Apart from cruises, it is the only way to get there from a foreign country. Tourists from 169 countries only need a passport with more than 6 months validity and a ticket to leave the country, since the 30-day visa is free from March 2016 and is processed upon arrival (Visa on Arrival).
Called International Bali Ngurah Rai Denpasar Airport, is not actually in Denpasar but near the tourist area between Kuta and Jimbaran. Considering how touristic Bali is, I found it pretty depressing in 2012; I had dinner here and in my restaurant the biggest rat I’ve ever seen was happily moving around. However, it was renovated in 2013 and apparently is now more modern and less dirty, I hope so… but there is talk of long lines and high prices in shops and restaurants.
A short transfer by ferry from Java, which is included in the price of the bus ticket, is required. It takes just 30 minutes, leaving every 15 minutes. Unless you are coming from a nearby area in Java, it makes little sense to use this transport as a flight to Jakarta or another remote town will cost about the same and will save between 15 and 24 hours by bus.
Buses stop at Mengwi Bus Terminal, 12 km northwest of Denpasar.
Unless you are one of the few backpackers who come from Java, the vast majority of tourists arriving (or leaving) by sea come from Lombok, the Gilis or Nusa Lembongan. If going Lombok, is not worth it, you can find low-cost flights from $ 20 one way purchasing them just 2 or 3 days in advance.
In addition, some of these boats, which would be common in other areas of Southeast Asia, are very poor for Bali’ standard, especially those going to Nusa Lembongan, because the trip is shorter and less dependent on environmental inclemencies, so they invest less in security, boats are worse, and crew has little training nor interest in the welfare of customers in the event of an accident or shipwreck, which continues to occur once every two years, the last in 2014 and 2016.
- From Padangbai port, northeast of Denpasar:
- The official and slower ferry runs every hour, takes about 4 hours to reach Lembar in Lombok. Rp 50,000. It’s kind of basic.
- There are also fast boats that take 90 minutes, cost between 300.000 and 500.000 Rp (30 $ and 50 $) to Lombok each way, depending on what time you choose. It should be booked at least one day in advance. Going to the Gilis costs more.
- To Nusa Lembongan costs between 200.000 and 300.000 Rp (20 and 30 $). The cheapest boats going to Nusa Lembongan are just like large bangcas (traditional Filipino boat). There are 8 companies, in total there are more than 12 boats per day.
- From Benoa port in Kuta there fast boats and catamarans bound Lombok, Nusa Lembongan and Gilis. Prices are similar than in Padangbai, but being farther away, take about twice.