As a seasoned travel agent, I get to hear all kinds of stories of the tourists arriving in Bali. But hearing is different than believing. I went to the airport to pick up someone around midnight. I saw different airlines just landed: Qantas, Air Asia, Korean Air, Philipinne airlines and Cebu Pacific. A stream of people swarmed through the exits of the airport Ngurah Rai. Over 275000 tourists arrived in Bali in 2022 August, source: Bali Tourism Statistics
The amount of tourists arriving was amazing to see. It’s wave after wave after wave of people and it never stopped.
Landing at the Ngurah Rai Airport
The plane has landed and you are moments away from setting your (first?) steps on Bali. At the moment you are exiting the plane, you will feel the difference in temperature and humidity. If you aren’t dressed for it, look for a toilet where you can switch your clothes in privacy and do what’s necessary.
At arrival you are checked for your eHAC and other requirements to enter Bali. At this moment you will be moving along with the other passengers who have arrived in Bali. You will be going through different screenings, like your passport, visa on arrival and custom declarations. Regarding the custom declarations, do also check the tips what to bring to Bali. After all this the next step is to follow the signs (or people) to the baggage / luggage belt where you can pick up your checked-in bags. Do expect a line for all of this with lots of passengers arriving.
Exiting the airport
If you are travelling with a group or multiple people, have a gathering point. The meeting point could be used. You and everyone will pass this point of interest. Every line moves at a different pace, and before you know it and for any different reason you can be separated from the group you are traveling with. Meet up back here and regroup.
You will be guided through all kinds of (souvenir) shops before you exit. There will be an opportunity to buy some of these later when you are actually going around in and perhaps shopping in Bali. What is handy, is to get some help with the SIM card. There will be 2 shops for this: XL Axiata and Telkomsel. Both would provide up to 4G as current time of writing, 2022 October. From experience XL Axiata offers up to 70 MBit internet with the VIP Package. This starts from 5GB (5GB for Youtube = total 10GB )for 30 days. This package costs roughly 69000 IDR which is almost 5 USD.
This will be your opportunity to get your sim card and help for activating it. If you are staying longer than 3 months, you would need to register your IMEI number so your phone can continue using the Indonesian sim card. More about this check this:
For a fee, there will be someone helping you with your luggage for the next few minutes. They seem friendly and offer a helping hand. Sometimes this is confused by tourists, who think it’s free. It’s not! just keep that in mind when receiving their help without asking.
ATM machines and money changers
At the airport there are reliable and safe ATM machines as well as official authorised money exchangers. The money exchanger does charge a little bit more by giving lesser exchange rate. If you are going to use this, just expect a pack or bundle of bills. My personal tip is not to exchange it all at once. There are some reputable money exchangers with a better rate in Bali. I got a whole post for you about using and bringing money to Bali
The line of drivers
Exiting the airport will overwhelm you by people offering taxi services, and tons showing a piece of papeer with a name. If you haven’t arranged any transport to your first hotel, then my first tip is to walk further and don’t go with the first who offers a taxi. There will be a taxi stand (queue) for you to get an official taxi. If you are looking for the cheapest taxi from the airport, you would need to use the Grab or Gojek app, and leave the airport by walking. This saves some money, and the walk talkes about 10 minutes. If you have a lot of luggage, this can be a bit heavy if you just did a long haul flight.
When you arranged for transport with your hotel, make sure to find your driver amongst the line of people waiting for their passenger. Take your time, and walk back and forth. If you can’t find the driver, try to go online using the airport Wi-Fi.
Airport security discourages the use of unauthorized taxi drivers. Although there isn’t any quarrel at the airport amongst the drivers, they seem friendly towards each other, it somehow isn’t the image and experience tourists should get. Due to fluctuating prices, or can’t find your hotel, there can be enough reasons not to take these unauthorised drivers. Some of these would wear a batik clothes, and show a laminated badge just to lead you to a normal (private ) car.
So before you land, just ask your hotel to pick you up. It will cost a fee (sometimes), but they can be fair compared to prices that are made up on the spot.
Make sure you have all your belongings
It goes without saying, make sure you have all your belongings. Do not leave them unattended while you go through the process of leaving the airport.
Enjoy being in Bali.