Relief! There’s no greater feeling of finally being on land after travelling for over twenty-five hours to get to Bali. After what felt like an eternity to get through immigration, we finally manage to leave the airport. Once we pass the departure gate, dozens of drivers bombard us, asking us where we are going. Suddenly, the repressed feelings of my hatred for taxis start flooding through my veins.
Blue Bird Taxi Bali Is The Only Cab We Will Take In Bali
Because we hate getting ripped off when travelling, we researched that Blue Bird Taxi is the only way to go in Bali. Blue Bird Taxis have an excellent reputation for being honest and not scamming customers in Bali. The problem was that another cab company is the only taxi you can take at the arrivals gate at the airport. So, to catch a Blue Bird taxi, you gotta make your way up to the departures area and hail a Blue Bird Taxi. The only way to do this is to flag one that has dropped off a customer at the airport. Of course, this is precisely the first thing that my sleep deprived body wants to deal with upon landing in Bali.
After some craziness of one driver pretending to be Blue Bird Taxi and us dragging our luggage out of the cab, (his car was blue with a bird symbol!), we finally got into the right taxi. Except for one small problem; our taxi was wedged between two large buses and could not move from its spot! We waited for a good 30 minutes before the buses finally moved, and we were able to leave the airport. Ah, welcome to Bali.
Traffic moves like a turtle in Bali, even in Blue Bird Taxi Bali
Traffic is so bad here during rush hour that it’s hard for cars to drive fast. Infrastructure is also terrible, leading to more traffic delays. The driver said it took him 2.5 hours the day before to drive a customer from the airport to Seminyak. For reference, the two locations are only ten kilometers apart.
After realizing the driver is an honest one, I calm down from the hectic cab experience and accept my fate. I’ll be spending the next year throwing myself into the dark unknown, relying on strangers, and Google. Independence is virtually nonexistent when you’re in a new country and cannot speak or read the native language. These experiences remind me to be more empathetic to people who struggle with English in North America.
Why I hate taking taxis in foreign countries
Well, not just foreign countries, even Toronto has some shady cab practices. At least I know where I am going in Canada and can tell when the driver is up to no good. When it comes to an unknown country, I have no frame of reference to use as a benchmark, and I have no idea where I’m going. The feeling of fear and annoyance is especially heightened because I always feel as if there’s some scam going on. And my previous experiences with taxis doesn’t help much either.
Experience #1: Enroute from Hanoi airport to the hotel
I pre-arranged a taxi from the airport in Hanoi the first time I travelled alone. What I failed to consider was that my flight arrived in Hanoi after 10 pm, which is quite late. It is hell scary to take a taxi as a solo female traveller at night. As I sat in the stranger’s car and freaking myself out, I started to think about some random and useless facts. I read somewhere that crazy people are less likely to kill you if you can connect with them. Somehow, I figured that knowledge would help the situation and started to chat with the driver. I tried to find out every possible thing about him and tried to relate to his life.
Luckily, I made it to the hotel (which, by the way, the lights were completely off, and there was no one at the reception!) and questioned my paranoia. I felt so silly about overreacting until I heard a story from another traveller that one of their friends got robbed during a prearranged transfer. Apparently, the driver took her to a dark alley where strange men jumped into the car and robbed her of her stuff. The cab driver did nothing and just drove her to the hotel once all her expensive camera gear and money were stolen. Thank goodness it wasn’t anything more! Talk about a powerful reminder that you can never be too careful.
A personal travel tip from this experience: I now always make sure that flights arrive at least two hours before sunset when flying to certain countries. Having to go from the airport to the city with luggage feels much safer in daylight than at night.
Experience #2: Taking the taxi from the Bangkok airport
My first visit to Bangkok was a hectic one for me when I was planning my transportation to the city. Once I walked out of the airport, a dozen cabbies came up to me vying for my business. After talking to a few drivers who refused to use the meter, I finally found one driver who agreed to my request, got into his car and hoped for the best.
During the whole ride, the cab driver was eerily quiet and emitted this strange vibe. At some point, I noticed the price on his meter was not changing, and I realized something sneaky was about to happen. Of course, his meter was conveniently “broken, ” and he ended up scamming me for extra money. I’m sure it was only a few dollars, but it just sucks when you get ripped off.
Experience #3: Taking the taxi TO the Bangkok airport (Same trip)
You think I’d learn my lesson by now about Bangkok taxis but no, the second experience didn’t scare me enough. When it was time for me to catch my Toronto flight, I chose to take a taxi. I figured the price to pay far outweighs the benefit because the metro would have taken longer. So I thought.
But no, what I am about to tell you was so crazy that you might believe that it came from a movie scene. Despite leaving super early for my flight, I got stuck in traffic for almost two hours. Ok…no big deal because I had buffered extra time. We finally get on the highway and start moving at a decent speed. Right as we were about one kilometer away from the airport, the taxi…broke…down. I kid you not; it ran out of gas…in the middle of a massive highway! It was pitch dark, cars can barely see us, and we have no gas. Great. The irony was that we were SO CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT. So close that I’m willing to bet I could have walked to the airport in fifteen minutes or less!
After spending twenty minutes trying to get someone to stop for us and drive two minutes to get me to the airport, I finally managed to walk through the airport doors. Just over an hour until departure. Seriously.
These experiences are the very reason why I now avoid taking cabs at all cost when travelling to a new country. If there’s public transportation, I’ll take it, even if it means taking two hours to get to my destination. Unfortunately, public transportation is nonexistent in Bali, and we’ll have to rely on cabs.
Arriving in Seminyak Hassle-Free Thanks To Blue Bird Taxi Bali
After two hours of driving ten kilometers in Bali, we finally make it our first hotel at the Four Points by Sheraton in Seminyak. We decided to play it safe with our first accommodation and booked with the SPG group. As I sit down at reception and I take a sip of my welcome drink (soursop juice!), I breathe a sigh of relief. We made it! Safe and sound! Perhaps taking the taxi in Bali won’t be so bad after all.
Additional tips if you want to take a Blue Bird taxi
- There are many cabs in Bali that look like Blue Bird Taxi Bali. We saw many cabs that were blue with a bird sign at the top. The official Blue Bird Taxi Bali cabs have an official driver’s plate inside the car in the front passenger seat. As well, they have their Blue Bird Taxi Bali group registration number on the rear doors. Take your time and inspect them if you only want to get around using Blue Bird Taxi Bali. Asians are persistent, and it might be a bit scary, but be assertive and say no if you find yourself in the wrong cab!
- Download the app if you can. You can estimate how much a route will cost and hail taxis in the area. You will need to type in a phone number, to which they will send an SMS verification code. We had a local Bali number (another side note: If you buy a SIM card, we paid 100,000 IDR for 7gb of data and 20 local minutes)
- For reference, a ten-minute ride is about 30,000 IDR (as of 2017)
- Even though we had a good experience with Blue Bird Taxi Bali, I still caution you to be on guard! Always make sure the driver turns on the meter and insist if necessary
Read next: Visiting Seminyak Bali For The First Time
If you’re looking for frequent updates, follow my journey on Instagram at enSquaredAired
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suvarna gangai says
i love you you panic as a solo female traveler in a cab at night… not because i think its funny, but because i have done the very same thing so many times. to make it funnier, i would text updates to whoever was awake back home as to where I was passing by just in case i disappeared. in my mind, this would have given them a starting point to search for my body! paranoid much!!!!
It sounds paranoid but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And travelling in a cab through a foreign country at night is the worst! Not only do I not know where I am (save for Google maps), but it’s dark and no one can see me! Ahhh!
I hate situations that force me to rely on strangers. Glad to hear you’re safe at your destination 🙂
Thanks, friendship! Yeah, it sucks big time. That and I don’t read labels anymore when I buy stuff… I look at photos and go for the most attractive packaging haha!
Great Advice. I love your blog. I’m also travelling for a year but going to many different places around the world. So far we have been around Europe and like you have been ripped of mercilessly by taxi’s in Hungary. In Slovakia it’s best to use Uber cabs as they are so much cheaper and reliable than others.. Thank you for sharing your information.
Hey Laura, I’m glad my past experiences were an enjoyable read and it helped you! There’s Uber in Asia too but I’m a bit hesitant to use Uber. I’m still very new to the share economy and have some trust issues, but that’s just me
Whoa! Pretty interesting and I like how you talked about both the positive and negatives. Have fun in Bali and do be careful.
Thanks, Marilyn! I’m still experiencing crazy taxi moments, so I will likely add more to this post at a later time haha
Love it lol – but please be careful, it’s always exciting to travel alone and far. Great information on here.
Hellooo, so useful all your experience in taxi!! Thanks so much for sharing…
I have a question, though. The blue bird app made you an estimative price for the ride before you book a cab… Why should I scare for the driver not to use the taximeter? Isn’t suppose the ride cost the estimative? For example, 260 to 310 idr…the máximum price will be 310, right?
If you use the app to find a Blue Bird taxi, the driver will most likely have the meter on. It’s situations where you’re not hailing a cab through the app that you need to make sure that the cab driver has the meter turned on.
As for estimated prices, the price you see in the app should be similar to what you pay. However, it is an estimate and what you pay may vary from the estimate.
I hope that helps!
Melbourne Silver Service Taxi says
I can only express a word of Thanks. Such a impressive post I have found today while searching on the Internet. Thanks Nancy for shared this amazed post. I want to get know more about Blue Bird taxi, please explain.
Thanks 🙂 You can learn more on their website: http://www.bluebirdgroup.com/
Renz Path says
I do agree with you that most of us do not want to fall victim especially when on a long tiring journey. So, the thought of having a taxi that will be there right when we need it as well as the thought of arriving safely is often our top concern. Once I will be on a long trip again and will be needing a taxi, I will definitely contact the taxi providers that can provide me with their service and be feeling safe in the end.
Indeed! We are especially vulnerable as travellers after travelling a very long and tiring journey to the final destination! The last thing we want to worry about is dealing with scams
Wonderful blog!!! Even we didn’t know about all those things you’ve written in your blog.i am manutha from Cab OneWay
Thank you for stopping by Manutha and I am glad that this post was helpful for you!
Max Jacob says
I really like blue bird taxi service.Thanks for this.
Thank you, Max!
Emma Leo says
I really like your blog.Thanks for posting this.Please keep posting.