Gili Islands is one of my very favorite places in the whole world!! Maybe that is because I finally finished my ebook while I was there and that made it seem all the more relaxing, but either way, it was one of my favorite trips I’ve ever been on!
If you want to stay at one of my favorite Airbnbs ever as well, check out this amazing, beach-side Bungalow in Gili Air!
As a preface, Jake and I always do research beforehand to find the cheapest and most reasonable way to get there. I am only going to outline the way we got there, our experience and how much it cost. I want to be able to give my firsthand experience and information that is accurate.
how to book Transportation from Bali to the Gili Islands
Contact Gili Ticket Visa4Bali on Facebook. They are also the company we used for our visa extensions, so we already trusted them, and they also turned out to have the cheapest prices that we could find!
Why we chose this option
Jake and I were living in Kuta, Bali which would be our starting point. We found out that in order to get to the Gili Islands, you need to make the trek over to Padang Bai Port which is almost a 2-hour drive (longer in a car, scooters can weave through traffic) from where we were at.
We wanted to stay at the Gili’s for a week, and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving our scooter (motorbike) waiting for us around the Port somewhere. So the only way to get there was by Go Jek, Grab Car, or Uber.
The route would cost us $15 each way, which made it much cheaper to go with a tour company that would pick you up and drop you off at your Airbnb or hotel.
We paid 800,000 rupiah or $59.12 for hotel/ Airbnb pickup and drop off ROUND TRIP! And you can be dropped off or picked up at any of the 3 islands!
Our Experience & Tips
Now, as for efficiency or good customer service, you can throw all your expectations out the window. Our experience was definitely an adventure.
First, you have the company come and pick up the money(in cash) a few days in advance. This might seem sketchy, but since we had worked with this company before we didn’t worry about it.
I would not normally give the money beforehand. They will hand you a receipt and it is essential that you bring that with you when you leave for your trip.
Then, they will let you know when they will be picking you up. They will want to be contacting you through a local SIM card number or a Whatsapp (which everyone has here.)
The Pickup is easy and we had no problems. The roads on the way there are a bit curvy so be careful of getting car-sick.
The vans will drop you off without giving you any directions whatsoever. Don’t worry though! There is a building with very steep steps where they were taking those receipts that you were given and giving you a sticker and a ticket saying which island you were going to first.
Jake and I both had stickers that read “Gili Air.”
There’s really no use for the stickers besides for them to guide lost tourists, but hold on to it anyways! The most important thing is the ticket that they give you.
Finally, you can head over to the port where they have people ushering you onto different boats. It was very chaotic, but I’m pretty sure that all the boats were going to the same place: Gili T or Gili Trawangan.
They will take your main luggage (whatever is too big to stay on your lap) and they throw them onto the boat. So I would make sure that all of your valuables are with you in a smaller bag since I have seen them drop bags into the water.
Plus, they are pretty rough with the bags and throw them from person to person until they either end up on top of the boat or in a small compartment.
Getting on and off the boat was pretty fun actually. You get to see how balanced you are while walking onto the front of the boat. Nobody fell though, thank goodness! There’s nothing to worry about, just a little 3rd world adventure.
They pull up directly onto the beach and use a wooden or steel ladder to get people down while throwing everyone’s bags onto the beach. The beach is absolutely beautiful, so the experience of hopping off a boat directly onto the sand was a bit surreal.
If you are not staying on Gili T, pay attention to where people with your sticker are going. There will also be an Indonesian man running around trying to herd you all together to get onto the next boat that will take you to the right island.
Once you get there, you responsible for hopping islands (that cost is not included in your ticket). When you get to the island that you want to return to Bali from, you will need to first go to the company’s ticket counter and confirm your ticket.
They will also tell you what time to get there to get your new sticker that says where you are going in Bali.
They basically can take you to any tourist hub in Bali. The main places I saw were Kuta, Legian, Jimbaran, and Ubud. Although there were a lot more.
Make sure that you confirm your tickets in advance and that you know where you are headed in Bali. I saw a couple that was arguing with them because he wasn’t letting them get a ticket without having the receipt or proof.
A WORD OF CAUTION
DO NOT DEPEND ON ANY OF THIS TO BE ON TIME OR WORK AS IT SHOULD. As a rule of thumb, do not plan anything important for the day that you are traveling, and to be safe, not the day after either.
We were instructed to wait for the boat with our stickers and ticket, which was supposed to be there by 11 am. It didn’t get there until about 1 pm. Jake and I were just chilling (and melting a little ) on the beach since we didn’t have anything planned.
However, another girl had a FLIGHT leaving from Bali that she thought she would make. HUGE MISTAKE. The boats and buses are NEVER on time and never leave when they say they will.
She missed her flight.
A few negatives
Once you get back to Bali, it is pretty chaotic. Just head to the parking lot and there will be vans from your company waiting and yelling out their destinations. Find a van that is going where you are going and get in.
This is really where the customer service thing went downhill. Our van driver refused to leave because his car wasn’t full, so we had to wait an hour until another boat arrived with more people that were going to Jimbaran.
THIS PART IS IMPORTANT. You do not need to pay the van driver ANYTHING extra to get him to take you to your hotel/Airbnb. You already paid for that service, but these guys might try to rip you off. He kept telling us that he was going to drop us all off at a central location where we could take a taxi.
Some people caved and paid him extra to take them directly to the hotel, instead, I gave him directions and told him where to turn to get to our Airbnb. He reluctantly obeyed, but remember, you already paid for him to do this. Do not feel bad for making him do his job.
And then you are safely back in Bali, and you probably have a lot of good stories to tell!