The village of Padang Bai is home to one of the busiest ports in Bali. Located on Bali’s relaxed eastern coastline, the town mainly works as a jumping off point for travellers heading out to the neighbouring islands. But you shouldn’t write Padang Bai off as a mere pit stop on your way to the port – if you stay in town long enough, you’ll discover beautiful white sand beaches and some of the most delicious seafood around.
Padang Bai Overview
The busy port of Padang Bai is framed by a relaxed Balinese town. The port has certainly given local tourism a boost, with most (if not all) local accommodation and dining options catering to backpackers on their way to catch a boat to Lombok or the Gili Islands. As a result, the area has a “just passing” through feel to it and you’ll be hard to find any high-end facilities in town.
That being said, Padang Bai does have its own charm and it would be a shame to shrug the town off as a mere pit stop on your way to the islands. The area is framed by picturesque white sand beaches (most notably Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel Beach) and the surrounding waters make for some great snorkelling and diving. Thanks to its seaside locale, Padang Bai also offers a great opportunity for feasting on some fresh local seafood.
Planning Your Trip to Padang Bai
Padang Bai welcomes travellers throughout the year, a vast majority of them only staying in town long enough to catch a boat to the neighbouring islands. Our Padang Bai travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Padang Bai, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Padang Bai Weather
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Padang Bai
The relaxed feel of Padang Bai feels like a million miles from the hectic buzz surroundings the more touristic areas found further down south. Though the port has made the town livelier, Padang Bai still maintains the laid-back feel of a Balinese village. Framed by picturesque views of the sea, the setting is ideal for simply parking yourself on a sun lounger or at table of a quint seafood restaurant with a cold drink in hand. Cheers!
Tours & Activities
Thanks to its strategic location and easy access to the neighbouring islands, Padang Bai works as the perfect home base for exploring beautiful East Bali or for heading for an adventure on the neighbouring islands. The relaxed town of Candidasa is about 20 minutes away by car and offers a few more dining options along with stunning waterfront villas. The beautiful Tirta Gangga water palace is about one hour away and the same goes for the stunning rice fields of Sidemen. If you want to explore beyond Bali, fast boats from Padang Bai depart to Lombok, the Gili Islands and Nusa Lembongan.
That being said, there are things to do and places to see locally in Padang Bai, too. The main attraction are the beaches which boast beautiful white sand and remain blissfully void of tourists. The most visited beaches are called Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel, both located about a five-minute’s drive from the port. Besides lounging on the sand, many travellers head out snorkelling or diving. Both activities are best enjoyed further off shore, with boat trips and tours offered by numerous operators throughout town.
Eating & Drinking in Padang Bai
Padang Bai is a busy port town mainly catering to backpackers heading out to the neighbouring islands. As a result, the area does offer several options for relaxed seaside dining but little in the way of more refined cuisine.
Owing to the town’s seaside location, most of the restaurants in Padang Bai focus on fresh seafood, often served in a scenic sea view setting. Most restaurants are centred around the oceanfront boulevard of Jalan Silayukti and Jalan Segara. Padang Bai’s restaurants tend to be low key and relaxed. For fully fledged fine dining, make the 20-minute drive up the coast to the luxurious resorts located in neighbouring Candidasa.
Much like the area itself, nightlife in Padang Bai is low key and relaxed and mostly caters to travellers passing by on their way to the islands. The town offers a handful of bars, restaurants and pubs where you can enjoy cold beers, relaxed meals and the occasional live music act.
Padang Bai Neighbourhoods
Most travellers looking for accommodation in Padang Bai are after a simple overnight lodging on their way to catch a boat or ferry to one of the neighbouring islands. This means most accommodation is budget friendly and positioned close to the harbour. If you’re planning to stay in town a little longer, it might be worth staying a bit off centre, away from hectic bustle surrounding the port and closer to the beaches.
Padang Bai & Surrounds
Padang Bai is positioned on the southeast coast of Bali island, neighboured by the charming seaside village of Candidasa to the east, followed by the relaxed diving and snorkelling village of Amed on the easternmost coastline. Driving west from Padang Bai, you’ll reach the verdant region of Gianyar which offers beautiful green rice fields and deserted black sand beaches. Padang Bai is mostly known for its harbour, with boats departing for Nusa Lembongan, Lombok and the three Gili Islands.
Padang Bai Villas
With the town mainly catering to backpackers en route to the neighbouring islands, there are no Ministry Approved villas in Padang Bai. If you’re looking to visit Padang Bai but prefer to stay somewhere more exclusive than a local guest house, you can book a villa in Candidasa (about 20 minutes from Padang Bai), Gianyar (30 minutes) or Sanur (40 minutes).
And what makes staying in a villa so special? All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is the only airport in Bali and works as most travellers’ first introduction to the island. The busy airport is located in Tuban in South Bali and serves a over 20 million passengers a year. Not surprisingly, the airport is well connected to international destinations, with direct flights offered from Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai and beyond. Airlines offering direct flights to and from Bali include Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and more. A new airport is set to be built in North Bali though the plans are still in early stages.
You can also reach Bali by boat. Padang Bai is connected to the neighbouring Gili Islands and Lombok through direct boat connections. Lombok has its own international airport which could work as your first entry point to Indonesia before crossing over to Bali. Beyond Padang Bai, other ports with boats arriving from Lombok and the Gilis are located further down south (namely Benoa, Sanur and Serangan), a good hour’s drive from Padang Bai. From Java, ferries arrive in Gilimanuk which is located about 160 kilometres from Padang Bai.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
If you haven’t organised your arrival transfers beforehand, you can also get a taxi directly at the airport. There is an official taxi stand at the international arrivals hall, next to the information desk. This taxi stand offers fixed priced and metered fares which are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find accurate, up to date pricing online. Besides the official taxi service, the arrivals hall is filled with independent drivers offering rides at varying rates. To save yourself the hassle of having to negotiate on a price right after landing, we recommend arranging airport transfers before landing in Bali, especially if you’re heading to more far off destinations like Padang Bai.
There are a few options for getting around Padang Bai, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Padang Bai is a small town so if you’re planning to stay locally, you can usually make your way around on foot. Walking along the beachfront streets makes for a very pleasant outing – just be mindful of the sun and remember to carry a reusable water bottle! Be mindful when walking around as there generally are no designated sidewalks and the passing traffic can be unpredictable. If you’re heading outside the centre of town, say to one of the beaches, the area gets hilly and walking might not be the best option, especially in the tropical heat.
Hiring a private car and driver is the perfect way to explore East Bali. Once you head outside the small centre of Padang Bai, the area gets hilly and the distances grow large, so having a car will be ideal. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
If you’re out and about with only one or two people, hiring a scooter can be the perfect way to explore Padang Bai and its surroundings. Though having two wheels can be a handy way of getting around, you should only hire a scooter if you have previous experience driving and hold a valid international driver’s licence. Traffic can be minimal in the smaller side roads, but the main roads are frequented by trucks heading and from the post so do take extra care. And of course, always wear a helmet. Driving without a helmet and/or valid license will result in a fine if you get stopped by the police.
Due to its remote location away from the tourist trail, there are no official taxis in Padang Bai – elsewhere in Bali, we always recommend using the trustworthy Blue Bird taxis. Ride hailing apps (Go-Jek and Grab) are also not available in the area. But fear not – transport options are plentiful, with local drivers offering rides throughout town. Your accommodation will also be able to help to organise transfers. Always make sure you agree on the price before getting in.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Padang Bai Stories
Padang Bai is a quaint port town framed by beautiful beaches and offering prime access to the neighbouring islands. Most travellers are only passing through town, but if you give it a chance, Padang Bai also has its own unique charm. Check out our latest Padang Bai blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.