Getting there and getting around Bali

by Terri Cook
Friday, October 3, 2014

Visitors to Bali arrive at the Ngurah Rai International Airport on the island’s southern side. No direct flights are available from the U.S.; most itineraries route through a major East Asian hub. To travel between Bali and the neighboring islands of Java or Lombok, you can either catch a short domestic flight (options include Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air) or take a short, though frequently rough, ferry ride.

How you get around Bali depends upon your comfort level navigating dense and chaotic traffic with motorbikes zipping all around. If you don’t mind driving, you can rent a car at the airport (a number of reputable international agencies have depots there), or arrange a motorbike through one of the many vendors in the tourist areas. The other option is to hire a car with a driver, which can be arranged by the hour or the day. I recommend Nikki (, who speaks English and also has a network of friends he can recommend.

The island’s thousands of accommodation options vary widely in price as well as quality, from basic backpacker hostels to luxurious resorts. Most visitors arrive with accommodations already booked. The best selection is available in the highly developed beach resort of Kuta, the more upscale Seminyak, and Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital. offers hundreds of reviewer-rated properties and is helpful for finding apartments, which are often a better value than hotels. Near the beach, I recommend Umadasa Seminyak ( as a great mid-range option. For a more authentic Balinese experience, consider a home stay. Ubud has excellent options; our home stay at KT Kuaya, where the guest rooms are located in the heart of a beautiful Balinese family compound, was a highlight of our trip.

By far the most popular volcano to summit is the 1,717-meter-high Mount Batur, located about 2.5 hours north of Denpasar, which entails hiking nearly 700 vertical meters over a distance of 4 kilometers. Several companies offer sunrise trips to the summit, which typically include round-trip transportation from your hotel, a guide and several snacks to keep you fueled. If you’re comfortable with some exposure and able to move at a good pace, ask your guide to circle the crater rim, which provides amazing 360-degree views into the volcano’s gaping crater.

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