Bali’s Tourism Board has issued new guidance about the best ways to travel around the island. The reason why this is big news is that for years, there has been discussion about whether or not tourists can use ride-hailing apps while on vacation in Bali. The tourism board has finally given a clear answer.
In an infographic, the Bali Tourism Board shared its top tips for navigating the island.
Travel within Bali is pretty straightforward, but with minimal public transportation infrastructure, tourists do need to be proactive when it comes to organizing their own transportation.
Public buses exist in Bali, but the services usually run between destinations that best serve local people and rarely go directly to tourism hotspots.
The issue with public transportation in Bali is a hot topic at the moment. The Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, has recently announced a new partnership with the Department of Transportation in Jakarta for a collaboration to establish a new MTR and LRT rail system within Denpasar City and between Bali Airport and key resort destinations like Seminyak and Sanur.
Governor Koster says that Bali can learn a lot from Jakarta when it comes to transportation management, and in return for the collaboration, officials from Bali will be supporting the capital city with tourism development.
The most significant element of the advice issued by the Bali Tourism Board is their confirmation that online ride-hailing apps are a viable transportation option for tourists in Bali.
For years there have been conflicts between tourists and local communities, local taxi drivers, and online app drivers about whether the services are allowed to be used in Bali’s most popular tourist destinations.
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The Bali Tourism Board has said that motorbike taxis like Go-Jek and Grab Bike are one of the best ways to get around the island. They say, “Similar to ride-hailing services, you can use apps like GoJek and GrabBike to book motorbike taxis for short-distance trips. They are affordable and readily available in most areas.”
In June this year, residents and tourists in Bali were shocked by footage of a local taxi driver harassing a couple from Jakarta who had booked an online taxi to take them to the airport.
The local driver demanded the couple pay him an exorbitant amount of money in order for him to let them go.
@travelwithrafa Gojek ride around Bali with me! Have you ever been here? Chaotic traffic around here but it’s worth it for the views 😍🇮🇩 #bali #travelbali #viral ♬ Shooting Stars – Bag Raiders
Following the incident, the Bali Transportation Agency reiterated that online taxi services are legal to use in Indonesia.
The Head of the Bali Transportation Agency, Wayan Gede Samsi Gunarta, called on the transportation sector to work collaboratively moving forward.
Speaking in June, Gunarta explained, “There is no prohibition for online taxis to operate anywhere [in Bali]”.
“That means if he (local taxi) is official [legally registered], yes, he must work together with online taxis [drivers] to be able to pick up passengers.”
This being said, looking at the guidance given to tourists by the Bali Tourism Board, it is clear that the office wants to promote local, private taxis to visitors.
The Bali Tourism Board also suggests tourists should hire a private car with a driver and use traditional metered taxis.
The office writes, “Hiring a private car with a driver is a comfortable option, especially if you want to explore multiple attractions in one day. It offers flexibility and the freedom to create your own itinerary.”
This advice is very much in alignment with Governor Koster’s proposal to ban tourists from driving themselves in Bali and instead make it mandatory for tourists to travel only with a government-approved driver and/or guide.
Although Governor Koster made impassioned statements about his vision, no legislative changes have been made on this point as of yet.
The Bali Tourism Board also writes, “You can find traditional taxis in tourist areas, the airport and major towns. Make sure to use taxis with mires or negotiate the fare before starting the trip.”