Gold, that's about the most dangerous thing you can do on a holiday in Bali. I'm not saying you're guaranteed to have an accident, but you're certainly raising the odds. The traffic is chaotic around Kuta, the roads are narrow and not in great condition and the behaviour of road-users is best described as "free form". In my home country, Australia, where the roads and road rules are not nearly as chaotic, you are still 45 times more likely to be injured in a traffic accident as a motorbike rider than a car driver - I can only imagine the stats for Bali! Seriously, you really are taking your life in your hands riding in Bali. The jakarta Post reported back in may 2011 that 173 people had been killed on bali's roads in the first 4 months of that year and another 482 had been seriously injured!
Traffic accidents are the biggest cause of injury to tourists, too.
And that's assuming you have a license to ride a motorcycle?
I know the rental shops will say you don't need one, but if you are injured and you need your travel insurance to pay for the emergency surgery you'd better be able to produce a valid license. A friend of mine recently paid over $3000 for plastic surgery on a cut on his forehead in Bali (thankfully he was insured).
On a personal note - I have done what you propose (back when Bali was quieter and I was less safety-concious) and it's a really long ride, and my butt hurt! You can hire a car and a driver (to take all the risk/blame) for you, for about the cost of hiring a couple of motorbikes. He'll be yours all day, take you anywhere you want to go and ait patiently. He'll know the roads better and can even negotiate some good deals for you, plus he'll turn the air conditioning up when it gets really steamy.
Phil about 6 years ago
Thanks Phil for the info. I would have thought twice if I read it earlier. But by the time I read your answer, my husband and I already came back from a trip to Ubud, Sanur, Nusa Dua via a rented motorbike. We are both aware of the dangers of riding a motorbike (motorbike accidents are commonplace in the Philippines where we are from, and insofar as traffic rules are concerned, Manila could be worse) But since my husband and I know how to drive a motorbike, we thought we will give it a try (we find it is safer to drive a motorbike in Bali than in Manila or anywhere in the Philippines since there are actually more motorbikes than cars in Bali.) We did have a travel insurance, and really believed that we can drive a motorbike so long as ourPhil driver's license allows us (just like in the US.)
Of course, the thought of an accident crossed our minds, but then again, an accident could happen anywhere in anything you do if one does not take caution. We thought that it should not hinder the adventure that we wanted to experience for the trip. It is precisely why I asked the question coz I have not read anything about travellers in Bali going around on a scooter or motorbike. It did make me think that maybe it is not safe, but looking around, we saw many people in Bali are actually driving scooters/ motorbikes. So it occured to us that it could be safe so long as we take caution and ensure that we do things right. (you are so right, there seems to be no traffic rules in Bali).
We extremely enjoyed our road trip to Ubud,and even stayed overnight. We passed by Denpasar, went back passing Sanur, and also went to Nusa Dua. My husband and I are active people and love the outdoors and going around on a motorbike gave us the chance to see more of Bali. We can stop anytime, take pictures, eat anywhere, ride the more scenic route, have a new tan, and did not have to worry about a 3rd party (driver)
So in answer to my question, it is safe to go around Bali on a motorbike so long as you recognize the dangers of driving one, and you take extra caution knowing that accidents could happen anytime, anywhere. Of course, foremost, you should know how to drive a motorbike :) almost 7 years ago
Indonesians drive like nutters, don't look when they pull out into the road as they just expect the on coming traffic to move around them. Blind faith is the saying. Also when i checked on google motorbike death's per capita in indo is up there with the worst in the world and comparable to India. Still i have rented a motor bike and have taken my chances just because i wanted the freedom of being able to go around when and where i like. I do feel way more comfortable riding a motorbike in Lombok next door or Sumbawa. almost 3 years agoAnswered by Roger via WorldNomads.com