Getting around Bali on time and on a budget – Perama Tours

On my “Bali on a Budget” trip I visited Ubud and Lovina Beach and to stay on budget, I wanted to take the bus to get there! Perama Tours runs a number of scheduled bus routes criss-crossing the island to many of the places visitors might want to go. Read my review to see if it would be a good fit for your Bali trip!

I have taken public buses and minibuses across South East Asia, so I was curious to see how Perama Tours compares. I used them for a total of four trips on the route from Kuta to Ubud to Lovina Beach and return. I booked the tickets online each time and dealt with the staff at three offices and experienced different drivers and buses.
The first first good news is that Perama runs on a set schedule and not on a “we’ll leave when we are full” basis like you find it elsewhere in the region! That allows you to plan your trip better and get around without wasting a lot of time waiting!

Schedule in September 2016

Schedule in September 2016

You can see the schedule on the Perama Website and book a ticket online. While it is not as slick as the web sites of most European bus companies that provide seat selection, online payment, instant confirmation and mobile tickets, it is reliable. You can find the current routes and times, select your desired trip, date and time and send a form via email. Within 24h you receive a confirmation of your trip. I was a little nervous, as most of their operation is paper-based and looks a little chaotic, but they run a tight ship and are very reliable. On arrival at the Perama office, they found my reservation in one of their lists, collected cash payment and provided me with a detailed receipt and a color coded “boarding pass”! I waited in their lounge (with free Wifi Internet) and soon enough, we were called for our bus. Despite multiple buses do different places boarding at the same time, hey got all of us and our luggage on the right bus and on our way.

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Toyota Minibus

Perama manages their capacity pretty efficiently and has buses of different sizes. My first trip was on a Chinese mid-size bus, accommodating around 30 people in a 2-2 configuration. The seats are more narrow than on a regular tour bus or on a plane and have little legroom, making it uncomfortable for somebody as tall as me (1,90m/6ft3) or anybody a little wider. The bus was pretty worn, several seats were broken and permanently reclined and the staff had a hard time closing the door. There was a TV screen, but it wasn’t working, so bring your own entertainment or enjoy the views of the Bali landscape. I also saw a brand new Chinese-made bus of similar size, so your experience might vary depending on the vehicle assigned to your route on the day!Two of my trips were on a Toyota Minibus (15 seater) that was in much better condition, but also with narrow seats and limited leg room.

Toyota Minibus Interior

Toyota Minibus Interior

In each of the cases, the drivers were friendly and operated the bus safely  – by local standards. While I hesitate to use “safe”, “drive”  and “Bali” in one sentence, the drivers were more cautious than the average bus or taxi driver I observed on the busy Bali roads, so I’d consider Perama as safe a choice as any! Each of my trips was on time, without the drivers resorting to aggressive maneuvers along the way!

The offices in Kuta and Ubud are centrally located and depending no your hotel, you might be able to walk there. The office in Lovina is far from most of the hotels you’d want to be at. Perama offers a pick-up and drop-off service at the beginning or end of your trip to cover the last mile from or to your hotel. I used it twice and despite a short wait, it worked well and was cheaper than a taxi in each case!

Insider Tip: Perama offers a “free stop-over”, allowing you to get off at one of the scheduled stops and continue your trip at a later time for no extra charge! I used that on my trip and paid IDR125,000 from Kuta to Ubud and a few days later to Lovina. Two separate tickets for the exact same trip would have been IDR185,000, so it pays to plan ahead! At under $10 for two trips across the islands is a bargain – a taxi would have been more than 5 times as much!

Perama Tours targets backpackers and others on a tight budget. While they are a far cry from the roomy and comfortable tour or long-distances buses you might find in Europe, Latin America or Singapore, they run a very reliable organization, will get you to your destination safely and on time and are cheaper than the alternatives. If you are traveling solo, don’t have much luggage and don’t mind the tight quarters, it’s a good option to make your way around Bali independently. You can find their routes, current schedule and prices and request your booking here!
If you are a couple or family, the price difference to a private car & driver shrinks rapidly. You can get there faster and more comfortably and even do some sightseeing along the way on your own schedule. Check out my tips to Get to Bali & Around for more info on that!


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