For us there is only really one way we like to travel around in Bali. In this post, we will go through each of the options on how to travel in Bali and give you our personal favourite. Getting to grips with how you will get around the island is the first step in being able to actually enjoy your trip to Bali.
The topic of transportation in Bali is worth discussing mainly because it is not as straight forward as many developed countries. Bali has amazing things to do and sights to see scattered all over the island, and getting around the island was something we struggled with until developing our preferred method.
Here is a list of options:
- Hire a private driver and negotiating a price – our favourite ***
- Rent a motorbike
- Rent a car
- Uber / Gojek / Grab
- Public transport
Hire a private driver and negotiate a price
A private driver is a driver with a car who you will agree a pick up and drop off time and location, plan a route and negotiate a price. When we get asked regarding how to travel in Bali – this is top recommendation.
Here’s how to travel in Bali by hiring a private driver and negotiating a price:
- Find a tourism activities stall. They are on every corner selling tickets to various attractions and excursions, Eg. zoo / island tours / rafting etc.
- These stalls are all centrally coordinated by large companies and receive a commission for the tickets they sell. They all work with a network of drivers that are paid by the companies to pick people up from their hotels, drive them to activities and return them to the hotel at the end of the day.
- Explain to the stall that you are not interested in any of the tickets or packages they are selling but simply want to organise a driver to take you on a bespoke tour of your choice.
- They will usually be able to organise a driver informally and arrange a price, taking a commission.
- To fully benefit from a private driver you must develop a contact list of people throughout your stay in Bali and negotiate a price directly with them by phone/whatsapp, bypassing any middle man.
The going rate without any middle men for a 9-5 day should be as low as 400-500k IDR. Start low and agree at this figure.
Of all the hundreds of travel guides on Bali, for some reason this idea is one of the least well explained and discussed. Once we got used to arranging drivers for our daily excursions, we never used any other method of transportation.
It is probably cheaper to hire a driver for the whole day than to do a return journey in a taxi. This doesn’t really make sense, but the Bali veterans know this to be true. If you plan on visiting a couple of places in a day, then the price difference becomes staggering.
Another incredibly important issue is that when you hire a private driver, you are in fact hiring a private tour guide. Drivers know the best spots you have never heard of, the best time to go and will have umbrellas ready in the car when it starts raining unexpectedly. They will take your photos for you. They will recommend where to eat. They will become a friend and source of all kinds of interesting facts about Bali and Balinese life.
Rent a motorbike
Contentious topic. There are those that feel that a motorbike is the best and only way to experience the island with true freedom.
- It is extremely cheap <100k IDR per day
- It is very easy to find and rent from a scooter rental business
- You require an international license
- It is very dangerous
- A serious accident will require airlifting to a trauma centre in Singapore or Australia
The latter 2 reasons are why we don’t advise renting motorbikes in Bali.
Of course if you are planning to stay in Bali for longer than a month, you will probably need to do consider going ahead with this.
But the point of safety is indeed important. There are no traffic rules and people drive with very little care for bikes/scooters, and the roads themselves are dangerous even for local people who know the island well. If you must rent a scooter, you must invest in good travel insurance. Foreign medical fees and getting back home if the worst happens could be devastating and not worth the risk.
Rent a car
The same traffic and road issues are directly still a problem when you rent a car. Without the advantage in price, and feeling the wind in your hair as you casually enjoy the tropical weather.
If you must rent something, it should probably be a motorbike. To be very honest we cannot see any advantage in this over the prior 2 options.
Hire a taxi
If you need to make a short visit, then you will eventually need a taxi sooner or later. Taxi’s in Bali overcharge like any other business and can be unreliable.
Download the app for Bali taxis, otherwise known as Bluebird taxis. They are the best of a bad bunch. We would advise to avoid any other taxi firm. Or, for anything longer than a half hour journey, speak to your private driver friends who will always offer a better price. Check out the website for more information on Bluebird taxi.
Uber, Gojek, Grab
There is a well documented problem with these low-cost taxi organisations not being allowed to operate freely in Bali due to pressure from local groups. Some might call it the ‘transport mafia’.
Cheaper but in our experience the availability and speed to reach you is never as good as Bluebird/Bali taxi. Please let us know if something has changed and they have developed a reliable and cheap coverage of the island!
A very lacking concept in Bali. In general, we don’t recommend this as the money saved is not worth the time wasted.
The local bus service is slow, unreliable and not worthwhile. Perhaps try once to understand local life from a sociological perspective, but not for actual transportation. There is the Kura-Kura Bus company who offer a more reliable service. But again it is slow, so unless you are staying on the island long term it is not worthwhile.
For those interested, here is the official route map. The tickets can be bought on the website.