Public transportation is non-existent in Bali. Locals and expats alike get around nearly exclusively on scooters. They are by far the best way to get around, as mentioned in my previous post. However, if (like us) scootering is not an option – bad balance, can’t drive, just full on fear – I hope this post will offer guidance for a stress free holiday.
Consider Where You’re Staying.
Bali can essentially be broken down into 11 regions for visitors. Below I have listed them out and gauged how easy they are to get around… asterisk, from our experience.
- Ulu Watu Beaches are far apart and cabs not easily picked up.
- Nusa Dua Walkable stretches along the beach, otherwise not recommended. Cabs should be easy to find as it is a heavily touristed area.
- Jimbaran Area is walkable.
- Kuta & Legian This is a heavily touristed area, easily walkable and flush with cabs.
- Seminyak Walkable along the main drag and beach, catching a cab here is easy.
- Kerobokan & Canggu Very spread out, cabs not easily found on the street.
- Denpasar The capital, a bit sprawled out, but plenty of cabs.
- Ubud Walking around Ubud is part of the experience – cabs are available, but there is really no need.
- Sanur Very pedestrian friendly with plenty of cabs available.
- East Bali Main sights are walkable, but need own transport to get to region and between areas.
- North Bali Less touristed area, will need to arrange transportation to/from.
Hire a Car + Driver.
It is common practice in Bali to hire a driver along with a car. Road rules in Bali are difficult to understand as an outsider, and the cost is so reasonable there is really no benefit in renting a car on its own. For as little as $40 you get car and driver for 10 hours to take you wherever you want to go.
Not something you would want to do everyday, but great for when moving between regions and wanting to see some out the way sights along the way.
These blue sedans are the most regulated transport service on the island. They will typically always use the meter and are easy to spot. You can also download My Blue Bird Taxi app where you can book a cab, estimate the fare and pay for the trip without cash.
GoJek is a seriously amazing app. I don’t know why they don’t have something like this available in the US (maybe they do and I just don’t know about it). Through GoJek you can order a car, just like Uber. You can also order a scooter. This only works if you are solo, as it is a ride on the back of someone else’s scooter, but it is definitely an efficient way to get around. GoJek also has the ability to order a Bluebird cab, although we never had luck with that section of the app. Finally, GoJek basically delivers anything you need.
We used it to deliver our dinner in Canggu one night. The driver places the order and pays for it, then delivers it to you in exchange for the cost of food plus a fee (and tip). Basically UberEats, but all in the same app. You’ll pick out all the locals working for GoJek by their bright green shirts.
Grab is another transport app, very much like GoJek. But whereas GoJek is solely in Indonesia (basically just Bali and Jakarta upon writing), Grab is throughout Southeast Asia. Perhaps because it operates on a broader scale, we had less luck with it, in general. We mainly operated it as a backup option if we were having trouble with GoJek.
Grab similarly has car, cab and scooter options.
Oh, Uber. We use Uber frequently in our travels and rarely run into issues. However, in Bali, it was nothing but trouble. I previously mentioned this, but will re-iterate here so anyone reading can be forewarned.
On 3 separate occasions we attempted to book an Uber. Everything would go as it should until a few seconds after agreeing to a driver. The driver would message us trying to renegotiate the price. That is not how Uber is supposed to work, to our knowledge. J would simply respond, saying that we would pay the agreed upon fare listed in the booking. With this response, the drivers would refuse to come pick us up (unless we agreed to their new price). They also refused to cancel the job, forcing us to cancel and incurring a penalty for us. (Luckily we were refunded the penalty when we brought the incidents to the attention of Uber Corporate).
The first time it happened, we thought it must be a one off, but the exact same scenario happened two more times! With different drivers! This was while we were staying in Canggu, which may have been a factor. Just be forewarned that Uber may not be the best choice when in Bali.
We saw the occasionally leisurely cyclist, and if you are wanting to stay in more local areas, like parts of Canggu, this would be a great option. Bali Bike Hire rents cruisers for just $5.00 a day or $26.00 for a week.
Keeping the above information in mind, plan accordingly. If visiting for a short amount of time, say a week, I would suggest staying in an easily walkable area, like Seminyak or Ubud. Then picking a day or two to hire a car & driver to take you to more far-flung attractions, i.e. temples, rice terraces.
If staying for a longer stretch, picking a couple of areas like this to bounce between would be more enjoyable, and likewise, hiring a car & driver to take you to some sights before dropping you off at your next destination.
Oh, and definitely arrange an airport pick-up from your accommodation. While we didn’t have trouble getting a ride and negotiating a good price, being bombarded by hawkers immediately when entering a country is just one of those things that is nice to avoid.
Anyone else traveled Bali without a renting a scooter? What was your experience like? Tell me in the comments!