When you travel to Bali, you don’t want to rely on cars, busses or other big vehicles. Because it gets extremely crowded at certain times or in certain areas (Kuta). One of the first things we learned was: You are always faster on a moped, because you can swerve through the traffic jam like a champ. Since we rented a lot of mopeds and learned a lot, I wanna pass my knowledge about moped rentals in Bali to you.
Let’s start with the basics!
Where can I rent mopeds?
You can rent mopeds, or how they call them here – motorbikes – pretty much everywhere. You will see it, when you walk down the street. At touristic spots, people will offer you moped rentals (or taxis) every 10ft. Even if you are already carrying a helmet with you…
However, the good part is: You don’t even have to walk outside to find moped rentals, because homestays and hotels mostly rent them as well. So all you need to do is asking at the reception of your accommodation, your host, or the staff.
How much do moped rentals cost?
The costs of renting a moped can vary. However, the average price is 50,000 IDR per day ($3.75). Super cheap, right?! At some places like Nusa Penida, it can also be 70,000 IDR. We mostly refuse moped rentals for more than 70,000 IDR, and just walked around to find a rental place with better prices. Hence, we never pay more than 70,000 IDR, but very often we got moped rentals for even less.
The moped costs are one thing, but they also need fuel. Gas or petrol is fairly cheap as it is subsidized by the government. You can usually fill up the moped with 20,000 IDR ($1.50).
Do I need a special license for moped rentals?
Yes and no. The rental place does not ask for your license. You sometimes have to sign a contract, then you just get the key and that’s it. Most times.
However, if you get pulled over by the police, you will be asked for your license. They don’t care about your American, Australian, Spanish, British, or German license. The police want to see an Indonesian or international driver’s license. If you don’t have one, you have to pay a fine. Ours was 500,000 IDR ($37.50) – Ouch! The funny part was that we never go out with a lot of money, because of such situations and now this totally paid off. So we had only around 100,000 IDR in our wallet, which was still too much. The officer took it and let us go. Although you are supposed to come back and pay the rest, I doubt that they keep track of it. Indeed they don’t even check the passport or anything else…
My advice: Get an international driver’s license, if you can. This will avoid these costs. In addition, never carry too much money in your wallet! Have only 50,000 or 100,000 IDR in your wallet and the rest somewhere else. This way people don’t take all of your money.
If you cannot get an international driver’s license and still wanna avoid fines, you can go to a place in Denpasar or Kuta to get a temporary driver’s license, also called tourist driver’s license. Once you get there, ask at your accommodation, where it is. The license is around 350,000 IDR (around $30). But I am pretty sure, that this isn’t a fixed price like all prices in Bali. It is valid as long as the free tourist visa – 1 month.
Do I have to check the moped for damages at the beginning?
As you would do it with every rental, you should check your moped as well. I wouldn’t pay so much attention about scratches, because most moped rentals come already with scratches. Sometimes we even get mopeds with a missing mirrors or something similar, but we never had any problems at the return. However, if you want to be on the safe side, take pictures of the moped before you do the first ride.
What you definitely should check: the functionality of the brakes, throttle, horn and light. These are the most important parts for your own safety.
Is it safe to drive mopeds?
Tourists are more afraid to drive here because it seems that there are no traffic rules (see below). Traffic can get super messed up. So it seems to be unsafe for driving mopeds.
However, I feel safer here. My boyfriend has a great explanation for the safety in Indonesian traffic: “People can drive miles over miles in the US or Europe without paying much attention. Here everyone, who drives is more focused on the street and is reacting quickly.” People are watching at everything in front of them and react quickly. Not so much in the back, but this would be already in the view of the next driver.
I actually have seen accidents very rarely. Unfortunately, tourists mostly get into accidents, because they don’t think like a local or loose the balance of the moped.
Are the traffic rules different to the US or Europe?
Yes, yes, and again yes! I believe there are no rules here. Even 8 years old kids are driving a moped. Cars nicely lining up in one lane, when there is a traffic jam? Not in Indonesia! There might be one car on the left side of a lane, the car behind stands on the right side of the lane and next to the cars 30 mopeds to fill up the gaps. That’s Indonesian style! So I’d say: Traffic rules are very flexible in the performance.
I hope you aren’t too afraid now because I’ll give you some tips to keep you safe on the road:
- You have to drive on the left side. This can be weird at first, but your brain will get used to it quickly.
- Don’t be scared to get close to other cars or mopeds. Streets can get crowded and so you should make sure you are able to hold the balance pretty well. I learned driving on an empty road first. Then I wasn’t too scared to swerve through the traffic.
- Use the horn. The horn is the most important part of the moped here, besides the brakes. When you are reaching a curve, you honk. When you pass somebody, you honk. This may sound weird to people from the US or Europe because we only use the horn when somebody doesn’t move at a green light or so. Not here. Here you have to use your horn as much as possible to stay safe and get attention. So the horn is a safety precaution instead of a sound of madness.
- Cars, mopeds or other vehicles mainly wait for the most dangerous locations to pass another vehicle. I cannot count how many times I saw my life passing by me! I am serious! I had so many taxi drivers, that passed another vehicle right in front or in a curve and every time I thought: “Goodbye life, it was nice! I hope I didn’t cause too much bad karma that I will be reborn as a mosquito!” However, I am still alive. Probably because of the horn. 😀
- Just be flexible in your driving rules. Pay attention to the traffic. It often happens that there will be vehicles coming in your lane towards you because they pass another vehicle or take a turn. Don’t freak out! This is natural here and that’s also a reason why I believe that there are no traffic rules, or at least no strict traffic rules. You would even see mopeds driving on a pedestrian walk in Kuta. It is not allowed, but this again shows the flexibility of rules and mopeds at the same time.
- If in doubt, drive slowly (even though it is harder to balance). You don’t have to be the fastest driver. Find the speed that you are comfortable with. There are always faster vehicles that will pass you – no matter what speed you have.
I hope that this guide gave you enough info about moped rentals in Bali, and will help you to swerve through the traffic jungle like a champ! If there are any other questions that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask them in a comment or email!