Driving a motorbike. Bali Road Etiquette

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The first thing you will notice on arrival in Bali will probably be a huge amount of Scooters passing you. I am used to driving a car, and I don’t want to get knocked off a scooter, but there is something so amazing about driving this little machine. Driving a scooter is simply the best way to get around the island. Traffic here can be pretty shocking to someone who is not used to it.  Here is the quick blog post about “How to Not Kill Yourself Riding a Motorbike”. In Bali there are some subtle rules that are not visible on the  first glance.

  1. NEVER drink and drive!
  2. You need an international driving license which you have to apply for in your home country. You can get a temporary Balinese driving license (tourist driver’s license) from the police station in Denpasar within a day. Local police creates some extra income by stopping tourists and asking them for international driving licence. Be prepared for that. If you are not wearing Helmet you will be stopped too.
  3. Wear the helmet. You have to stay safe, because you never know what happens on the road.  If your helmet does not have a glass then you should use sunglasses. You don’t want a bug in your eye and crash your scooter.
  4. Honking = “Hi! I’m Here”. Honking is used to let others know you’re passing by. Its also used when going around blind corners. Its quite normal to Honk in Bali. Its not Impatient honking going on, but a polite way to let you know they are passing by. Balinese People are actually quite thoughtful, safe and efficient in their driving.
  5. Traffic Jams. They are very weird in Bali. Sometimes there is not a reason for them, and they can happen at  any particular time of day, or day of the week. Fun fact about them, there could be a random person jumping out of their car helping regulate car/motorbike/scooter flow.
  6. Seams like for Balinese People traffic lights are often just a suggestion, and hanging lines without notice is normal. You should obey the law. Always be alert, aware and fully conscious.
  7. Parking Staff. Those guys are there to find a spot and park your car/motorbike/scooter . You will give them around 2000rp and you dont have to worry about looking for a spot. The fee will cover you for the whole day.
  8. You will share road with dogs, chickens, cows etc. And they dont care about you. Be aware of that.
  9. Don’t get angry and Don’t get offended. There is no rush. Traffic flow is rarely faster than 40km/h
  10. Never drive barefoot. You will have to stop sometimes very abruptly and you could hurt your feet trying to balance on the scooter.
  11. I do not recommend renting a car without driver in Indonesia. A driver costs is low and it saves you a lot of stress and being lost.
  12. Wear Sunscreen on uncovered parts of your body (face, arms). You will be surprised how quickly you will get sun-burned from being on the road.

If Im on Backpacking trip and I want to stay on the Budget I feel better driving a motorbike in Bali than I would a car, and I feel that it is safer to drive a motorbike than any other part of Southeast Asia.  So take a very deep breath, and get to know the way traffic works in each of the places you are planning to visit on your trip.

Good luck!

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Driving a motorbike. Bali Road Etiquette

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