You’ve landed in Bali and the beach is calling your name… but how do you get there from your villa? Check out our thorough guide to transport in Bali – and find out why taking an Uber in Bali is not as simple as it looks.
Bali – and Indonesia by large – is not designed with pedestrians in mind. In fact, a recent Stanford University study found that Indonesians walk the least number of steps a day out of any country in the world. When you’re making your way around Bali on foot, remember to drink lots of water in the midday heat and pay close attention to the traffic. If you’re travelling to Bali with kids, bringing the stroller is not a good idea, as the pavement is routinely dotted with potholes.
The best areas in Bali for getting around on foot include Ubud, Sanur and the Seminyak-Legian-Kuta area. These areas feature actual sidewalks and the distances between accommodation, shops, restaurants and the beach (excluding landlocked Ubud) are not too great. In other areas, distances tend to be bigger and there are no sidewalks or street lights to speak of.
When planning your daily route in Bali, it’s good to note that routes often appear very different on map than they are in real life. What looks like a short stroll on a map might actually involve crossing a major highway with no traffic lights and/or strolling along heavy traffic roads or small alleys with no street lights.
As soon as you land on the island, you’ll notice that driving a motorbike is the most popular form of transport in Bali. The term “motorbike” is used loosely here, as it can refer to anything from a Honda scooter to a Harley Davidson. Many tourists choose to do as the locals and rent a motorbike, usually an automatic 125cc Japanese number. The daily rate is usually around IDR 50,000 (USD $4).
Renting a motorbike is an easy way to get around Bali, but it’s very important to consider the risks before you hop on a bike. If you’ve never driven a motorbike before, the hectic traffic of South Bali is not the best place to start.
If you do decide to drive, always wear a helmet, never drink and drive and always store your bag in the under-the-seat compartment – bag snatching does happen in Bali and the results can be ugly, especially in mid traffic. For the same reason, you should be very careful with your phone if you’re using a navigation app while sitting on the bike’s back seat. Many phones have been stolen from unassuming map readers.
+ International Driver’s Licence – Yes, you do need one to drive a motorbike in Bali. While you don’t technically need a license to rent a motorbike (i.e. the renter might not ask to see one before handing the bike over), you do need a valid licence to legally drive a motorbike in Bali. If you don’t have the correct driver’s license and you’re stopped by the police, the official fine is around USD $200. If you get in an accident while driving without a licence, your travel insurance will usually cover none of your medical expenses.
Taxis are a popular way to get around Bali. Taxis in Bali range from independent touts to branded taxi chains. Blue Bird is the most trusted of the local taxi companies and you can spot their cars by their sky-blue colour, bird logo and the text BLUE BIRD GROUP printed on the wind shield. Always make sure that you see a combination of all three, as many other companies imitate the same blue hue.
When you enter the taxi, (politely) ask the driver to turn on the meter. In Blue Bird taxis, this should never be a problem. In dodgier options, the meter might be “broken” or simply non-existent. If there is no meter and you really need the ride, make sure to firmly agree on the price before the car takes off. In Ubud this is basically the only option, as no chain taxis are available in the area.
Blue Bird has also introduced a mobile app which you can use to order taxis in Bali. If you’re staying in a villa or hotel, the staff can also order the taxi for you.
Uber & Other Ride-hailing Apps
Uber and other ride-hailing apps have made logistics easier for travellers around the globe. But like in most other countries, the introduction of these new services in Bali and Indonesia hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. Yes, Uber is available in Bali, but no, using it is not exactly straight forward.
The appeal of using Uber or its Asian competitor Grab in Bali is the fact that they are significantly cheaper than hailing a regular taxi or hiring a driver. What’s more, prices are displayed when you order the ride, so there’s no need to haggle. That being said, in many areas in Bali, including Seminyak, the local village communities (banjars) have banned Uber and Grab from picking up passengers all together. There are large posters explaining the ban throughout Seminyak and Canggu, but unfortunately for visitors, most of the posters are in Bahasa Indonesia.
Indonesian law still permits Uber and similar services, but local regulations are constantly in flux and new regulations have painted the apps into a tighter corner. The opposition to ride-hailing transport in Bali comes from local taxi drivers.
Usually you will be able to order an Uber in Bali, but at times you might need to pretend you’re being picked up by a friend or your personal hired driver. In certain areas, Uber and Grab drivers will simply ignore your requests for a ride as they know they’re not welcome in the area. Uber and Grab cars won’t often be able to pick you up from your hotel, as they’re not allowed through the hotel’s gate. Like I said – not exactly smooth sailing.
Motorbike Taxi: Go-Jek
Simply put, Go-Jek is the Uber of motorbikes, although Go-Jek has been allowed to operate more freely in Bali. You can spot Go-Jek drivers by their bright green helmets and jackets. Grab also offers a similar motorbike taxi service.
Just like with Uber, you can order a ride through the Go-Jek app and see the price of the journey before departure. This means no haggling is necessary. The app also makes it easier to locate your ride, as the street addresses in Bali are often far from accurate. In addition to the taxi service, Go-Jek also offers food delivery, moving services and more.
Though Go-Jek is a very popular and convenient form of transport in Bali, it’s good to remember that you’re basically getting a ride from a stranger. Just like anywhere else in the world, remember to apply common sense when using ride-hailing apps in Bali.
Private Car & Driver
Probably the safest and most hassle-free way to navigate transport in Bali is to hire a car and driver. You can easily arrange a chauffeur to take you around the island for a full day, which is a terrific idea – there’s so much more to Bali than Kuta and Seminyak! When booking a villa with Ministry of Villas, the daily rate for a car and driver is USD $55.
Another option is booking a villa with a car and driver included in the daily rate, excluding the price of petrol (which is very cheap in Bali). In most villas, this means that a car and driver are on standby for guests’ complimentary use for up to eight hours a day. In areas like the increasingly popular Canggu, where walking around is inconvenient and Uber is not available, this is ideal – check out our favourite villas in Canggu with a chauffeur included in the daily rate.