In Bali there are a lot of places that rent motorbikes and all with different pricing. In the southern tourist hubs of Kuta, Sanur and Ubud the bikes are much cheaper to rent that in the North, so if you’re flying into Denpasar it’s a good idea to rent from one of these places. The daily rate is around 50,000 rupiah ($3.50 USD) and if you’re here for a month the rate goes down to 500,000 rupiah ($35 USD). If you’re after an off road bike then the price will be a little but higher around 80,000 rupiah per day ($6 USD). Do your best to bargain and you can get some really good deals. Make sure the renter gives you the registration paperwork for the bike because if you are pulled over by the police, it’s the first thing that they will ask for.
Almost all the foreigners wear shorts and a t-shirt or singlet on the bikes which can make for a rather uncomfortable time if you end up having a crash. No one plans to have a crash but things can happen that are out of your control so plan ahead and dress wisely. You’ll see all the Indonesians wearing long pants and jackets but if it’s not your thing then long sleeves and shoes are best to prevent gravel rash. A rain jacket is also a good idea, especially if you’re going into the mountains as the weather can change very fast. You can pick up a rain jacket at any of the local stores along the major roads and if you can’t find one just ask.
A mask is a must when driving around in the city and with all the pollution and time spent waiting at the traffic lights you can have a sore throat after just a short ride around the block. You can find surgical masks in all the convenience stores for around 5000 rupiah (30 cents USD) for 3 masks.
In indonesia it is a requirement for foreigners to have a drivers licence for the vehicle that they will be driving along with an international driving permit. If you drive without a licence you do so at your own risk as no insurance company will cover you. If you are pulled over without a licence the police will usually tell you that you need to go to court and show you a summons on a piece of paper but with 50,000-100,000 rupiah ($3.50-$7 USD) you can be on your way. It’s best to keep a 50,000 rupiah note under your seat with the registration so if you are pulled over without a licence then it’ll be waiting there ready. There are reports of people paying over 500,000 rupiah but don’t settle for this, just keep bargaining. It is illegal to drive without a licence and you take full responsibility when doing so.
Apart from that just bring your normal luggage but don’t make it too big. A change of clothes, a good pair of shoes and a good book are all that you really need and remember that the less you bring the less you have to carry on the bike with you.
If you don’t get a flat tyre while you’re here then you are very lucky and the reality is that most people will have to deal with a flat. It seems like every 500 metres there’s a mechanic and you all you have to do is ask a local where the nearest “press ban” is. Press ban means “fix the tyre” and if your Indonesian isn’t good then just point at the tyre and someone will show you where to go. A press ban will set you back around 20,000 rupiah ($1.50 USD) and a new tube with labour included is just 40,000 rupiah ($3 USD). If you need air in the tyre just pull in and give the guy 1000 rupiah and be on your way. All the mechanics are very friendly and the most time it will take to fix the flat is around 20 minutes. If you do ride on your flat instead of pushing it to the mechanic the chances are that you’ll need a new tube as the pressure on the tyre will cause a lot more damage than just pushing it.
With the digital age firmly on us the guide books have given way to e-books and the old classic map has been replaced by google maps. With all this technology it hasn’t been easier to find your way, especially with google. Almost everyone these days has a smart phone and you can buy a sim card with 1gb of data for around 50,000 rupiah ($3.50 USD) depending on which provider you choose to use. You can get signal over pretty much the whole island as there are towers everywhere. Google calculates the best route and also gives you an estimated time that it is going to take. Be warned that it isn’t fool proof and if you find yourself going down a dirt road its best to ask someone and find out if you’re going the right way.
The other way is of course the map and you can pick up a decent road map from any of the Peri Plus bookshops and also from the major supermarkets like Coco mart. They are of varying quality so check the map and make sure that it has what you need on it before buying it. If you do find yourself lost then just pull over and ask local, they are always so friendly and helpful and if you can’t speak any Indonesian then check out the basics of Indonesian here.
The thought of having a crash is the furthest thing from any of our minds but it can be a reality and knowing how things will play out can be a huge advantage. Foreigners almost always get the blame for the crash and the smart thing to do is to sort out the problem personally with the victim. If you see an accident it’s best to keep your distance and not get involved in the situation. It may sound harsh but it’s possible that the locals will pin the blame on you. If the police are called you may run into even more trouble, and it’s possible they will expect some money from you or even worse you may be blamed for the accident. Most accidents can be resolved internally, without the police, so if you can sort it out before the police get involved its going to be much better.
The only time the police have to get involved is when someone is killed in an accident. Recently an Australian man crashed into an Indonesian causing him to die from his injuries. The man sorted it out with the victims family and made peace but because there was a death, the matter had to go to court and now the man is up for manslaughter. Remember that this isn’t home and you will be treated differently here so drive to conditions and exercise extreme caution when taking to the roads.
The accommodation on Bali is some of the best you’ll find anywhere in Asia and with so many tourist spots spread out all over the island you’re never more than a 30 minute ride from somewhere to stay. You can just drive to each place and ask around for a place to stay or if you like to plan ahead then use the hugely popular booking.com to find your accommodation. Rooms start at around 150,000 rupiah ($12 USD) and go up from there. It’s much better to travel with a partner as not many places will give you a deal for being alone and you’ll pay the same as 2 people. If you’re more of the adventurous type then bring your tent and find a place to put it up. Bali has some “official” camping places but most of it will be wild camping and just search around and choose your place. It’s a good idea to have some sought of mosquito net if you do this because Bali has a lot of mosquitoes and they will make your night a very sleepless one.
What to see?
Bali is an Island of great diversity and no matter your interests there is something for everyone. The South is very much for the surfers and north for the divers. The centre is full of volcanoes and rice terraces and there’s no shortage of adventure in between. For the pure adventurist you just have to get on the bike and go. You’ll discover small villages, meet friendly locals and discover things that no guide book will tell you. For those looking for a more structured trip you can climb Gunung Agung or scuba dive the USS Liberty, a sunken WW2 Japanese ship, go rafting along the mighty Ayung River or just take your time and visit the amazing viewpoints around the island. Whatever your adventure, you will look back on your trip and think what an amazing place. For a full list of adventure activities you can check out the blog page here.