Taxi’s are everywhere in Bali and you won’t have any trouble flagging one down. Make sure the taxi has a meter and that the driver puts it on as soon as you hop in. If he tells you it’s broken it’s probably a scam so hop out and get yourself another cab. The Bluebird taxi’s have an excellent reputation so they’re a pretty safe bet.
There’s a taxi desk just outside the domestic and international arrivals terminals at the airport which operates on a set price per destination basis which is displayed on a board at the counter. Purchase your fixed price fare at the desk, then head to the taxi rank with your voucher. Around town, the better hotels and resorts also operate taxi desks but it usually costs more than if you simply hail a cab yourself. Be aware that the taxi desk will be closed after hours so if you’re arriving early or late it will be up to you to haggle with the driver however you can expect to have to pay more than the posted fixed fare.
“Rent Car” signs are everywhere in Bali’s tourist dense south and Ubud and the whole process is usually fairly informal. Just produce a drivers licence, fill out a form with your details, pay up and away you go. A word of warning though; the casualness will quickly evaporate if you return the vehicle damaged in any way. Be sure to carefully check the vehicle over before you drive off, photograph and record on the hire document (get the hirer to co-sign) any scratches or dents.
The most common rental cars are 4-seater Suzuki jeeps but you can find something bigger if you need it. A jeep will generally set you back around 100.000Rp per day, maybe a little less if you’re keeping it for a few days or more. Don’t book anything in advance as you’ll generally get a far better price booking in person, particularly if you haggle well. Also, you might think twice about driving yourself once you arrive and are confronted with the crazy traffic and maze of roads.
Bali has a huge number of tour companies servicing just about every attraction and every corner of the island. You can find a lot of them online which is great for getting ideas and narrowing your choices but even in the high season there’s really no need to book anything more than a day or two in advance. In our experiences, it’s best to book tours in person as the high level of competition means prices are very competitive and can often be haggled down even further, especially if you can get a small group together or are booking more than one tour. Even if you’re not normally an organised tour kind of traveller, you may find the competitive prices and convenience of having everything organised for you outweighs the costs and logistical issues of doing some of Bali’s attractions independently.
Public Transport – Bali’s public transport system consists of minibuses, locally known as colts, or bemos. They service just about every corner of the island and are widely used by the locals since most can’t afford cars, but it’s rare to see tourists using them. Most colts and bemo’s display the ultimate destination on the windscreen but the routes are usually indirect and often quite circuitous so it can take a long time to travel not very far. Coupled with general discomfort from the local tendency to cram as many people aboard as possible and lack of air conditioning (often), the cheap fares do tend to lose some of their appeal. If you only need a short ride from say one end of a village to another, their great. To catch a minibus or bemo, just hail the driver from the side of the road.
Travelling by private car is by far the most popular and convenient way to get around Bali. There are no set prices and what you end up paying will usually come down to how well you haggled with the driver but as an indication, a car with an English speaking driver will usually set you back around US$45-50 per day, a little more for a longer trip, say from Kuta to Lovina on the north coast. Cars can be arranged through your accommodation or a travel agent but you’ll usually get a better price approaching drivers direct as there’s no commission involved. You won’t have any trouble finding one there’s always drivers touting for business around busy tourist areas. Most private cars are actually small minivans than can comfortably seat between 8-10 people so if you can split the cost with travelling companions, they are extremely affordable. As an added bonus, most drivers are a fountain of information on anything and everything Bali so it’s a great way to learn a bit about the local culture, lifestyle and attractions.
Hire scooters are everywhere in Bali. Legally, all motorbike riders in Indonesia are required to have a valid motorbike licence; in the case of tourists an international licence with a motorbike endorsement or an Indonesian licence. However most hirers don’t ask and don’t care and with scooters costing as little as US$5 per day they are an extremely popular way to get around.
The down side is that inexperienced riders and the chaotic Bali traffic down mix well. Scooter accidents account for the vast majority of tourist injuries in Bali and have cut many a holiday short. Secondly, foreigners on scooters are targeted by local police who will generally find some reason to hit you with an on-the-spot “fine” which is easy in the case of inappropriately licenced riders. Your US$5 a day scooter is not so cheap with one or two 200.000Rp fines chucked in on top. If you’re intent on hiring a scooter, please wear a helmet. A proper one, not one with Viking horns or similar which whilst amusing, will do absolutely nothing to save your head in the event of a fall or accident.
A relative newcomer to the scene, Kura-Kura Bus operate a public shuttle bus service connecting most popular tourist areas in Bali. The comfortable, air-conditioned buses operate from 9:00AM to 11:00PM and with flexible fare structures (single trip, day pass or pre-loaded card) and easy to understand routes and timetables, the Kura-Kura Bus is a good option for getting around. More details and a downloadable mobile app are available on the company’s excellent website.