How to Get Around Bali, Indonesia


Bali transportation

It can be challenging to travel around in a new country. This sentiment is especially true in a city like Bali, Indonesia. While the island may seem small on a map, the true size of Bali is quite large. If you want to get from point A to point B, you need to know the most common methods of travel.

How to get around Bail, Indonesia

  • Taxi
  • Grab
  • Go-Jek
  • Motorcycle Taxis
  • Private Drivers
  • Scooters
  • Fast boats
  • Ferries

Bali is not a great city for those traveling by foot. The sidewalks are truly crumbling in most areas (if they exist at all) and the roads are chaotic. However, there are great alternatives to travel around Bali, Indonesia. We recommend taxis, Grab, Go-Jek, motorcycle taxis, private drivers, scooters, fast boats, and ferries.

The question for most travelers becomes, “what’s the best method of transportation for me”? If you have never driven a scooter or motorcycle in your hometown, you would have to be a sociopath to try it in Bali, Indonesia. It’s dangerous, but we’ll explain the rules of the road so you can stay safe.

Taxis

I am not exaggerating when I state that a taxi mafia exists in Bali. It is common for people to use rideshare programs but if you do so in the wrong area, your driver can be in physical harm. There are countless videos on Facebook showing a group of taxi drivers assaulting Grab drivers. In a later paragraph, we’ll explain how to avoid this sort of situation while still securing a cheap ride.

Taxis can be found around every corner in Bali. There are wooden booths set up every few blocks where multiple taxi drivers relax. Simply approach their sitting area and explain where you wish to visit. They will normally overprice you so don’t be afraid to haggle with your taxi driver.

As you walk through the city center of Kuta, Ubud, and Canggu at nighttime, you’ll encounter countless men who hold signs that read “Taxi Driver”. Any of these men are happy to help you reach your destination. 

They frequently shout the words ‘taxi’ at every single passerby. Their behavior is actually quite comical. If you are holding motorbike keys in your hand, they will still ask if you want a taxi. One of the men has even asked if I wanted a taxi as I drove by on my motorcycle. 

You will see signs all across Bali that read “Respect Bali – Use a taxi driver – Say no to Grab and Go-Jek”. For many years, these rideshare programs didn’t exist. Driving became one of the most common sources of income for the villagers of a popular tourist town. Many locals made substantial investments in the form of new cars – they don’t seem keen to let those investments die without a fight.

Grab

Grab is the Uber of Indonesia. Quite literally, Uber sold its Indonesian operations to Grab just last year. Grab is significantly cheaper when compared to the random pricing of Balinese taxis. While there are many similarities between ride-sharing companies like Uber and Grab, there are a few key differences to note.

You pay cash with Grab at the end of your ride. You can add a credit/debit card to your profile but the standard option is to pay your driver with Rupiah. You also have the luxury of choosing between a car or a motorbike. The latter choice is not for everyone, though is certainly an adrenaline-pumping experience.

Go-Jek

Go-Jek is even cheaper than Grab. In Indonesia and Bali, Go-Jek is more popular than Grab. I highly recommend Go-Jek because it also offers additional services. Their food delivery platform is incredible (make sure you tip the driver). Instead of worrying about travel to the nearest Babi Guling restaurant in Bali, you can have Go-Jek handle all the travel for you!

I personally prefer Go-Jek for long distances. If I am traveling from Ubud to Lovina or traveling from Uluwatu to Canggu, I will only use Go-Jek as it often saves me $20 each way. 

There is a common scam that one should be keen to avoid. In an attempt to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of these applications, many taxi drivers will create Grab and Go-Jek accounts. When the user hails a ride, these taxi drivers will accept the booking. From there, they won’t move. They will make users wait 10 or 15 minutes before they realize they won’t get picked up.

This obviously reflects poorly on Grab/Go-Jek drivers. However, it can be avoided. Simply hail your ride far away from the most popular tourist destinations. Don’t call for a Grab while you’re at the beach. Walk a football field North and then try to get a ride. Your chances of success will increase drastically.

Motorcycle Taxis

If you want to keep your travel as cheap as possible, we highly recommend this option. You can save a lot of money by opting to use a motorcycle taxi. If you do choose this route, ensure that your driver can offer you a helmet. 

Once you’ve agreed on a price, they will go as fast as they possibly can. This allows them to move onto the next customer and earn more money. If you want them to slow down, simply tell them to do so.

Private Drivers

If you can afford to do so, rent a private driver. These drivers have a strong knowledge of the area and can introduce you to places that you’d normally never get a chance to visit. The cost to rent a driver isn’t astronomical, either. 

Your villa or hotel can help you arrange these drivers. If you visit any of the Bali Traveler Facebook groups, you can easily find a private driver there, as well. Many of these individuals speak English at an impressive level. 

Scooters

Scooter rentals are extremely affordable. If you rent for longer periods of time, you can save money in the long run. Above everything else, please wear a helmet. Tourists get seriously injured quite frequently. Driving in Bali is a tad bit crazy (think Mad Max) so be safe and honk your scooter’s horn a lot.

Your accommodations can help you rent these scooters. We recommend the Novia or the Scoopy models. Another safety tip – keep your belongs close by. Don’t hold your iPhone out otherwise you might have it snatched from your hands by a thief. 

Fast Boats

There are several nearby islands that tourists like to visit. A frequent stop for the Bali traveler includes Nusa Penida or the Gili Islands. These islands are several hours away but a fast boat can help you can reduce the amount of time needed to reach your destination.

These fast boats are more expensive than their slower counterparts, but the saved time is worth the price difference. If you purchase a few Bintang beers before your journey, you can take the drinks to the top deck of the boat and turn the experience into a party. 

Ferries

If the idea of a boat speeding across rocky waters makes you feel nauseous, we recommend the slower option. Ferries will add an extra hour or two to your journey. However, if you’re not in a rush, these slower and larger boats can save you $20/head.

Both are great options. The Gili Islands and Nusa Penida are both worth visiting during your trip to Bali.

Related Question:

How to get around Kuta?

If you want to get around Kuta, we recommend taxis, Grab, Go-Jek, motorcycle taxis, private drivers and scooters. Taxis are the most common way to travel within the popular tourist district of Kuta in Bali. Scooters can be a bit dangerous as Kuta’s roads are very crowded.

How to get around Seminyak?

Go-Jek is the most common way to travel within the popular tourist district of Seminyak in Bali. If you want to get around Seminyak, we recommend taxis, Grab, Go-Jek, motorcycle taxis, private drivers, and scooters.

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