This article follows on from my previous one - Bali Visa Information
One of the many appeals in relocating to Bali is the pursuit of a simplified life. One of the potential burdens being the purchase and maintenance of a vehicle. Cars are expensive in Indonesia let alone the maintenance, insurance and ongoing fuel costs.
It’s highly likely your transportation options and experiences in your homeland are going to be much different to what you have been used to. Methods for getting around the island vary greatly particularly when it comes to cost, mode, safety, convenience and time. Let’s examine each mode which can be utilized individually or in combination.
If you have the time walking provides an opportunity to survey your new environment and get some exercise at the same time. Sidewalks and footpaths are in general are in good condition in areas where foot traffic is high. Maintenance and ongoing improvements in these areas occur on a regular basis.
Other less trafficked areas may not be as even as you would prefer. The main streets are wider than the narrower lane ways where you may be forced to walk on the road itself as no walkway is available. When walking around narrow roads or laneways, be sure to step aside in order to let traffic pass. When you do find yourself walking on these narrow thoroughfares, ensure that you face the oncoming traffic at all times and remain aware. Also avoid high risk locations if your reflexes are not what they used to be.
When walking, you will no doubt be catcalled or solicited for business from any number of businesses operating in the area. Ignore or politely decline the offer and keep walking.
Many towns in Bali are easily navigated when using a bicycle - it’s also a practical, enjoyable and an all-round healthy pursuit. Always be mindful of your environment when riding by avoiding such things as riding at night and avoiding the main thoroughfares.
Ensure your bike is properly secured when unattended as if an opportunity for theft is there, someone will no doubt take advantage. Mountain style bikes are an excellent choice as they provide rugged stability needed when navigating along roadways. An essential companion of course is a helmet, which should be worn at all times when riding.
Dokar (Horse-Drawn Carriage)
A traditional form of transport with a low carbon footprint - is a Doka. While its considered a novel approach to transportation popular with tourists, if you are running on ‘island time’ it’s a mode of transport worth considering. Remember to negotiate the cost of travel prior to using the services of a Dokar.
Ojek (Motorcycle Taxi)
Used mostly by the local population as the most popular form of transport, motorbike taxis are a great way of getting around Bali. Unless you have a reasonable grasp of the local language, it may be difficult to negotiate a fare. Officially licensed Ojek’s are identified by their reflective yellow vests, displaying a certification number. It’s relatively easy to flag down an Ojek, or simply hop in line at one of the designated ranks.
Go-Jek (Uber On Two Wheels)
Go-Jeks are the two-wheeled equivalent of Uber, using a rating system for all trips with prices calculated automatically. Download the app and apply credit to your account seems to be the simplest method to take advantage of the service. Using the app you can also add a tip for your driver should you be so inclined.
All drivers are fully ensured and provide their passengers with a helmet, facemask and a poncho in the event of rain. Go-Jeks are a great alternative for those not comfortable riding themselves. Go-Jeks also offer food delivery services, the app contains a list of options from local restaurants and eateries, with each restaurant providing its full menu listed directly within the app, including price. Much like using a traditional taxi back home, wait times can vary however the location map reflects the drivers location, including an estimated arrival time to your location.
The company also provides a car service (go-car) for those who prefer a safer mode of transport.
By far the most convenient and cost-effective way of getting around Bali by scooter or motorcycle is also the most dangerous. Traffic conditions can be chaotic to say the least and its recommended only those with a high level of bravery and situational awareness even contemplate using this mode of transport.
Many residents and expats know full well it’s not a matter of if, but when a rider will be involved in an accident. Only those with previous experience of riding a motorbike or scooter should consider this option in my humble opinion. Motorbike rental too is available at reasonable rates for those considering this option.
Taxis are everywhere in Bali, however when choosing a provider be aware that many overcharge considerably by using a number of tried and tested methods including meter tampering and/or using alternatively long routes to your destination.
One provider though has gained a reputation for their processional approach, BlueBird taxis. The company provide an app to arrange a service, or alternatively contact their call center to arrange a booking.
Taxi's are abundant and recommended for new visitors to the island. It can be easy to fall prey to taxi drivers looking to take advantage by charging inflated rates.
Having returned from Bali recently after a two week stay, I thought it would be helpful to my fellow travelers to provide the following guide to 'The Best Way To Catch A Taxi In Bali' infographic.
No matter which service you choose ensure the price is negotiated up front, or ensure the meter is used for the duration of the trip.
Car Hire (With Driver)
For those seeking the convenience of a car without the ongoing maintenance and insurance, monthly car hire complete with driver may be the solution for you. This service can be negotiated on a daily, monthly or annual rate, may or not include fuel, parking and services may be limited to certain hours of the day or night. Ensure a trial period forms part of any arrangement together with a detailed understanding of the terms to avoid any potential issues which may arise.
Slow and steady the public transport system may not suit everyone, however if cost is a consideration, it’s well worth exploring what’s on offer in your area. Privately owned companies including Kura-Kura Bus operate providing a balance between the public and private sector offerings.
Travel is by air conditioned coach with many stops along the route. Bemo bus on the other hand is used by locals frequently. It's an older style of minibus and is fitted with bench seating and is without air-conditioning. It’s cheap, cramped, with no fixed stops and recommended for the adventurous only.
If you decide to take your life in your own hands by driving or riding around Bali, ensure you have obtained an International Drivers Permit from your home country before arriving. If you do not hold a motorcycle license in your home country, then an International Drivers Permit will not allow you to ride a motorcycle or scooter in Bali, only a car.
Always carry your International Drivers Permit and your local drivers license when driving in Bali. Police seeking bribe money target international visitors or residents to make some quick cash. Drivers licenses can be obtained from almost any large police station in Bali including Denpasar.
Foreigners in Bali who have the unfortunate experience of being involved in an accident are almost always deemed to be the cause. Ensure insurances, both medical and vehicle, are valid and up to date before driving any type of vehicle or transport in Bali.
My next article on the topic of Bali retirement is How To Bargain Like A Local In Bali