If you have traveled to popular budget-travel destinations in SE Asia such as Thailand, you may have taken advantage of the extensive public transportation systems that connect travelers across cities, for a mere few bucks! Bali, unfortunately, is not as developed in this area and public (and budget) modes of transport are not as convenient. But worry not. In this beginner’s guide to Bali transport, I will list various options you can utilize to help you get around on a budget.
Before You Leave
First, make sure you download the apps below before heading to Bali. The sections that follow will explain how to use them more in detail, but these apps may become useful in arranging your transport during your vacation in Bali:
Arriving in Bali
You will require your first Bali transport when you walk through the arrival gate of the Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS).
If you want the easiest, stress-free method of transferring to your hotel, you can either use the airport taxi service or ask your hotel for a private-pickup. However, a flat-rate-airport-taxi can cost up to 4 times the usual fare for a comparable distance; and your hotel will likely charge you more than arranging your own transport.
To give you an idea of fare inflation for an airport transfer, look at the price comparison below:
|Grab Taxi||Blue Bird Taxi |
(with no traffic)
|Airport Taxi||Hotel Pick-up|
|To Sanur||~Rp 80,000||~Rp 110,000||~Rp 200,000||~Rp 300,000|
|To Canggu||~Rp 120,000||~Rp 180,000||~Rp 250,000||~Rp 400,000|
|To Ubud||~Rp 180,000||~Rp 270,000||~Rp 350,000||~Rp 450,000|
But relative to what you may spend on a taxi ride back home, these rates are still likely to be reasonable. If you find that these rates are affordable for your budget, then, by all means, take advantage of the hassle-free choice.
On the other hand, if you want to save 50-70% of the transportation cost to your hotel, and are willing to be a little adventurous, then read my tips posted on the Beginner’s Guide to Bali Airport Transfer.
Otherwise, you can hire your own private driver to pick-you up at the airport at a discounted price.
Getting Around During Your Stay
Rent a Motorbike
Depending on your itinerary, what region of the island you are staying, your budget, and your experience, renting a motorbike can be the most efficient and affordable way of sightseeing the island. The rental can run about Rp50,000-70,000/day, and a full tank of gas is about Rp20,000.
An international license is legally required to ride a motorbike, but no renter will enforce this. However, if you get stopped by police and get caught without a license you will be fined.
Parts of Bali is densely populated and can be congested with traffic (Denpasar, Canggu, Ubud). In some of the more remote areas to the north and east, the roads are very narrow and curvy and wind through the mountains. With a rise in motorbike accidents every year, I would recommend that only experienced and confident motorbike drivers attempt this option. If you are not experienced, read on for more (and safer) transport options 🙂
Kura Kura is Bali’s best version of a public shuttle bus. As of 2018, you can travel between most popular Bali destinations using the shuttle bus (Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua). With fares starting from only Rp20,000 one-way (up to Rp80,000 depending on the Line), Kura Kura is the most budget-friendly method of moving across towns.
The shuttle bus is modern, clean, and air-conditioned, offering free Wi-Fi as well as electronic charging sockets. If you are transferring across towns during your visit, you may consider purchasing their 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day passes.
The shuttle bus departs every 20 minutes, 45 minutes, 90 minutes, or 2 hours depending on the line. Confirm your line’s departure schedule on their website.
Most commonly used for their motorbike services, this app will allow you to easily book a driver (for a bike or car) to take you from point A to point B.
Motorbike drivers are your most affordable option for local transport. For example, a 20-min ride will cost about Rp20,000 (less than $2). There are generally more motorbike drivers than car drivers, so your wait time is also minimal. I have never had to wait more than just a few minutes.
Navigating around town on a motorbike is also time efficient, as you can weave through traffic and get to your destination much quicker than a car. While hiring a motorbike driver has its benefits, I wouldn’t recommend it for rides that may last longer than 20-minutes as it can get uncomfortable sitting at the back end of a scooter, not to mention getting sunburnt!
If you are planning to travel across town, I would recommend Kura Kura or a Go-Car service so that you can relax in air conditioning (which you will appreciate in the tropical climate!).
To hire a driver:
- On the main menu, click on “Go-Ride” to hire a motorbike driver, and “Go-Car” for a car driver
- Enter the destination info in: “where would you like to go?”
- Enter your pick up location
- The page will display the route and the cost of the ride. If you agree, click on “order Go-Ride” or “order Go-Car.”
That’s it! Easy, peasy! Now just wait for your driver to arrive.
To order a food delivery:
Another great service Go-Jek provides is a food delivery service. If you are ever too exhausted to go out for a meal, you can order food for delivery straight from the app!
- From the main menu, click on “Go Food”
- On the next page where it displays, “what would you like to eat?” scroll down and select your cuisine of preference
- Select the restaurant you want to order from, and you will see their menu.
- Click on the green “add” button to place items in the cart. You will see an “estimated price” show up at the bottom of the screen for the total cost of your order.
- When finished with your selection, click on the “cart” at the bottom of your screen.
- Confirm your order, delivery address, a method of payment, then click “order”!
Now sit back, relax, and wait for your meal to arrive 😀
Note: Unfortunately, you cannot use a credit card to pay for Go-Jek services.
As a foreigner who does not have an Indonesian bank account, you can either pay with cash or “Go-Pay” which requires you to fill your Go-Jek account with credit. You can walk into any Alfamart or Indomaret (a chain of local convenience stores) to top up your Go-Jek credit.
Grab is identical to Go-Jek in terms of the services they offer. Grab offers motorbike/car service as well as food delivery for about the same cost as Go-Jek. To get to the airport from my home, it’s about a 30-minute ride and my GrabCar fare is about Rp60,000 (same as Go-Car). A metered taxi, on the other hand, would cost about Rp100,000-130,000 depending on traffic.
If you have access to Go-Jek or Grab, these services are cheaper than a metered taxi.
The Grab app menu has a slightly different layout than Go-Jek.
When you open the Grab app, you will have 3 main options:
- Transport (if you want to hire a motorbike or car service)
- Food (if you want to order delivery)
- Delivery (if you want something delivered from you to point X)
To hire a driver:
- Click on Transport, on the main menu and enter “where are you going?”
- The app is defaulted to look for a Grab Car driver. If you want to look for a motorbike driver, click on the white box with Grab Car at the bottom of the screen, and click on the Grab Bike icon. The app will then search for the nearest Grab Bike driver.
- Just like Go-Jek, if you agree to the price indicated on the screen, click on the green “Book” button and voila!
So why have two apps?
Well, I have found that depending on where you are, Go-Jek drivers are more accessible than Grab drivers, or vice versa. So I have both apps just in case.
The costs between the two apps are nearly the same, in my experience.
But here are the main differences:
⇒ Go-Jek offers better food delivery options. There are a lot more menus to choose from on Go-Jek.
⇒ Grab allows you to enter your credit card for payment, just in case you are short on cash. If you are a traveler who relies on your plastic cards for a payment transaction, Grab can be a more convenient option than Go-Jek.
Note: In some parts of Bali, Go-Jek and Grab drivers are banned. The drivers can drop off guests but are not allowed to pick up new passengers. For this reason, Go-Jek and Grab drivers are rarely available in these areas:
- North coast (Pemuteran, Lovina)
- East coast (Tulamben, Amed)
If you are in South or Central Bali (Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Denpasar) or some parts of the West coast (Kuta, Legian & Seminyak) Go-Jek or Grab are readily accessible.
Blue Bird Taxi
A metered taxi is perhaps the most convenient option in some of the more populated areas of Bali, as you can simply hail one on the street without waiting for a Go-Jek or Grab driver. But you generally pay for this convenience, as metered taxis run higher than Go-Jek or Grab services.
If you end up hailing a taxi, be careful of the “blue” taxis that look identical to each other.
They may be blue, but they are not all BLUE BIRD.
Why use Blue Bird ONLY?
- Other “blue” taxi drivers sometimes try to rip off visitors by refusing to turn on the meter. Instead, they demand a flat rate to your destination at an inflated price
- Some taxis adjust/manipulate their meter so that it runs more expensive then it should
- In some taxis, the driver is not the person identified as the licensed taxi driver on the dashboard
Bottom line: Non-Blue Bird taxis are known for scams and shady operation. Stick with Blue Bird for a hassle-free and fraud-free experience.
If ever during your adventure, you end up in a location where Go-Jek or Grab drivers are scarce or unavailable, you can order a Blue Bird taxi using their app or calling their hotline.
FYI, if you book a Blue Bird taxi using their app or phone line, you will be charged a minimum fare of Rp30,000 even if your meter runs less than that amount.
A Private Driver
All the transportation options discussed so far are useful for getting you from one location to another.
At some point during your stay though, you will likely want to hire a driver for the day to take you temple-hopping or on a shopping spree for local arts, jewelry, and souvenirs around the island.
Considering you get a driver for a full day for just over $30, it’s actually not a bad deal. If you happen to find a fellow-traveler to split the cost of the driver hire, even better!
If you are hiring a driver, make sure you have an itinerary to inform the driver. Otherwise, you can book a package tour that highlights some of the best spots in Bali.