You’ve heard the stories, you’ve seen the pictures but.. is Grab and Uber really illegal in Bali?
Well, apart from this news article (dated Apr 2016), I haven’t read much official news about it being absolutely illegal and banned in Bali or Indonesia so I guess the drivers are kind of like in the grey area zone whereby the government hasn’t given any ruling.
Being the ever-adventurous explorer (or so I perceived myself to be..), I decided to give Grab multiple tries and it was overall a good and cheap experience.
I don’t really recommend visiting Bali in a small group (pairs) as you often have to commute via private transport (aka taxis, hire driver or grab/uber). As a result, the cost savings increase with a bigger group since you kind of pay the same price for a car sitting 6 people (MPV) or 2 people. Sadly, I only travelled with one other friend due to an unfortunate case of ‘pangseh‘ and transport within Bali alone cost us quite a bomb (Sorry I can’t recall the amount cause it has been too long).
Now.. let me answer some questions in FAQ format (since these are the same few questions my own friends ask anyway)
How do I use Grab in Bali?
If you have an existing Grab account and Grab app, all you have to do is to open up the app and your location will be automatically detected in the new city/country. You don’t need to download anything extra. It works exactly the same way – you key in your pick-up point and destination (in english – and it works) and click on book and yea it’s the same thing.
Am I entitled to use their Promo Codes?
Similar to the Grab in Singapore, there may be pop-up notifications with regards to discounts and promotions! For me, I print-screened the message (which was in bahasa) and asked my indonesian friend to translate. She told me the keyword to type in the promo box and.. yea I shamelessly received 20,000 Rp discounts for my already ridiculous cheap rides.
Should I pay by Credit Card or Cash?
Since we use GrabPay so often in Singapore, the default mode of payment selected in Credit Card! You need to remember to manually toggle to ‘Cash’ option before you make your booking, otherwise, your credit card will be charged instead. I generally prefer cash when I’m overseas in case the credit card exchange rate gets super unfavourable and.. you can’t really dispute. At the same time, I would love to believe that the drivers prefer receiving cash. As at March 2017, the promo codes I used were not exclusively for GrabPay (unlike Singapore). Things may have change so.. you’ll never know!
How much did I spend on Grab?
Similar to Singapore, Grab offers upfront pricing – which means that your price is fixed the moment you book (you still need to pay for tolls). I feel more comfortable this way as there may be unscrupulous taxi drivers (I had them in Seoul) who rigged their taxi meter or purposefully take a longer route to make you pay more. For this very aspect on fixed pricing, I find that it is a super plus point for riders.
- Grab Car from Hotel (Maison Aurelia Sanur) to Nusa Dua (Pirate Bay)
21km, 30 mins – $5.53 SGD | 52,000 Rp (After 20,000 Rp discount)
- Grab Car from Nusa Dua to Seminyak (Sea Circus)
22km, 38 mins – $5 SGD | 47,000 Rp (After 20,000 Rp discount)
We took 4 Grab rides in Bali, but I can only find evidence for these 2. Can’t remember if I accidentally deleted the email receipt.
Will I get beaten up if I use Grab/Uber in Bali?
Well, I didn’t; but anything might happen should the situation gets tense up again. As much as I say that it is somewhat alright to use Grab/Uber, it is advisable to do it really discretely. This means that you shouldn’t stand by the roadside and stare at your phone profusely. We book our rides when we are still seated down in the restaurant or in our hotel room to avoid unwanted attention from the drivers on the road (who may shout at you telling you that Grab/Uber is banned). Also, there were drivers who messaged us (in English) to tell us that if anyone ask you anything, just tell them you are waiting for a friend. Never say Grab or Uber (in case you really get bashed).
Another thing about the drivers in Bali is that.. they whatsapp you (not SMS) when they are arriving. Well, knowing that you can book Grab obviously means that you have data roaming. Some drivers will tell us where to wait or ask us where we were standing. My friend mentioned that Grab does this translation service (in Thailand) for their messaging but I can’t verify this information as yet.
If Grab was so good and convenient, why did I hire a Private Driver?
For our transfer out from Nusa Lembongon, our boat package included a land transfer from the Sanur Harbour to our hotel. As we didn’t really know what to do for our last day in Bali (well, my friend said she wanted to see waterfalls), I thought that the easiest way out was just to hire a driver to drive us to wherever we wanted, before dropping us at the airport for our flight back to Singapore in the evening.
We were quoted 400,000 Rp for a driver from 8:30am to 4:30pm from the driver that did our land transfer. The following day, the driver told us that he had some prayers and couldn’t fetch us but he arranged another driver for us. Their english was pretty manageable and we didn’t really have much translation issues. Bali is indeed a tourist-friendly destination.
Anyway, let’s do the math (of the distance clocked by my private driver) to see if Grab would have been a better alternative.
- Hotel (Maison Aurelia Sanur) to Timbumana Waterfalls (34.3km, 1 hr 17 mins)
- Timbumana Waterfalls to Ubud Rice Fields (24.9km, 57 mins)
- Ubud Rice Fields to Hotel (Maison Aurelia Sanur) (36.7km, 1 hr 16 mins)
- Hotel to Lunch (near airport) (18.3km, 29mins)
- Lunch to Airport (4.2km, 13 mins)
Total distance clocked: 118.4km
If I use the same average price/km for my previous Grab trip, this distance would have cost us 405,952 Rp. Furthemore, it would have been pretty impossible for us to get a driver at the waterfalls place because it was pretty isolated.
For full day itineraries which involves exploration, I think it is cheaper and more advisable to travel using a private hire driver. Your driver (well if he is good), will serve as your tour guide and photographer too! This driver who brought us to Timbumana Waterfalls – was visiting it for the first time too! He accompanied us the way down (all that steps) and ha, he was commenting on how unfit he was. Furthermore, our driver recommended us to visit Ubud Rice Fields (though it was not in our original quoted price) and brought us there and made sure we were on schedule back to our hotel for checkout and airport flight. He even introduced us our final meal in Bali – crispy fried pork with rice at a local restaurant – and we paid for his meal as a form of tips.
On the other hand, if you’re visiting restaurants/clubs/shopping malls within the touristy area (Kuta, Seminyak etc.), I believe there are no issues just using Grab/Uber as a form of commute. Sadly, I did not try their local Blue Bird taxis at all so i can’t comment on their services but I guess there are always good and bad people no matter what choice you make so.. just practice your own discretion!
You can never be too sure about the decisions you make, sometimes you need to just go with the 70% and be prepared for the 30% of uncertainty.
– Quoted from someone I respect
Hotel we stayed in Mainland Bali
Since our harbour (to and from Lembongon) was at Sanur, I decided to choose an accommodation at Sanur, away from the crowd and noise of Kuta and Seminyak. We stayed at Maison Aurelia Sanur, a new hotel which was so beautiful. We paid $97.93 for a room (2 pax), without breakfast. Of course there are cheaper options but.. I always love new places 😀
The key card alone was so atas looking already.
Lobby looking great too.
Places I ate in Mainland Bali
Pirates Bay Bali
Without prior planning (cause I was lazy and tired after the hassle of Lembongon & Penida), I googled for hip and possibly blog worthy places to dine at in Bali and.. i chose this place which has a lot of sand and treehouse in Nusa Penida. Food was average but it was pretty refreshing to sit down and watch squirrels disturb your meal.
Can you spot the off-focus squirrel in the photo below? They are.. everywhere.
The menu here is pretty much a western menu.
The food didn’t leave much impression for me, pretty average, but it wasn’t bad either. We paid about 290,000 Rp for 2 mains + 2 drinks; which is.. like super pricey but it was Nusa Dua (the atas area) after all..
This cafe is pretty famous on Instagram and I think someoone from Girls Generation visited before!
To be honest, I was a little shocked that.. that’s it? I mean it would have been a shop that I would have walked past if nobody pointed it out to me but.. it seems that this bright and lovely chair is a popular instagram-worthy spot. There’s a yellow chair too. Since my photos are not doing justice to this super instagram worthy cafe, just view more photos from this location tag on Instagram. Sorry for not having the talent to be like everyone else on instagram. whoops.
Since we were full from lunch, we just shared tacos (for the sake of buying something).
Like most other cafes, it was nice but overpriced. Apparently, this cafe can get really crowded during lunch/dinner timings.. thankfully we were there during ‘tea-time’ and we didn’t have to wait long for a seat!
Juicy & Cripsy
Since we were staying in Sanur, I happen to chance upon this food recommendation while searching for nearby food.
We had to wait for a seat. I guess it’s quite a popular place, even among the locals.
Pocket-friendly pricing; well we were in Sanur (a not-really tourist desintation), which is cheaper than Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua.
Highly recommended – juicy and crispy indeed.
The ribs were awesome too. The meat falls off easily and the sauce was delicious.
Ordered watermelon juice in an attempt to find that taste from the hotel in Nusa Lembongon; sadly it failed.
Conclusion: Yes, I would eat this again.
Rumah Makan Babi Guling Karya Rebo
We asked for a recommendation of Babi Guling (roasted pig) which was on the way and the driver brought us to this place after considering many factors (distance, time, speed etc.) I was a super localised restaurant, which gives me a bit of malaysia feel.
How should I describe? Everything was delicious (except the vegtables which I don’t exactly adore on a personal level). The roast pork was so delicious but.. it was simply too few pieces! The Satay was nice too..
The driver told us that he don’t eat this dish often because it is.. expensive. I guess 50,000 Rp to them is quite a luxury for a meal (given this is like somewhat their hourly wage).
Can’t seem to find a proper photo of this place on my phone/camera because I was playing with my water resistant GoPro but.. you can see the photos from their instagram location tag.
Ubud Rice Fields
I guess this place needs on explanation right?
Sorry for not writing more in details but I guess if you need help, you’ll comment anyway!
Note: Post was written in Nov 2017 but my last visit to Bali was in Mar 2017. Things may have changed in the past 8 months. Please comment if there’s any latest update.
This is my long-delayed blog post, continuing my adventure in Bali. Just to recap, I started my trip with a 3D2N stay in Nusa Lembongon and visited Nusa Penida (that super viral instagram island) for a day trip. If you haven’t read about it, you can see my costing and itinerary here or read about my super awesome day trip.