Transports in Bali: How to Get Around?

Alexis
Modified on January 4, 2024

The transports in Bali are a touchy subject that you must know before you go. Here are the best ways to get around in Bali and when to use each.

Car rental with driver: the most convenient way to explore Bali

Renting a car with a driver in Bali is undoubtedly the best way to explore Bali with ease. Not only does the driver allow you to avoid driving yourself and thus prevent numerous accidents, but it also prevents you from getting lost, which is significant.

Renting a car with a driver is quite simple: your hotel, guesthouse, or resort can probably offer you a car rental with a driver for the day. Additionally, if you are a family or a group of friends, you can share the expenses, so the price is not as high as one might think, especially considering that many cars are minibuses that can accommodate up to 9 people.

Advantages of car rental with driver:

  • Very safe mode of transportation
  • Ideal for crossing Bali without getting lost
  • Perfect for exploring the island with the knowledge of a local
  • Easy to find by asking your hotel or guesthouse
  • Cost-effective when renting with others (between 400,000 and 800,000 IDR per day)

Disadvantages of car rental with driver:

  • The driver has to wait for you between your activities, which is not always convenient
  • The driver cannot obviously work 24/7
  • Some drivers also act as guides, while others do not, so you need to inquire first depending on what you need

Taxi (Bluebird): a transport option available in all touristic Bali

 bluebird taxi bali

The Bluebird taxi is one of the most popular means of transport among tourists in Bali.

These are generally the first vehicles you see when you arrive at the airport. They are often the only ones allowed to wait for customers at the airport or certain tourist locations. They are easy to recognise: they are all blue, and the drivers also wear blue batik.

Bluebird taxis are primarily available in Bali's tourist areas: Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Ubud. You can book them directly from your hotel or flag them down from the street when they are empty.

Bluebird taxis are not a particularly cheap transport option in Bali, but they have other advantages, such as being available at any time of the day or night.

Advantages of Bluebird Taxis:

  • Available in all tourist areas
  • Great for returning after an evening out
  • Sometimes the only authorised means of transportation (airport, tourist locations)
  • Easy to book from a hotel
  • A safe way to travel in Bali
  • Drivers all speak some English
  • You can book them in advance (the day before, for example)

Disadvantages of Bluebird Taxis:

  • They can be quite expensive (pickup price + kilometer fee)
  • Drivers are not guides who can show you all of Bali
  • Not well-suited for full day rentals where the driver has to wait for you

Using Gojek and Grab apps: affordable modes of transportation

Gojek and Grab are somewhat the local equivalents of Indonesian Uber but on steroids.

The concept is exactly the same as Uber: you tell them where you are and where you want to go, and a nearby driver comes to pick you up. Some of these drivers do this all day, while others do it to make extra income.

The difference with a service like Uber is that Gojek allows you to be taken by scooter (GoRide) or by car (GoCar). The scooter option is, of course, cheaper than the car option.

Apps like Gojek and Grab are available almost everywhere in Indonesia and at practically any time. They are optimised for the driver to find a new ride as soon as they finish yours, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what you want to do.

Read more on the subject: How to open a Gojek account and top it up as a foreigner?

Advantages of Gojek and Grab:

  • One of the cheapest options for getting around (especially on a scooter with GoRide)
  • The choice between scooter and car can be interesting if you are travelling alone
  • Much safer than renting a scooter yourself. Ideal for understanding how local traffic works without learning it the hard way.
  • Available at any time of day and night throughout Indonesia, all from one app.
  • The price is fixed in advance, no need to negotiate, no risk of being scammed.
  • The experience is more authentic than a taxi, especially if you are on the back of a scooter.

Disadvantages of Gojek (or Grab):

  • You need to install an app to use it
  • Crediting your account with non-Indonesian bank accounts sometimes requires some tricks (the guide on how to do it here)
  • Not all drivers speak English (but the app's chat is translated into English)
  • In rare cases, you may come across drivers who drive recklessly (which is less common with Bluebird)
  • Gojek drivers cannot pick you up everywhere (at least officially...)
  • Being on the back of a scooter remains dangerous and uncomfortable

Renting a scooter in Bali: convenient but dangerous

scooter bali

The scooter is almost a symbol of Bali, and many people want to rent one during their stay.

Yes, the scooter is undoubtedly the most convenient (and one of the cheapest) means of transportation in Bali, but this convenience comes at a cost that is too often overlooked: the hospital bill!

Driving a scooter in Bali is far from as simple as you might think, and even if it's cheap to rent, medical expenses in case of accidents can quickly become astronomical.

Read our guide to driving a scooter in Bali before you start, and never ride a scooter here without being certain that your insurance can cover you in case of an accident.

Advantages of renting a scooter in Bali:

  • Available when you need it
  • Cost-effective (50 - 200K IDR per day)
  • Part of the local experience
  • Convenient in traffic jams
  • Easy to rent throughout the island

Disadvantages of renting a scooter in Bali:

  • You can easily get killed
  • You will often be at fault if you are involved in an accident with a local
  • You probably don't have the right license to drive it (if you have a KITAS, you can get one here.)
  • Local driving is likely very different from yours and takes a long time to grasp
  • It is highly recommended to have very good insurance
  • You will burn in the sun and inhale a lot of pollution
  • You cannot be more than 2 on a scooter
  • You are almost sure to end up in the hospital or the morgue if you drive drunk

Renting a car in Bali: a bad idea regardless of where you are from

Renting a car in Bali without a driver is entirely possible. However, I strongly advise against it.

Not only will you have to drive on the left, but you will also have to drive amid a swarm of scooters doing a lot of things you are not used to. The experience is likely to be a nightmare for your nerves and will not save you much more cash than renting with a driver or a taxi.

The risks are the same as those of scooter rental, except this time you have much less chance of hurting yourself but much more chance of injuring or killing a local on a scooter.

Advantages of renting a car in Bali:

  • You have your own vehicle
  • Relatively cost-effective

Disadvantages of Renting a Car in Bali:

  • You risk killing someone on a scooter
  • The experience will be very stressful
  • You will be stuck in all traffic jams
  • Parking spaces are rare in Bali
  • Driving on the left

If there is one mode of transportation that is strongly discouraged in Bali, it is this one.

For the vast majority of people, car rental is just not worth it in every respect. The only exception is if you are very used to driving on the left in places where scooters are prevalent and you have all the necessary licenses to do so legally.

Renting a bicycle in Bali: possible but not the most practical

Renting a bicycle in Bali is also possible. Bicycle rentals have become more popular in recent years, even if they remain rarer and therefore more difficult to find than their motorised counterparts.

The bicycle has the advantage of being a more familiar mode of transport for many people, which greatly reduces the risk of accidents when compared to scooters.

But nothing is done to make it easy for you to ride a bicycle in Bali, so you will be in the midst of scooters when you move around. The physical effort under the moist heat of a tropical climate is also not to be neglected.

Advantages of renting a bicycle in Bali:

  • Eco-friendly mode of transport
  • A relatively safe mode of transport
  • Pleasant in the countryside
  • Helps define your calves and thighs and give you a bubble butt

Disadvantages of renting a bicycle in Bali:

  • Not so easy to find
  • In urban areas, you will be amidst exhaust pipes and scooters
  • Difficult under 32°C with 90% humidity
  • The risk of accidents is not zero as soon as you go into local traffic
  • You cannot travel long distances on a bicycle
  • Very dangerous at night (Bali is not well-lit)

What about public transportation in Bali?

Public transportation in Bali is, in reality, almost nonexistent at this stage.

The Bemo or Angkot : the most traditional public transport in Bali

The current only form of public transportation in Bali is the Bemo.

bemo bali

It certainly costs almost nothing, but prices are not fixed in advance and are at the discretion of the driver, so more expensive if you are a foreigner. The minibus often travels with doors and windows open, without air conditioning, so you are at the mercy of the elements, almost like on a scooter.

The problem with the Bemo is that it is so local that you will have a hard time finding one in the first place. The second problem is that you will need to hold on to figure out where it is going, especially if you are not familiar with Bahasa Indonesia.

However, this can be a true immersion in local culture during the journey, and it's not the worst option for traveling from city to city. However, you know when you get on, but it's hard to know when you'll get off, so it's an experience to try only if you have time on your hands.

The main Bemo terminals are in Ubung, Batubulan, and Tegal. You can also flag them down along the way and see where they are headed. Keep in mind that the Bemo is only really useful for getting out of South Bali; otherwise, opt for a Gojek or a taxi.

Advantages of the Bemo:

  • Cheap
  • A good local experience
  • Not the worst for long distances

Disadvantages of the Bemo:

  • They are far from being available everywhere
  • Knowing where they go (and how long it takes) is a real puzzle
  • You are not sure to find drivers speaking English to explain the routes
  • You will probably pay much more than the locals
  • Not the most comfortable mode of transportation in Bali
  • Limited to long journeys

The LRT: the favourite mode of transports in Bali very soon? (fingers crossed)

The subject has been flying around for quite a few years now, without really any official launch.

But this time seems different and Bali is ready to start its own LRT system! A great news for the island that suffers from traffic jams constantly.

The first line is schedule for construction early 2024 and should connect the Airport to Kuta and Seminyak, and potentially Canggu.

Further extension to the network seem to be at least conceptualised in order to cover a large part of Bali. Whether they will actually be implemented remain to be seen, but let's hope for the best. The most optimistic plans even include a railway from Jakarta to Bali.

Which mode of transport should YOU choose based on your situation?

If you are on vacation in Bali, I recommend you to stick to the following modes of transportation:

  • From the airport to your hotel: Bluebird taxi or Gojek. The advantage of Bluebird is that you won't have trouble finding them at the airport; the disadvantage is that they are more expensive. Gojek (GoCar) requires you to go to a specific pick-up location at the airport, but the ride will be cheaper.
  • Car or van with a driver for the day to explore Bali, especially for long distances.
  • Gojek for small errands nearby or to go to and from the restaurant or evening outings. Return with another Gojek or a Bluebird depending on availability.
  • Scooter rental at your own risk. Learn how to drive first, stay close to your place of residence and be extremely careful and well-insured.

If you plan to live in Bali for a longer period:

  • Learn how to ride a scooter, get a local license, and find expat insurance that covers you in case of an accident.
  • Use Gojek for your car/truck needs and for returning from alcohol-fueled evenings.
  • Car rental with a driver remains very convenient for getting around the island without worrying about it for a day.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even though few public transportation options are currently available in Bali, many private transportation options are available to you and would do the job just fine.

Most of them remain inexpensive, and the difference between them often comes down to what you really plan to do, how many people you are, or how well they are adapted to tourists or not.

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