If you fly into Denpasar, you will arrive at the Ngurah Rai International Airport. The taxi mafia is horrible there, so please download GrabTaxi beforehand and register your phone number with the app. Then you can arrive at the airport and use the free wifi to book transportation. You will save about 50%. I flew into Bali late at night in January and booked a shared room across the street from the airport at a hostel called Te Quiero Bali. I wanted to walk to it and avoid the taxi touts. There were about 100 touts I had to avoid when leaving the airport. All the dishonest, scamming, scum of the earth, con artists, lying cheats of the world seem to work in the taxi game at Bali. “No meter!” is their motto. Blue Bird taxi group does use the meter, but the taxi mafia tries to block them out of the competition. There is a bus company at the airport, Trans Sarbagita (see my note at the bottom of the page), but until they make their route user friendly, not many people will use it. The route to Kuta is pretty frequent but I heard one guy had to wait for 3 hours until a bus left for central Denpasar. It’s super cheap though. 3,500 Rupiah.
When I arrived, I walked along the airport fence until I got to the tollbooth/ticket area for cars, exited the airport grounds, did a U-turn, and checked into the hostel. I wasn’t too impressed with Bali. We stayed in South Kuta and people recommended Uluwatu and the Single Fin Bar. We took a GrabTaxi down there and it was just loud club music, a few armed guards, and a lot of buff surfer bros and chicks. Not my scene. We made it up to Ubud and did the volcano sunrise hike tour. If you have a motorcycle or car, you can just show up to the hike by yourself. There were 300 people on our hike. If you want to take a tour, check with a few tourist promotion booths in Ubud. You will get a much better price if you book it with them versus online. I think we paid around 200,000-230,000 Rupiah. The other couple in our van paid 400,000 and the driver asked that we not discuss the price with them. It just seems like these tourist ticket promoters are trying to rip people off. Why not have a standard fare for everyone? They also offered van and ferry tickets to Lombok for around 250,000 R. Our group didn’t plan well and wanted to rush things and we ended up paying 300,000 R for a taxi ride from Ubud to the Padang Bai pier [they finally got us because GrabTaxi didn’t have any vehicles going that way : ( ], and 250,000 R for the ferry.
We headed east and arrived at the Teluk Kode pier on the north side of Lombok and were greeted with the worst and rudest people I have ever experienced in Indonesia. There were 2 police officers there (I’m assuming they are checking tourists for motorcycles and correct licenses) and a lot of taxi drivers. People are trying to “help” you get your bag off the boat and take you to a taxi. I packed light and just had my bag with me. As I’m walking down the pier towards the parking lot, I really don’t know where I’m going or if there are hotels here or if there is a restaurant. Also, I don’t have a data connection on my cell phone. I just know that I need to find some wifi and get away from the taxi touts. A man asks me where I’m going and I wave him off. Another man asks me the same thing and I just keep walking and said “No thank you”. He starts walking next to me and says he has a taxi ready and he’s just quoting us the basic price to cover time and fuel. I said “No thank you” again. He’s still walking next to me as we get into the parking lot. There are about 10 drivers just standing around. Not too many people got off the boat with us. As I’m approaching the exit of the parking lot, his two buddies are trailing us. He then says “Where are you going?” again. I just ignore him because he clearly has not been listening to me. He then shouts “Why are you being so unfriendly?! If you don’t like it here, YOU CAN GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY!” I turn around and snap back at him “Why are you harassing me!” He stops and I keep walking down the street. I see a little cafe and hostel on my left, about 100 meters from the pier’s parking lot that has free wifi. I order some food and try to figure out where we are going. About 30 minutes later, the same taxi driver comes to the cafe and he has another tourist with him. I tell the tourist not to go with the man because he will rip her off. She sits at our table. He comes back and quotes us 700,000 Rupiah to go to the south of the island. I stand up and he has a little brochure in his hand and he shows it to me, like it’s proof of a fair price. I told him “Earlier, I felt very unwelcome here so I’m hesitant to use your services”. He didn’t say anything and I walk back to my table. I end up using the Blue Bird taxi app to book a metered taxi. It ends up only costing us 358,000 Rupiah. It turns out, the Blue Bird taxis wait 20 meters away from the cafe and they won’t go near the pier. Probably because of the mean taxi drivers. I was thinking about the first guy’s rudeness and thought “See what you get for being a jerk? You get nothing. Your greed has left you empty handed” But I’m sure when the next boat comes, he’ll trick another tourist. Shame on you, taxi tout.
It took 2.5 hours to get to South Kuta. We followed the west side of the island and passed through some of the bigger towns like Senggigi. Our new taxi driver was pretty cool, didn’t speak much English, but was telling us about robberies on the island. He said he’s been stopped before in the jungle, the thieves stole money from his passenger, and then they let them continue to their destination. As we are driving through the jungle at 8 PM, he starts accelerating and says “Sorry, this is the bad part of town”. Thankfully we didn’t have any incidents. I booked online at http://www.booking.com (or you can use http://www.agoda.com) at Krisna Homestay 2. Krisna Homestay is on the main road, the Krisna 2 is down a little tiny, unpaved road basically across the street from Krishna 1. I was used to staying in hostels with a shared bathroom for 100,000 Rupiah per night, but Krisna was offering your own room with AC and a bathroom for the same price. What a deal! They also rented motorcycles for 50,000 R per day and didn’t scam you. I ended up staying there for 4 nights. The owner used to work on cruise ships (Holland America?) for 7 years and has probably been to more countries than his guests. Breakfast was included and was either eggs or a pancake with coffee or tea. There is also a really good and inexpensive Indonesia restaurant at the main intersection in Kuta. It’s called Rumah Makan (or Doa Ibu). Also, the IndoMaret (Indonesia’s version of 7-11) sells 1.5 L bottles of water for 4,500 Rupiah. We visited the Novotel (just rode the motorcycle up to the gate), and the first time, there was another couple waiting so they let us both through, and during the second time, he asked me something like “Do you want to stay here?” or maybe it was “Are you staying here?” and I just nodded and he let me through. But if you use their chairs by the beach, you need to pay. They kinda kicked us out the first time. We had been swimming in the ocean for 3o minutes and using their chairs and then they came over and asked if we were staying there. There’s nothing published about that, so we didn’t know. But you can rent the chairs and use the pool if you pay 100,000 Rupiah. We walked over to the Seger Beach viewpoint and had our first of many encounters with the children selling bracelets. If you drive to Seger Beach, they have a “checkpoint” where you have to buy a “ticket” for 10,000 Rupiah. They’ll let Indonesian people go in for free, but if you’re a tourist, you have to pay. It’s just a photocopy of some ticket and two guys control the tollbooth arm. Racism at it’s finest. We also rode to Mawi beach which is about 35 minutes west of Kuta. I had read that a lot of attacks have happened to tourists and people were robbed and that you shouldn’t go to certain areas of the island, etc. On the way over there, I was always checking for roadblocks or other motorcycles coming up close to us and I was observing the tourists going the opposite direction. I figured if there were tourists driving from Mawi to Kuta, it was safe to go from Kuta to Mawi. I had also read about motorcycle scams and came across an article that said a new local police force was available to mediate any issues and it said they patrolled certain roads during the day. “Pasar Seni” Police in Kuta. Contact Rizal. 081 9074 93367 It was deserted when we got to the beach, but eventually, some other people showed up. We had to pay an entrance fee and there was a lot of trash and the roads were horrible, so I’m sure they’re just pocketing the money. When it was time to leave, an airplane ticket is about the same as a ferry ticket. So I went to a few airport transfer tourist booths and reserved a ride for 50,000 Rupiah. It picked me up the next day right on time, and the adventure continues! : )
*Trans Sarbagita Public Bus on Bali
There is not much information about this service and the information that is online is outdated. I’ve seen a few people create a map for the routes, but it’s still lacking. I found a map online from 2012 and it’s pretty accurate.
I tried to go from central Denpasar to Sanur Beach and on the map, it shows a route going east, as of 2012. (It also claims there is a route to Ubud, which actually does not exist) When I arrived at the bus stand, a taxi tout tells me there isn’t a straight route and wants me to pay 50,000 Rupiah to go to the beach. I ignore him. The bus ticket is only 3,500 Rupiah. Another knock off Blue Bird taxi shows up and wants me to go with him. I declare loudly “I’m taking the BUS!” He leaves. Some taxi drivers have a logo and a blue bird logo very similar to Blue Bird. But they are fake. Finally the big blue bus shows up and the attendant says there isn’t a bus that goes straight to the beach. Oh well. I pay for my ticket and I’m watching my GPS as we go north. I’m expecting us to go south. We stop at some northern bus station and the staff gets off for lunch. I am the only passenger now and I remain on the bus and I see the attendant talking to another attendant and pointing at the bus. After 20 minutes, a new driver and the other attendant get on and then he wants me to pay another 3,500. I told him I already paid and showed him my ticket, but he just says “No good”. I don’t think he was trying to be mean but that’s all he was repeating to me. I think that they have distance limits on their tickets. I pay for a second ticket and we head south. I told him where I’m going and he shows me the bus stop. I walk across the street and wait for the second bus. The first bus was small and could hold 20 people but this new bus is big and can hold 40 people. I get on the new bus and we start heading northeast and the lady shows me where to get off for the beach. I swim and return to the bus stop, I get on the bus and head southwest and get off at the correct stop. I cross the street again and am waiting to go back to central Denpasar (north) and I get on the first bus that arrives. After I pay for my ticket, I realize we’re going back the same way (northeast)! Noooooooo! I got on the big bus again, not the small bus. I get off again at the beach and realize I don’t have enough money to get home. So I find a convenience store near a McDonald’s and call a GrabTaxi and pay him when we arrive back at the hostel. So the public bus system can improve, but it is there to provide you wheels if you can figure it out.