How To Get Around In Bali | The Island Of The Gods

Yes, Bali is small, but there are so many amazing sights all over this Island of the Gods, that understanding how to get around is essential to an epic holiday.

From the beautiful beaches in Uluwatu and Nusa Dua in the south, to lively Kuta and Seminyak near the airport, hip seaside Canggu, the temples, rice fields, and amazing yoga of Ubud, the serene mountains, lakes, temples and waterfalls in the north, including Munduk and Lovina, plus its incredible islands, there’s so much to experience here! This post covers how to get around Bali so you can revel in all its charms, including the pros and cons of each.

I’ve also added important information on the best way to get from Ngurah Rai International Airport to your accommodation as this can, unfortunately, be unnecessarily stressful.

Mengiat Beach

How To Get Around In Bali

The following cover the 7 best ways to get around Bali and transportation tips for Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Rent A Scooter Or Moped

Renting a scooter, or a moped, is one of the most popular ways to get around Bali. It provides the most freedom to go where you want to go, and when you want to get there. It’s especially appealing if you’re traveling as a couple, so you can ride together. As the roads are chaotic and congested. This option, however, requires strong riding skills.

Note: In March 2023, Bali announced they’re planning to ban tourists from renting scooters as so many are disobeying laws. Update November 2023, the latest information says tourists can rent scooters, but only through authorized agencies. I am not sure what this entails, so it’s best to ask your accommodation in advance on where to find them.

You need to be comfortable with driving on the left-hand side of the road and zig-zagging through frenetic traffic, while on sensory overload with new sights and sounds. Especially if you plan to drive in busy areas like Denpassar, Canggu, and Ubud, which are very congested. If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle or scooter before, this is not a good place to try to learn.

If you do have solid scooter driving skills, you need an International Driving Permit (IDP), which you need to get before you leave your home country, and your drivers license. Although many scooter companies are known to rent without an IDP, it’s best to get one for several reasons. First, it’s required by law. Second, if you do get into an accident, it’s possible that your insurance could be invalidated without one. And third, the police, knowing many drive without this, often stop tourists and fine them for not having it (so make sure you carry it with you). Some also suggest getting a copy of the vehicle registration, or STNK. In addition to this, check the fine print of your scooter insurance to see if coverage requires a motorcycle license as well.

It’s also a law in Bali to wear a shirt (this is out of respect for the culture) and a helmet while riding a scooter. The helmet, of course, is just common sense, as, sadly, accidents, and fatalities, do happen. A quick search on Google for “Bali scooter accidents” will tell you more than you want to know. Serious injury, or worse, is definitely not how you want to spend your vacation. You can also be fined. Indonesians can be fined 300,000 IDR for not wearing a helmet. It’s very possible it would be even higher for a tourist.

As the roads are very congested and there are a lot of exhaust fumes, I also recommend wearing a mask on a scooter. I took a 3 hour round trip scooter taxi on the crazy roads between Kuta and Bali. When I got back, I was filthy, covered in road grime. Ick! I also wished I’d been wearing a mask as I inhaled exhaust fumes the entire way. And I was sitting on the back of the scooter!

Another negative of renting a scooter is that theft does happen, even if you lock the bike up properly, which can be an insurance nightmare. And I think this is rare, but make sure you rent from a quality shop. Some have been known to rent damaged bikes, then blame you when it’s returned. Just to be safe, always test drive the vehicle and document any damage on video and discuss with the shop before you rent.

Pros: Perfect for adventurous couples and those with strong riding experience. No need to organize rides, just hop on and go.

Cons: You need solid scooter driving skills and, as a rental, you’re responsible for any damage or theft. Plus, realize that if you do get into an accident, it will be the foreigner (you) that will probably be found at fault.

Ride Hailing Apps

There are two main ride hailing apps in Bali, Grab and Gojek (Uber no longer operates in Bali, but they do own a share of Grab). They both offer scooter taxis and taxi cars. You do not need to have an Indonesian phone number for Grab, but you do need to be able to receive a text message from the app on your phone. Gojek will require and Indonesian number, which you can get via SIM card.

I used both of these apps in my recent trip to Bali and loved them. They’re great. On my very first trip to Bali, these apps did not exist and it was so frustrating to have to negotiate with the taxi drivers. Now it’s so easy!

The scooter taxis will be faster and less expensive than the taxi cars. This is because the scooters can weave around traffic, getting you to your destination faster. They also cost less to operate and use less gas. If you’re comfortable with riding on the back of a scooter, this is the best way to go. Yes, you still need to wear a helmet. And a mask is always a good idea as mentioned above.

Both apps operate similar to Uber and Lyft, sending you the name and license plate number of your driver and showing their location and ETA. But I actually think they’re better. They both have translate buttons so if your driver texts in Indonesian, you can quickly translate. Most of my drivers immediately texted me with the message “I am there”, although I think they meant “I am on the way” (LOL).

You can also send a photo of your location if you’re not near a traditional pick-up spot. I did this at the Uluwatu Temple when I used the app to get a ride back to my accommodation. The driver did not want to enter the Temple parking lot as there’s a fee for vehicle entry. We both sent photos of our location and finally figured it out.

These apps also have safety features. If your emergency contacts are entered into Grab, and you trigger the emergency option, a SMS message is sent to those emergency contacts. And Gojek has an emergency button that connects you to their 24/7 support team, who are trained to handle a variety of emergency situations.

Thankfully, I didn’t need either of these, and I certainly hope you don’t either. Once, however, on a Grab ride from Ubud to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, it started to rain My driver stopped on the side of the road (in a remote area) for a minute to get a rain poncho out of the seat. I was surprised when I immediately received a message on my phone from Grab asking if everything was OK and see if I needed any help. Honestly, concern for this kind of safety had never even occurred to me, but I felt really safe after that message!

They’re also convenient. You can connect your credit card to the apps to pay for rides via credit, or you can pay in cash. Plus, every driver I had was extremely courteous and drove very respectfully. Honestly, they were the nicest taxi drivers I’ve ever met.

I’ve read that Grab and Gojek do not operate, or cannot operate, in certain areas, but I used them frequently in Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, and Nusa Dua with no issue. Just realize there may be issues in some locations. I did not see any signs stating not to use them. If you do however, move to a different location for pickup. Your driver may also need to drop you off at a different location. Be flexible if you choose this option.

One final note on the apps. Some favor one app over the other, but both are great. As of this writing, Gojek is Indonesian owned and Grab is owned by a company in Singapore (and partly by Uber). If you prefer to use an app where a larger percentage of your dollars go back into Indonesia, use Gojek. I personally always try to do this in an effort to travel sustainably.

Pros: This option is maintenance free. You don’t need to worry about your driving skills, insurance, parking, or theft. It’s super simple to use and much safer than driving yourself (these guys do it all day).

Cons: You need to be able to accept text messages from Bali on your phone (a SIM card does this). If there are two of you, you need to book two scooter taxis (and try to time them them). Also, in some areas you may not be able to use them.

Traditional Taxi

There are two types of traditional taxis in Bali, Bluebird Taxi and all the rest.

Bluebird has a reputation as an honest taxi service, operating on fixed rates. Because of this, however, many try to copy their look. If you hail one on the street, make sure the taxi logo matches exactly to what is shown on their website. Or use their app to order one. You can also arrange a Bluebird taxi on the Gojek app.

I did not use Bluebird in Bali, as I loved the scooter taxis so much. I did hear though, that they’re a little more expensive than Grab and Gojek, although less than a regular traditional taxi.

Other taxi drivers (non-Bluebird) are generally standing on the sidewalk trying to get your business. I understand that these are local businesses trying to compete against the ride hailing apps above, but they have a really bad reputation for overcharging by not using the meter. If you choose to use one of these taxis and they do not turn on their meter, refuse the ride before you get in.

But they’re not all bad. If you know the expected price, you can negotiate a fee with them up front. One day I needed a taxi car from Ubud to Uluwatu. I couldn’t take a scooter as I had luggage with me, plus it was a long ride (about 2.5 hours), so it was going to be expensive. At least by Bali standards.

I had already looked up the prices of Grab and Gojek, but wanted to see if a standard taxi could do better. There was a lady in a taxi stand by my accommodation that had smiled and waved at me every day. As she was not aggressive, I stopped by to see what she’d say. I shared the price from the ride hailing apps and found her 100% ready negotiate with me. She quickly offered a lower price. When I said I needed to think about it and started to walk away, she dropped it even further. My final price was 25% less than Grab. She gained my business and they picked me up at my accommodation the next day.

Pros: Perfect for groups, or couples, to split ride costs.

Cons: Drivers can scam you by not using meter and overcharging you (Bluebird should not do this however).

Private Driver

Before the ease of Grab and Gojek, hiring a private driver for a day was one of the most popular ways to get around Bali. Especially for couples and groups. And today it’s still a good option. Especially if you have a group where you want to plan your own itinerary for a half day or full day adventure.

This option is super easy, especially if you want to explore all day with a group without worrying about booking rides. The driver will probably also speak Indonesian, so can help translate if needed. Plus, they know the area, so may be able to provide tips.

Its also a great way to get to your accommodation from the airport (see below).

Costs can vary widely, depending on which part of the island you’re staying in and how much driving is involved. Generally, however, a half day is 350,000 IDR (about $25) and and a full day is 450,000 IDR (about $30). Splitting this between multiple passengers is very, very reasonable. Even with a tip, if your happy with service.

Pros: Perfect for groups, or couples, to share rides for half or full day.

Cons: Expensive for solo travel.

Rent A Car

Renting a car is also a possibility in Ubud, however, not recommended due to road congestion. If you do (as noted above), you will need and International Driving Permit (IDP), which you need to get before you leave your home country, and your drivers license.

Other concerns include the fact that they drive on the left-hand side of the road, so you need to be comfortable with that. Also, if you’re involved in an accident, or the car is damaged, you have the same insurance issues and liability as above with the scooter. Just at a higher cost.

Pros: This option is great for a group that wants to travel together without the hassle of arranging rides. It’s also great for airport pickups.

Cons: Not recommended due to road congestion.

Bus

Bus is the least expensive way to get around Bali, but not the most convenient.

There are two main bus companies: Perama and Kura Kura. Perama offers routes between a variety of cities, while Kura Kura currently focuses on the route between Kuta and Ubud. Click the links above for the latest details.

The rides are very inexpensive and can be paid for on the bus.

Pros: This is the least expensive option.

Cons: Few bus routes, sometimes with changes required.

Ferry

The islands near the coast of Bali are a popular place to visit with the best way to get to them by using the ferry. See the attached links for ferry options to Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and the Gili islands. The shortest ride is to Nusa Penida, which is about 30-minutes, while the longest, to the Gili islands, can take about 2 hours.

Airport Arrival Tips

Arriving at the airport can be the most stressful part of your trip. As soon as you exit immigration, you’ll be overwhelmed by a massive number of taxi drivers calling for you to hire them. Even if you arrive at 2 AM like I did. After a long flight and the long lines in immigration, negotiating is probably the last thing you’ll be efficient at. It’s best to bypass them all, as most will take advantage of this and overcharge you.

The best way to get to your accommodation from the airport is to arrange to have your hotel pick you up. Most places offer this service at a reasonable cost. Klook also offers airport pickup. A ride on their site from the airport up to Ubud is about $16 as of March 2023. At least for a small group or solo rider. This is less than the taxis will charge.

The second best way is to use the Grab app. Although locals will tell you differently, it is not illegal to have Grab pick you up at the airport. There is even a Grab lounge in the domestic arrivals area where you can wait for your ride. Google “Grab Lounge Denpasar” to find it.

Tip: If you run into difficulties arranging a Grab pickup at the airport (standard taxis do not like them and could make things difficult), walk to the nearby Hilton and order a Grab from there. It’s only about a 10-minute walk. This may even eliminate the extra fee for airport pickups!

The third best option is to walk outside the arrivals area and look for the Bluebird taxi desk. They have a list of set fees to various locations on the island at the counter so you can book hassle free.

My Airport Experience

My very first visit to Bali, I let my accommodation in Bali arrange a ride for me. It was super easy. On my second visit, I arrived very late at night (after midnight), so I booked an Airbnb in Kuta for the first night. It was only a 10-minute walk from the airport, which felt safe even at 2 AM. In additional to what felt like 1,000 taxi drivers trying to get me to hire them, I had a taxi driver follow me out of the airport and down the street continuously asking me where I was staying. It was actually a little scary.

I kept telling him that I never tell strangers where I am staying, but he was persistent. I kept ignoring him and finally stopped following me at the edge of airport property. And by the way, even though I arrived so late, the owner of the Airbnb was waiting for me. When he heard the sound of my roller bag on the street, he walked out and helped me get into my room. I still cannot believe his generosity and kindness. The Balinese are the nicest people I have me in all of my travels (excluding the traditional taxi drivers!).

If you’ve had an experience you want to share on how to get around Bali, please send your comment below.

Want To Read More About Bali?

Bali is really an amazing place. So many beautiful sights, great surfing, a retreat for healing and spirituality, beautiful beaches, serene temples, iconic rice fields, and so much more.

Learn my about my favorite spots by reading about Ubud, Its nearby Rice Field Walks, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, and Munduk and Lovina. There are also many great cultural learning opportunities in Bali, like taking a Cooking Class, Staying in Home Stay, or even getting the chance to experience a traditional Cremation Ceremony.

Or see my Ultimate Bali Travel Guide for an overview of all the great sites here, as well as money matters, safety tips, scams to avoid, and more.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Click the link to learn more about me and my philosophies on travel.

Suluban Beach, Uluwatu, Bali

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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