Transportation - Get In
Visitors will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport , also known as Denpasar International Airport. The airport is located in Tuban, between Kuta and Jimbaran, roughly 45 minutes away from Denpasar.
Ngurah Rai is Indonesia's 3rd busiest international airport (after Jakarta and Surabaya) and a major hub well-connected to Australia, South-East Asia, and the rest of Indonesia. A number of International airlines serve this airport including several low cost carriers (LCC).
The airport is the hub for island hopping tours to the Nusa Tenggara Islands. Garuda Indonesia, TransNusa and Wings Air operate propeller jets to the islands.
Get from the airport
Transportation from the airport is not too bad, but is far from perfect too. Some hotels organise free transfers from the airport, and plenty of public taxis are also available: go to the ticketing booth, on the right side just after the exit, buy a fixed-fare ticket and a driver will be assigned to you trouble-free. However, the ticketing booth closes after the last flight arrival for the day and re-opens at 08:00, so anyone wanting an airport taxi during this period should be prepared to haggle or seek the alternatives described below.
If you are travelling on a restricted budget, you can flag down a Blue Bird Taxi from outside the airport area (but now it will take at least 8-10 minutes walk from the new International terminal, more from the Domestic, and there's neither clearly signed way out, nor there are many people using this way), or try and catch a taxi dropping off passengers near Domestic terminal departures. Blue Bird Taxis are safe and reliable, and their metered fares are cheaper than the prepaid taxi fare (especially for shorter rides, e.g. Rp 20,000-30,000 to Kuta). Depending on how much baggage you have and how bulky it is, you might want to evaluate whether all that extra effort is worth it to save a few dollars.
If you do make the effort to walk outside the airport to the street, you can also flag down a bemo (local minivan). Most of the bemos in this area will be heading to Kuta (road to Kuta heads to the left if looking out from the airport gate), but don't absolutely bank on it, and be prepared for a hot, crowded journey. It should cost no more than a few thousand rupiah per person (ask the driver beforehand). And if you are an alone backpacker you can try ojek (motorcycle taxi but no meter) in the first intersection outside of the airport (3 to 5 minutes walk) for a price (more) less than a half of taxi meter fare. If you are not sure a taxi can reach your hotel because of narrow streets, or you are not sure about the location, Ojek is a good option because they frequently use narrow streets to cut the length of the trip, use pedestrian paths and sometimes go against traffic on theoretically one-way streets. An ojek to Kuta costs Rp10,000 to Rp15,000.
Another option is call a Grab (the Southeast Asian version of Lyft); you can go to Kuta for less than Rp 20,000. You need to go to the domestic terminal in the arrivals area.
There are direct bus services to Bali from all major cities on Java and Lombok that link with ferries for sea crossings. These are cheap and easy, but slow.
- Perama bus company is a good option for budget travellers.
Sarbagita is the only bus company that is allowed to enter the Bali airport. A bus is usually available every 30-60 minutes and the fee is Rp 7,000 per passenger. There is one Sarbagita bus stop at the International arrival terminal and one Sarbagita bus stop at the Domestic terminal. These bus stops are not clearly marked and it is best to ask someone for directions.
It is the cheapest transportation to get out of the Bali airport although it only stops at major roads and intersections and does not go into the tourist centers where hotels are. That means that at the end of the bus ride you will either need to walk to your hotel or get a taxi.
The routes available are Route 1 (Denpasar to GWK & return) and route 8 (Tabanan to Bali airport & return) with the Bali airport along both Route 1 and 2. However, route 8 (a part of the route is parallel with Sanur beach) is the best option for who need cheap hotels along the route, mainly for domestic tourists who want to see the sunset at Kuta, rather than to hang out at the beach all day long (it lets off about 2 kilometers from Kuta beach).
Ferries cross from Ketapang on the island of Java to Gilimanuk in western Bali every 15 minutes, 24 hr every day. These are very cheap, and the crossing takes just 30 minutes (plus sometimes considerable waiting around for loading and unloading).
A number of speedboats and catamarans operate into Benoa Harbour near Kuta (~2 hr) and Padangbai (80 minutes) from the Gili Islands of Lombok. These are convenient for some travellers but are frequently priced much higher than the equivalent air crossing. Crossing times are subject to weather and other operational conditions and trip times can longer than those publicised. Benoa Harbour with 12 meter depth received more than 50 ships with more than 1,000 passangers and crew each a year.
Caution should be used in selecting a suitable operator and craft for a fast boatcrossing to Lombok. Some of the operators on these routes use inappropriate equipment, overload the boats and have inadequate levels of crew training, personnel and safety equipment. The Lombok Strait fast boat crossing can be subject to inclement weather and equipment breakdowns. Boarding an overloaded craft or departing in adverse weather conditions may lead to serious disappointment. Currently there are no operators offering craft suitable for open water all-weather crossings. Rather they are operating light duty hulled craft of fibreglass or aluminium construction powered by outboard petrol engines. On two previous occasions operators have introduced a more suitably specified and equipped craft powered by diesel inboard engines and with a more robust hull construction appropriate to open water use. Both these craft were withdrawn from service as operations could not be sustained in competition with the lower cost base alternatives. Several of these light duty craft have already sunk or been run onto a reef or beach to avoid foundering whilst carrying passengers. Fortunately they had not yet entered open waters at the time and nearby assistance was available. There have been no fatalities from these incidents.
There are also public ferries from Lembar, Lombok, to Padang Bai every few hours, with the trip taking around 3–4 hours. This service has notable safety, operational and equipment standards issues. Some ferries are better than others, or worse depending upon your perspective.
Delays are commonplace with the public ferries due to loading and unloading issues. Services may be cancelled or postponed during periods of inclement weather and it may be prudent to avoid sea crossings during the monsoonal period when sea conditions may lead to deteriorated comfort levels or a dangerous crossing.
See the Gili Islands and Lombok articles for full details concerning travelling and arriving in Lombok and it's nearby islands.
Cruise ships occasionally stop so that passengers can tour or shop. Some ships still anchor off-shore toward the southeast side of the island and tender guests to shore. Modest-sized ships can choose to dock at the port of Benoa not far from Denpasar,Kuta and Sanur. Some of it also run from Candi Dasa and Amed, furthermore the operators can pick up at Nusa Dua, Ngurah Rai International Airport and even Ubud. But only few of the operators can serve flop destinations such as visiting 2 or 3 destinations. It should be arranged in advanced, because is not easy to flop from one island of Gilis to the others and also to Senggigi. Cruise ship fee is including pick up at hotels or airport. The dock area is basically industrial, with few amenities and no ATMs, but taxis and private car operators are usually ready to whisk you to nearby destinations at a moderate cost, taxis should use their meters and private cars will sometimes require some patient negotiation on price.
Transportation - Get Around
Bali is a fairly large island and you will need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. Rapid, seemingly uncontrolled development and aging infrastructure mean that the roads struggle to cope. In major tourist areas the traffic is chaotic, and there are daily traffic jams. Particular blackspots are Ubud, Kuta, Seminyakand Denpasar.
For different excursions around the island, it is common to join a tour via your hotel or at one of the many street agencies which are found everywhere in booths normally marked "Tourist Information".
Once you arrive at your destination you may encounter difficult walking conditions as sidewalks in most parts of Bali are simply the covered tops of storm-water drains and in many places only 60 cm (2 ft) wide. This makes for uncomfortable single-file walking next to traffic. Often sidewalks are blocked by a motorbike or a caved-in section, necessitating dangerous darting into traffic. Many of the island's conventional streets are simply not pedestrian-friendly. Beach areas and major tourist areas are easier to walk around and Sanur in particular has a wide beachfront pathway with many cafes and bars. But although the walking conditions are difficult, they are by no means impossible. Lots of tourists and locals travel the roads by foot and even the traffic is generally very accommodating to pedestrians if it is given time to react.
The Perama bus company serves the budget traveller well in Bali and beyond, and they have offices in several major tourist destinations on the island. There are other scheduled shuttle buses between many of Bali's most popular destinations too.
Trans Sarbagita government bus service operates on Bali since August 2011. TransSarbagita is likes TransJakarta in Jakarta, but has no special lanes for TransSarbagita. The buses are comfortable, air-conditioned. These buses stop only at permanent elevated bus stops built on the road curb. All TransSarbagita operate from 05:00 to 21:00.
Until now TransSarbagita serves only 3 corridors (1, 2 and 8) from 17 corridors planned, at end-route terminals bus runs every 15 minutes, but in the middle of the route the headway sometimes becomes more up to 30 minutes due to traffic jams and TransSarbagita has no dedicated lanes as TransJakarta has. The bus is smaller too, but never full even in the peak hours due to most Balinese have their own motorcycles. Foreign tourist sometimes use also the bus, but never exceed 5 persons in Corridors 1 and 2.
Corridor-2 may be useful for tourists start from Batubulan bemo terminal, go via Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai (stopping in Sanur on the way) and Hanuman statue roundabout to Central Parkir Kuta (near Giant supermarket on Jalan Raya Kuta, a kilometer or so inland from the main tourist areas of Kuta), make a loop via Sunset Road back to Hanuman statue, and go south all the way to Nusa Dua, then go back. For visitors, the main advantage is there's no need now to change bemos and to deal with 2-3 bemo drivers to get to Batubulan terminal (from where direct bemos to Ubud, Kintamani and other north and north-eastern destinations are available) or to Sanur. Those going to Nusa Dua or Benoa may find the southern part of the route useful. The bus stop nearest to the airport is Central Parkir Kuta, a Blue Bird taxi caught outside of the airport gate will cost you around Rp 25,000. If boarding at Central Parkir Kuta, beware that both southbound (Nusa Dua) and northbound (Batubulan) buses seem to use the same stop - if no signs on the bus, ask the conductor or other people waiting for the bus. Today many new hotels operate along/around bypass which one to two kilometers from the beaches and it served by TransSarbagita Corridor-2. The fare for this corridor is Rp 3,500, while for Corridor-1 is Rp 3,000.
Starting on September 17, 2015 TransSarbagita Corridor 8, Pesiapan to Ngurah Rai Airport begins serve public with fee variatively due to the route is consists of three segments, Pesiapan-Mengwi, Mengwi-Teuku Umar, and Teuku Umar-Ngurah Rai Airport. For each segment should pay Rp 3,500 or Rp 2,500 for student. The corridor is served by DAMRI as at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta with big bus, bigger than other TransSarbagita buses. There are 2 bus signs stop (not bus terminal), at international arrival terminal and at domestic terminal near Solaria Restaurant. Theoritically the bus available every 15 to 30 minutes, if there are no traffic jams along the route. It is the cheapeast transportation in Bali and usually not full occupation. The most suitable cheap way to reach Sanur.
Metered taxis are very common in southern Bali as far north as Denpasar, but few and far between elsewhere. The starting flag fall charge is Rp 5,000 for the first two kilometres and the meter ticks up Rp 5,000 per km after that. Waiting time is charged at Rp 30,000 per hour. Trips outside southern Bali will incur an extra charge of 30%, as the driver has to go back empty.
By far the largest and most reliable taxi company is BlueBird Bali Taksi; they have a telephone call service +62 361 701111 for both instant taxis and advance bookings. If you are hailing a taxi on the street, Bluebird cars are sky blue with a white top light . The cars are modern and the drivers well-informed with a decent level of English-language ability. There are several other reliable taxi companies but these are not always easy to identify. If entering a taxi with no working meter, you are probably being deceived, you can negotiate a price with the driver but it is unlikely to work to your favour. Always insist on the meter being turned on, do not believe stories that the taxi has no meter or that it is "broken" and leave the taxi if the request to use the meter is not met.
If day-tripping, it is often cheaper and more convenient to arrange for your taxi to wait and take you back.
GrabTaxi is already runs in Southeast Asia and nowadays runs also in Bali after Jakarta and Padang with aims of safety, certainty, fast orders and pickup. Easy access with GrabCar and then GrabTaxi apps from iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Temporary only serve from/to Denpasar, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Canggu and Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Taxis ordered can be chosen in the smartphone display with estimation cost. All taxis are monitored by GPS, including the route used. Dishonest taxi drivers are rarely heard of in Bali, but using GrabTaxi will increase safety. The tariff is same with the regular taxis which GrabTaxi is only application for selected and qualified drivers from several taxi brands.
Uber is available in Bali since mid-2015, and is on average (but not always) cheaper than GrabCar/GrabTaxi, as Uber tries to gain their market share. You may use an account (and credit card) from your home country, but it's wise to connect your local mobile number to it temporarily, as the roaming call to the driver may easily cost more than the ride itself. The general area is the same "greater Denpasar" as for Grab - just open the app to see if there's a vehicle around you. Pricing is dynamic, as elsewhere, but a typical (basic or 1.2x) fare is 20-40% cheaper than an equivalent BlueBird metered ride.
Note that some beaches (especially those to the west of Seminyak like Batubelig, Canggu, etc.) have signs posted that Uber/Grab/BlueBird can only drop off passengers there. It is illegal and is done by local taxi driver groups, who do not want to lose their market share of (grossly overpriced) rides taken by foreigners in these areas. If there, normally you won't be able to book a Grab/Uber online, and the passing-by BlueBird taxis will not stop if you try to hail them - as if they do, they may be attacked and damaged by the angry local "taxis". Unfortunately, this problem is yet (February 2016) to be resolved, but currently, the only practical solution is either coming by your own/rented car or motorbike, or walking a considerable distance (1 km is not unheard of) from the beach, then trying to hail a cab there, on a big road or discreetly using an app in some cheap (which does not have local taxis hanging around) restaurant or supermarket.
Bemos are minivans which serve as a flexible bus service and are Bali's "traditional" form of transportation. However they have largely given way to metered taxis in the south. Fares on shared bemos can be very cheap, but drivers will often insist that foreign tourists charter the entire vehicle, in which case they will usually ask for a price equivalent to a taxi or even more.
By car or motorbike
Driving in Indonesia is on the left. Car and motorbike rentals are widely available but think very carefully about your ability to handle traffic in Bali with its different traffic rules - both formal and informal. Consider hiring a car and driver as you can relax, be safe and not get lost. If you wish to drive yourself, a modern four door 6 to 8 seaters Toyota Avanza or Daihatsu Xenia should cost Rp250,000-Rp275,000 per day and a rough Suzuki Katana from Rp90,000 to Rp110,000 per day. Avanza and Xenia Automatic Transmission should add Rp50,000 per day. The cheap 4 seaters 2014 Low Cost Green Car Toyota Agya Manual or Daihatsu Ayla Manual is Rp150,000-Rp175,000 per day. You will also be given a vehicle identification number (Surat Tanda NomorKendaraan) that you can show in case something happens with your vehicle, and if the specifications the renters described matched with the official documents.
Renting motorcycles or scooters can be a frightening yet fascinating experience. They are typically 125cc, some with automatic transmissions, and rental tariff is Rp50,000 or above per day (for a week or more; cheaper prices can be bargained). In areas outside of the tourist enclaves of south Bali, a motorbike is a wonderful way to see the island, but in south Bali, with its crush of traffic, the chances of an accident are greatly increased. In 4 months there are 11 injuries and 4 dead, is only statistic of foreigners. One of the dead person is not use the helmet properly. However, please consider again, if want to rent a bike, Bali is very progressive area, the situation is very different with 5 years ago. While Bali is no place to learn to ride a motorbike, some of the new surfing areas are only accessible by motorbike, and not all hotels have ample parking for cars, mainly budget hotel or hotel with 2 stars or below.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required for vehicle rental, with a motorcycle endorsement if renting a motorbike, the IDP must match the licence class of the home country of issue and must be appropriate to the vehicle being used; both documents must be carried. The IDP is seldom requested by the person renting you the vehicle but will be required (along with the vehicle's STNK registration papers). If you're stopped by the police typically a Rp 50,000 "fine" will allow you to keep driving but this strategy will quickly unravel if there is an accident involving damage or injury. An IDP is easily obtainable from motoring clubs in your home country such as the AA in New Zealand and the UK and the AAA in Australia and the US.
By rental car with a driver
Rental car services owned by individuals or companies are easy to find in Bali and this is the best option for first time visitors. Using a rental car with a driver is certainly cheaper than taxis and far more efficient than using other public transportation. The drivers are usually English-speaking and they can also act as informal tourist guides recommending good destinations and restaurants. Choosing to rent from a large car company is naturally more expensive than sourcing from a private individual. Ask hotel staff to recommend a good individually owned rental car with a knowledgeable driver. Drivers should hold a licence to operate a tourism transport vehicle otherwise there may be delays and inconvenience experienced if stopped by the police or other officials.
Price varies between Rp 300,000-600,000 per day (usually defined as 10 hr) depending on your negotiation skills and the class/age of the car. Make sure the price includes petrol and driver for the day. Petrol costs, after the removal of some government subsidies in recent years, have escalated dramatically (although still very cheap by international standards) and the distance travelled is a factor if you have not fixed a daily price. Entrance tickets to tourist destinations and any parking fees will be charged to you and it is good form to buy lunch for your driver. For those on a tight schedule, visiting most of the major tourist destinations in Bali will need about 3 days with a rental car and driver.
Travel by bicycle is quite possible and provides a very different experience than other means of transport. You should bring your own touring bike, or buy locally—there is at least one well stocked bike shop in Denpasar, but with a racing/mountain bike focus. Bicycles are also widely available for rent and some of the better hotels will even provide them free of charge. While traffic conditions may appear challenging at first, you will acclimatise after a few days, especially once you escape the chaotic heavy traffic of southern Bali.
Besides travel by bicycle, you can try bicycle at north of Ubud and at Kintamani. One of easy route is from Kintamani to Gianyar. Tour operator will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to Kintamani which bicycles are ready for you. After short briefing, the tour through good road with very light traffic among paddy fields, village environment and many small temples. Most of the route are slightly down or flat and only not more than one kilometer hike.
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