Before visiting Bali we were worried about how we would get around all the sights without spending a fortune. The island is a lot smaller than it appears on a map and Uber, Grab as well as several taxi companies are readily available. You can also rent a motorcycle if you prefer living on the wild side and aren’t worried about getting sunburned. However the best and easiest way to get around is to hire a private driver for the day.
We weren’t planning on renting a driver upon arrival, we hoped to find some all-inclusive tours that seemed incredibly cheap at 550,000 IDR per person. We stumbled upon a private driver accidentally after our first day in Denpasar turn out rainier than expected and forced us to get an Uber. Our driver was friendly and told us all about Bali. Then he pulled out a tourist map of the area and offered to take us wherever we want for 500,000 IDR per day. We cancelled the tour and had him drive us around for three whole days. It cost less than we would have paid the tour company for just one day and we had total privacy in a comfortable, air conditioned car.
Our driver was Busono and his phone number is +62 822-8205-1311. He’s based on Sanur and can take you all around Denpasar, Tanah Lot and Ubud. If you want to go up north to Mount Batur, however, you should find a local driver. We recommend Busono because he was always early, friendly, eager to show his customers a good time and extremely honest. He recommended great places for lunch based on our needs – cheap, local and vegan. He even picked up some stuff we forgot at a previous Airbnb and held on to it for a few days while we explored the northwestern part of the island.
Busono was our first and last driver during our trip but we did have two others while we stayed in Ubud. They weren’t nearly as good and one of them even demanded an undeserved tip after overcharging us. He also didn’t leave the air-conditioning on in the car while we were out, which Busono always thought to do. I’m all for saving the planet and avoid wasting gas, but having to buy new bottles of water after your old ones were cooked in a car isn’t environmentally friendly either plus it’s a health hazard.
So shop around before you pick a driver and check out these useful tips.
- Agree on the price before you go on the trip. Discuss when and where the tour will start and end. Also make sure to get their number and that it works, it will not only ensure their honestly but it will help you find each other if ever get separated or forget something in their car.
- Ask your driver for tips on the best time to visit certain places and their recommended order in which to visit them. They can give you more insight than Google so take advantage of their experience!
- Offer to buy your driver lunch if you’re stopping to eat. They don’t always expect it but it will go a long way plus they’ll end up paying you back by sharing Bali secrets or taking bumpy shortcuts to beat traffic.
- Agree on when and where you’ll meet your driver at every stop. All cars in Bali look the same. So parking lots can get crazy. No, seriously, 90% of cars in Bali are identically shaped silver vans although some do come in white or black. Sometimes drivers will let you out by the entrance before they park the car – save yourself the stress of running around in the heat and make arrangements!
- Tip your driver if they do a good job or go overtime. Traffic can get crazy in the evenings so we almost always went over the agreed 10 hours. Pay an extra 50,000-100,000 or even more if you’re feeling generous!
- Ask your driver how much certain activities should cost. For example, Busono told us that the Sea Walker experience should not cost $90 so we haggled and got it down to $40.
- Worry about leaving your things in the car. From my experience the drivers are very honest and will gladly watch your stuff so you don’t have to lug it around. We always left our drone and laptops in the car without any problems.
- Be shy about your needs. Tell your driver if you need to stop at a bathroom, ATM or store. They will be happy to take you wherever you need to go!
- Blame your driver for getting stuck in traffic. Bali is always swarming with cars and traffic is common. If you want you can check Google Map`s for traffic info and suggest a better route to your driver. Don’t assume that they’re trying to waste your time and cost you more money.
- Pay your driver before the trip. Honest drivers won’t ask you to pay until they drop you off at the end of the day. Sometimes they will ask you for 50,000 to pay for gas or tolls along the way but they’ll deduct it from the total price.
- Discuss politically incorrect topics with or in front of your driver. If they as you about politics in your country, answer if you feel comfortable. Talking about your salary, religion or illegal activities such as taking drugs is simply not okay. There are many foreigners sitting in Indonesian jails for drug use and/or possession. There are better ways to make fiends than wearing matching orange jumpsuits…
Did I miss any important tips? Do you have an anecdote to share? Please share your stories in the comments below!