It is quite feasible to spend a full and rewarding holiday in Bali relying solely on public transport to get around and enjoy some of its major sights. As long as you have patience and flexibility, travel between Bali’s main tourist centres is usually trouble free as long as you are not too put off by a bumpy ride.
Public buses in Bali
You should definitely plan for an early start as public bus services grind to an abrupt halt as nightfall breaks. The resorts of Sanur and Ubud are perhaps the most convenient bases for public transport as they are within easy reach of the capital Denpasar and its excellent cross island bus route network. Fares are cheap and no journey should cost more than rp25,000.
When coming from the beach resorts in the south of the island, a change of bus is necessary at Denpasar which may add an extra hour to your journey. It is possible to charter a bus (or ‘bemo’ as it is locally known) by the hour or whole day but bargain hard for a realistic price.
As a general guide expect to pay around rp50,000 per hour. This is the best option if you are planning to return after dark when scheduled buses are virtually nonexistent. But remember to bargain hard for a fair price as many drivers will up their rates considerably when confronted by a stranded tourist.
Tourist buses in Bali
Bali’s tourist bus services offer a more direct route from A to B and all the main tourist centres are connected by services several times a day. The company with the widest network is Perama with several buses a day calling at Sanur, Ubud, Padang Bai and Lovina.
After dark options for travel is much more limited and most people are forced to rely on taxis. There is an endless supply of metered taxis in major resorts such as Kuta, Legian and Sanur and you should be able to flag one on the spot at any time of day and night. Less popular resorts may require advance bookings which can easily be arranged by your hotel.
Taxis in Bali
Meter taxi prices in the south are rp5,000 flagfall and another rp5,000 per kilometre. Bali’s largest taxi company is Bluebird which accepts bookings 24 hours a day. Surprisingly, there are no official metered taxis based in the resorts of Ubud or Legian, however there is no shortage of private transport operators and most large hotels provide free complimentary transport to and from the main resort centres.
Transport touts are ever present in main tourist centres across the island and offer an alternative when metered taxis are a bit thin on the ground. Always agree a fare and bargain hard and you should be able to get excellent deals especially for day long charters.