Everything you need to know for your first Bali holiday!

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For most Balinese people, motorbikes are their only form of transport, which they learn to ride from a very early age. It is amusing to see a family of four on one motorbike weaving in and out of hectic traffic seemingly without a care in the world.

Taxis

Apart from walking or riding a bicycle, the cheapest and best way of getting around Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Sanur or Nusa Dua is by taxi. Taxis will charge RP6000 flagfall and up to RP6000 per kilometre thereafter, which is only about 60 cents per km. By our standards in Australia, petrol prices in Bali are much cheaper but have increased recently (AUG 2013).

It is never very expensive to travel this way when you consider a 20km trip will cost around AUD$12.60 (Rp.126,000) including flagfall, even less if you are sharing. You can also negotiate a fixed price deal with a taxi driver for a day tour of your choice, which will cost you in the order of RP300,000 to RP350,000 or $30 to $35. If you do hire a taxi (Bluebird pale blue,) for the day make sure he can speak english well enough for you to understand.

Most tourists tip taxi drivers on occasions and in particular if the passenger has enjoyed the ride in the company of a friendly and obliging driver. Remember, if you give them a tip of RP10,000 it is only one Australian dollar in round figures. The drivers work long hours behind the wheel and accept graciously, any tips for their service.

Unfortunately, not all taxi operators and drivers are the same because of the stiff competition in the taxi business from a number of operators. This sometimes results in some operators having to cut costs wherever possible to remain competitive, which results in a lack of interest in their vehicles, poor servicing standards for the fleet, bald tyres, rough suspension and maybe with the air conditioning turned off or broken to save fuel.

One thing you must do each time you get into a taxi is to check if the meter is on. If it’s not, tell the driver you will get out unless he turns it on. If he tells you it is broken, get out. It will save a big argument developing later.

My personal recommendation is the  “Bluebird Company” who have a large fleet of 500 clean pale blue late model taxis. I would be very surprised to hear if you do have any trouble with this company but its not to say it won’t happen. In the event you use any of the others, you will be fine providing you are aware of what can happen.

It is worth mentioning here while we are on the subject of taxis, the fairer sex in particular should be vigilant if travelling on their own at night. If you do, make sure you have your wits about you and your mobile phone with you.

It’s a good idea to make a note of the taxi number and then dial someone even if it’s a pretend call to say I am on my way in taxi number such and such and should be there in a few minutes.

Hire vehicles

Another way of getting about is hiring a scooter/motorbike or vehicle. If you do decide to do this you will need your passport and an international drivers license, which are available from RAC. Please make sure you have ample insurance coverage.

Bali can be scary so you should be aware of a few things regarding your responsibility on the road, like who gives way to whom, speed limit and how the system works at traffic lights, which is very confusing to say the least.

Possibly, the worst experience you could have is with the law should you become involved in a traffic accident involving another vehicle or even worse a local pedestrian. The consequences of this event can be very stressful and on going.  Should this situation occur, your holiday might come to an abrupt ending.

Hopefully, you will not come to any physical harm as a result of an accident but if you do you will need to know where you can receive the correct medical attention.

Important

Warning: Before you attempt to drive a vehicle or ride a scooter/motorbike, make sure you are well covered with travel insurance. I recommend 1 Cover Insurance.

Please take a great deal of care should you decide to drive a vehicle or in particular ride a scooter/motorbike in Bali. Many motorbike accidents occur daily in Bali involving both locals and tourists due to the fact many tourists from around the world are not familiar with local road conditions, speed limits, general rules of the road, have disregard for wearing a helmet, alcohol abuse and more often than not, simply showing off.

A disturbing statistic for you to consider before hiring a scooter/motorbike is that on average three people either die or are seriously maimed from accidents every day.  If that is not disturbing enough, a huge number of tourists are left in a serious condition daily or maimed for life. A sobering thought no doubt as many of these victims are young people from Australia.

The address for treatment after a motor vehicle, motorbike, surfing accident, or any other serious ailment, you should contact the Bali international medical centre situated near the traffic roundabout on the bypass Road in Kuta. Phone number (+62 361) 761263.

Charlie & Tour guides

In my opinion the safest and most popular way of sightseeing is to hire a professional tour guide to drive you. Most have comfortable air conditioned vehicles to take you wherever you have decided to go for the day and it’s cheap on a per head basis and far more relaxing.

As you can imagine, there are many tour guides looking for the same tourist dollar every single day of their life and it’s not beyond them to tell you whatever comes to mind to win your business.

The information I am covering with you in this book will not necessarily be on the internet, which leads me into telling you about a tour guide and long time friend of mine. His Balinese name is “Ketut Tamba,” otherwise know as Charlie from Bali.

I have known Charlie personally for the past twenty eight years. Since those early days, Charlie has been our chauffeur as often as needed for the time we spend in Bali.

I have no hesitation in recommending Charlie’s services to anyone who may require them. M: 08155792272. E: [email protected]

There will be times when Charlie is very busy so on these occasions ask Charlie if he could organise another reputable driver to look after you for the day. With regard to costs for his services, you will find his rates very competitive and especially if you are sharing.

You can expect tour rates to vary from around RP 250,000 up to RP 500,000 total, depending on the distance travelled and time taken. The equivalent in dollars is somewhere between $25 and $50 total, covering everyone on board. The more passengers you have the cheaper it is per person.

Although I am giving Charlie a good plug here, there are any amount of Charlie’s in the transport business on the island and I am sure they will all look after you well also but they don’t come with my personal recommendation.

RECOMMENDED TOUR COMPANY

Bali Success Tours

If you prefer to choose your own professional transport driver, I recommend you look up www.balisuccesstours.com.au or E: [email protected]. This tour company is Australian owned and operated in a very professional manner.

Handy tips to remember:

  • Use the pale blue taxi’s from the Bluebird Company at least until you have become confident with living in your new surrounds. Always check to see if the meter is on if you are travelling in a taxi from another company.
  • Not all transport drivers and taxi drivers are honest so be aware that you could be paying too much and or they are unreliable.
  • If you decide to rent a motorbike or vehicle make sure you are well insured and that you will also require an international drivers licence and passport.
  • Before you commit to hiring, make sure you understand the local road rules and the consequences.
  • If you are involved in a car accident don’t forget the Bali International Medical Centre listed above.
  • Important: In the event you are involved in a traffic accident and found to be drunk behind the wheel or not wearing a motorbike helmut, Guess What!..your travel insurance will not cover your hospital bills or any other out of pocket expenses.