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25 Survival Tips for Renting & Riding a Motorbike / Scooter in Bali.

25 Survival Tips for Renting a Scooter in Bali

There are some unwritten rules we've learnt along the way since we came to Bali in 2015.

This booklet is an attempt to keep you alive whilst riding around the 5780 square kilometres of Bali – The Island of the Gods. If you’re planning on renting / hiring a scooter and getting out in the traffic of Bali, this 25 Point Survival Guide will go a long way to keeping you alive. Some people are way to scared to get out on a scooter and see all that Bali has to offer. Some think it’s a cake walk and are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the roads of Bali. It’s true that renting a motorbike or scooter is a wonderful, and cheap way of getting around and seeing everything Bali has to offer. However, we trust the booklet will help keep you safe on your travels. If you don't have time to read this because you're getting on a flight to Bali right now, or you want this on your computer for any other unforeseen reason, we made a booklet of this article for you do download here free.

25 Survival Tips for Riding and Renting a Motorbike in Bali
Download PDF • 11.00MB

Gift it to anyone you like to remind them of how safe they need to be whilst in Bali on a motorbike or scooter.

Arrogant Tourist

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Rule #1: Your Own Country V's Bali's Road Rules

Bali's road rules are not an adaptation of your own country's rules. Your country may have better rules, leave that thought in your country.

This country (Indonesia) has some very different and sometimes arguably some very dangerous rules. They work here, your rules from your home country wont work here, and are unenforceable here. You wont change 270 million people to your way of thinking.

Get it out of your head that you are some how superior in riding and the rules here don’t apply to you.

Always wear a helmet, always wear a shirt, show some respect.

Travel Insurance

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Rule #2: Travel Insurance

If you have travel insurance and you think you're covered to ride a scooter, think again. Most insurance companies won’t cover you to ride a scooter or motor bike unless you have an open class licence in your country of origin or have specifically been asked to be covered to ride a scooter / motorbike. Some will cover you; in my case, the insurance company I used to have said I couldn't ride anything bigger than a 200cc motor bike. The insurance I have now says as long as I am licensed in my country of origin, and I have an international licence, I'm good to go.

Always check your travel insurance policy PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) before getting on a scooter or motorbike in Bali. Travel insurance doesn't cover damage to the motorbike either. Nor does it cover the other person if you injure someone. Travel insurance covers you only.

Three Strikes

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Rule #3: Three Strikes

There are three things your travel insurance will not cover you for if you hurt yourself on a scooter or motor bike:

  1. Licensed

  2. Helmet

  3. Intoxication

Any one of those, and you're on your own.


A medivac flight back to where you came from can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Get an international drivers licence from your own country. Wear your helmet, even to the shops or just down the road to the beach. Don't drink and ride. Please don't rely on the hospitals in Bali. They don't have neurosurgeons. It's not rocket science.

It's survival of the less stupid here.

Bali Speed Limits

Google Image Rule #4: Speed Limits

There are no real speed limits in Bali, except at some school crossing zones that no one ever enforces that we’ve seen. They don’t have handheld speed cameras in Bali. Everyone in Bali rides to their ability and their environment. (the known dangers of the area).

Don't ride like an idiot, take your time, you're not from the area. 40km per hour is a good start, and probably the average speed in Bali.

Bali Scooters

Rule #5: Might is Right

Yes, where you come from, the pedestrian is probably the most protected when it comes to the law. When you leave your country, the rules from your country don't apply in Bali. The Indonesians have the"Might is Right" rule. It's a simple rule really, the smaller you are, the more likely you are to be killed, so get out of the way of anything bigger than you. Put another way (so that you really get this rule.) This rule is crucial for your survival.

Shaking your fist at a car that has just pulled out from a side street and nearly taken you out, is stupid here. The Indonesians think “My car is bigger than your scooter, you should’ve gotten out of the way.”

Trust me, I’ve driven cars and scooters in Bali. When I drive a car, I think ”These scooters are like flies, they’re always around me, getting in the way, they’re a menace.” Then I ride a scooter on the same day and my thinking switches to “Man, these cars are in the way, they take up too much space, their too slow, oh… there’s a gap, I’ll get into that gap, the car will have to brake, but that’s his problem, I’m in front now” Seriously, this is the mind set from both sides and I can’t stop myself thinking either way.

I’ve done over 60,000 kilometres on my scooter in Bali, (the island itself is only 5780 square kilometres) and here is my take on who owns the road starting with the biggest and badest of them all:

Pertamina Truck

Google Image 1) Pertamina Truck 2) Coach / Tourist bus

3) Tipper style truck - usually a light green in colour

4) 4WD or 4x4

5) Car / Van

6) Big (over 500cc) motor bike

7) Under 500cc motor bike

8) Scooter

9) Cyclist

10) Pedestrian

If you're an "8" riding a scooter, and you see anything looking remotely like any of the seven vehicles above you, and you want to live, get out of the way. - If it's bigger than you, coming towards you, get out of the way and you'll be able to dodge the next one as well. Don't get out of the way, and you will die. It really is that simple. Worst case scenario, they'll be wrong, (in your world) and, you'll be DEAD right, and heading to the next world.

Tourists - No Helmet

Google Image Rule #6: Roundabouts

This is Bali, the rule for approaching a roundabout is not the same as anywhere else on the planet we have driven or ridden. Locals don't use roundabout correctly and they know it. They don’t even do the same at each roundabout for consistency. The roundabout is approached differently because this is the way it’s always been done in that area. Old habits die hard even in Bali.

We would advise you to do the same as the local. If you see the locals going across the face of the round about from the left lane to turn right lane without going clockwise around the roundabout, do the same. You're not going to be able to change 270 million Indonesians by inflicting your driving knowledge of how to use a roundabout correctly. That said, very occasionally you come across a roundabout that is being used the way you were taught. Do it the correct way in that case. This is more the exception than the rule. We heard there was a big advertising campaign about this some years ago advising locals how to use roundabout's correctly by the Indonesian government. It made not a scrap of difference. Summary: Unless you’re very familiar with the area, approach all roundabout with caution.

Uncontrolled Intersections of Bali

Rule #7: Uncontrolled Intersections

Uncontrolled Intersection are “many” in Bali. You'll be riding along, and you'll see an intersection that you could be on the side street, or the people approaching from the left and right could be on the side street. There is no stop sign, no give way sign, and no lines on the road. Everyone thinks they have the right of way. If you think that, you'll die. Take it easy, slow down, look left and right, let people cross, smile in the knowledge that you're still alive.

Summary: Take it easy and read the traffic.

Bali Tourists with No Idea.

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Rule #8: It's Your Fault

“It’s Your Fault”… Yes, it is every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME. If a kid runs out onto the road because he is chasing a ball and you hit the kid, or the ball, your fault. If a guy is riding the wrong way up a one-way street and you hit him, your fault. If a local is driving backwards, doing 60km p/h with only three wheels on his car, a dog in the passenger seat, a pig in the back seat, with his three kids on his lap whilst he is texting his wife that is also sitting in the back seat, and you clip his wing mirror. STILL YOUR FAULT.

We'll tell you why, and there is a simple logic to this that Indonesians have. "If you weren't here, (in this country) this wouldn't have happened" In other words if you didn't come to Bali, the accident wouldn't have happened. Can you argue with that logic? No. Sorry, your still your fault. We’ve had this said to us; four times.