Bali - the island of the gods as they call it. But we would also call it the island of the opposites. Drunken party crowd in Kuta versus meditating yogis in Ubud. Surfers in Canggu versus Divers in Amed. Big pompous resorts with private beach versus the simple homestay of a local family. It doesn't matter what your into, it's just a matter of getting there.
Here are our experiences on getting around in Bali. We hope that these may help you out, give you some guidelines for negotiation or keep you out of trouble.
In the South of Bali and Denpasar taxis are a common way of getting around. Going to your hotel, shopping, out for dinner or party. The taxis are ever present and a reasonable way to travel if you know which one to take.
Always take a taxi of the Blue Bird Group. This company is the most reliant. The cars are in a good condition, drivers speak english and it's always metered to a fair price. The taxis are light metallic blue and have a light on the roof with a bird logo. The best way to recognize them is with the “Blue Bird Group” Sticker over their windscreen. Watch out - because the reputation of Blue Bird is so good, other companies have started to imitate them. That is why almost all of the taxis are blue and have a light on the roof with a similar bird logo. They are trying to be fake Blue Bird Taxis. We found the sticker on the windscreen to be a best way to recognize the originals on the street.
The other taxis might also be metered but are always more expensive than Blue Bird Taxis. Some scams we encountered were that the meter was supposedly broken, at night their is a flat rate or the taxi driver had no change. The list goes on - save yourself the trouble and just get a Blue Bird. You, or your hotel/restaurant, can always call a Blue Bird. Or you can use their App but we found it not very user friendly.
Hint: There are no Blue Birds in Ubud but they will still drive you there. It costs about 200’000 IDR so cheaper than what any private driver offers.
Do you know Uber? If you don’t you should try it out. This became our favourite means of transport in the south of Bali. Its also the cheapest way of getting around in Bali. To provide a good service, Uber has limited its operation area to Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta, Seminyak, Denpasar and Canggu. So unfortunately no service to Tanah Lot, Ubud or any other part of the island. However due to this you will always get an Uber in about 10 minutes time in their operation area.
Our drivers were always professional in well maintained cars, one driver even provided us with water during the ride (it's the small things that counts). And most important it was even cheaper than Blue Bird Taxis. Sometimes half the price than a Taxi for the same distance. Of course you need internet data for this - but local sim cards and data are so ridiculously cheap that it would be nonsense to even think about data roaming.
Uber is controversial, like in most places they operate. Taxi drivers are not too pleased when they see you using Uber. They even told us rubbish like it's illegal to use it, you will get in trouble with the police, etc. Just don't listen to them. It's not true. However Uber drivers won't pick you up at the airport as they are scared that the taxi drivers will damage their cars.
Hint: If your never tried out Uber you could try it out for free. Free? Yes free: Download the App and sign up here or search it in your App Store and use the Promo Code nl4p0 to get your first ride for free. No catch, no scam just try it out.
With surf rack or without, the standard rental rate is 50’000 IDR per day. However you can always negotiate if you rent it for a longer period of time. For example we rented a motorcycle for a month and it only cost 600`000 IDR. That's only 20’000 IDR (1.50 US$) a day!
To get a motorcycle we never had to show a driver license. However we always carried an international driver license with us, because the cops around Kuta are know to ask for it and will fine you if you don't have it. But the cops will find a reason anyway to fine you (get a bribe) so don't worry about it too much.
Hint: Don't be a idiot - wear a helmet.
Hint: Here are some prices we payed for private drivers. It will help you negotiate a good price.
Canggu - Amed: 700`000
Canggu - Ubud: 200’000 - 250’000
Kuta - Kedungu: 160`000
On the other hand shuttles are a good way to pay less than a private driver but still get to your destination without too much hassle. These shuttle minibuses are often operated by local tour operators. They have a certain schedule and drive to the main tourist spots on the island. Pick up is at your accommodation. It's cheaper than a private driver because you just split the costs with the other tourists on board. However it takes a couple of hours longer than with a private driver, because they drop of the other tourists along the way. We used this service from Amed to Kuta.
Considering the amount of tourist that visit Bali - the transportation business is a very lucrative business and therefore a tough one. The conflict between taxi and Uber drivers is just one trigger of new rules and regulations that are being created. On our last trip to Bali (March 2016) we experienced that in Canggu and Uluwatu it is not possible to get a Blue Bird, Uber or any other form of commercial taxi anymore. You have to use the local transportation service from Canggu or Uluwatu. And of course it's more expensive than the other providers. This is just annoying and confusing for tourists. The drivers tell you it's a new rule from the local community themselves. But actually it is implemented by the notorious Laskar Gang of Bali. If a (criminal) organisation is taking part in transportation then you know there is alot of money to be made. But don't be put off by this.
Our tips on getting around Bali will make sure you have a great holiday and you won't use too much money to experience all the wonderful places on the island.