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First of all, let us tell you this: Bali’s infrastructure is not to be compared to a European one.

So how to get around when you want to explore your neighbourhood and the rest of the island?

PART THREE // how to get around

Arrival

So you just arrived in Bali in your hotel or homestay. Wondering how to get from A to B? Train? Bus? Metro? – No. Don’t expect that. Walking? – Not the best idea. And where do you want to walk, while there are often no sidewalks? Bicycle? – Not suitable for longer distances. In the following we will show you  how to get around and tell you everything you need to know about different means of transport. Including the DO’s and DON’Ts, the PRO‘s and CON’s.

Zealous Clothing Bali Guide Surftrip
Zealous Bali Guide Driving Fail

Taxi/Driver

From the Airport: Just when you get out in the arrival hall, after passing the last duty-free shop, there’s a taxi booth from BlueBird so that you can get to your acommodation or hotel straight away. They have fixed rates so you don’t need to negotiate. Don’t let taxi drivers from uncertified companies try to sell their services for ridiculous rates, be careful. Rates vary depending on the distance from the airport and whether you bring a surfboard or not. Expect to pay around 300.000 IDR (20€) from the airport to Seminyak/Canggu area (they add 50.000 IDR for a surfboard).

Daily use: Be attentive! The biggest and best organized taxi company in Indonesia is Blue Bird Group (Phone: 0361 701 111) and we would always recommend to use them. Around Canggu you will use Canggu Taxi (Phone: 0361 7899 990). Blue Bird taxis are blue of course.. the problem is: every other taxi is blue too! So make sure you will find the one with the little bird logo in the white taxi sign on the car roof. Lots of taxi drivers try to rip you off or have other suprises in store.

Always ask for the price in advance before getting in the cab and ask them to use the taximeter. If they refuse to use the taximeter, don’t hesitate to find another cab. In case it’s late at night, there’s definitely no other cab around and the one with a fixed price is your only chance to get home, you should still try to negotiate.

Renting a scooter/motorbike

Riding a motorbike can be scary, especially in Bali. But sometimes you just don’t have another choice. A scooter is the easiest way to explore Bali’s south, particularly in places with narrow streets such as Seminyak or Kuta. If you are a small group and you want to discover the area without having to hire a driver, renting scooters is prefect. But beware! Bali’s roads can be dangerous and chaotic. If you are not attentive enough, you may have bandage marks rather than tan lines when you return from your holidays.

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  • First step: check the scooter before renting it. Even if the renter says “Don’t worry, you won’t need the rear brake“: Make sure the brakes are breaking, the lights are working and the horn is honking.
  • Wear a helmet! Always! Even if it’s hot and your hair is on point today, riding without a helmet is an unnecessary risk. Ask for a helmet that fits and has a visor.
  • “Follow the locals” is almost the best advice. If you don’t know where to turn or how to overtake that car driving at 10km/h just follow the flow of scooters driven by Indonesians.
  • Use the horn: It’s a great way to make that driver in the car understand that he can’t change lanes without even checking whether there’s another bike or not.
  • Use the signals (definitely less common among locals) but still a good idea when you want to turn. If you have a person in the back of your bike, he or she can shake their hand to indicate your direction.
  • Stay calm when you get stopped by the police. Tiny police stations are located on main junctions and if they stop you they will ask for your driver licence, helmet and the documents of your bike (mostly hidden inside your seat). The police like to take care of tourists (and some of their wallets …)! Keep smiling when you get stopped (sometimes it works, especially for girls!) and say sorry for whatever you did. In case they won’t let you go, you might need to pay their next three meals which are around 50.000 IDR instead of getting a ticket 😉
  • Have an international driver’s license!
  • Keep your eyes wide open and drive foresighted (only close your eyes while you are riding through rice fields when you are in the back of someone else riding the scooter).
  • A little sunscreen on your shoulders is recommended!
  • Don’t wear plastic helmets! (they might be stylish, but won’t protect your head when crashing)
  • Never carry your handbag over your shoulder! Always put your handbag under the seat, try to never have it visible. If you have a big beach bag with your beach essentials only, put it between your feet on the bike but make sure that your valuables are stored under the seat.  (We’ve heard too many stories about some bad guys snatching handbags or even kicking over your bike while you’re riding just to rob you when you lie on the asphalt)
  • Don’t leave your valuables inside the bike. It’s so easy to open the seat and grab anything inside! Once they even stole my specs … aduh
  • Don’t drive too fast! Street dogs love to jump in the middle of the road without a warning and roads are filled with potholes. If you ride faster than 60km/h you won’t be able to stop without falling in case of emergency braking. Yes, we’ve had accidents and no, you won’t be allowed to surf for several weeks with wounds all over your tanned beach body!
  • Never drink and drive! Self-explaining..
  • Better don’t forget the rain coat during wet season 😉 Downpours during wet season can be very heavy with flooded roads and may last for hours, so better keep a rain coat under your seat (they sell them for 50.000 IDR at every supermarket.
  • Don’t forget that we have left-hand traffic on the island!

Renting a car

We do not recommend to rent a car without driver in Bali. Most people hire a driver incl. car for a day trip to discover the island, do some sightseeing, etc. A full day of sightseeing will be very exhausting, because there is so much to see and the heat can be crazy, so you rather sit back and enjoy the ride instead of driving yourself. A driver knows his way around the island, is used to the chaotic traffic and will wait at the car and watch your belongings at all times.

Whenever we plan a day trip to destinations on the other side of the island or in the north, we would most likely get a driver who picks you up from home, drives you around for the day and drop you at your hotel at night. English speaking drivers charge around 500.000 IDR for a day (around 8hrs) although you can get drivers for less than that.

Only if you have stayed a bit longer in Bali already and know the island, streets and their driving behaviour you should rent a car. Otherwise you might get yourself (and others) in danger as there is a lot of traffic and chaotic driving.

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zealous clothing bali guide surftrip

Alternatives

  • Uber: Much cheaper than taxis here and drivers are very friendly and helpful. Other taxi companies try to ban Uber so you better don’t mention in front of others that you’re using Uber because we’ve heard of Uber drivers getting beaten up by taxi drivers. Just say you already have a driver picking you up in case anyone asks.
  • GoJek: It’s an app-based motorbike service offering transport (bike & car), courier, personal shopping, food delivery and my more.
  • Bemos: This public transport can save you a great deal, but is not popular among tourists as they won’t go the direct route and lots of people will cramp into the mini van. In more rural areas this might be a good way of travelling though.

Additional

  • Don’t ride through dark roads or far distances alone at night
  • Don’t wear sexy clothes when riding your bike at night – better cover up with a sarong or pullover (some men like to disturb girls on their bikes and grab their crotch or boobies)
  • Don’t have your phone visible when riding the bike, even when you need it for navigation. It can easily get stolen, especially in the dark. Use earphones so that you can listen to the voice telling you where to turn and hide the phone inside your clothes.
  • The gas/petrol is really cheap. You’ll get 1L for 6.500 IDR at the petrol station or for 8.000-10.000 IDR on the street, sold in vodka bottles.

Good Luck & hati-hati (Bahasa Indonesia = take care)! 🙂

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