The main port of entry to Bali for most holidaymakers is Ngurah Rai International Airport. The airport is in the Tuban zone of Kuta and just above the narrow neck of land that separates Bukit and South Kuta from the rest of Bali. The facility is also known as Denpasar Airport as it is only 13kms from the city centre. It serves airlines flying from most of the key Asian and Australian cities as well as just about every other airport in Indonesia.
Ngurah Rai has separate terminals for domestic and international flights. The two are within easy walking range of each other. They offer full amenities which even include a branch of the Hard Rock Cafe chain. Bank branches offering bureau de change services plus ATMs which accept international bank cards ensure arriving passengers can stock up on cash.
Sixt, Budget and three other international car hire suppliers operate from booths at the airport. Buses and bemo mini-buses do ply routes to Kuta and Denpasar, but there are always taxis waiting in designated ranks near the Arrivals halls. Taxi fares are inexpensive in comparison to other prime holiday hotspots around the world. Some hotels, especially upmarket premises, provide shuttle services for arriving and departing guests.
Ferries ply routes across the straits separating Bali from Java and Lombok. Bus services from major cities on these latter two islands are timed to coincide with ferry departures, but the journeys are time consuming and not recommended for those in a hurry. From Ketapang on the coast of eastern Java, ferries take 30 minutes to get to the Bali port of Gilimanuk. West Bali National Park is just north of Gilimanuk. Services operate 24/7 at 15-minute intervals.
Padang Bay is the east Bali arrival point for ferries from Lembar on Lombok Island. This crossing takes up to four hours with several departures a day in each direction. Benoa Port is quite close to Ngurah Rai Airport and the arrival and departure point for hi-speed ferries to Lembongan Island and Lombok’s Gili Island chain.
After checking in at a hotel or holiday resort, there are quite a few options for getting around Bali. Buses run on fixed routes along the south coast and to all the major towns on the island. Services are a little sporadic and even state operated Trans Sarbagita buses to Kuta and Sanur are prone to random cancellations.
In the south and as far north as Denpasar, meter-taxis are not too hard to find. Drivers will go to most places in the region around Kuta. Going farther afield means passengers have to pay an extra 30 per cent on top of the displayed fare to allow for the driver having to return to the original location with an empty cab.
Bemo mini-buses do not operate on fixed routes and are a kind of shared taxi. There are not so many bemos left in south Bali now and drivers tend to want foreign tourists to charter the whole vehicle for trips which can work out more expensive than taking a regular meter-taxi.
Rental cars or motorcycles are the final choices and give more freedom yet on the downside the driver or rider has to contend with notoriously bad traffic conditions in Kuta, Denpasar and Ubud. The easiest option by far when going sightseeing or travelling to activity destinations is to just let a tour agency arrange the whole thing, including transportation.