How to get around in Bali? Does Uber even exist on the island? Is there any other ride-hailing app or alternatives? Discover our tips for getting around in Bali in the easiest way by following our full review based on our experience on the island!
Ride-hailing apps: a few pitfalls to be aware of
The competition is currently raging between drivers working for ride-hailing apps, taxis, and private drivers in Bali. It is a real fight without mercy that the different protagonists are engaged in...
First, you should note that you must be able to use mobile data on your phone to order a ride through an app and double-check your journey at any time to ensure the driver follows the shortest itinerary. To do this, you must purchase a local SIM card and buy a data package. You will then be able to follow the journey or answer a call if the driver asks for details on the meeting point, especially if the road is forbidden for drivers working through an app to request a ride.
Indeed, in Ubud, and in most of the south touristic areas (Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Sanur...), you will see dozens of signs forbidding access to many streets to ride-hailing app type vehicles. If your starting point is one of them, you will be exposed to the remonstrances of the professional taxi drivers who have been working here for a long time, which can sometimes lead to more violent altercations... Good vibes are guaranteed!
- Entrance prohibited to ride-hailing app drivers.
In addition, as tourism activities are concentrated between the Bukit peninsula and Ubud, this is where most of the taxi and ride-hailing app drivers are. Ordering a car ride from a less popular region may be impossible due to the lack of drivers operating in other areas.
Another limit of these apps is the impossibility to order your trips in advance. The uncertainty of whether a driver will be quickly available in your area or not may potentially make you waste precious time during your travel! It is therefore better to opt for a private driver in Bali.
Nevertheless, in the case of a short ride in the Ubud/Canggu/Kuta/Sanur/Nusa Dua area, and provided that you don’t have to use the main roads, which are usually saturated at peak times, some apps are useful and cheap, as are some taxi companies.
Now, let’s have a look at the existing apps.
Does Uber exist in Bali?
Despite heavy investments in the Southeast Asian market to try to impose its services, it was in 2018 that Uber decided to withdraw from this market due to a lack of profitability and an unfavourable environment. Since then, other Indonesian players have taken over.
Grab, an alternative to Uber
Based on the same concept as Uber, which has in this case bought part of the company, Grab offers private driver services, which can be ordered via their app, as well as, more recently, other services such as ’Grab a Ride’, the scooter version which also includes a local driver.
Gojek, best-known for riding with a scooter
Gojek is an Indonesian app that is very similar to Grab and focused on transportation with scooters in south Bali. This app can be an excellent option for backpackers and solo travellers who are already used to this form of transport. This app allows you to get around without planning your trip in advance. Of course, you must remember the dangers of riding a scooter, especially when considering the “local habits” regarding how people drive in Bali…
Blue Bird, the only reliable taxi company
Finally, Blue Bird is Bali’s go-to taxi company (their drivers must have a licence). Unlike Grab and Gojek, the presence of these blue taxis is not frowned upon in the very touristy areas. Moreover, the fares are roughly similar. This taxi company is serious and has an excellent reputation in Indonesia. The only problem is that you must learn how to recognize the real ones from the fake ones!
If you prefer travelling with peace of mind and at the same time ensure a smooth arrival at your destination, we advise you to opt for the services of a private driver in Bali. They are experienced and used to Bali’s roads and habits, so you will be free to plan your trip without worrying about how to get to your different steps.
Likewise, for your transportation from the airport, our experience has shown us that after a twenty-hour flight, knowing in advance that someone was waiting for you to bring you to your hotel with a before-agreed rate has often saved us from being ripped off on arrival (trust us, leaving the airport can be a challenging experience).
So, should you forget ride-hailing apps in Bali?
Not necessarily! For long-distance journeys (shuttle between two cities for instance), our experience leads us to advise you against using these applications. But this is not the case for journeys in the South of Bali where we were able to get around easily on many occasions with a ride-hailing app.