you would need to find a cheap Bali scooter rental on your own.
The cc’s on the scooter
Since we always go for the cheapest scooter rental possible, we always rent bikes with 125-150CC’s. This basically tells you how powerful the scooter is. With a scooter with 125CC’s, some hills might be more difficult, but we always made it work and drove ours all over the island of Bali!
Also, the helmets are included in your scooter rental as well, so make sure to get a good one! You can ask them to exchange it if you don’t like the one given to you originally, they don’t mind.
The cheapest Bali scooter rental
Everyone who flies into Bali flies directly into Kuta. People have a lot of conflicting opinions about this place (I love it here, but most people hate it) but no matter what they say, Kuta has some of the cheapest and best deals in all of Bali. That includes the cheapest Bali scooter rental!
If you are planning to travel the island by scooter the whole time (meaning you would travel to each place by scooter, which I would only recommend if you are backpacking! This will not work with suitcases) then I recommend stopping in Kuta and renting your scooter from there.
We lived in Kuta for 4 months and rented the whole time from Edy’s Tour for $35 per month. Of course, when you rent monthly the price will be a lot lower than if you are renting daily or weekly.
The location of Edy’s Tour is about 10 steps away from the Google Maps location shown below and is called “Edy’s Tour”, not “Rent Bikes.” Welcome to Bali! I love this kind of island-chaos and the fact that finding things is an adventure in itself!
be ready to barter a bit
In order to get the best price at Edy’s or any scooter rental place in Bali, make sure to barter. It’s always worth it even if you get a “no.”
If a place isn’t willing to budge on the price at all, make sure that you aren’t paying more than $50 per month or $5 per day if you are renting daily.
Should you get insurance?
No, you should not get insurance on your scooter in Bali. The main reason is that anything that could happen to the bike, even if you get in an accident, would be relatively cheap to fix.
If you are worried about messing up a scooter, then make sure that you rent a crappy looking one.
If you bring the bike back and they have a problem with it, then you can settle it right then. The max it would cost you is around $35-50.
This never happened to Jake and I because we made sure to always rent bikes that looked pretty beat up.
However, when we traveled to Bali with Jake’s parents, we rented our bikes through the Airbnb and when we returned them, they said we had scratched up one of the bikes.
It was a very nice and obviously new bike and I think they were just trying to get a bit of extra money from us since they could see that his parents were wealthier.
Just make sure that you rent a smaller/crappier bike and you shouldn’t have any problems. They are usually cheaper anyways!
What to expect while riding a scooter in bali
Before riding a scooter in Bali, make sure to read my 11 rules you should follow to make sure you stay safe. It covers all the quirks of driving in Bali and prepares you for what to expect.
Some of the basics are that you should avoid driving between two cars, don’t get too close to the edge when riding near rice paddies, be very cautious and slow when driving on loose gravel, never drive under the influence, and feel free to drive on the sidewalk to avoid traffic.
Dealing with the police
Another controversial topic here in this blog post lol. This is just my opinion and experience, so if you disagree that’s okay!
For me, if the police are going to be corrupt then I just don’t feel as bad about breaking a few rules myself.
Jake and I have seen police stops in place multiple times and just drove faster or turned around to avoid them. Even with the cops yelling at us and trying to grab us if we can get away, we do.
If the cop is on a motorbike or has one close by, I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
Most of the time though, they are on foot and you have plenty of time to get away from them. The main thing they will try to get you for is not wearing your helmet.
You should always wear your helmet when riding a scooter in Bali.
The second thing is they will set up a bunch of cops on a street and try to get you to stop so they can find a reason to ticket you. This is usually if you don’t have an International Driver’s License (but like I mentioned before unless it is a motorcycle one it probably won’t help you).
They usually want 100,000 rupiah and then they will let you go. For $11, it’s more of an annoyance than anything. It’s way cheaper than a ticket in the USA.
Even all of my tickets I got in Bali combined don’t equal one ticket I got in the USA.
What if you get in an accident?
Jake and I have never personally been in an accident on a scooter. However, when we visited Bali with our family, two people got into two separate accidents.
Both people had not had any experience riding scooters before and openly felt pretty uncomfortable on them.
The first accident was just parking at a convenience store and hitting the gas instead of the brakes and running into someone else’s bike. The person who owned the scooter was sitting right there and got up and started complaining about the bike and the new scratches.
However, it was just me and my brother-in-law and we both looked very young. We just stood there for a few minutes saying sorry (and not offering any money) and then after a while, they helped us move the scooter and motioned for us to leave.
Don’t offer money right away, look scared and apologize
Like I mentioned before, this is not America. Small scratches and accidents on scooters happen every day and nobody really cares.
You don’t need to leave your number or find the owner unless it was a super nice bike and a significant amount of damage.
However, if you get in a small accident like this, just look as innocent and scared as you can. Don’t reach for your wallet unless they ask you for money.
Even if they do ask for money, haggle them down to a lower price. But definitely pay off the person then and there to avoid a problem.
How to handle a more serious accident
The second accident that happened with Jake’s family was when one of the members of his family “whiskey throttled.” This means that you get nervous while driving and instead of hitting the brakes, you accelerate more.
She sped up and lost control, flying off the edge of the road straight into a local clothing market. I was right behind her and she was going so fast that I only saw the clothes of the market rustling and had a bad feeling that she had just driven into that market.
We pulled over and found her bike and her deep inside the market, which was pretty damaged from the accident. She also had almost hit a few people and ran over someone’s foot.
We got her out of the situation while I stayed to see how we could resolve this. They thought I was her, so they didn’t notice that she had left.
One thing that you should never do in a situation like this is act prideful or smile/laugh at all at the people.
My brother-in-law did that and it almost caused a fight to break out. I got him to leave and then we finally settled on giving them $35 for the damages.
The man had confiscated the key to her scooter and had threatened to call the police if we didn’t pay up. He started with a much larger number, but we pretended like $35 was all that we had.
As soon as we got the key back and gave them the money, I told everyone to hop on their scooters and drive as quickly as possible.
We got away from the situation and then made the decision to go home for the day.
Every situation will be different, but you never want the local police to get involved. Solve the situation as quickly as possible and then get away from it as quickly as possible as well.
Getting in trouble in Indonesia as a foreigner is something you always want to avoid.
good memories riding a scooter in bali
Even though some bad things have happened, I would never go back and decide to not rent a scooter in Bali. Some of my very best memories are riding all around the island and just feeling so happy.
Instead of being inside of a car, you are experiencing Bali the whole time you are there when you ride on a scooter.
Of course, be smart and know yourself and your abilities. Riding a scooter can be an adventure of a lifetime, but it’s not worth it if you aren’t experienced enough to be doing it.
Good luck and stay safe on your trip to Bali!