Ride sharing apps in Indonesia
Ride sharing apps are a great way to get around in the cities in Indonesia. The following are three options available to you. They can all be downloaded from the app store on your preferred cell phone operating system. Each of these apps has an option for scooter or vehicle pick-up. Yes, Uber will literally pick you up on a scooter. If you ride Grab on the scooter, they even bring you a green Grab helmet. If you aren’t using a ride sharing app in Indonesia you are definitely missing out. It’s a real game changer for backpackers getting around because it is so cheap and makes navigation super easy. Both Grab and Uber are also available in the Philippines and Malaysia with more countries being added every year. Uber obviously has even more coverage, but Grab seems to be more popular with locals.
Using The Grab App In Indonesia
Grab is my favorite of the apps for sure. Navigating the Grab app platform is super simple and very similar to Uber if you are familiar with its interface. You can put in your preferred payment method and pay with your credit card which is really nice. Plug in your pick up point and drop-off location and view the rate for the trip. When you’re ready to go just click book! One of the best things about it, is that the rate for your trip is stated outright before you commit to booking. That means you will never get ripped off by a taxi again! It is also nice to be able to be picked up wherever you are and your driver will already have your destination coordinates so there is no more negotiating rates with a taxi driver or confusion about where you’re trying to go. All of these apps offer their services at a very affordable rate. However, Grab is by far the cheapest. Rides around a city are usually less than $2-$3 usd.
- It is helpful to have a SIM card in your phone to be able to use these apps on the go, but not necessary. If you can find wifi, you can summon a ride. Just make sure you are very clear about where to be picked up before you leave the wifi because they usually text or call to tell you they have arrived.
- If an app requires you to use a phone number to sign up and you don’t have a local SIM, use the FreeTone or TextMe apps to obtain a temporary phone number so you can receive a confirmation code.
- Obviously, with the complex and confusing road systems in southeast Asia, the maps on some of the apps can sometimes have difficulty pinpointing your exact location. It is helpful for your driver if you message him the name of a landmark like a restaurant or hotel that he can put into his GPS. Sometimes after booking on Grab, the driver will text you or even call you. They might not speak any English at all but just know that they are usually just trying to figure out where exactly you are because your pin drop isn’t somewhere obvious to them.
- It would seem that drivers for Grab do not know about your destination until they pick you up. We once booked a Grab from Kuta to Ubud in Bali because it was cheaper than any other way to get there and the driver was pretty mad that he had to drive that far. It stands to reason that people don’t typically book them for longer distance rides like that, which makes sense because the odds are slim that they will find someone in that town that is going back to where they started. So they probably would have to drive that whole way back for nothing, costing them petrol and time.
It should be observed that not everyone is super enthusiastic about the ride sharing services. Regular taxi drivers hate them and there have even been instances of drivers being attacked by the taxi operators for operating on their turf. Why the hostility you may ask? Well, taxi drivers love getting to rip travelers like us off. They are often dishonest and scam artists, as we all know, and the ride sharing services are a threat to their schemes. The apps make for a safer experience at transparent and reasonable rate. Because of this, many bus terminals and hotels that work with the normal taxis have signs up saying that the ride sharing app’s services are banned from coming there. You should know though that there are no laws forbidding them from doing their job. It’s just cab drivers and their accomplices being sour about the fact that they can’t rip you off anymore. You are always safe to use the apps though as long as you are smart. Just don’t tell other taxi drivers you are waiting on a Grab or Uber if they ask you if you need a ride. Your Grab driver might know that he can’t pick you up at a certain spot (like the airport in Bali) in which case you can just ask him where you can walk that he can pick you up.