Bali isn’t a very large island, but transport options are limited. Public transport is limited, in and around Bali. You do have a few options that you can pick from to ensure you don’t spend a bomb when travelling across the island. Let’s take a look at them!
The only public transport in Bali is taxis, and there are plenty, and while these are cheap and effective, they aren’t always dependable in all parts of the island. There are two major service providers – Grab and Blue Bird, each identifiable by their iconic colors; green and white for the former and blue for the latter. Both services have apps you can install on your phone, that work similar to Uber (which by the way is also available in Bali but doesn’t work as well), the only difference being that Blue Bird requires you to have a local SIM to register for the app. The fares fluctuate vastly, depending on the area you are in and according to the time of the day and demand, but most of the time, a taxi is great way to get around if you are travelling in a small group. Blue Bird taxis are banned at the airport, but are available across the rest of Bali. Check out our guide to getting out of Denpasar airport for the first time to know about your transport options there. Most of these taxi services get you to all the major areas, but many will deny you services if you are going to some of the far off or interior parts of the island.
Even though these taxis are legit, drivers may try to scam you, so make sure you re-confirm the projected fare on the app before you get into the taxi. Some taxi drivers will ask you to cancel the ride and make the trip for an additional cost so that they don’t have to pay their percentage to Grab/Blue Bird. This is very common and you can choose to agree to this based on your need for a taxi at the hour.
A lot of locals run bike taxis that can ferry one person from point A to point B in a particular area. These are effectively locals who own scooters trying to make an extra buck. There is no governing body or organization, and they don’t do longer distances, but can be useful if you’re travelling solo, can’t find any other transport and don’t want to walk 5 kilometres back to your hotel. Just like everyone else in Bali bike taxis WILL overcharge, so it is extremely important to bargain. See our tips to bargaining in Bali here. Use the taxi apps projected fare to get an understanding of how much you should pay for the distance you’re travelling, since there is no fixed price.
Rent a scooter
The most popular way to get around Bali, renting a scooter is also the most effective cost-wise. The Balinese law states that you need to have an International Driving License to rent and drive any vehicle in Bali if you aren’t a local, and the cops in Bali are quite efficient, especially in the popular areas, doing random checks. If you don’t have an International license, you can obtain a permit from a police station by showing them your national driving license. Wearing a helmet is absolutely compulsory and necessary, since the traffic in Bali is quite high, and not extremely organised. When we were reading up about getting around in Bali we found that a lot of people advised against riding a scooter in Bali, citing that it is dangerous. After we rode around Bali we realised that “danger” is subjective to which country you are used to driving in. As Indians, riding a scooter in Bali was cakewalk because we are used to riding on Indian roads. In fact we found the traffic in the urban areas more disciplined and people adhering to the rules and regulations a great deal! If you are used to driving in first world countries like Australia, USA, UK and New Zealand, the driving culture in Bali may even seem nightmarish; it’s really just perspective. Renting a scooter can cost you anywhere between IDR 45000-80000 (₹250-400 /$3-6) depending on which area you’re renting from, how old/new the scooter is and how many days you want it for. Beware of renting scams- some places will give you a scooter that is damaged and when you return it blame the damage on you. Research about reliable places, or ask your hotel, since most hotels have a tie up with a local scooter vendor. Make sure you take photos and videos of the scooter before you start driving it, just to be safe in case the scooter rental place tries to pin some damage on you. You will have to return the scooter with the same amount of fuel that they give it to you with
Note: Tourist hub areas usually have fuel stations, but the further away you go, it’s harder to find legitimate fuel stations. You will see people selling fuel in cans on the side of the road, and we don’t recommend buying from them, so fuel up whenever you have the chance, especially if you’re driving long distance.
Rent a car
While this is an option, this is obviously more expensive than renting a scooter, and we personally haven’t tried it. There are a lot of websites you can pre-book a car from, and drive around Bali. This option makes sense if you are a group of friends or a family travelling together, and would prefer to go on a road trip. This might not make as much sense if you’re island hopping, but if you plan to get around the island a lot, a car is a great option. Optionally, you can get a car with a driver if you’re willing to spend a bit more, or are scared to drive around Bali yourself. You can also check with your hotel for a reliable car rental service if you’re unsure as to where to rent a car.
Boats, Cruises and Ferries across islands
If you’re planning to visit nearby islands like Lombok, Lembongan, Gili or others, there are several boat options to choose from. We recommend booking a fast cruise online. When we went to Lembongan from Bali we took Rocky Fast Cruise. The ticket cost us IDR 500,000 (₹2500/$35) per person for a return ticket including hotel transfers (Which was amazing since we were staying in Seminyak on the west end of the island and the departure was from Sanur on the east end of the island). The journey on the boat took about 40 minutes each way and was really good. There are also public ferries that depart from Sanur that you can’t book in advance and are cheaper but leave at specific times. The schedules keep changing, so check in advance.
Things to remember
– Most good hotels have free transfers to certain points several times during the day. Check with your hotel before you book any other form of transport.
– Pre-booked tours with agencies often have hotel transfers included in the cost of the tour. Make sure you check about that with your tour operator beforehand. Check out our trek of Mount Batur or read about our first time diving in Bali, both of which had hotel transfers included!
– Sometimes the cheapest option is not always the most sensible option, and sometimes the most sensible option is not always the cheapest option. Constantly cross check prices to see what works for you best.
– Sometimes, walking a few hundred feet can change prices quite heavily.
– Ensure your transfer to the airport when leaving from Bali is pre-booked or assured, since in certain areas of Bali depending on a taxi may not be a wise idea. (This is personal experience talking!)
– When paying off Taxi fare, round off to the nearest thousand and pay the extra as a tip. Most drivers won’t have change and many take it for granted that it is a tip.
– Always wear a helmet in Bali. Safety is a huge priority, and cops tend to stop and fine anyone who isn’t wearing a helmet
– While riding/driving on the outskirts of major areas, watch out for rash drivers/riders who turn or join the road without any indication.
-Traffic in the tourist areas in Bali can get pretty heavy, throughout the day, so ensure you plan your travel factoring in the additional time spent in traffic.