Welcome to Bali!
Now that you are in Bali (or doing pre-trip planning), you might be wondering how you should go around Bali. The choice for transportation in Bali may seem very clear to many people, and is very unusual for others. Traveling around Bali may not be that simple, compared to what you usually do.
It’s not as easy as renting an insured car at home, as you would if you were American or Australian, for example. Or call a taxi or order Uber like you do in the streets of Manhattan.
(For your information, there is no metro or train system in Bali.)
Most likely, you want to plan to use the option combination that best suits your needs and circumstances.
Factors to consider
What should you take into account when considering modes of transportation to get around Bali?
The following are the most influential factors to consider:
- Convenience or time
Having a car, like in the world, is a luxury. It’s amazing to have a car during the rainy season, when shopping for groceries, and trips to / from the airport. If you are a surfer, you can bring lots of boards, keep dry towels and clothes, snacks and cold water in the car. If you travel frequently with other people, it’s very nice to go to places as a group.
This is clearly more expensive than a motorcycle and one must take into account additional gasoline, parking fees, annual taxes (if buying a car) and insurance.
Driving license / license
The police are looking for bribes that is something almost everyone encounters during their stay in Bali if they have encouraged themselves. The biggest deception is the fact that most foreigners do not carry a SIM while driving.
You can prevent this by obtaining an International Driver License (IDP) in your home country before arriving. (Technically, a valid driver’s license from your home country should always accompany your IDP. And even though police in Bali will never ask for it, this can be useful information in the event of an insurance claim).
Also remember that, if you don’t have a motorcycle license at home, your international license will not allow you to ride bicycles on Bali, only cars.
Another way to do this is to go to one of the big police stations in Denpasar, Poltables located on Jl. Mount Sanghyang and get a real SIM for Bali.
Pay a license or pay a fine / bribe?
The price for this can vary because it depends on how many palms need to be oiled, but the temporary SIM for 3 months does not have to be more than Rp. 300,000 (30 AUD / 21 USD / 19 EUR). The police do have a way to find out who just got off the boat or not and most long-term residents are rarely victims of traffic.
Many expatriates do not have any licenses. They prefer to deal with the problem in a place with a police officer with a one-time fee of IDR 50,000 (5 AUD / 4 USD / 3 EUR) or less. For many people it is much cheaper to pay a little every once in a while, rather than having to keep on renewing the license. If you are only withdrawn once a year, you will only pay around IDR 50,000 per year for a police bag. Compare this with Rp. 300,000 every three months for a real license. But moral decisions are up to you.
Rent a car in Bali (with driver)
Rent a car in Bali with a driver: every month
This is probably the best solution for those who have a combination of time, money and children.
Full-time drivers can be rented with or without a car. Finding the driver by car is the simplest. Because this is the car, it is his responsibility. You don’t need to worry about maintenance, insurance, or taxes & registration.
You only pay the salary (which includes the estimated cost of renting a car), gasoline, and parking.
Don’t forget to calculate a salary of 13 months; this is usually paid around the most important Hindu holiday of the year, Galungan, which actually occurs twice per year. Sometimes half of the 13th month is given at each Galungan. Ask your driver which one they like. If you have just hired them and Galungan is very close, I suggest you wait until the following Galungan to make sure they will be with you for a while.
Schedule and trial period
You want to negotiate the schedule you need before hiring a driver. Consider the first month as a trial period. Hoping to find the perfect driver from day 1 is possible but not common. You might find that he is not suitable.
If they are needed beyond what most people consider ‘normal’ hours, you have to offer a kind of bonus for extra time. Many expatriate families use their drivers to take and pick up children from school. Sometimes they also work as gardeners or artisans, if so, adjust their salary.
Other work on the side
Sometimes the driver might ask to find another transportation job during school hours. This should not be a problem as long as they understand the importance of being on time to pick up the school. You don’t need to worry about parking, which is of course fun.
You will often see drivers sleeping in their cars while waiting for their customers. Not a bad job for them if the salary is fair and they can close their eyes at rest.
Many drivers are willing to take items or small amounts of food from the local market. If a driver has been with you for months and performs amazingly, you should consider gradually increasing your salary over time, like any position.
Rent a car in Bali with a driver: every day
There are many freelance drivers available for rent every day. Prices start from around Rp. 500,000 (AUD 50 / USD 33 / EUR 28) depending on the car and destination. Sometimes prices include gasoline, but never park. Be sure to clarify before recruiting.
This can be expensive if you often use a rental car and driver, but this is a good choice for those who need a car less or for special occasions.
You can find freelance drivers who are willing to work either daily or monthly by searching in several Facebook Groups. Bali Tourist Info and Bali Expat may be a good starting place but you can find many other relevant groups. Use the search function and type ‘monthly / daily driver,’ this will produce significant results.
Safety – the safest option related to cars
Price – the most expensive (not including helicopters and assuming you don’t buy a Mercedes to drive on your own) akan, estimate to pay at least 5 million IDR / month (495 AUD / 351 USD / 309 EUR)
Comfort / time – most comfortable, more time spent on the road, but you will have the freedom to do things when you are in the car and help with these ingredients
Read our popular related post Is It Worth To Do ATV Quad Biking in Bali?
Taxis in Bali
There is no shortage of taxis in Bali. I personally recommend using a BlueBird taxi.
Although there are many choices, I have never used anything else. Of the dozens of taxi companies, many have become famous for offering increased prices, changing meters, or taking longer routes than necessary.
BlueBird drivers are required to use the meter when sent for pickup.
I know some old couples who mostly walk, and then take a taxi when needed. They live in the heart of Seminyak. I would say they spend less than a personal monthly driver fee.
Ordering BlueBird through their call center is the best. If, when you take a taxi, you can ask if they use a meter and / or if they can turn it on, you should never have a surprise.
+62 (0) 361 701 111
There is also a BlueBird application, which might be worth a try.
Safety – comparable to safety using a car driver +
Price – if using a taxi (meter) ordered correctly: the price is very affordable
Comfort / time – taxis, if ordered in advance, are very comfortable
Online transportation application (Uber, Grab, GoCar, etc.)
The use of this application has become an increasingly sensitive topic in Bali. Worth reading my article about “Uber in Bali” and “Using Uber in Bali”.
Since writing the articles, the drama has continued to grow. Local transportation organizations continue to protest against the use of this application and even in some cases, defeat the drivers of this application. The scene changes so constantly, it’s hard to say what will become the fate of this online transportation application. I usually find them very comfortable, professional, and the price is reasonable.
Whenever I need a ride, Uber is my first choice. Only this month, for the first time I failed to order Uber from the airport’s International Terminal. The driver appeared to be afraid to charge ‘low fees’ and asked to arrange pickups with personal conditions, which I did not agree with. I tried ordering another Uber but the same driver kept getting my order. In the end, it was another expatriate who heard me on the telephone and offered me home without charge.
In the south of Bali (aka ‘Bukit’), Ubers are rare. In Ubud, they are there, but not in large numbers. Please follow my tips on using Uber.
Safety – same as w / car driver
Price – reasonable
Comfort / time – convenient for shopping, avoid rush hour
Responsibility – most online transportation companies are insured