The first thing my parents told me when I was going to Bali, “Don’t you dare rent a motorbike.” And when I first stepped off the plane and into the scooter-saturated streets of Southern Bali, I thought I would definitely abide by their rule.
But, the lure of adventure to secluded beaches, temples, lush rice paddies, and local villages was more than enough to erase any fears of possible danger. Motor biking in Bali doesn’t only open your door to discovery; it kicks it down and runs it over. You will leave with a deeper appreciation of Bali and all it encompasses.
I will be honest in saying it isn’t for everyone, but if you want a real adventure, here are the ten reasons why you NEED to rent a motorbike in Bali:
This is the only way to really go where you want to go. It’s the only way to have the ability to stop and gaze at the most aesthetically pleasing views in the world, interact with locals, feed roadside monkeys, and stumble upon untouched wonder.
Driving through the roads of Ubud, whizzing by scooters inches away from you, grazing passing trees, and winding up steep hills grants you the longest, most intense adrenaline rush you will ever experience.
No explanation needed.
One of the best reasons to rent is the cost. The transportation in Bali is pretty wild, and pretty limited to hiring a driver, ‘taksi,’ or renting a scooter. Driver prices are reasonable compared to most Western countries ($50/day dependent on location, time, and your negotiation skills). But, for most backpacker’s abroad, you can’t beat the price and the freedom it allows.
It sounds so cliché, but there’s just something about the smell of a place. And the smells in Bali are forever changing. From the freshness of the flowers, to the coolness that surrounds you when you ride under a vine-covered bridge, or the pungent smells of the local chicken trucks, the transient aromas will be engraved in your memory.
To be riding so close to the locals, to be able to wave, smile and interact with them is reason enough to motorbike. This is Wayan Bonjovi, one of the locals I met along my journey to the hilltop temple of Pura Lempuyang. Smiles like his are contagious, and you will find many locals like Wayan along the way.
There are scary moments. There are times when you feel like curling up on the side of the road with your bike. Moments when policemen accuse you of breaking unwritten laws, and the realities of being in a third world country shake you to the ground. And then there is a big probability that you will get blindingly lost. But you will get through it, and that alone is empowering.
When you’re out in the elements, you are more likely to stop and check out your surroundings. If you hear the music of a local band, you stop. If you see something remarkable- like 70 year old women balancing piles of basketball sized stones on their heads, you stop. You start to understand the people a little more, are able to listen to their stories, and simultaneously create one of your own.
It is rare to see foreign scooter drivers on most of the roads here. It is even more rare to see female, foreign scooter drivers. We drove through every natural element thrown at us including pouring rain, falling leaves, monkeys, pure darkness, stray dogs, and bumper to balinese bumper traffic. No boys necessary.
Bali is better known as the island of a thousand temples, with approximately 200,000 (or more) on an island inhabited by roughly 3 million people. The temple is the lifeline, the heartbeat pulsating within the Balinese culture. And hopping on a motorbike is the best way to see the temples scattered along this beautiful landscape.
The excitement of travel lies in the unknown, the wrong turns, and the winding roads leading to barren temples containing such rich history you can’t even begin to understand the richness beneath your feet. Motor biking in Bali will leave you breathless and bewildered. It will also leave you with a burning desire to travel on the edge of your seat more often.