Patience required at Bali Airport (Ngurah Rai/Denpasar)

Ever heard of Ngurah Rai? I bet not. How about Denpasar? Maybe heard it once before? Where do you think it is? Alright, it’s in the title of the post, so let’s not play games. But seriously, why don’t they just call the airport Bali International? At least certain flight booking sites like Kayak allow you to search for “Bali”. But then, there are no other commercial airports on this island of the Indonesian archipelago anyway.

But since I’m supposed to write a review of an airport I shouldn’t muck around with naming conventions too much I guess. So, let’s look closely at Denpasar International airport (IATA: DPS). In fact it’s nowhere near Denpasar either. Alright, alright. I’ll stop it. Hmm, what can I say? The airport doesn’t offer too much actually. Bali, after all, isn’t particularly on the cutting edge of economic development. Don’t get me wrong, the charming island is doing fine but it still has that  “2nd world” feel about it. Maybe that’s exactly why it attracts Millions of tourists each year.

Most of us would probably first arrive in Bali before we depart. What I mean is, the arrival procedure is probably the thing that’s going to be of interest to you first. And what a procedure it is! Fresh off the plane and bursting with holiday energy you first need to join the queue to pay  the entry visa (make sure you bring US$ 25 in cash per person). With the visa voucher you then queue for the actual immigration officer. Check which line is the quickest before you spend 15 minutes looking at the queue next to you moving past swiftly. After that it’s straight forward: find the luggage carousel, pick up your luggage and head towards the taxi counter outside the terminal building and off you go on your Balinese holiday.

Leaving the country requires, you guessed it, another queue and more cash payments. They call it “airport service fee” and it comes in the amount of Rp 150,000 per person (about US$ 16). So don’t spend all your Rupiahs before you head back to the airport or you will have to pay a penalty exchange rate at one of the conveniently located little exchange stalls right in front of the service fee counter.

Once you’re in the inside of the terminal, you will probably still have some time to kill as most airlines require you to check-in 2 hours prior to your departure time.  So, let’s look at my list of things to do:

  • Check out the funniest McDonald’s outlet ever (a tiny pushcart with a menu)
  • Visit the toilets (well you probably are going to do that anyway) but if you can, err if you’re a man that is, check out the fish tanks above the urinals
  • Get a shot of Illy coffee close to gates 5 and 6
  • You MUST finish you heavenly holiday with a  final and oh so affordable Balinese massage at one of several massage outlets (e.g. the one towards gate 7,8,9)
  • Why not buy yourself access to the Garuda Indonesia airline lounge for Rp. 100,000 (about US$ 11)
  • Grab a Ku De Ta CD to remind you of your partying at Bali’s most famous beach club

Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport
Design Plane Award Point
Shopping Plane Award Point
Toilets Plane Award Plane Award Point
Overall Plane Award Plane Award Point
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum, 100ml at the Duty Free Shop US$ 69
Bottle of Veuve Cliquot at the Duty Free Shop US$ 127

[Picture from Flickr – some rights reserved]

  • I guess those who love the island does not really mind all the hustle and bustle in the airport. I wish they can do something about this, make it more convenient for tourists.

  • Rachael

    Wow what a great website. Maybe you can help me. Do you know if there are toilets when you get off the plane before you go through the Visa/imiigration process? I have Crohns disease (not drug smuggling!) and am just a bit anxious about the facilities available… Thanks.

  • Rachel, I remember that there are indeed toilets before you go through the Visa/Immigration process. That process btw can take a little while and is a bit chaotic, so I guess there are quite a few people you “can’t wait much longer…”. I hope this helps.

  • Maria

    As an Indonesian I feel ashamed to fly from Ngurah Rai (Bali) International Airport. The airport is hot and humid, the information is inadequate, and the toilet is dirty. After passing trough the immigration, you will be in the waiting lounge which has a limited number of seats and has an unbearable smell of traditional fragrant (really is not everyone’s cup of tea!). Some of the seats are worn out and stained, flies can easily be seen. I do hope the new international airport (due in 2013) will really up to the international standard. Otherwise, as Indonesians we all should feel ashamed for not being able to respect ourselves.

  • Manu

    All airports in Indonesia have very poor service and in all of them they charge you to enter the country and then every time you leave an airport they charge again. Where does all that money go? when the service and facilities are SO POOR? They do not even have a tourist information office anywhere. You need to really on private companies or all the hundreds of unauthorised people who offer you transport and hotels outside the airports. SCARY SCARY. Will never go back to Indonesia and certainly ask friends to consider other places where tourists are valued, well looked after, better facilities i.e. airports, roads, traffic signs, ports, less immigration lines, no all that tax, better local transport, less hazel with informal vendors. In other words the government needs to make sure tourists need to make their money worthwhile.

  • Arthof

    The duty free at the old airport stocked a good range of products in older style shops. The new airport stocks only a very limited range of more expensive and in some cases unknown brand products.
    The airport is a lot bigger now but has less facilities. One of the only things that is a bonus is the free WiFi.