If you’re feeling confident to tackle the traffic, then the best way to get about as a solo traveler is to rent a scooter in Bali.
You can rent scooters pretty much everywhere you go, pricing ranges from 70,000 Rp/day down to 30,000 Rp/day depending on how long you rent it for and the size of the scooter. 110cc scooters are fine if you are travelling alone and for shorter distances, but for extra power, a longer and smoother ride, or if you end up taking a friend for a ride, I highly recommend a 125cc scooter. Pricing for 125cc are a little bit more per day, maybe an extra 10,000Rp/day.
Be in control and be confident.
If you’ve never ridden a scooter before, the #1 thing to remember (apart from balance) is that it’s all in the right hand and the throttle.
Know the throttle reaction for that scooter.
Every scooter has a different sensitivity in the throttle. It’s essentially the same as the accelerator for a car, but much more sensitive. If you have complete control of the throttle, then you will have complete control of the scooter.
Know the brakes !
It’s very important to test the brakes of a scooter BEFORE hiring it. Just like a bicycle, if you feel that the brakes are too loose, or soft, and it’s not braking hard enough, then you need to make sure that the person you are hiring off will make adjustments for you. Also, when you brake, always apply even pressure to BOTH brakes, and not just one. If you end up slamming on only the front brake, the scooter could end up slipping away underneath you.
The best place to fuel up is at the major petrol stations along the main streets. It’s cheaper, and you also know the fuel is clean.
- Pertamina: Pertamax or Pertamax Plus (I fill up with Pertamax Plus as much as possible for cleaner, better mileage fuel)
- Shell: Super 92 or Super Extra 95
- Petronas: Primax 92 or Primax 95
Line up behind all the other scooters and have your bike turned off, seat open, and fuel cap off, ready for when the attendant fuels you up. Just say “full” to the attendant, and have your money ready. To fill up a 125cc from empty will cost around 35,000Rp, and around 15,000-20,000Rp for a 110cc.
You can also get fuel from shops on the side of the road (you’ll see fuel in Vodka / Spirits bottles for 10,000Rp/L) but sometimes the fuel has been sitting there for a long time and the bike can splutter and cough a bit from old, dirty fuel. Only use these fuels when you really need to.
I would never ride a scooter in Europe / US / Australia, but I will always ride one in Bali.
It looks like a crazy free-for-all system on the roads in Bali, but the more you become a part of it, the more you’ll realize that there is some order to this chaos. I, for one, would never ride a scooter in Europe / US / Australia, but I will always ride one in Bali.
Why ? Because you will start to notice that there is a flow to the style of driving. There are no fast, erratic maneuvers by the other drivers. Everything is slow and steady. No fast lane changes, no fast right or left turns. All slow, slow, slow.
And another reason, I just trust the Balinese drivers around me, as opposed to where I am from.
The person in front always has right of way
Same with the speed. Apart from the double lane highway going from Kuta over to the East Coast (towards Candidasa), the speed of traffic is relatively slow compared to Europe / US / Australia. You’ll be lucky to hit 60km/h on the main roads. Most traffic sits between 30 and 50 km/h which means you can easily stop quickly if a dog / chicken / cat runs onto the road, or if you need to avoid a pothole or two.
The main thing to remember though, is that the person in front always has right of way. That is why you see people blindly turning left onto a main road without stopping or waiting for traffic to go past. They have right of way, and if you are approaching them, you must slow down to give way / avoid them.
Make sure that you are travelling with a backpack or small suitcase that is small enough to fit at your feet as I DO NOT RECOMMEND wearing a heavy backpack, or strapping your suitcase on the back seat when riding a scooter. If you have a large 65L+ Backpack, then you can turn it sideways and fit it across the scooter at your feet. Check that your pack fits in the space between the seat and the handlebars when you are choosing your bike.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of travelling by scooter, then I highly recommend buying a plastic rain coat. You can buy these in almost all Mini-Mart’s / Kiosks for up to 100,000Rp, or you can get them from street clothing stalls for around 50,000 to 70,000Rp, depending on your bartering skills.
Rain in Bali can come down pretty hard, fast, without warning, and being wet on the scooter is not the best experience. The temperature can really drop when you are doing 40-50km/h in wet clothes.
Just buy a rain coat and leave it under your seat in the helmet storage compartment of the scooter.