As the jet lag seeps in, a simple question arises in my mind – could I have found a better way to fly to Bali from the United States? I opted to save money and take the path less traveled. This included 45 hours of travel, several layovers, sleeping in weird places, and some very poor decisions related to airport sushi.
There are better ways to fly to Bali from the United States. We’ll introduce you to the most common paths and the best airlines. We’ll explain how you can make the airport experience enjoyable. Your trip abroad doesn’t have to be complicated!
So how does the visa process work? When you land at Denpasar airport, what do you do next? As someone who just successfully navigated the Balinese airport for his third time, I’ll explain everything you need to know.
Every airport in the USA knows that Bali is a luxury vacation destination for Americans. No matter the airline, they all do their best to ensure they can offer you a flight there. However, there are zero direct flights to Bali as it is exactly halfway across the world. You’ll need to have a layover.
Most Westerners are used to booking through American Airlines or Delta, especially as that’s where their loyalty points are stored. If you opt for these American companies, you will almost certainly be placed on a plane operated by Cathay Pacific, instead (an international partner of both airlines).
Aside from Cathay Pacific, other international airlines that offer flights to Bali include Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and China Airlines. I have used Qatar Airways before and highly recommend the experience. A layover in Doha is quite the experience, as it is consistently ranked as one of the top airports in the world. While there, I even saw a BMW in the Duty-Free section (no idea how that works).
More recently, I flew through Brunei airport. Their Wi-Fi options were limited and the bathrooms could only be described as basic. However, both Doha and Brunei’s airports feature a cool tour option. If your layover is expected to be 5+ hours and you plan ahead, you can actually book a short tour through the airport. The cities wish to increase tourism so will offer affordable tour packages to highlight the nearby attractions.
Do not worry about obtaining a visa from the Indonesian Embassy before you depart from home. The airport offers visa upon arrival for those traveling up to 30 days. If you wish to stay longer (up to 60 days), there is a specific desk you must visit.
Those who wish to prolong their experience in Indonesia simply have to visit this desk and pay approximately $35 for the opportunity to extend it as a later day. From there, they will offer you a small purple sheet of paper. You simply must take this to the immigration office in Denpasar at a later date, fill out the necessary paperwork, experience a short interview, and you’ll be granted an extension.
Bring U.S. Dollars to the airport to pay for your visa. If you forget to bring cash, there are several ATMs available before the immigration section of the airport. I have had limited success with these ATMs. Banks are highly skeptical of new transactions that take place in Indonesia, so it’s likely your fraud department will lock your card if you do not forewarn your bank.
You cannot extend your visa if you skip this step at the Balinese airport. If that sounds too confusing for you, there is an alternative option to simplify the process. After you purchase your purple slip, you can reach out to any immigration consulting firm. They will pick up your passport and handle all the leg work and bureaucratic confusion. I highly recommend this option.
As is the case with any foreign country, you must have at least 6 months remaining on your passport. Indonesian immigration control is known for being rather strict. We’ll touch on that in the next section.
Drugs —Don’t Be Stupid
Indonesia is one of the few countries in the world that has the death penalty for foreigners convicted of drug trafficking. In a recent case, a young man from Spain forgot that he had 1/4th of a joint left in the pocket of his old pants. He received 10 years in jail. You do not want to go to Indonesia jail – leave anything considered illegal at home.
After you pass through the immigration department and receive your stamp, you will head to the baggage claim. It is a relatively small section so you won’t have a challenging experience trying to find your bags (unless you had bad luck like me).
From there, you will need your passport, bags, and an immigration form/sheet that was handed to you on the airplane. After handing the necessary form to another immigration official, they will read your answers to ensure you aren’t bringing anything like plants, fruits, meats, weapons, etc.
After this step, you will put all of your luggage through an X-Ray machine. This process seems very relaxed. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that the immigration officers at this stage are responsible for finding goods that later end up as evidence in trials resulting in the death penalty.
Again, don’t do illegal things. They take their jobs seriously. There are serious repercussions for those that don’t respect the Indonesian law.
Just a few more steps and you are homeward bound!
After you pass through the final section of immigration with your bags, you will enter doors that lead to a money exchange and ATM section. There is almost always a line at these ATMs. After a long flight, the last thing you likely want to do is wait in a line. Lucky you – if you keep walking past the convenience store and SIM card section, you will encounter another ATM that never has a line.
You won’t get the best exchange rate at the airport, but it’s often nice to have money on hand. Likewise, if you are offered the opportunity to purchase a SIM card, it won’t be a fantastic deal for you. However, maybe you deem it vital to have data. It’s very probable that you need to access Whatsapp to message your driver, your villa, or family to let them know you’ve safely arrived.
As you exit the airport, there is a very large crowd of drivers holding signs. We recommend sorting your ride ahead of time. Simply tell your villa, hotel, or Airbnb that you need a ride from the airport and they will ensure that a driver is there waiting for you.
The ride from Denpasar airport to Canggu, Kuta, or Ubud is relatively inexpensive. It will cost $15 at the minimum and $35 at the maximum. Of course, if you are traveling further than that, you may rack up additional charges. After all, Bali is a surprisingly large island.
Now that you’ve arrived safely in Bali, a new question arises. How are you going to spend your first day? Some people who are experiencing a heavy bout of jet lag opt for a massage. The prices listed at spas and massage parlors in Bali are always affordable. It’s a great way to decompress and relax your aching muscles before you begin your trip.
Others choose to decompress in a totally different way. They even sell Bali’s most famous beer, Bintang, in the airport convenience store. Nothing says “get me the hell out of the airport” like drinking cocktails on the beach.
Bali is a fantastic destination for those who want something unique out of their vacation. The Balinese people are the nicest in the world. The food is fantastic (though beware of Bali Belly), the drinks are cheap, and the smiles are genuine. It has everything you need.
How long is a flight from the US to Bali?
There are no direct flights from the United States to Bali. Most layovers are approximately 4-5 hours long (this leaves a bit of time for mishaps and delays). In total, you can expect for your travels to take about 18 hours. Most travel experiences to Bali average at about 24 hours. Those who travel on a budget can experience time frames of 40+ hours.
Which airline is best to fly to Bali?
For those who are used to flying with American Airlines or Delta, both companies offer flights to Bali using a partner airline – Cathay Pacific. Other popular airline choices include Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, and China Airlines.