There are many ways to get around Bali depending on time and budget constraints. We usually like to explore a new place by foot, but the heat and humidity in Bali made walking anywhere for longer than 15-20 minutes quite challenging. Instead, we put together a list of the different types of transportation that’ll get you around town or between islands.
Even though Bali is only 2,200 square miles (about the size of Delaware), it can take well over 4 hours to travel the length of the island. Bali is made up hundreds of small narrow roads that criss-cross the countryside. It’s important to remember that while the distance may seem short, the questionable road conditions and traffic will always make it take much longer. During rush hour, there are pockets of gridlock where you’ll be moving at a snail’s pace, so even though it’s a short distance, it can take hours to get around, so plan accordingly.
1. Bike Rental
Bicycle is an eco-friendly and budget-friendly way to get around Bali. It’s a great way to explore more of the scenic Balinese countryside at a leisurely pace. You can either rent your own bike or join an organized bike tour. There is a 2.5-3 hour downhill bike tour, lead by an experienced guide, takes you away from the busy touristy areas into lush rice paddies, passing through many small villages along the way. The tour usually costs Rp. 400,000 per person and includes meals, safety gear, and hotel transfers.
If you don’t want to pay for the tour, you can plan out your own route, using the “Bali Pathfinder” and rent a bike for Rp. 8,000 to Rp.15,000 per day. When exploring, make sure you keep on the smaller roads away from traffic. In Bali, cars drive on the left side of the road, so remember to do the same when you ride your bike.
Motorcycle taxis are a very common form of transport in Bali, more commonly known locally as Ojek. You can find them around town and along the roadside or you can download the ‘Go-Jek’ app on your phone. Go-Jek is a ride-sharing company that uses a similar platform as Uber, but for motorcycles instead of cars. The driver will usually have an extra helmet for their rider. This type of transportation is cheap and easy to get around, especially in a crowded town. We grabbed an ojek to take us to the harbor in Nusa Lembongan where cars are not as accessible. Miraculously they were able to fit us and our luggage on the little motorcycles.
5. Rent Motorbike
Another easy and cheap way to get around Bali is by motorcycle. It was our favorite way to get around, having our own bike gave us the freedom and flexibility to see more things at our own pace. It’s pretty easy to find a place that rents motorbikes around town or you can also have it delivered straight to your villa or hotel. It costs about $6-$8 USD per day for a basic scooter which includes insurance, gas, and a helmet. When picking up a bike, be sure to check that everything is working properly: brakes, signals, and wheels. Most importantly, make sure that you have the right insurance and vehicle registration documents, which you need to carry with you at all times.
Moving around Bali on two wheels is fun, BUT, remember to drive safely and sensibly. Make sure you feel confident before attempting to take the bike out into the chaotic streets of Bali. During rush hour, the roads are congested with traffic and motorcyclists have to weave in and out of oncoming traffic and onto the sidewalks just to move forward. The main roads are usually in good condition, but the smaller roads are full of potholes, making the journey even more treacherous. While riding down a rocky darkend path to get back to our villa one night, we wiped out on our motorbike. Aside from a few bruises and scrapes, we were ok, but other people are not as lucky as scooter accidents are one of the leading causes of injury to tourists in Bali.
3. Blue Bird Taxi
If you’re in a rush or going long distances, a taxi is a comfortable and convenient way to get to where you need to go. There are no shortage of taxis in Bali – from the minute you leave the airport to when you’re walking around town, you’ll be inundated with drivers offering to give you a lift. The trick is trying to find a cab driver that will not rip you off. Look out for scammers who claim their meter is broken and offer to give you a flat rate that’s often five or ten times more than the actual cost.
Blue Bird Taxi Group is the most reputable taxi company, known to be reliable and honest. They are one of the few taxi companies that consistently use the meter. You can recognize the car by the light blue color with a bird logo on top. In fact, as the Blue Bird Taxi Group’s popularity has risen, other drivers have started to replicate the logo and car color; they may look the same, but they do not offer the same service. To make sure you have the right Blue Bird Taxi, call the cab company and have them send a car. Keep in mind that a short trip across town usually costs about Rp.15,000 to 25,000.
Uber is a relatively new transportation option in Bali that costs much less than a local taxi. My Uber trip around Canggu cost $1, about a tenth of the rate that was quoted by other taxis we hailed. It’s also a big bonus that we didn’t have to haggle with the driver or worry about being ripped off. But Uber is only great if you want to go around town. If you need to travel further away, the driver will accept your fare, but then not show up once they find out your destination. We were jerked around a few times and ended up wasting our time waiting for a driver that never came. Another thing you should be aware of is the ongoing conflict between Uber and the taxi industry in Bali. Uber is prohibited from picking up or dropping off passengers in certain zones. You’ll also see signs around town that say Uber is not allowed, but they are posted by the local taxi drivers who want to scare people from using the app.
6. By Private Car & Driver
The most hassle-free way of getting around the island is by renting a car with a driver. Having a driver will allow you to relax and enjoy your journey, taking away the stress of having to navigate the unfamiliar roads around the island. You’ll be able to travel further and see more in a day. The driver also often doubles as a guide and translator when you travel outside of the main areas where fewer people speak English.
There are plenty of car-hire agencies on Bali offering day services or weekly rentals. Your hotel or villa will also be able to arrange for a car and driver if you ask. Before hiring a car and driver make sure that they have all the required registrations and insurance. It’s also best to agree on all costs ahead of time.
We were lucky to find our driver Agus from our friend Evenly (@seefraulein_travels) who had nothing but rave reviews. He is an experienced driver with great command of the English language. His happy temperament and outgoing personality made the long drive more bearable. He spent hours giving us insights about the culture, religion and people of Bali. When he found out that we love to try local cuisine, he went out of his way to take us to his favorite local eateries. Agus charged Rp 600,000 ($45 USD) per day for up to 12 hours of driving. You can can get in touch with him through whatsapp (+6281805699660 ) or email (email@example.com).
If you want to leave the main Bali Island to go to the smaller Nusa or Gilli Islands, the fastest way to get there is by the public speed boat, leaving Sanur beach. The trip usually takes 30 minutes with multiple boats leaving daily from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan in the morning and afternoon. You can book in advance, but from our experience, it’s cheaper if you buy it there on the day of departure. Rates quoted usually vary and are subject to negotiation so do some research ahead of time, and stand firm. We paid Rp 150,000/person excluding hotel transfers.
The boats are docked on the beach, making the boarding experience quite interesting. To get on, you’ll need to take off your shoes, leave it in a communal bin, then wade through shallow water to the nearby boat, so make sure you wear flip flops. The porters helped carry our big bags and loaded them first so we only had to carry our backpacks, making it easier to maneuver. The crossing was short and uneventful and before we knew it, we were in Nusa Lembongan.