How to Navigate Bali's International Airport
Arriving at Bali Ngurah Rai
After 18+ hours of transit, dealing with jet lag, hunger, swollen feet, and a healthy dose of culture shock, Ngurah Rai isn’t the easiest to navigate. Upon arrival, you’ll make your way through the winding halls into a large immigration hall. There’s a long line for getting visas and a much longer line for those who either don’t need visas or have them already. As of the writing of this, Americans do not need a visa for stays of 30 days or less. But double check before you go because that changes and there is NO signage at the airport about who does and doesn’t need a visa. Nor is there an information desk. This is where your research comes in handy!
Once you make your way through the long line and pick up your luggage, you’re let out into the humid air of Bali...where you’re promptly greeted by about 1000 different taxi agents, tour operators, and sales people. If you did as I suggested and asked your hotel how much a cab should be, you have a price to bargain with. It may not be a bad idea to even arrange transport with your hotel if they’re offering a fair price. Once you make your way past the sales people and through a long hallway of ATMs and shops, there is an official taxi stand with ‘official’ prices listed. However, definitely double check with the person at the desk because the written price isn’t necessarily the one they’re quoting you.
As far as getting money, I heard a lot of warnings about ATM fraud at the airport but did not experience myself. In fact, the only thing I did experience is that my bank, despite my notifying them, locked my card as soon as I tried to take out funds. Luckily I had some dollars to exchange. It's definitely a good idea to have some cash as a backup as ATMs in Bali are unpredictable.
Ubers are available in Bali and can be cheaper than taxis, assuming you have the international cell data to order one. HOWEVER, cab drivers do not like seeing Ubers, especially at the airport, and might make things difficult for you getting into the car and on your way. Ubers can undercut cabs and their livelihoods and it’s a touchy subject from one country to another.
Once you make your way through the gauntlet, into a car, and away from the airport - congratulations! That will likely be one of the more challenging experiences you have. Now sit back and enjoy the subpar air conditioning that most cabs have! But it doesn’t matter, because you are on your way to a fantastic experience.