When planning a trip, there are a few things to consider, like where to go, what to eat, and how to get around. Transportation is a crucial part of any trip, especially when you’re headed to a place like Ubud, Bali.
In June 2022, I had the opportunity to visit Ubud for four days with my friends, who are foreigners. We stayed at the beautiful SereS Springs Resort & Spa. The resort was stunning, especially the villas with private pools, but it was a bit far from the city center, so we had to book a vehicle or taxi to get around.
In this post, I’ll share my experiences as an Indonesian who traveled with foreigners using Grab, Gojek, and Blue Bird in Ubud. Maybe it’ll help you decide which transportation is right for you during your trip to Bali!
For the post in Indonesian click here: Apakah Grab, Gocar, Blue Bird Boleh Dipake di Ubud?
1. For Short Distances, Blue Bird is The Top Choice
For short distances in Ubud, we found Blue Bird taxis to be the best option. They are convenient, reliable, and easy to order through the MyBlueBird app. They are also well-accepted in the local community, so there are no issues with local taxis.
To order a Blue Bird taxi, we can use the Gojek app and select the Blue Bird option, or download the MyBlueBird app from the App Store or Google Play. The app shows an estimate of the total cost and allows us to choose between a fixed or flexible rate. The app also accepts various payment methods, including Gopay, credit cards, eVoucher, Trip Voucher, ShopeePay, LinkAja, DANA, and i.saku.
Before our trip to Bali, we made sure to download the MyBlueBird app. We’re glad we did because, even though we don’t usually use it in Jakarta (we usually just use the Grab or Gojek app), it turned out to be a lifesaver in Ubud.
When we were researching our trip to Ubud, we came across some information saying that some hotels don’t allow online taxis to enter their area. So we asked the receptionist at SereS Springs Resort & Spa if Blue Bird taxis or other online taxi services like Grabcar or Gocar would be allowed on the property. The resort confirmed that Blue Bird taxis were allowed, but Grabcar and Gocar were not yet available in Ubud. However, it’s worth noting that Grabcar and Gocar are actually “available” in Ubud – it’s possible that the resort’s policy is to not allow these services on their property.
Based on this information, we decided to stick with Blue Bird for the rest of our trip in Ubud. It was a perfect choice! For instance, when we wanted to have dinner at a restaurant in the city center, a Blue Bird taxi took us from the resort to Bale Udang Mang Engking for just 30,000 IDR. We were really happy with our decision to use Blue Bird – it was convenient, affordable, and reliable.
2. For 1 Day Trip, Consider Renting Car + Driver From Traveloka
During our stay in Ubud, my friends and I made a list of tourist attractions that we really wanted to visit and came up with a plan to hit most of them in one full-day trip. For the rest of our stay, we used the time to relax or go to the city center for dinner and souvenir shopping.
To make our full-day sightseeing tour even more comfortable, we decided to rent a car and driver for a day through Traveloka. It was such a great decision! The driver showed up on time, drove smoothly, knew all the best routes, and was super friendly. He even helped us take pictures. We had a comfortable ride the whole time, which made our trip even more enjoyable.
One minor downside is that the driver wasn’t fluent in English. He could hold a conversation and explain things in English, but not much. But that’s okay – he wasn’t a tour guide, he was just a driver. Before the driver came to pick us up, he asked for a list of tourist attractions that we wanted to visit. We gave him the list, and he was able to provide route recommendations and keep us on track.
One of the best things about renting a car and a driver for a day through Traveloka is the variety of options. You can choose based on price, car type, the number of ratings, and more – it’s really easy to find something that fits your budget. We ended up going with a Mitsubishi Xpander (M.P.V. car), and it was perfect for us. It had plenty of space, comfortable seats, and even armrests – it was such a treat to ride in, especially on the winding roads of Ubud.
Here’s an example of the cost of renting a Mitsubishi Xpander car and driver for one day in Ubud (not including gas, entrance fees, parking, and driver meal costs).
|Car Rent Fee||450.439 IDR|
(depends on how many locations you want)
|Driver Meals||60.000 IDR|
(according to Traveloka standard)
|Tips||Flexible, you can give any amount you prefer|
|Total Car + Driver + Gas Fee||~ 685.439 IDR (without tips yet)|
|Note||While the Xpander car is on the more expensive side, you can definitely find more affordable options on Traveloka. Just choose based on your budget and preferences – there are plenty of cars to choose from.|
3. So, Can you still use Grabcar or Gocar in Ubud?
Before our trip to Bali, we did some research to see if Grabcar and Gocar were available in Ubud. We found mixed answers – some people said they weren’t available yet, while others said they are available but it wasn’t always safe to use them.
Most local taxis (especially the taxi mafias) in Ubud won’t be happy to see you riding in online taxi services like Grabcar and Gocar. It reminds me of when online taxis first entered Jakarta – there were a lot of conflicts with local taxis, but now they’re safe and widely used.
So, can you still use Grabcar or Gocar in Ubud?
When it came to food delivery, Grab and Gojek were both available. Even the hotel said it was fine to order food online using Grab or Gojek. However, Grabcar and Gocar were not allowed in the hotel area, while Blue Bird Taxi was.
A Blue Bird Taxi driver told us that he once saw an online taxi driver getting into an argument with a local taxi driver in the Ubud Art Market area. The online driver showed his ID to prove that he was also a local, and then quickly left the scene. At first, we didn’t know if this was true or not until we experienced something similar in Canggu in September 2022 – a local taxi driver scolded us for using an online taxi service. It just showed that there can be tension between local and online taxi drivers in Bali. Scroll down for more details on our experience.
In the center of Ubud, you’ll see lots of people offering taxi services and car rentals. We didn’t want to risk it because we didn’t know what the market price was – we didn’t want to get ripped off.
So, did you use Grab or Gocar at all while you were in Ubud? We didn’t – we stuck with Blue Bird taxis. But when we were in Denpasar, we used Grab or Gojek sometimes, depending on what was available.
We also used Gocar to get from Ngurah Rai Airport to our hotel in Ubud (SereS Springs Resort & Spa). The cost was around IDR 284,000. We tried checking on Grab too, but it was almost 500,000 – way more expensive. In the end, we went with Gocar, and we were really happy with our choice. The driver said there are no problems with using Grab or Gocar if you’re coming from outside Ubud, but if you try to use them in Ubud, you might run into some friction with local taxis.
4. Our Experience Riding Gocar and Encountering Local Taxi Mafias in Canggu, Bali
We experienced a tense situation in Canggu when we used Gocar to get from Batu Mejan Beach, near La Brisa bar to our next destination. We didn’t do enough research beforehand and assumed that all areas of Bali outside Ubud were friendly towards online taxi services like Gocar and Grabcar.
However, this wasn’t the case – local taxi drivers (taxi mafias) in Canggu were not happy to see us using Gocar, and we were confronted by them. It was a lesson learned for us to do more research and be aware of potential conflicts when using online taxi services in Bali.
The incident was on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, when we went to La Brisa, Canggu. After hanging out and grabbing a bite, we headed to Batu Mejan Beach in Canggu to catch the sunset. After walking along the beach, we decided to go to dinner at a different place and ordered a Gocar to take us there. Unfortunately, that’s when the confrontation with the local taxi happened.
While walking back from the beach, we were near the La Brisa entrance when our Gocar driver called and told us to go to the parking area. We didn’t understand which parking area he was talking about because the road was noisy and we could barely hear him. We told him we were near the minimarket (convenience store) and asked if we should go back to the parking area.
The Gocar driver replied, “Ah ok, then just wait there, let’s see if later you can get in there.” This made us start to wonder why we couldn’t get into the Gocar there. The driver didn’t mention anything about local taxis prohibiting online taxi orders in the area. We also didn’t see any groups of local taxis parked nearby.
As soon as the driver arrived and we got in the car, a group of local taxi drivers suddenly appeared and started knocking on the window next to the driver.
They glared at him and immediately shouted, “Online right, Grab or Gojek?” People around us started looking, they were curious to see what was happening.
I immediately thought, ‘Oh no, this is bad.’ I started to worry that something might happen. I wondered if their gang would beat up the Gocar driver who came to pick us up. ‘Aaah why didn’t the Gocar driver tell us that we couldn’t take an online taxi from there?’
I tried to stay quiet, even though my heart was racing because I was sitting next to the driver. My friends in the back seat were also silent. I didn’t dare to look around. I was waiting for the driver’s reaction to the local taxi mafias.
“Answer! Online right?” shouted the local taxi mafias again.
“No, (I am) from the villa, just pick them up, ” answered by Gocar driver.
In my mind, I was like “oh, the driver pretended to be a driver from our villa who was picking us up.” Even though I was prepared to get out and pay a fine if that’s what they want, but the driver’s reaction made me join in and act like this was a car from our villa.
Local taxi mafias said, “We don’t believe it! Show us the chat (from the app)! We saw earlier that you were using the app”
What the fuck, I glanced at my phone, oh, luckily I closed the app already.
I also join acting, “no, not online.”
Local taxi mafias, “No, this is definitely online! Show me the chat!”
I said, “This is the driver from the villa, picking us up. Here look (I showed my phone in the home section), I didn’t use the app right (even though I happened to close the app when I got in the car before they knew)”.
While continuing to get angry, the taxi mafias still insisted, “What is the name of the villa.”
I think the local taxi mafias didn’t believe us when we said we were from a villa. He probably thought we wouldn’t be able to name the villa when he asked. But since we were actually staying at a villa in Canggu, I mentioned the name of the villa right away. The taxi mafias guy was silent for a moment before grumbling that online taxis couldn’t be taken from that area. After a few more minutes of yelling, he finally backed away from the window, looking angry.
I thought he would call his friends and things would get out of hand. Thankfully, the Gocar driver quickly turned around and drove away from the area. It was a really tense and scary situation. The situation there was even scarier than my description here.
After we left that place, the three of us finally felt comfortable enough to talk.
My friends said, “Wow, your acting was terrific!” All of us were laughing.
I replied, “WTF, I couldn’t believe how scared I was, my heart was racing.”
I then asked the Gocar driver, “Why didn’t you warn us that we shouldn’t take a taxi from there? I was so scared that something bad would happen to us.”
The driver responded, “I thought everyone was local, and usually that wouldn’t be a problem. It’s just because there were foreigners with you the local taxi came to us. Sorry about that.”
I added, “I was really scared, I was afraid you’d get beat up. What if something happened?”
The Gocar driver said, “Ah no, at most they’ll just yell and scold, if they dare to beat us up then it’s going to be a big problem for them too.”
So, in my opinion, this incident was really uncomfortable. Apart from being yelled at, I also didn’t like the intimidating atmosphere. I was scared that something might happen to my driver or to us. It’s also frustrating that we were in a public area, but we were not allowed to take an online taxi.
Our advice is if you are around Canggu Beach and want to take Gocar or Grabcar, it’s better to ask the driver where you have to wait at a safe point so that you avoid clashes with local taxi mafias like what we experienced.
In addition, when we went to La Plancha in the Seminyak Beach area of Bali. Before returning to the villa we asked their staff where to order an online taxi. They said that online taxis couldn’t go directly near their bar area, they advised us to walk towards the Double Six Beach T-junction, there will be taxis available, local and Blue Bird.
Yes, people are heading to Double Six Beach. It’s a fun walk, even at night. There are still many people walking around and the bars and restaurants are still open and bustling. The light from the bars and restaurants brightens the streets. If you’re lucky, you might come across a Blue Bird taxi that has just dropped off passengers, then you can hop in right away.
At the Double Six Beach T-junction, there’s a group of local taxis (not Blue Bird) parked and waiting for passengers. Since they weren’t Blue Bird, we decided to turn left and take a leisurely stroll past the cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. It was a lovely walk and we enjoyed looking at all the different shops along the way. In the end, we ordered Gocar near the Yamma Yaa Legian restaurant.
If you’re planning to take a taxi in Bali, another piece of advice is to make sure it’s a Blue Bird. The problem is that the local taxis, which don’t use meters, have almost the same color. If you’re using a Blue Bird, you know you’re paying by the meter right? Meanwhile, if you’re using a local taxi, many people are worried about being overcharged.
From what I’ve observed in the Seminyak area (because I often walk around in that area), local taxis like to honk when they are empty, while the Blue Bird ones usually don’t. Since the colors are similar and even the bird logo on the lights is similar too, to avoid any confusion, be sure to look for the “Blue Bird” written on the car before you get in.
We don’t want to discourage anyone from supporting local businesses, but if the local taxis continue to charge high prices, people will naturally choose the ones with clear meter prices like Blue Bird or other options like online taxis where you can see the approximate total price upfront.
If you have any questions feel free to drop any comments below!
For the post in Indonesian click here: Apakah Grab, Gocar, Blue Bird Boleh Dipake di Ubud?