Scooter Driving in Indonesia – Survival Tips

Driving in Bali can be a real adventure. Traffic is crazy and it seems there are no rules. Learn how to survive on Bali's roads.

Driving a scooter in Bali and Indonesia – Survival Tips

Traffic in Indonesia is full of honking vehicles, lots of traffic jam and people driving with up to 4 people on a scooter! Can’t you believe that? Check out these Transport Artists. But don’t worry! HSH Stay provides you with some tips how to survive driving in Bali. 

Scooter Traffic Rules: (actually there are no rules)

First of all, Indonesia has left-hand traffic, so make sure you are always on the left side of the road.  Although Indonesia doesn’t really have any further traffic rules, they have a system in their chaos that strangely works.

  • Honking
    This is a sign to warn a driver in front of you that you are overtaking. Therefore, honk while passing so they don’t move.
  • Overtaking
    You can pass wherever you want and at any time. But make sure you look in the mirror and to your side and honk if necessary. You can ignore any lane markings on the road since no one follows them anyway.
  • Flashing lights
    This means that the oncoming car needs to move to your side.
  • Hazard lights
    Signalising that a car is going straight through an intersection.
  • Intersections
    Go with the flow! Have a quick look around and try to fit into the traffic as smoothly as possible. Attention, vehicles go everywhere.
  • Hati – Hati
    When you see someone in front of you waving his arm up and down, this means “Hati-Hati” ( Indonesian for ‘Watch out!’). So slow down, and don’t overtake.
  • Always Smile!

What to take with you while being on the road?

  • International Drivers License
    Make sure you have an international drivers license and always take it with you while driving in Bali in case of police controls. It’s only valid in combination with your national driver’s license.
  • Registration Form of the Scooter
    When you rent a scooter, you will also receive the vehicle registration form. This is also necessary for police controls.
  • Money and Health Insurance
    Take your credit card with your for an emergency to pay hospitals and doctors. Also, the papers of your health insurance are not a bad idea.
  • Sunscreen
    Being on a scooter is quite tricky since you won’t feel the strength of the sun so easily because of the wind blast. During dry Season you might have 10 hours of pure sun a day, but also when it’s cloudy sun can be strong. Therefore, make sure you put sunscreen on before being on the road. And take some with you in case of a longer journey.
  • First aid kit 
    Scratches can happen easily on the road. Make sure to clean them immediately and cover it on the road. Therefore, take some emergency bandages and disinfection with you.
  • Mask
    Being stuck in the traffic jam isn’t nice. But being stuck behind a truck is even worse. Trucks, as well as the big tourist buses and old motorbikes, spread bad stuff out of their exhausts. If you don’t want to breathe the dirty air, you can buy masks for little money in almost every supermarket.
  • Jacket
    Sometimes, even in the tropical climate, it can get cold while driving the scooter, especially during the night. Therefore, store a light jacket in the trunk of your scooter.
  • Raincoat
    This will be essential in the rainy season. Raincoats are available everywhere during the wet season in Bali. A Raincape costs around 35.000 IDR and 100.000 IDR, depending on the quality.

Why is everyone wearing a thick jacket, gloves and weird socks on the road?

Even with 30°C and the sun burning down on you, Indonesians will wear thick jackets, gloves, socks (in their flip-flops) and long pants. Actually, the reason they do this is not because they feel cold, but because they don’t want to get a tan. Whereas western people love to get a nice healthy tan, Indonesian try to avoid the sun as much as they can because for them being white is beautiful. Check out more Fun Facts about Indonesia!

Better be safe than sorry!

Well, traffic in Bali seems crazy and sometimes it looks even like in a crazy Video Game. But the difference is that you only have one life in real life. Driving in Bali can be dangerous also because some people drive drunk after a night out. So take care, don’t drive drunk and never forget your helmet. And please don’t drive in bathings suits! Cover yourself and show respect to the country.

Police Controls

If Police stops you, show your drivers license and registration form. If you forgot it, the fee is negotiable (it is weird, yes!) and in case you don’t stop, they will not follow you. (this is even weirder!).


Emergency Contacts

  • Police 110 (Bali Tourist Police 0361- 224111)
  • Ambulance: 118
  • Fire department: 113

In case of an accident
Little crashes can happen easily on the road. If you have an accident keep calm and drive on the very side of the road. Please take care of potential wounds. Check out what to with open wounds in Bali. If you need to go to a hospital, it’s sometimes better to take a taxi on your own since the ambulance will take forever. Let’s hope that will never happen! Take care!

In case of a broken scooter
You will find mechanics everywhere. In Bahasa they are called ‘Benkel’, so watch out for that sign if you have a problem with your scooter. Some locals may also fix a flat tire for little money. A new tire should cost around 50.000 to 70.000 Rupiah.

driving in bali benkel flat tire

Bumby Roads – Holes and unfinished tracks

Travelling to Indonesia, you will soon come to notice that the infrastructure as not as modern as you might be used to. Going to rural areas streets seem to have more holes than asphalt or are literally dirt roads. So drive slowly and carefully.

Fun Facts Indonesia: Potholes in Streets & Sidewalks

Are you driving a long-distance?

It can be very exhausting to sit on the scooter for longer than one hour and also concentration will get less. Make sure you have enough stops to make a break. On your long journey you might get hungry and need some vitamins. Don’t worry! Simply grab a fresh fruit of one of these driving fruit stands.

Fun Facts Indonesia: Artistic Transportation.What about a private driver in Bali?

In General, renting a driver for longer distances is more convenient. You can sleep in the car and get a rest before having an exciting day. Home Sweet Home Ride has reliable drivers and offers cheap prices for transfers and full day tours. Get your transportation with Home Sweet Home Ride today!


Stay safe, Hati Hati!


Info: Don’t you know yet what to bring to Indonesia? Check out Packing List for Bali!

1 comment

  1. Thanks, it is quite informative

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