This post was last updated on July 13th, 2020 at 12:27 pm
Renting a scooter in Bali is something many backpackers do when they are on Indonesia’s most popular island. And rightly so, it is an ideal destination to cruise over on a scooter and thus arrive at the most unexplored places. Think, for example, of the beautiful Jatiluwih rice fields or the soothing environment of Sidemen. And what about the many beautiful temples you can visit?
However, how much do you know about the requirements of driving a scooter on Bali? For example, are you insured if you are going to drive around the island on a scooter? Do you need a driver’s license? If so, should this be an international one? Can you hand in your scooter at a different point than where you rented it?
We are going to answer these kinds of questions in this blog. You no longer have to sit with your hands in your hair and you’ll know exactly what to expect.
How Much Does Renting a Scooter in Bali Cost? And Gasoline?
Most rental companies offer several options. Do you want to rent the scooter for a day, week, or even a month? The logical rule is that the longer you rent one, the cheaper it gets. Negotiate, of course, and don’t immediately agree with the proposed rates.
These are the common prices that you should aim for:
- Daily rate ➜ 50,000 to 70,000 IDR (~ US$3.60 to US$5)
- Weekly rate ➜ 200,000 to 250,000 IDR (~ US$14.25 to US$17.80)
- Monthly rate ➜ 650,000 to 750,000 IDR (~ US$46.30 to US$53.50)
Good to Know: The rent usually includes a helmet. Make sure you always wear these when you are driving. If you do not do this, you risk getting a (hefty) fine. This could be 200,000 IDR (~ US$14.25) or more. Apart from that, it is also safer.
Then there is the gasoline. It will not surprise you that the fuel is also cheap as hell. Liter bottles are sold on the streets for 7,000 IDR (~ US$0.50). At the gas stations, you pay about the same rate.
Assuming 15,000 IDR is roughly equivalent to US$1, you can immediately tell how cheap it is to ride a scooter here.
Where Can I Rent a Scooter?
You can get a scooter easily in any area where tourists come. In particular, in Kuta, Ubud, Legian, and Seminyak you will find numerous private rental companies. Even in the non-tourist spots in Bali you always bump into someone who says “scooter?” to you. We advise you to check the scooter carefully for any defects. Also, always take a test drive to see if the brakes are working properly.
It is also recommended to take a photo of the owner together with the scooter. This way you can show what the scooter looked like when you took it with you. If the owner does not want to do this we would advise against renting a scooter through him or her.
A safer option is to rent a scooter through your accommodation or, for example, through an organization such as Bali Bike Rental. Safer in the sense that you know you are dealing with a reliable owner. It usually costs a bit more, but it’s worth avoiding the hassle.
If you want to take the vehicle to another island, always agree beforehand with the owner. Not all companies think this is a good idea.
Is it Necessary to Leave My Passport Behind?
No, in most cases it is not. If you are asked to do this, we advise you to look at another rental company. Usually, a copy of your passport, the name of your accommodation, and the room where you are staying will suffice. Sometimes a deposit is also requested.
Do I Need a Driver’s License? Does it Have to Be an International Driving License?
Yes, you need a driving license in combination with an international driving license. You don’t really need it to get the scooter itself, this is usually a piece of cake. You’ll need it to not get into any trouble if you happen to have an accident. Vehicles with a displacement of greater than 50cc are seen as a motorcycle. Local insurance can be difficult to arrange in case of damage if you can only present a regular driving license.
If you do not have an international driver’s license, you can opt for a local motorcycle license. You can get this license in a day at the police station in Denpasar (Jl Gunung Sanghyang). The cost is usually 300,000 to 600,000 IDR (~ US$21.40 to US$42.80), depending on who you meet and your negotiation skills.
If you are arrested and cannot provide an international or local driving license, this will in most cases lead to a fine. In this case, an international car license is usually sufficient, but it differs per situation. Call it a scam, call it nonsense, but it’s just the way it is. You can think of 50.000 IDR (~ US$3.60) fines. The amount is not that high, but it’s annoying.
Once paid, you can continue on the road. The fine also serves as a bribe: it disappears into the pockets of the police officers. Stay calm when a police officer stops you, at least don’t react annoyed. This only makes your negotiating position weaker.
TIP – Some (corrupt) officers will tell you to pay 500,000 to 1 million IDR. The alternative is to go to the office. Do not fall for this, say that you have not brought a wallet, and indicate that you only have a 50,000 IDR banknote with you. Most of the police officers eventually agree with the amount. In any case, never show them that there is more to “earn”.
The detention of tourists mainly happens in the touristic south of Bali. The further north you go, the less it happens.
What if I Get Into an Accident?
As a foreigner you often fall short and are considered guilty, there is little you can do about this. The reasoning is that if you hadn’t been there, the accident wouldn’t have happened. A bit shortsighted indeed, but you can’t change anything.
If you cause damage to your own scooter, you are the one who will have to pay for it. The amount depends on the previous insurance agreement with the renting party and whether you meet the conditions (in the case of more than 50cc: an international license + a regular license).
Even worse: If you have caused material or non-material damage to a third party, chances are that you (largely) pay for it. We will tell you more about this in the answer to the following question.
TIP – For your safety, keep in mind that people drive on the left side of the road in Bali. Also bring a (digital) map of the island, because there is not much signage available.
Am I Insured?
Since we’ve heard and read a lot of different things about this subject, we made a special call to our car insurer. The headquarters employee literally told us:
“If you drive a vehicle for which you do not have a driver’s license, you will never be insured for bodily harm you cause to others.”
We have also contacted our health insurer, they said:
“Even if you drive abroad without a driving license, you are insured in regard to healthcare. It is important to us that you have health insurance. Keep in mind that in these cases you are not insured for any salvage and rescue costs. We also do not reimburse the legal costs resulting from driving without a driving license.”
All quite logical in itself. Unfortunately, many backpackers have an error in their thinking.
It is true that many scooters in Bali (and in all of Southeast Asia) have a cylinder capacity of at least 80cc. In some countries, you need an official motorcycle license for vehicles with more than 50cc. This is also the case in Indonesia! According to the law, you drive a motorcycle instead of a scooter. If you do not have a motorcycle license, you are not legally insured.
Good to know: Various insurers have told us that you are always entitled to reimbursement of your personal healthcare costs, whether you were authorized to drive or not. A health insurance is in fact independent of whether or not you are insured for riding a motorcycle. For example, we had a scooter accident in Greece years ago. Although we were not authorized to drive it, we were able to declare the advanced costs for the stitches and plaster.
Good to know: Your standard health insurance reimburses “the medically necessary costs abroad up to a maximum of your countries’ rate.” This may mean that you have to pay extra because in some countries health care is more expensive than in others. The solution is additional or travel insurance. In the latter case, check the option “cover medical costs”.
In Bali, you have no insurance claims for damage claims by riding a motorcycle from most countries. Not even with your travel insurance, by the way. Our travel insurer said the following about this:
“You cannot recover damage from others with a mototrcycle from your travel insurance. This damage is covered by the liability insurance of the motorcycle. If there is no liability insurance on the motorcycle, you cannot claim the costs anywhere.”
That is why you get local motorcycle insurance with the rental company. Pay close attention to the fine print. What about the amount of the deductible, for example? What are the costs for possible damages? Are you insured for damage to third parties? To what height? Please read the lease carefully.
The rental company Bali Bike Rental says the following:
“It is mandatory to have a valid driver’s license from your country or state of permanent residence, in combination with an international driver’s license.”
“Keep in mind that our insurance policy does not cover you if it turns out that the driver was drinking, underaged, or not in possession of a valid driver’s license”
A valid driver’s license is required to obtain compensation for any damage. What kind of license? Exactly, a motorcycle license.
Furthermore, this same rental company says:
“We are not liable to damage, loss, injury, and death sustained by the renters riding the scooters or their pillion riders and other people involved in accidents.”
The bottom line is that if you meet the requirements (international motorcycle license + original motorcycle license), you are insured to some extent for damage to the vehicle you are borrowing. This local insurance does not cover damage to others. It’s that simple!
Just an extreme case:
- You rent an 80cc through Bali Bike Rental
- You have taken out local insurance through them
- You drive into someone in Bali with the vehicle and cause them injuries
- You are considered guilty
In this situation, there is a real chance that you will have to pay for the material and physical damage that you have caused to the other party. After all, this is not reimbursed by the local insurance.
TIP – Do you have a motorcycle license and do you want to drive an 80cc, for example? Then always try to get local liability insurance, so that you do not have to pay for any high (medical) costs of third parties. Unfortunately, this proves difficult in practice. It is, therefore, not without reason that insurers from many countries advise against renting a scooter abroad.
What you can also do is apply for legal expenses insurance through your travel insurance. This way you will receive legal assistance in case you are found guilty of an accident abroad.
Honestly, we also didn’t know that these are the rules when it comes to riding a scooter abroad, especially since we’ve come across all kinds of statements on forums. This is how it is, we can’t make it any different. The most crucial point, in our opinion, is that you should insure yourself for possible damage to third parties, but this is often not possible.
In any case, we do not have a motorcycle license and we still rent a scooter abroad without a second thought. Now we will think about it a little more and check how much cc the vehicle has. We will also look more closely at the local insurance: to what extent are we actually insured?
Is it Possible to Deliver the Scooter to a Different Location?
An important question. After all, it may be that your route through Indonesia ends at a different point than where you started. How do you solve this?
First of all, it is good to know that at the small private rental companies you are usually expected to return the scooter to the place where you rented it. Exceptions are possible if you come to an agreement with the company, although this is not common.
If you do not want to worry and want to be 100% sure that you can drop the scooter off at another point, then the aforementioned Bali Bike Rental is an organization that we can recommend to you. You can drop off the scooter at a location of your choice via them.
As we mentioned above, the vehicles are a bit more expensive at Bali Bike Rental than at the mass providers, but you do enjoy several advantages. In addition to various drop-on drop-off points, you are also insured for damage to the vehicle. This is in contrast to many small rental companies.
Is There an Alternative to Renting a Scooter?
Yes, you can always rent a bicycle when you go backpacking in Bali. This may not seem logical as traffic on this island is quite chaotic. And indeed, this is the case in the busy areas near, for example, Kuta and Denpasar. But the interior region is ideal for riding a mountain bike, especially if you are a bit sporty.
Especially Ubud, Kintamani, Pura Besakih and Lovina are worth exploring by bike. And what about mountain biking at Mount Batur and Mount Agung? You can also always do an organized tour if you don’t want to cycle independently.
The costs for renting a normal bicycle are around 25,000 IDR (~ US$1.80) per day. Mountain bikes are about twice as expensive.