Motorbikes and backpacking is what holidays are all about. There’s nothing quite like the experience of heading off into the rural backlanes of Bali on a rented scooter to explore the countryside. The view of the endless rice paddies and the warm tropical sun on your skin is enough to put a smile on anybodies face. So if you’re around Ubud and looking for things to do on the back of a bike, here is a list of some of the best sites around the city. First things first, you will need to rent a moped.
Renting a Bike
Rental shops for scooters can be found almost anywhere in Bali. The quality of the bikes range from beaten up old mopeds to brand new automatics, so it pays to shop around and not take the first bike you’re offered.
Motorbikes can be rented for as little as Rp40,000 per day for manuals and Rp50,000 for automatics. In the big cities, where there is a lot of competition, it’s easier to get a good price. Be ready to haggle over prices. Also, make sure you get a good helmet – the last time I rented a bike in Bali I was offered a helmet with a hole in – as riding motorbikes though fun is dangerous.
Riding motorbikes on the roads of Bali is dangerous and every month people are left hospitalised after bad accidents. Hospital costs quickly mount up, so if you don’t have insurance you will be in need of a serious loan (make sure you check the fine print as many insurance companies won’t cover bike crashes).
Tourists are a gold mine for Indonesian police officers who are looking for easy money. If you don’t have a proper licence, expect to be stopped by traffic police. You will be threatened with a large fine and almost certainly have to pay a bribe – here’s a guide for dealing with bribing police. If you are put in this situation and you choose to try to bribe an officer, pay no more than Rp100,000.
Rules of the Road
It might look like chaos on the roads, but there is a system behind the madness. Feel free to weave in and out of cars, undertake and overtake to your hearts content, but always turn slowly and don’t make any sudden moves.
Day Trips from Ubud
Now I’ve covered the basics about renting a motorbike in Bali, it’s time to show you some of the best places to visit around Ubud. This is just a small sample of the kinds of attractions on offer within a short distance of the coty.
The area surrounding Ubud is famous for the picturesque stepped padi fields. One of the most photographed spots is Tegalalang. Given its fame, the area surrounding the padi fields has become extremely developed and there are lots of over priced cafes catering for the tourists. My advice, take a few photos and head somewhere else for food.
Mount Batur is a three hour drive from Ubud, which makes it a bit of a trek for a day trip. However, it is worth it for the views once you are there. There’s a beautiful lake set against a backdrop of mountains and volcanos. If you have the energy you can attempt to climb Mount Batur, though most people do this at 3am in the morning, so they can catch the sunrise from the top.
Goa Gajah is a Hindu cave system and temple complex that dates back to the 11th century. The highlight of the site is the ancient natural spring bathing pools and the decorated cave entrance. Located just ten minutes away from Ubud, the site is a popular tourist resort and is surrounded by lush rice paddy fields. Entrance cost is Rp15,000 per person.
Gunung Kawi is another Hindu temple complex dating back to the 11th century. At the centre of the complex are ten shrines that have been cut into the cliff face. The drive to the site is relaxing and you will pass lots of pretty paddy fields along the way. The entrance ticket is Rp 15,000 per person and you need a sarong to enter.
Indonesia is famed for its great coffee and nothing is more highly rated – or expensive for that matter – than Kopi Luwak. For anyone who has never heard of it before, Kopi Luwak is coffee that has been eaten, digested and excreted by a small weasal like creature. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, then head to Bali Pulina (oh, they also offer teas and other kinds of non-pooped coffee).