Our top tips for transport and getting around Bali

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Bali is a tropical paradise with so many places to explore. If you are like us, you’ll likely head beyond the main cities near the airports and explore the island (along with neighbouring islands). The areas we enjoyed most about Bali weren’t the big towns, but more the beaches, islands, rice terraces etc that you had to venture further to visit. Like many Asian countries, Bali traffic is chaotic! Overall, if you are considering travelling around this island, there’s a few things we recommend (see below). We have also discussed of the varied methods of transport below.

  • Start your journey early! We can’t emphasize enough how important this point is! If you are planning on a day trip, or moving from one town to another (e.g. Uluwatu to Ubud), an early start will save you so much time, and the journey will be a lot more enjoyable. Traffic after around 7.30-8am becomes very busy, and it is chaotic on main roads or intersections around 10-4ish due to tours/tourists. Plan ahead and go early.
  • Things take longer than you think! A ‘Google Maps’ predicted time of 20-30 minutes could easily be 45-60 minutes pending the time and destination. It is better to plan for your travel to take longer and you won’t be anywhere near as frustrated when it does! Starting early as discussed does help!

Grabs & Taxis:

In our opinion, this represents your best way to get around Bali. In particular, the ‘Uber-like’ app of GRAB if a game changer and we strongly urge you to use it. The app runs exactly like rideshare services, however all payment is given at the end of the journey in cash. We found it a great way to get taxis without having to barter on price (or get scammed), and it made trips easy when we ventured to less popular destinations like beaches where no taxis were around. A short trip of ~5-15minutes cost about 55-60,000 IDR (approximately $5-6 AUD). The drivers were often friendly, safe and reliable. Taxi’s in Bali are also often safe, however they will likely be more expensive, and attempt to ‘scam’ you on the price (e.g. when leaving the airport). Always aim to barter with them if it seems unrealistic, and you will likely be able to get a 20-50% discount in our experience.


Scooters are the primary mode of transport on the island.. there are literally thousands! You can easily catch a ride on a scooter (use the GRAB app, it’s very cheap!) or hire one of your own. You will often pay ~$10-15 AUD per day for scooter hire, and the vendors don’t ask for any licence. However, recently Bali has begun cracking down on ‘unlicensed’ drivers (you need your international drivers license) and fining them. Additionally, piloting a scooter on these chaotic streets can be relatively dangerous for inexperienced drivers. We did hire a scooter for a short period, and after this experience, decided that despite the convenience and low cost, we preferred using the GRAB taxi’s where able. If you do decide to hire a scooter, exercise caution, and be prepared to police to pull you over to check licenses if driving near big towns.


When visiting Bali, we strongly advise you to head to some of the nearby islands. In particular, our favourite was Nusa Lembongan, and we would love to return to check out Lombok, Gili Islands, and Komodo Island. Getting to these islands typically requires a ferry trip. The ferries mostly run through the Sanur Harbour. We recommend booking your tickets in advance (use the Bali Ferries website – see here). If catching a ferry, consider the following points:

  • Book tickets in advance
  • Book early! In peak season, booking early can be vital (they do sell out to peak destinations, e.g. Gili T)
  • Pick an early ferry time – the ferry port and surrounding streets gets very busy! Additionally, the water can get rough after the morning, and typically journeys are smoother in the morning. We went mid morning for most journeys and found it smooth sailing.
  • Arrive at the port early as you will need to get your boarding pass and check in. This takes a little longer than you might think.
  • Plan for things to be delayed. It’s Asia, things often don’t run on time. Be prepared.

Public Transport:

While we did observe public busses, these appeared infrequent, and overflowing with locals. Due to the relatively affordable nature of other transport methods, we would advise against the need to use public transport to get around. However, we didn’t use these services so can’t comment on personal experience.

Pre-arranged transport:

A big tip of ours would be to book pre arranged transport from the airport through your hotel. This makes things a lot easier when you exit the airport, but also helps to avoid getting ‘scammed’ on price by the Taxi drivers out the front.

Driver for the day:

If you’re looking to do day trips or tours, consider hiring a driver for the day. This allows you to see a variety of different places, it can be more cost effective, and you don’t have to go on a ‘tour time schedule’. A few considerations for hiring a driver are listed below:

  • Plan your itinerary and don’t let them just ‘take you anywhere’. Why? There is a culture of ‘kickbacks’ and taking you to their friends restaurants and tour locations. You may find you end up getting taken to a small ‘rice terrace’ near a touristy restaurant rather than the picturesque one you had planned.
  • Start the journey early. As discussed, traffic can be chaotic. Additionally, if you head to popular destinations later in the day, it will often be busier.
  • Set a pre-arranged price.
  • Tip the driver if they give you a good service.

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