After 30 days of riding motorbikes through emerald green rice terraces and to roaring waterfalls, we will attempt to bring Bali to you. Whether you’ve been there before or you’re in the process of planning a trip, our posts will help you better understand this magical island.
While Morgan is currently writing about our favorite places to stay in Ubud, (the central part of Bali) I’m sharing the modes of transportation throughout the island. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts…there’s no worse feeling than being uneducated and spending money where you could have saved.
#1 Rent Motorbikes
It won’t take long for you to realize locals aren’t the only ones driving these little guys around. In any main tourist area, you will see “Motorbikes For Rent” signs on every single street. We recommend renting motorbikes through your accommodation. Usually they have the best deals and it’s the simplest option. The Balinese people are some of the most amiable and welcoming in the entire world. Most of the accommodations are family run and they find immense pleasure it making their guests feel like a part of the family.
Morgan and I spent about three weeks in Ubud and one week in Seminyak (southern beach area).
Ubud – Average bike price: 40.000-70.000 rupiah per day ($4-$6). Quality/price depends on location. You would think the nicer the accommodation the more pristine the bike. Well, the motorbike we rented from our luxury villa in Ubud was 50.000 rupiah and a piece of junk…think Mater from the Cars movies without the comedic relief. For the same price we drove a perfect condition cream colored motorbike from our Patra Homestay family. Don’t settle, $5 can go a long way.
Now, let me give you a heads up about these motorbikes…if this is your first time ever driving one, I’m very sorry. It’s a lot to take in at once, especially without any previous practice. Traffic in Ubud is terrible…one-way streets, limited enforced traffic laws, and tourists driving motorbikes without any guidance (LIKE US!). It will look like a madhouse, but it’s worth it because it’s the fastest way to get around Bali. Ease in to navigating the streets by practicing early morning or on an open street. Your knees will be sore from all the stop and go action.
1. Wear a helmet at all times
You’ll see locals not wearing theirs but don’t let that tempt you. While looking for parking, we took our helmets off. Took us maybe two minutes before we were stopped by police. Avoid this encounter at all costs. Although you’re “allowed” to rent bikes, you don’t have an Indonesian license. Police will only stop you if you’re violating two traffic laws. The first one is obvious…they know you don’t have a proper drivers license. So they scan for tourists not wearing helmets or shirts. Thankfully we only paid 300.000 rupiah when the policeman originally asked for 1.000.000+ rupiah. When he kept racking up the charges…I didn’t know I could sweat in so many places.
2. Motorbikes were the main reason we loved Bali
Ubud’s central location allows you to ride up north to the Sekumpul waterfalls, east to Amed, the Tegallalang rice terrace, and many other gorgeous locations. If possible, travel with two people per bike. For all those years of telling your mom to stop with the backseat driving, you’ll need it in Bali. The best way to travel is by having the passenger use preloaded google maps routes and directing the driver.
3. Don’t leave your keys in the ignition…
Seems simple right? You’d be surprised. Easy to remember when getting out of a 4-door vehicle, but easier to forget without anything to lock. We were fortunate that the Balinese people undoubtedly believe in karma. Thankfully, the one time I forgot the keys was in front of The Holy Temple.
4. Parking motorbikes is an issue, but only in the city center
If you want to walk around, park in front of the Art Market and pay the 5.000 rupiah (~50 cents). Most cafes and restaurants have parking so you’ll rarely need to pay. Don’t leave it in front of shops!
Seminyak – Average bike price: 100.000-200.000 rupiah. The price depends on type of motorbike and rent duration. We opted out of renting a motorbike here. The streets are simpler to navigate but most restaurants, bars, and beaches are within walking distance. You’ll spend most of your time on the beach or at Potato Head Beach Club.
Be careful when walking on the sidewalks, they’re all awkwardly slanted. It looks like Kyrie Irving is serving out ankle breakers all day everyday. It’s funny until it’s you.
#2 Kura-Kura Bus (Main Website)
This is the public shuttle bus service within Bali. It connects all the main tourist areas from 8:30 to 22:00, dependent on which bus line you take. This shuttle is extremely useful and cheap! Single journey ticket for Line 1-4 are 20.000 rupiah and Line 5 is 80.000 rupiah. 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day passes are available. Not many tourists know of this service, yet it’s the second best way to get around, especially with baggage. Traffic can sometimes be an issue and the service is unavailable on most holidays. I’ve attached the route map below. We still recommend motorbikes as the primary transportation. Don’t plan your day around a bus schedule, use it when you need it.
As mentioned in a previous post, Uber is “illegal” in Bali. Even though it’s severely frowned upon, it still offers the best prices for city hopping. Here’s the information regarding this legendary app.
“Popularity (Low), Prices (Moderate), and Accessibility (It would help if Uber was legal here…so not the best). Ordering an Uber is simple, the difficult part is getting in the physical car. If Uber is illegal, accepted drivers will contact you through WhatsApp. They will try to charge you a taxi like rate, avoid the app, and attempt to convince you that they’re risking their jobs by accepting rides through Uber. Taxis don’t like Ubers here…what a surprise! It’s true in every city across the world, but here it’s like a hidden scandal.
If your drop off point is on a busy street, the driver will grab your bags and throw them out as quick as possible. They are absolutely terrified of taxis seeing them drop off foreigners. Not exactly sure what will happen if the driver is caught, happy to have avoided that potential disaster.
The price difference is as follows: a 150.000 rupiah (~$11) Uber ride is a 500.000 rupiah (~$37) taxi ride.
When drivers message you through WhatsApp, either don’t reply or ask for the same price as Uber charges.
If they don’t agree, cancel. You’re gonna flirt with that cancel button more than once. Good thing it’s only 10.000 rupiah (less than $1). You will find an Uber eventually (especially for longer rides) so be stubborn, it works in your favor.
Little hint, if you like your Uber driver, grab their business card before the drop-off. Avoid the future uncertainty and call the driver up when you’re in need. Look up the estimated price on the Uber app and tell the driver this is what you’re willing to pay for your future rides.”
Read about other travel apps like Uber, (click here).
Not as common in Ubud, but Seminyak they are everywhere. Similar to most tourist locations, taxis are the most expensive mode of transportation. They terrify Ubers, will honk at you while they drive by, and will relentlessly hound you to accept a ride. If you’re looking for a taxi, you’ll find one in seconds. If you’re trying to avoid being honked at or waved down, limit your time looking lost on the street and aimlessly carrying a backpack/piece of luggage. To taxi drivers, you’re a deer in headlights and have money to be taken. In each of the 26 cities we traveled to, we only accepted a taxi ride if there was no other option. We would choose motorbikes over a taxi any day.
#5 Shuttle Services
Wherever your accommodation might be, ask if they offer a shuttle service. Whether it be to/from the airport or simply to/from the city center, it’s worth the conversation. An airport shuttle will likely cost money but usually city center shuttles are free *they’re dependent on a set schedule*. Our homestay offered a 300.000 rupiah trip from Denpasar Airport to Ubud which was the same price as Ubers and 200.000 rupiah less than taxis. Use these to your advantage! Compare prices before hand. If the price difference is relatively small, decide whether or not the convenience of being dropped off exactly at your homestay/hotel’s doorstep (with all your baggage) is worth the extra money. Our advice is to save the headache and pay up.
#6 Van Services
If motorbikes, jungles, and trusting google maps isn’t your thing, then hiring a tour guide is better suited for you. We were perfectly fine saving money and exploring without a guide. But, no matter how much we hate to admit it, local guides still know their stuff. They help you discover the best spots (touristy and local favorites), love being photographers, and they understand that timing is everything. We luckily arrived at the Holy Temple before a packed school bus arrived with over a hundred children. If you’re short on time and have the extra cash to spend, hire day tours through your accommodation (they offer better discounts, don’t be tempted by a cheap street shop).
#7 Perama Tour (Booking Link)
Another cheap alternative to motorbikes, Ubers, Taxis, and shuttle services. We personally don’t have any experience with this company but we’ve met many travelers who enjoyed it. Book online or shoot them an email. They have drop off and pickup locations all over the island.
#8 Monkey-Forest Ubud Shuttle
This service is only available in Ubud where the monkey-forest is located. It allows passage to/from the monkey forest and stops throughout four main streets surrounding the area. This shuttle is specifically for those who are attending the forest (which is the main tourist attraction in Ubud), but it’s on our list for those who don’t know it’s available to them. The forest doesn’t promote the shuttle service as well as they should. Hopefully this post will help you avoid a taxi or paying for spot among the motorbikes. Disclaimer: the monkeys will try to hop on.
There you have it! Those are the main ways to travel in Bali. In the future, there will be separate posts regarding food, visas, ATMs, tourist attractions, and our personal favorite…the Gili Islands.
Leave a comment, follow the blog, and message us if you want any personal advice! See you next week.