Riding a scooter, most commonly through Bali scooter rental may just be one of the most exciting experiences from your Bali trip. Depending on how long you stay and how many people are going with you, renting a scooter may possibly be the most affordable option to get around in Bali. You can even have your motorcycle delivered to the airport when you arrive! Bali’s roads are narrow and there is no reliable public transpiration option. Scooters are obviously a favorite. And the locals all own and ride their scooters.
But there are important things that a lot of tourists seemed to just love to ignore when they’re riding a scooter in Bali. Don’t be that tourist. What are the things you need to pay attention to before you decide to rent and ride a motorbike in Bali?
Bali scooter rental musts: ALWAYS wear a helmet!
Tourists in their home countries seemed to be adhering to this rule just fine. But that is often not the case when they’re riding a scooter in Bali. Visit any tourist-packed areas in Bali and you will see plenty of tourists not wearing their helmets while riding quite recklessly. This issue has gotten better in the past years but offenders still exist everywhere. Please, wear your helmet. It’s usually already included along with your Bali scooter rental fee. There’s no reason for you not to wear it.
Bali scooter rental musts: Get a license!
Don’t give even more reasons for the polices in Bali to get money out of you. The stereotype of “all bule is rich” is still strong in Indonesia. “Bule” refers to foreigners, but primarily for caucasian-looking people. A lot of police officers in Indonesia still practice bribery during the periodic or random traffic raids. And they usually charge a “fine” to foreigners more.
Some people offer assistance to get an Indonesian driving license as “calo” or “broker” is a very common practice for getting a driving license here. There people who offer such services for tourists But make sure that they’re legit. Have detailed information and ask to meet in person at the police’s office in person.
Bali scooter rental tip: Wear a jacket or outerwear
…or at least a shirt. Simply put, do NOT go riding scooters bare-chested. There is nothing that screams “I’m a Caucasian!” more than riding a scooter bare-chested or in a bikini in Bali.
Locals don’t do that. In fact, most Indonesians wear a jacket whenever they go with a motorcycle to protect themselves from the scorching sun. And while the wind in Bali is mostly warm, that doesn’t mean you won’t get sick exposed to it, especially with very few articles of clothing that protect you.
Indonesia is also still mostly a very conservative country, with Muslim dominating the population. Bali is so much more lax compared to most parts of Indonesia when it comes to clothing. You’ll see people in short pants, both locals and tourists, in Bali more than in any place in Indonesia. But that does not mean you have to go all out and ride the motorbike with a bikini. When you do decide in Bali scooter rental for your transport, observe the locals. Learn from them. They did say; when in Romes, do as the Romans do. In this case, do as the Balinese do.
Cover your hair while riding
It’s common knowledge that a lot of police officers in Bali stopped foreigners just because they, well, look foreign. Bali police officers have a good reason for this, as foreigners who ride bikes usually don’t have valid driving license with them. So a lot of tourists get stopped by the polices just because they look foreign. Even though you think that you have your license and you won’t have to worry, just don’t give them more reasons to stop you on the road.
Should you get an international license? What are your options?
The most straightforward and simplest option for you would be getting an international driver’s license when you’re in your home country before going to Indonesia. This will save you so much headache from dealing with the Indonesian bureaucracy that is often very ineffective, time-consuming, and confusing.
If it’s out of the option for you then you can get an Indonesian license, commonly known as “SIM”. However, recently a policy had taken effect, that only tourists with a KITAS can apply for a SIM. Meaning, you won’t be able to apply with a tourist visa.
Bali is a bit different compared to other parts of Indonesia. You can apply for a tourist driving license valid for maximum one month. This tourist SIM can only be obtained in Bali. Here’s the official webpage run by the Indonesian government. An article at Road to Everything is a good read that covers this topic.
Getting a “SIM” in Bali
These Surat Izin Mengemudi can be obtained at the Denpasar police office. This is where you can your SIM before going on your Bali scooter rental and ride away in Bali. You can find Polresta Denpasar at Jl. Gunung Sanghyang No. 110 in West Denpasar. Here’s the google map location of Polresta Denpasar:
Get up early to get to the police’s office as it’s open at 9 am and closes very early at 2 pm. There are people in the buildings past that time, but they won’t be of service anymore. That said, here are the things you need to bring before going to apply for an Indonesian driving license:
- Passport with a valid Indonesian visa
- Your driving license from your home country
- Health certificate from a doctor/clinic or a hospital. This can cost you anywhere between 25,000 IDR to 50,000 IDR (approximately $1,5 to $4)
- Photocopies of the above documents
Don’t drive while drunk
This is obvious but somehow tourists just don’t seem to follow their common sense when they’re in Bali. Don’t ruin your Bali scooter rental experience with a traffic accident. Last year in 2017, there was at least four fatal accident on a scooter, one of them made it to headlines “Bali police issue warning to Aussies riding scooters”. So if you don’t want to go home arriving in a coffin, heed the rules and drive safely. Ask a sober friend to watch out for you or simply get a mobile application-based transportation option Gojek or Grab to take you home if you’re too inebriated to drive.