Airport review: Denpasar Domestic Terminal, Bali, Indonesia




Garuda Indonesia flight GA255 Denpasar to Yogyakarta, economy class


I'm in transit from Melbourne to Yogyakarta and, ostensibly, a little electric cart runs between Denpasar's international and domestic terminals. However, the drivers appear to all be on a tea break, so we take the five-minute walk between the two, soaking up the humidity. Taxis abound, as do the far cheaper ride-sharing services including popular Grab and Gojek, in defiance of the signs banning them from airport pick-ups.


Refurbished in 2014, the domestic airport is simplistic and sensible. Pops of colour cheer up its reading nooks and lounges, which are otherwise that standard hue I call "transit grey". I'm happy to report that the plentiful bathrooms sparkle.


Having checked in online, it's just a bag drop at the Garuda Indonesia desks which happens in double-quick time. There are just eight gates in the domestic terminal, but the pace is frantic – unless your flight is delayed, as ours is.


Expect strict. Everyone entering the airport must present their boarding pass (no hangers-on) and their bags are screened every time they walk in and out of the only door that leads into the terminal. However, as one of the few foreigners toting children, my second and third screenings – as I flit in and out sorting currency and luggage – are less rigorous.


With its sweet Delft tiles and Indo-Dutch vibe, Warung Koffie Batavia is the most stylish of the airport's many coffee houses, serving retro Indonesian fried pastries, though the Coffee Club's squishy sofas are the best for long-wait slouching. Coffee Club and the local fast food chain Bakmi Naga are open 24 hours. To relive good times, Bali's original go-to, Made's Warung, has an outpost here while My O Kopi! services last-minute nasi goreng cravings.


The standard Balinese souvenir shop prevails, but the real find is a pharmacy dispensing basic medications at a quarter of the Australian price. I refill the first-aid kit and grab a few sheet facial masks, to boot.


With my flight to Yogyakarta delayed, then delayed again (and then again), I've covered every corner of the airport, which actually takes up a fair amount of time. It is fabulously kitted out for the delayed traveller with little reading nooks (featuring beanbags and a tiny library), heaps of cafes and a newsagency as well as an orchid garden. There are plenty of electrical outlets in the free areas, including USB slots – great if you don't have an international adaptor – to tap into the free Wi-Fi. At the time of our visit, there is a cultural display of Hindu deities and batik, and there's a little queue to snap a playful life-sized photo montage of a cyclist in Indonesia's streets.



For those with long layovers, there's a handy left-luggage service outside the domestic terminal, which cost me IDR50,000 for the day.


Indonesia has a reputation as a land that doesn't quite work. However, with strong Wi-Fi, a great range of local and international food, decent coffee and plenty of free places to park yourself, this domestic terminal proves it wrong.


4 stars

Belinda Jackson travelled as a guest of Tourism Indonesia.