When it comes to getting around Bali, it's often described as controlled chaos. Bali somehow manages to have a frenetic energy to its roads, even when regularly congested. However this is all part of the experience of visiting Bali and when on holiday, it defeats the purpose to be in a rush.
Most Bali holidays begin by landing at the international airport at Denpasar in the island's south. Conveniently close to the majority of popular tourist destinations, it's only a short drive north to the iconic holiday spots of Kuta, Legian or Seminyak. Head south and you'll reach other popular areas such as Jimbaran Bay (15 minutes' drive), Uluwatu (about an hours' drive) or Nusa Dua (just 20 minutes' drive). For a break from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist strip, Ubud is another popular region set in the heart of Bali, and is full of picturesque rice terraces, scared temples, ancient culture and traditional villages. Getting to this scenic spot is about an hour and a half drive.
For those who aren't familiar with the island, getting around Bali can sometimes be a little confusing to navigate. One of the best ways to explore local precincts is on foot or via taxi, however you can also choose to hire a car or scooter if you wish to explore on your own. For the most reliable, safe and fair priced way to sightsee outside of the main tourist precincts, private drivers are also an extremely popular option.
To plan your next Bali holiday more effectively, check out our interactive Bali map.
Upon landing at the airport and collecting your bags, you'll be set upon by excited drivers outside the doors of the terminal who will passionately try and convince you to accept a ride. This is all part of the Bali experience, however for first timers in particular, it can be a bit overwhelming and unfortunately not all of the drivers have your best interests at heart. We recommend pre-arranging your hotel transfers prior to arrival to avoid any potential mishaps. The majority of our Bali holiday packages include return private airport transfers that will see you greeted by a friendly, trusted driver complete with chilled towels (a welcome relief!) who can assist with your bags. From the airport, it takes approximately 10-15 minutes to reach Kuta and Legian, 20 minutes to get to Seminyak and about an hour and a half to drive out to the serenity of Ubud's verdant rice paddies.
Visitors are welcome to hire a car or scooter however this is typically not the most popular way of getting around Bali. Some roads can be challenging due to their condition and the large numbers of motorbikes ridden by locals can make visitors feel less confident on the roads. The safest way to drive around Bali is slowly and cautiously, without making any sudden manoeuvres. High traffic areas can also take quite a long time to navigate, even when travelling short distances. When on holiday it's nice to sit back, relax and let someone else do the driving however if you would like to hit the road at your own leisure, hiring a car in Bali is relatively cheap and easy.
It is mandatory to have an international driver's license and police in Bali regularly stop and check drivers who don't appear to be local. Fines will be issued to those without a license and can range anywhere between IDR 200,000 to 500,000. Well known hire companies on the island include Budget and Avis and most offer insurance in their rental rates.
You can also rent your own scooter or motorcycle from a number of hire companies throughout the island; however, many insurance companies will not cover you for accidents unless you hold an international motorbike licence. Hiring a scooter will cost approximately A$7 a day. It is important to always wear a helmet and protective clothing as motorbike accidents are very common.
For short distances, taxis are a convenient and affordable way to travel. Blue bird cabs are the reputable company who provide a fair price and use the meter (we don't recommend cabs who don't!) They also have a handy mobile app to order taxis on the go. Another option for travelling short distances is via Go-Jek, essentially Bali's version of Uber for motorcycles. Go-Jek uses a rating system for all trips and calculates prices according to distance and speed. Go-Jek is insured and is a reliable system, where you can pre-load your account with credits or alternatively pay using cash. The perfect option for those who are hesitant to drive their own scooter, the driver will also provide a helmet, face mask and poncho in the event of rain.
Bali's transport system is complex and can be rather confusing unless you are an experienced Bali traveller. Whilst there are bus services that connect most of the towns across Bali, it can be a long and time-consuming journey involving several changes. The cheapest option are the bemo minibuses which cost approximately AU$3 for each hour of travel, however schedules can be erratic and routes are rarely fixed. Although the friendly locals will always be happy to advise you on when the next bus is likely to be by, most visitors avoid attempting to catch public transport.
The safest and easiest way of getting around Bali for any significant distance of travel is to hire a local driver who will literally take you anywhere you would like to go. At approximately $60 a day, it's like having your own private tour guide who can not only take to the major attractions but knows all the hidden gems as well. Best of all, your driver will happily wait for you while you shop, sightsee or spa at leisure and will be ready to pick you up once you're finished. This means you don't need to worry about trying to book another taxi for your return journey. Hiring your own private driver is the most convenient, reliable and value-for-money option when it comes to exploring all that Bali has to offer.