The most likely source of annoyance to spoil your Bali vacation has been local transportation with taxi scams on every corner! Now, finally, uber has arrived improving personal transportation on the island and reducing the risk of getting scammed on your trip to or from your hotel! As they are new and understandably not very popular with the local taxi mafia, check my tips how to best use uber during your Bali vacation!
Know your prices – uber is still new and the much disliked “surge pricing” functionality is not working properly yet, sometimes resulting in insane prices that would make a 1h ride more expensive than hiring a car & driver for 2 days! As a rule of thumb, rides within Kuta, Legian or Seminyak should be under 50,000IDR, rides within Southern Bali under 100,000IDR and a ride from Kuta or Legian to Ubud around 160,000IDR.
When there are no drivers nearby, the rates can shoot up to several times that – I was asked for a far of 900,000IDR for the ride from Ubud to Kuta, which is enough to hire a driver for two days! If you encounter that situation, just wait a little for the pricing to adjust and try again. If it doesn’t, you are better off calling a Bluebird Taxi or hiring a regular driver!
Book your uber at a hotel – the uber app will suggest to meet your driver at the road for a faster pickup. But because the local taxi mafia has threatened uber drivers, they prefer for you to wait at your hotel lobby and welcome them like you would welcome any driver you know and have hired for a day-trip! Look for the car make and license plate and greet your driver by name, making it easier and safer for you and them!
Communicate with your driver – most drivers will contact you to arrange the meet-up and request the behaviour I described above, so watch your phone while waiting for your driver and be prepared to respond to messages or an incoming call! This is especially important for a pickup at the airport, as they might suggest to meet at departure or parking, rather than arrivals!
Be prepared for issues – while most of the drivers I experienced were very professional and super-friendly, I had a few issues with drivers new to the platform. One driver accepted the call – then changed his mind and drove away without cancelling. Another driver showed up, but then asked me to pay for gas because he was out of gas and didn’t have money to fill up the tank! I recommend to book an important trip, like to the airport, with enough time to get a second car. Keep in mind that uber will charge you a fee in those cases and you have to contact them to get it removed. uber’s customer service did that in both cases quickly and without issue!
Don’t expect service outside Southern Bali – there are lots of drivers in the South of Bali and I never had to wait more than a few minutes in Kuta, Legian, Seminyak or Nusa Dua. But few drivers are participating in ubud or other parts of the island, so you’ll have to rely on traditional taxis or car & driver hires there!
I’m looking forward to uber recruiting more drivers to the platform in well visited places like Ubud, it will result in much more convenient transportation for visitors and better incomes for the drivers (who now often spend all day waiting on the street for customers).
Bottomline: While uber is still working through some issues as they ramp up service in Bali, it’s a drastic improvement over the situation before. Short rides will be 30,000IDR – when a taxi will ask for 150,000IDR for the same ride. You get new, well maintained cars as well as safe and friendly drivers who consistently spoke good English. Uber’s arrival is eliminating one of the last hassles associated with a vacation on Bali, I’m very excited about it and suggest you give it a try. If you haven’t used uber before, you can sign up here or use code xpy86 – you’ll get a discount on your next ride (up to $10), and so do I!