I was recently in Bali for 2 weeks for my honeymoon (I know, swoon). Coming from normal, sane Australia, one of the first things you realise is the roads in Bali are pretty bloody crazy! You’ve got motorbikes, cars, dogs and trucks going every which way. The only road rule is that if something is bigger than you, you give way to it. At first it’s daunting, but soon you realise there is some method to the madness. So, wanting to be a part of the action and finding it tough not riding a bike for more than a 3 day days, I decided to hire a scooter.
There are several ways you can order a scooter in Bali. If you’re staying at a hotel, the easiest way is to hire one from them. Expect to pay 60000IDR ($6 AUD) for 24 hours with a full tank. The second option is to walk down the street and hire one from a local store. There are literally hundreds of vendors and you don’t have to walk far to find one. This is where things get fun, keeping in mind that everything in Bali is negotiable and being a white tourist, you pay ‘tourist prices’. Here is a little skit reenacting my first experience hiring a scooter in Bali, bearing in mind a scooter should cost 50k IDR for 24hours.
Dodgy Bali scooter guy, ‘Hey maaaattteee (in fake Australian accent), you want scooter?’
‘Matter of fact I do good sir,’ I reply. ‘How much for 1 day?’
‘150k and you bring back at the end of the day (5 hours from now),’ Dodgy Bali man replies.
‘WTF? I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ll give you 50 for 24 hours.’
‘No, no, no. 125 till the end of the day.’
’50 for 24 hours or I’ll go elsewhere.’ I respond.
‘You want to send me broke? I do 100 till end of the day, I give you Bali price.’
‘Nope, if you can’t do 50 I’m going. Cya!’ I start to walk away down the street.
‘Ok, 75 for 24 hours!’ Dodgy Bali man shouts.
’50 or nothing!’ I yell from halfway down the street. No response…
I continue to walk down the street until eventually he shouts back ‘Ok 50!’.
And that’s wheeling and dealing in Bali. Whether it is buying clothes, dodgy merchandise or laser pointers it’s all the same. We learnt if you walk away a couple of times they will call you back if they can do your price. If they don’t call you back, they can’t do the price. Now, if one of these dodgy bastards asks for your passport, don’t give it to them! Just go to the next place. Your passport is your lifeblood overseas and you don’t want some dodgy street vendor with it! I was happy to leave mine with the hotel, but they were reputable.
When you get your scooter, don’t expect petrol. I’m pretty sure every scooter I got had all but a drop of fuel siphoned from it. Now here’s another trick, they will tell you simply fill up at a small store on the side of the road. Ah but this is not your regular service station. Imagine a dodgy fruit store on the side of the road. Now add Absolute Vodka bottles three quarters filled with petrol and you’re getting close! I’m not kidding; petrol is sold out of glass vodka bottles. Now being the frugal man I am and taking advice from cab drivers, it is much cheaper to simply go to a proper petrol station. But if you are in a bind go for it, at the end of the day it’s the same petrol just sold with a little mark up.
Now you hear horror stories about riding in Bali, but it actually isn’t too bad. There is a lot of traffic but it’s all reasonably slow speed and there is a system to the pandemonium. Firstly, you can’t hang back or you’ll get nowhere. If there is a gap GO. Don’t hesitate just go for it. People do slow down for you if you push in. Secondly, keep your wits about you. Scan you mirrors, look around a bit more, listen. I do this all the time at home on my bike, but for those caged warriors making the giant leap into 2 wheel nirvana, keep your eyes peeled more than you normally would.
A big benefit to riding a scooter in Bali is price. It’s so bloody cheap. I mean for $5 a day you have a scooter. They give you a bike for $5! No deposit or any questions asked! The level of trust is crazy. I suppose they will most likely kill you if you steal it and they find you…still, worth it!
Filling a scooter up costs less than $2 and that will get you hours of riding for yourself and another person. I used scooters to burn all around Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua and Candi Dasa. I never had any issues, bar the odd hill. These babies don’t particularly like riding up steep hills 2 up, you have been warned!
Now, the police in Bali are useless. But, the one thing they will do is stop the odd main road and check if you have an international licence. If you don’t have a helmet or your licence isn’t in order, you’re up for a bribe. Expect somewhere in the 200k IDR region.
So, do I recommend getting a scooter in Bali? Hell yeah! It can be mayhem, but it’s a lot of fun and cheap transport. Keep your wits about you and use some common sense and you’ll be fine.