How to avoid taxi scams in Bali

Getting a taxi is the most convenient way of going from one place to another in Bali, given the fact that public transports only cover big roads while attractions and accommodations are scattered across so many areas.

I don’t need to explain some of the scams commonly associated with rogue taxis in tourist places around the world. Imposing exorbitant surcharges by surprise, jacked-up fare meter or sending passengers to the wrong destination are some of the most common trust issues people have with taxi (although the last part is less common in Bali).

And these scams can only be avoided by going with a trusted taxi brand.

If there’s a brand that I can safely recommend and have been vouched by everyone, it’s Blue Bird. They basically dominate the taxi industry throughout Indonesia and they’re the only taxi company listed on the Indonesian stock market so it’s not surprising that they’re known to be trustworthy.

But the taxi industry in Bali is particularly more lucrative than other parts of Indonesia given its lack of public transportation so hustlers have the extra incentive to go extra lengths to fool unsuspecting tourists. And that means copying Blue Bird.

Virtually every taxi in Bali now looks like a Blue Bird. Some even dare to mimic their name despite being aware that they could be sued for copycat anytime (one driver was actually thrown to jail for this).

Notice how the text “BLUE BIRO GROUP” conveniently immitating the official “BLUE BIRD GROUP”

Here’s how to spot a legitimate Blue Bird taxi:

1. Taxi head sign has Blue Bird logo in diamond shape with “Taksi” text in Indonesian language (Bahasa)

2. “Blue Bird Group” text on the top of the windshield

3. Vehicle identification number on the passenger’s doors and the trunk door

4. Blue Bird logo on the front doors with “PT. Praja Bali Transportasi” (the Blue Bird subsidiary in Bali) beneath it.

5. Fare meter at the middle of the dashboard

6. Driver’s ID and their employee number on top of the dashboard

7. Driver wearing batik uniform in the same shade of blue sky

8. Headrest covered with Blue Bird logo

Anti-taxi rule in Ubud

In Ubud, these regulated taxis are only allowed to drop off and not pick up, denying them of their legal rights under the pretext of protecting local transportation unions which, fair to say, have no price regulation nor standard of service.

If you think it’s ridiculous, I agree with you, even as a local.

The local transportation union believes that taxis like Blue Bird and ride-sharing apps like Gojek (who kicked Uber out years ago) are offering cheap prices, making it too difficult for them to compete. Another argument is that these ride-sharing apps and taxis are just taking profit off their hometown with no obligation to give back to their local community, hence the cheaper price.

But to be brutally honest, the local transportation union in Ubud could do better by going digital and standardizing their service and lowering their pricing. I’ve seen reports where they charge IDR 500,000 for going from the center of Ubud to the airport which takes 1.5 hours (40 km of ride), while Blue Bird taxis going on the opposite route would charge IDR 340,000 – IDR 400,000 (depending on busy period).

But here’s a tip. If you are somehow unable to find availability of both regulated taxis and ride-sharing apps, you can still bargain with the drivers from the local transportation union.

Open up the Gojek app, choose the car ride and simulate your journey so you can see the price. Find the drivers to bargain. If there are more than 2 drivers you can bargain with at the same time, the better. There will be more competition between themselves and the more they’ll be willing to come down to your price. If one of the drivers can give you a similar price with the app or just slightly higher, then you can consider going with them.

Taxi to remote places

There are also remote places like Amed in the east or Lovina in the north which see less number of tourists, making it difficult for these taxis to make money two-way.

Some taxis or even Gojek car ride will inform you beforehand that there will be a surcharge to basically cover up their long, unprofitable journey back home. If you really have no choice but to agree, a 25% surcharge (or less) is what you should aim for.


1. Find a Blue Bird taxi. Don’t be fooled by the color or the text.

2. If you can’t find any in your proximity, book one through their official app. If the app is unable to find one, call their Bali representative +62 361 7011111 so a taxi can be dispatched to your location.

3. If you’re really in a hurry and found a taxi that is not Blue Bird, ask the driver beforehand if it’s metered or fixed rate. Only go with metered.

4. If you cannot find any taxi at all, then find a few local union drivers, describe your destination and make a bargain nearing the Blue Bird price at their app.

5. If you go to faraway places (this applies whether you go with taxis, ride sharing apps or local transportation), ask beforehand whether your journey will be imposed with a surcharge.

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