Tourists visiting are on a short time frame and use a variety of transport modes to get them around as quickly as possible including taxis, rented cars and motorbikes. One transport option most people don’t think of are bemos. Bemos are the small mini vans that drive all over Bali ferrying locals from place to place at an affordable price. Anyone who has been here will remember the windy roads from village to village and the narrow lanes in the city. The independently owned bemos are a natural response to the geography and economy of Bali.
The way bemos are organized is by color coded routes around Denpasar. There are 4 main terminals here that serve the rest of the island. Bemos come in a variety of colors that depicts where they will go, but not when as there is no schedule.
I used bemos to travel around Bali in 1993. To be quite honest I found them frustrating, because their routes were complex, and never took directly to where I wanted to go. I always had to haggle over the price, and this did not allow me to relax and enjoy the journey. However, as Rolf Potts pointed out, if the Kuta are is getting to you, you have the right to jump into a bemo and disappear for a few weeks into the highlands of Bali. Riding a bemo will definitely get you into these areas.
Denpasar has some major bemo terminals and trips to the west, north and east of Bali from Kuta will require you to pass through Denpasar.
Though bemos have a route with stops they will always stop for a passenger who flags them. This can be good if you want a ride but a pain for passengers and other vehicles as they cruise along slower than the rest of the traffic.
The bemos in Kuta (colored dark blue) start at 4am and run till about 8pm. Fares are known by locals but the drivers are notoriously greedy with tourists, charging several times the price. You should negotiate before riding. I had one bemo driver angrily tell me that there’s no way he would let a tourist ride for the same price as a local ‘the other passengers would not let me.’ he said.
For visitors to Bali heading for the west and north coast you should head for Ubung terminal in west Denpasar. This is the busiest station in Bali and also has larger buses running which are more expensive than the bemos.
For travelers heading south you go to Tegal terminal if coming from the north to get to Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran and the airport.
To head east from Kuta go to Batubulan terminal NE of Denpasar to access Ubud, Candi Dasa and Padangbai.
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To navigate Denpasar’s color coded bemos here is a breakdown:
Dark green: Kereneng terminal-Jl.Hayam Wuruk (close to Nusa Indah)-Sanur roundabout (for Australian & US Consulates)-Jl. Raya Sanur-Sanur
Beige: Kereneng terminal -Jl.Raya Puputan-Jl.Dewi Sartika-Jl.Teuku Umar-Hero Supermarket-junction with Jl.Imam Bonjol (change for Kuta here)-Tegal
Grey/blue: Ubung terminal -Jl.Cokroaminoto-Jl.Gatot Subroto-Jl.Gianyar-corner of Jl.Waribang-Tohpati-Batubulan
Yellow: Kereneng terminal -Jl.Plawa-Jl.Supratman-Jl.Gianyar-corner of Jl. Waribang-Kesiman-Tohpati-Batubulan
Dark blue: Tegal terminal -Jl.Imam Bonjol-Jl.Teuku Umar-Hero Supermarket-junction with Jl.Diponegro-Jl.Yos Sudarso-Jl.Sudirman-Jl.LetdaTantular-junction with Jl.Panjaitan(immigration office is 500 meters from here)-Jl.Hajar Dewantara-Jl.Moh Yamin-Sanur roundabout-Sanur (for those heading back to Kuta from Sanur change at Jl.Imam Bonjol).
Turquiouse: Kereneng terminal-Jl.Surapati(for Bali museum)-Jl.Veteren-Jl.Cokroaminoto-Ubung terminal
Yellow or turquoise:Tegal terminal -Jl.Gn Merapi-Jl.Setiabudi-Ubung terminal-Jl.Cokroaminoto-Jl.Subroto-Jl.Yani-Jl.Nakula-Jl.Veteren-Jl.Patimura-Jl.Melati-Kereneng terminal-Jl.Hayam Wuruk-Jl.Surapati-Jl.Kapten Agung-Jl.Sudirman-Tiara Dewata shopping center-Jl.Yos Sudarso-Jl.Diponegro (Ramayana mall)-Jl.Hasanudin-Jl.BukitTunggal-Tegal terminal
Denpasar has a one way traffic system so return journeys are slightly different from outgoing routes. There are posted prices in the terminal office but out on the road its a crap shoot what the driver will ask you for.
Routes out of Ubung:
Ubung is the largest terminal on the island and here are the routes departing from there:
Buses and bemos(dark green) Ubung-Kediri-Pesiapan-Lalang Linggah-Medewi-Negara-Celik-Gilimanuk
Bemos (bright blue) Ubung-Mengwi-Baturiti-Pancasari-Singaraja
Large buses. Ubung-Gilimanuk-Java cities to Jakarta
Check out the Bali bemo map to give yourself a better idea of where to make your connections.