Living in Ubud, Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek

This is a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Food: Amazing Vegan Food, Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Transport in Ubud

The main form of transport in Ubud is the scooter. Almost all locals, guys and girls alike, know how to ride a scooter. If you’ve been to Holland before, scooters in Ubud are like bicycles in Holland. You can easily rent a scooter for 50,000 rupiah/day ($3.7 USD) — the longer you rent, the cheaper it is. If people try to charge you more (and they probably will because you are a tourist), you need to haggle! Be sure to read this guide: How to Rent a Scooter in Bali

Ubud: Scooters

Scooter is the main form of transport in Bali/Ubud

Ubud: Scooters

Scooters everywhere

Because I can’t ride a bicycle -_-, much less a scooter, I couldn’t take the scooter. This proved to be quite an issue as the place I’m staying at is 6km away from Ubud Center and impossible to walk out due to scorching sun, winding pathways, and steep slopes. This leaves me with 3 options: (1) Taxi (2) Private scooter ride (3) Go-Jek


1) Taxi

I found taxis tricky in Ubud, because

  1. There is no standardization. A taxi can be basically any car — there is no standard color or “look” to help you identify a taxi. As long as someone is holding up a cardboard sign saying “TAXI,” that person is supposedly a taxi driver. “Bluebird,” the most well-regarded taxi company in Bali, does not cruise in Ubud, so you will not find a Bluebird unless they happen to be sending someone in here.
  2. There are no metered fares. You need to bargain and agree on the fare before you get into the car. Since you’re a tourist, they’ll naturally quote you a high price. According to Wiki Travel page for Ubud, there is a Taxi Cooperative (i.e., mafia) operating in Ubud that ensures that supply of transport is restricted and prices are kept high.
  3. You need to look for the taxis. The drivers don’t drive around randomly looking for passengers — they mainly hang around the main streets of Ubud Center and popular tourist areas like Monkey Forest and Ubud Palace. If you’re trying to get a cab elsewhere, tough luck.
Ubud: A driver holding a sign saying "TAXI"

The taxi drivers will stand on the street and hold out a sign that says “TAXI”

Because of that, combined with the fact that I’m traveling as a lone female, I wasn’t keen on using the taxi. I wouldn’t care so much if I was just here for a week as a tourist, but since I’m staying here for a month, I wanted to find other, cheaper and more reliable forms of transport.

I do make big grocery trips once a week where I need a car, and for that I arrange for private transport with my host’s cousin, who is the same guy who picked me up at the airport. I always book a 2-way trip from my villa to Ubud Center for which he charges me 100,000 rupiah or $7.10 USD. To make the most out of the trip, I combine my grocery shopping with my lunch purchase. He waits for me outside the supermart/restaurant while I do my purchases (which can take 1–1.5 hours in total).

In case you don’t know, Uber is banned in Ubud and it can be assumed that Grab is banned by relation too. The local drivers were protesting against these private transport services as they were eating into their income, which I guess is the same in all countries that Uber/Grab are in.

2) Private Scooter Ride

With a private scooter ride, simply approach someone and ask them to give you a ride, then bargain on price. Because of language barrier and for safety reasons, I have only approached people I know, like my host or the waiters at a nearby restaurant. A one-way trip that’s 10 minutes / 6km long costs 30,000 rupiah ($2.2 USD) or lower depending on your bargaining skills. If you are a tourist and if you’re trying to get transport in a rural village, you don’t exactly have leverage, so here’s where you are again at the mercy of their quoted prices.

Given that a nice restaurant meal here costs 25,000–30,000 rupiah ($1.9–$2.2 USD), I felt that I was overpaying for transport just to get a meal. These are definitely not prices that a local would pay. I suspected that there must be a cheaper form of transport locally — surely there must be locals who don’t have a scooter and need to get around?? Also I want transport that I can take any time without being dependent on one or two people.

That’s where Go-Jek comes in!

3) Go-Jek: Motorbike Transport Service

Go-Jek is quite possibly one of the best technological innovations in Indonesia. I found it by accident when googling for alternative transport in Ubud. If you’re staying in Bali/Ubud for an extended period, you must try Go-Jek!

“Ojek” is Indonesian for motorcycle taxi. Go-Jek, named after the word “Ojek,” is a mobile app company in Indonesia that helps you get fast transport service for almost any need. It leverages on the wide availability of scooter drivers countrywide and currently has over 200,000 official drivers in 10 cities, including Bali (and hence Ubud). Go-Jek services include

  • GO-RIDE — motorcycle transport service that can take you anywhere — Most people use this
  • GO-CAR — private car transport service. It’s like booking a taxi.
  • GO-SEND — courier delivery service for your packages
  • GO-FOOD — food delivery service — My favorite!!! It works like Deliveroo
  • GO-MART — shopping service from a selection of over 50 stores
  • GO-BOX — courier delivery for your bigger packages
  • GO-GLAM, GO-MASSAGE and GO-CLEAN — get beauticians, massages and cleaners sent directly to your home
  • GO-TIX — get your concert tickets delivered!

Crazy huh? I guess that’s why their tagline is “An Ojek For Every Need”!

Gojek Logo


The best part about Go-Jek is that all their pricing is pre-calculated by distance, so there’s no need to bargain. Because Go-Jek is targeted at locals, Go-Jek fees are very reasonable and cheaper than any fees you’ll ever get via private motorbike/car hire. GO-RIDE which is their motorbike taxi service costs me 15,000 rupiah ($1.1 USD) per trip while GO-FOOD costs me 19,000 rupiah ($1.5 USD) per booking. No haggling, no negotiation. You can either pay by cash or GO-PAY (which is their cashless payment system but I don’t think it’s relevant to foreigners). I pay by cash all the time.

Go-Jek is very widely used in Ubud. However, there is a limitation — like any transport service, you are limited by the number of motorists in your vicinity. I’ve found that it’s very hard to get a driver for GO-RIDE from my place in Tegallalang. My guess is that it’s too far out for them to bother. I have no problems getting GO-FOOD (food delivery) from Ubud Center to my place though. I’ll share how to use Go-Jek below.

1. Sign up for an account (it’s free)

  1. Install the app. Go-Jek is in both the Google Play store and Apple App Store. Just search for “gojek.” It’s the #1 result and the logo has a black background with a green motorist.
  2. Register an account. It will ask for some simple details. You will need a local phone number — a prepaid sim card will work. Note that the “0” in front of local phone numbers should be removed when you add the country code (+62).
  3. It will instantly send you a verification code via sms.
  4. After you verify your number, you’re done!

The whole process is amazingly fast. Took me like 2 minutes! I wasn’t expecting such efficiency here to be honest!

2. Pick your service

After you register your account, open the Go-Jek app. You’ll see this screen:

Go-Jek: Menu screen

This is where you select your service. GO-RIDE and GO-FOOD are the services I have used and they are probably the most commonly used services in Ubud. Here, I’ll demonstrate how to use GO-RIDE, followed by GO-FOOD.

How to Use GO-RIDE (Book a Motorbike Taxi)

  1. Enable Location. Once you click into GO-RIDE (or any of the Go-Jek services for that matter), it’ll prompt you to enable GPS/Location. Click “Yes.” You need to do it so that Go-Jek can locate where you are.
  2. Select Pickup/Destination. You’ll get a menu to select (a) Pickup (where the driver should get you), and (b) Destination (where you want to go). Key in the respective addresses. You can do micro-adjustments on the map to fine tune the pickup/destination spot.
  3. Verify Route and Price. Once you’re done, it’ll show you the route between the 2 addresses, the distance, and the fee based on distance. See screenshots below:
    Go-Jek: GO-RIDE Menu

    First you select your pickup and destination (left screenshot). Then, you will see the route and the price for the booking (right screenshot).

  4. Order and Wait. After you check that everything is right and you are okay with the price, click “ORDER.” Go-Jek will then dispatch your order to its drivers nearby. There’s nothing to do now but wait.
  5. Wait for driver to arrive. Once Go-Jek gets you a driver, it’ll show on the app. You’ll then get details on where the driver is currently, how far away he is from your current spot, how many minutes he’ll take to arrive, plus a picture of his face! You can even call or message him directly if you want. Cool, huh??

    In my experience the driver will call me right away to verify that I’ve made the booking, and upon confirming, starts driving over.
    Go-jek: GO-RIDE driver on his way

  6. Wear helmet and face mask. After the driver arrives, which can take 5–15 minutes, he’ll check that you’re the right customer. Then, he’ll give you a Go-Jek helmet to wear (mandatory) and a face mask (optional). All Go-Jek drivers can be identified by the bright green jacket they wear, as per below:
    Go-Jek driver
  7. Reach your destination and pay! Hop on his bike, enjoy the breezy ride through Ubud/Bali, and then pay him at the end of the trip! The fee will be the amount stated in the order.
  8. Leave a review (optional). After that, you’ll be prompted in Go-Jek app to review the driver. I always leave a 5-star review and some positive words — I assume the drivers see it and it’ll encourage them in their work!

Like I mentioned above, I have difficulty getting drivers for GO-RIDE from my accommodation in Tegallalang. I tried on 5 separate days at different times, waited for over 15–20 minutes each time, and was unable to get any driver. The one time I managed to get a driver, he called me after I had waited for 30 minutes to tell me that his motorbike broke down and for me to cancel the order. Plus he couldn’t really speak English so I could only understand what he meant after much struggle. But I think this is a one-off encounter though.

On the other hand, I have no problems when booking a Go-Jek driver at Ubud Center or near Ubud Center. I have always had a driver accept my order within a minute.

How to Use GO-FOOD (Tutorial)

GO-FOOD is my absolute favorite part of Go-Jek. I wound up using it like 10 times during my stay here! It works just like Deliveroo, a very popular delivery service in UK and Singapore.

Step 1: Pick your restaurant

After you select “GO-FOOD,” you’ll reach the screen below. You can

  1. Select “NEAR ME” to see the restaurants near you
  2. Search for a particular restaurant if you already have one in mind, or
  3. Search random words to see what pops up
Go-Jek: GO-FOOD restaurant selection

Here, I typed “veg” just to see what comes up in the search results. Note that it’s only a search by the restaurant’s name, not the cuisine. So if it’s a vegetarian restaurant but it doesn’t have “veg” in its name, it will not appear.

Their listing is quite extensive. They have all the veg restaurants that I visited before. I also tried searching restaurants that I haven’t visited yet and GO-FOOD has them too. Great way to try different food without having to visit the place!

Step 2: Select your order

After selecting the restaurant, you select your order.

  1. Most restaurants will have their menu, or at least part of their menu, in the GO-FOOD system. If so, ordering is a matter of simply clicking through the menu, selecting what you want, and confirming your order.
  2. However, some restaurants do not have their menus keyed in. If you are a regular customer there, you can input your order manually (the item name and the price of that item) in GO-FOOD, then confirm your order. I have used both methods before with no problem.

Here, I decided to order from this vegan restaurant called Nine Heaven Vegan Warung (it’s a restaurant I’ll be talking about in Part 4 on restaurant reviews). Nine Heaven Vegan already has their menu input in GO-FOOD, so I simply select the food I want, key in my address, and check the total before clicking “ORDER”:

Go-Jek: GO-FOOD booking confirmation

I usually order 2–3 meals at one go to save the hassle of ordering the next day. I just store the food in the fridge and heat it up later.

The GO-FOOD delivery fee for this order is 19,000 rupiah ($1.5 USD), calculated based on the distance between the restaurant and my address. It’s 3,000–4,000 rupiah more expensive than GO-RIDE for the same distance since the driver needs to drive to the restaurant, order for you, and wait for the food to be ready.

Step 3: Order and Wait

After you press “ORDER,” Go-Jek app will dispatch your order to its pool of drivers. Once Go-Jek gets you a driver, it’ll let you know right away. It’s the same as GO-RIDE.

I never have to wait more than a few seconds for someone to take up my booking. It’s that fast. It may be because I’m always ordering from restaurants in Ubud Center which is the main town area.

Like with GO-RIDE, the driver will call you right away to confirm your booking before heading to the restaurant. He’ll pay from his own pocket first and you’ll pay him later when the food is delivered.

By the way, do check that the address of the restaurant is correct when you place the order. You can verify via the restaurant website/Facebook (if it has one). Some restaurants may have shifted and have not updated their address in Go-Jek. For example, Nine Heaven Vegan happens to have an outdated address in Go-Jek, so I have to relay the new address to the Go-Jek driver when he calls me just so he doesn’t go on a wild goose chase.

Step 4: Go about your daily activities

This is the best part of GO-FOOD — For the next 30-40 minutes, there’s nothing for you to do but wait as your driver meticulously drives to the restaurant, helps you place your order, waits for your food to be ready, and then drives to your place with your food. If you placed a big food order, the waiting time will naturally be longer depending on the restaurant prep time. Just go about your daily activities while routinely checking the app. Go-Jek app will show you:

  • The exact location of the driver by GPS
  • What he is doing right now (driving to restaurant? waiting at restaurant? completed order and driving to your place?)
  • The driver’s picture and his number should you want to call/text him to check on status
Go-Jek: GO-FOOD booking confirmation

This is driver Eko. He’s awesome and it’s my second time having him as my GO-FOOD driver!

Step 5: Get your food and pay!

Because there are no house numbers where I live, I head out to wait for my driver when I see he’s reaching my place so that he doesn’t get lost. Some drivers will text you to let you know they are on their way while some won’t; I personally just check the app regularly to know where he is.

Once you meet them, they will pass you the food order, the receipt, and you will pay them the cash. Tipping is not necessary but I usually give a 5,000–10,000 rupiah tip ($0.4–$0.7 USD). I think they deserve it considering each food order takes about 1 hour and they are running around in the hot sun!

Go-Jek driver delivering GO-FOOD

Eko with my GO-FOOD order. He’s a great guy!

Piping hot lunch ready to be eaten! Look at the large amount of vegetables!

In the next part, I share vegetarian restaurant recommendations and reviews in Ubud. Read: Food: Amazing Vegan Food, Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews

This is a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Food: Amazing Vegan Food, Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Image: Taxi; All other images © Personal Excellence

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