One of my first observations about Bali was the amount of scooters there were on the road … weaving in and out of busy traffic.
The next thing, was the sheer size of Bali, when I arrived, I thought how I’m I going to get round all these places. I later realised that if you want to get to the out of the way places. Like Amed, or further North, you will have to pay for a private taxi. This was a lesson I learnt when I visited Pandawa Beach and the Uluwatu Temple.
So, I am pretty sure that Bali is run by the Taxi Mafia. They’re everywhere. Every 5 yards you walk, you get asked ‘where are you going, you want transport’ some of them shout ‘oi’ from across the street and just motion with their hands a steering wheel. Some will follow you along the street as you walk and say ‘transport … transport’ in your ear, as you walk. They give up eventually as you ignore them.
The best options for travelling around Bali (if you’re on a budget)
• Perama shuttle
I had never heard of this until another backpacker mentioned it. They go to many of the key places and also do tours, but you generally need two people, otherwise they may charge an additional fee. To be collected from your accommodation will often cost an extra 10-15,000 Rupiah.
• Hiring one of the taxi mafia to take you places
Although reluctant at first, I did use a private taxi three times, to Pandawa Beach, to a tour around North Ubud, and getting from Kuta to Seminyak (when I boarded the wrong bus!) The drivers are often very pleasant and enjoy giving you a history lesson and pointing out many sights on the drive. Before getting into one of these taxis, make sure you agree on a price first, a route and places you want to go. If you hire a driver for more than 4 hours, it’s often nice to buy them a meal on the way. It’s not common to tip drivers.
• Scooters are cheapest way to travel, you can hire one with a driver for approximately 150,000 Rupiah for 4 hours.
• Hire a scooter yourself or a car. You can do this from the airport, or from main towns. Make sure you have an international driver’s permit, as the police will often stop you, wanting money as a bribe to slip into their back pocket.
• Metered Taxi for short journeys – make sure you use the blue bird taxi. There are a lot of fakes around, who claim the meter is broken. A blue bird taxi is light blue, has a bird on the top, and bluebirdtaxi.com on the windscreen and side. The driver will have an ID badge pinned up. Other lookalikes will be a darker blue, and have a bird image on top, but will say Bali Taxi on the side. These people are often out to scam you.
• Bemo transport – local transport which can cost as low as 1,000 Rupiah per journey. These are local buses, which look like a minivan, usually packed full with local people, not great if you’re getting on with a big backpack.