a building on a lake with mountains in the background

Bali is a part of Indonesia which moves to its own rhythm. As a primary tourism zone and economic driver, life on the laid back island hits a bit differently than many other Indonesian cities or islands.

And sometimes rules or restrictions that apply elsewhere don’t apply here in practice, such as the highly controversial, and frankly appalling law that puts people including all tourists in legal jeopardy for having sex outside of marriage.

This time around, it’s Bali with a proposed law specifically for the island, as the ever fascinating governor, Wayan Koster seeks to ban scooters, which have always been one of the most popular modes of transport on the island among tourists.

Rice fields of the island of Bali at sunrise, Indonesia

Bali’s War On Scooters

If you want to divide an audience, talk about scooters in travel. In this instance, we’re not talking about Lime or any of the ones crowding city blocks in metropolitan capitals, but rather more the “moped” style that’s common in Asia.

Tourists in Bali have historically rented scooters as a primary means of transportation and a not-so-cottage industry of locals renting scooters to tourists has been a powerful avenue of income on the island.

Apparently, Governor Koster isn’t a huge fan of people moving freely and enterprising Balinese people setting up shop.

Koster wants to ban all foreigners from renting any form of road transportation on the island and require all visitors to be driven in official vehicles wherever they go. There’s absolutely no chance he’s just been handed a stake in a taxi firm, no chance at all.

The Bali Sun reports the news as part of a series of controversial proposals which could re-shape the tourism experience on the island. This has historically been a place of discovery, with welcoming roads to explore the many less touristy and commercial zones of the island.

“Those tourists have to travel, walk, and use cars to travel. It is no longer allowed to use a motorcycle or anything that is not from a travel agent.”

Wayan Koster, Governor of Bali

Prohibiting visitors from traveling on their own and requiring them to take official transport would make Bali feel more like Disney World than a stunning remote island. It would also likely take away economic opportunity not only from locals who rent out scooters to visitors in towns like Ubud, but from communities more removed from the big box hotels, which would likely see a decline in visitors.

So What’s Next For Bali Visits?

As of right now, these are proposals. Despite this, language issued by Governor Koster indicates that there’s some immediacy to the effect.

Locals and visitors alike are already seeking clarification on ways to operate without falling outside of the law. Like many “brilliant” ideas by governments globally, the real world implications are rarely thought out in practical terms in advance.

According to the Bali Sun, visitors are already restricted in how they can obtain a rental and locals run a great risk by not following protocols.

Moving forward, until any further ban on tourist driving is written into legislation, tourists can only hire a motorcycle from a business that is registered with the relevant trade agencies or the transportation renting association in Bali. Tourists cannot simply rent a motorcycle from a guesthouse owner, local friend, or rental owner who is not a formally registered motorcycle rental company. 

The Bali Sun

If you’re thinking about going to Bali, you’ll now need to think about how you’ll get around. It certainly won’t be like it was before, unless this proposal and law is repealed entirely.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I go to Bali every year. The govenor is a moron. A few tourists misbehaved with their scooters and so his solution to prevent that is by banning all tourists from using scooters. His intent is to protect the Balinese people, instead he is hurting all of the Balinese people. There will always be tourists who misbehave. What is he going to do next, ban all tourists?

  2. Good article Gil. Having just come back from Bali, and having spoken to about half a dozen friends (locals) who operate moped rentals there, they’re fully intending to just ignore any legislation.

    Same for the silly “no climbing volcanoes and mountains”, and “only selected properties can be rented” laws.

    Unfortunately the local police are easy to bribe, and too lazy to do anything of use anyway.

    Bali needs a proper multilingual tourist police force, with the power to fine, arrest and deport. Before they do that though, they need to apply the laws equally to everyone, so no locals without helmets, driving on pavements, carrying children and babies pillion, and basically putting anything that’ll fit on two wheels.

  3. Traffic is already destroying Bali atmosphere… They just need the coup de grace by this governor 🤡

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