Riding a Motorcycle in Bali – Part 1

The Basics / What you Need to Know

Bali: The Island of the Gods, an enchanting tropical paradise and epicenter of tourism in Indonesia. Among the myriad ways to explore its vast beauty, cruising about the island under the shade of palm trees on a motorcycle is undoubtedly the best by far! Yet, navigating Bali’s roads can be a totally different experience than what you may be used to on the organized and logically planned streets back home. So, before you rev up that engine and dive into exploration mode, here’s a down-to-earth guide to keep you safe and ensure you soak in the full Bali adventure.

1. Bring a Valid Motorcycle License and IDP

First and foremost, before you hit the Bali roads on a motorbike, make sure you bring a valid license allowing you to ride. Although many rental agencies might not even ask you to see it, riding a motorbike on public streets without an official license is not only illegal but totally unsafe and if you’re caught without one you could face heafty fines and even deportation. If you’re visiting from abroad, be sure to snag yourself an Iternational Driving Permit before departing as this is also a compulsory requirement for foreigners driving in Indonesia. If you’ve already started your travels and forgot to pick up your IDP before setting off, don’t worry, Intrepid Moto’s got your back! Just let us know and we’ll be happy to help arrange your International Driving Permit during your stay in Bali. Alternatively, you can simply click here to get started with your online application through our official trusted partner at the International Drivers Association.

Photo Credit: City-Town UK

2. Wear a Helmet

Here’s a no brainer. Wearing a helmet is mandatory in Indonesia, and for good reason. Even though you may see many of the local residents (and tourists alike) without them, do you really want to take the ultimate risk and end up as a grim statistic? Bali’s roads will always throw a few surprises your way, not to mention the occasional bumpy section; or what Google claims is a road when in fact it’s really a goat track through a rice field. That’s where a helmet comes in as your literal life saver, when things get a bit unpredictable. And don’t forget, ensure it’s securely fastened and sits snugly on your head for that added layer of protection. A loose or unfascined helm is just about as useful as not wearing one at all. Safety first, right?

3. Follow the Rules of the Road

Here’s another obvious one for you. Like any other country, Bali has its own traffic rules that you need to follow, although in most cases the regulations from your home country will apply. The flow of traffic might seem chaotic and disorganized at first and that everyone is just marching to the beat of their own drum, but after some time you’ll realize that there is in fact a sensible order to things. Drive on the left side of the road, obey traffic lights and road signs and most importantly, go with the flow.

4. Be aware of Your Surroundings

The roads in Bali can be busy and chaotic, especially in popular tourist areas like Canggu and Seminyak. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and anticipate the actions of other drivers. Watch out for motorcycles, cars, and trucks that may suddenly cut in front of you or change lanes without warning. Using your turn signals when changing lanes or turning may seem obvious but flashing a quick hand signal goes a long way and is very common practice, especially to avoid being rear ended when making a turn by someone who wasn’t paying attention to your blinker while trying to overtake you. In rural areas and villages expect to see plenty of dogs and chickens roaming freely and when you spot them slow down and take extra caution.

5. Drive Defensively

Driving defensively is key to staying safe on the roads in Bali. Always keep a safe distance of two-to-three seconds from the vehicle in front of you, and – this one is important – avoid sudden braking or swerving. Unlike the unforgiving driver egos of the West, People in Bali are generally accepting of each other if a car or bike in front needs to slowly cut in. When changing your lane position, keep your movements gradual and the driver behind you will generally adjust their speed and distance accordingly.

6. Rent From a Reputable Company

When renting a motorcycle in Bali, make sure you rent from a reputable company. Ask yourself, do they have a proper website, are they quick to answer questions and do they have good reviews online. When it’s time to start vetting your options, look for a shop that provides proper helmets, insurance, and keeps their motorcycles in tip-top shape. Last but not least, make sure to inspect the bike before you rent it, and take a few photos of any prior scratches or damages. At Intrepid Moto, not only are we connected with legitimate and professional local agencies, we can even help you plan an awesome route with all the best secret spots for your ultimate Bali moto adventure! For more information check out our Freerider – Self Guided Tours here.

8. Take it Slow

You’re definately not going to set any time trial records riding in Bali as the speeds tend not to exceed 40-50 km/h on most public roads across the island. However, if you’re new to riding a motorcycle, take it slow and practice in a quiet area before heading out to the main roads. Get comfortable with the bike’s controls and how it handles before venturing out into traffic. When entering traditional villages or small laneways (also known as gangs) decellerate and use extra caution as there could be small children playing, elderly residents out for a stroll or even a litter of puppies just frolicking freely and footloose.

8. Take Extra Caution When Riding at Night

Navigating Bali’s streets at night can be tricky if you’re not familiar with the lay of the landscape, especially in rural areas where the roads may be poorly lit. Roads can curve suddenly and the surface can change from smooth asphault to gravel sections without warning. To add insult to injury, the use of proper guardrails is unfortunately not always implemented in areas where anyone would argue that they should be deemed essential. If you do need to drive at night, wear bright clothing to make sure you’re clearly visable, have good headlights and drive at a slower speed.

9. Be Prepared for Offroad Adventures

Bali boasts some stunning off-road trails, but they can be a real challenge even for the most seasoned riders. If you plan on exploring off-road areas, not only should you have the right gear and equipment, but make sure you choose a bike suitable for the terrain. Wear protective clothing, and make sure your motorcycle is equipped with dual purpose or off-road tires and a sturdy frame.

10. Stay Hydrated and Wear Sunscreen

Bali can get hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Make sure you have enough water with you, and take breaks often to cool down and rest. If you’re planning on taking a longer trip consider bringing a hydration pack with a 2-3 litre bladder for quick and easy access when you’re feeling parched under the mid-day sun. It’s reccomended to wear a minimum level 40-50 SPF rated sunblock if youre planning on prolonged exposure to the sun in Bali.


Riding a motorcycle in Bali can be an exciting and memorable experience. By following these safety tips and being aware of your surroundings, you can stay safe and enjoy all the island has to offer. Remember, safety comes first, so always wear a helmet, follow traffic rules, and respect your fellow motorist.

If you want to learn more and experience long-haul adventure tours, our expert riding team at Intrepid Moto can provide you with the guidance and support to safely explore the most scenic landscapes in Bali. We have multiple tour packages to choose from, depending on your availability and budget, including half-day, full-day, overnight, and grand adventures