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Bali - Denpasar (DPS)

The official name of Bali's only airport is Ngurah Rai International, but it's usually known as Denpasar, at least to non-Indonesians. This in itself is a bit of a misnomer as, although Denpasar is the main city on Bali, it's not the closest to the airport, this being the bustling tourist resort of Kuta. A large part of the traffic here is indeed concerned with bringing tourists in, both from other parts of Indonesia and overseas, and quite a number of different airlines can be seen, although surprisingly few charter carriers. Movements can be very slow at times, however, particularly during the middle of the day (at least 30 minutes with absolutely nothing moving at times). It seems to be busiest in the afternoons, when most of the international flights arrive, but early mornings are worthwhile times to visit too.

Although there's only one place for photography from outside the airport, albeit a good one, the situation is dramatically improved by the fact that Denpasar is one of the few major airports to offer enthusiasts the chance to get an airside ramp pass.

a) The only opportunities for landside photography at Denpasar are from the ends of the runways, but these are more than good enough to keep most people happy. Most of the time the prevailing wind favours the use of runway 09, which luckily is the best for photography. This spot can be reached by simply walking along the beach from Kuta (the main tourist area on the island), about 3 km away, although of course in this heat it would be much more comfortable to take a taxi to one of the hotels in this area and walking just the last few hundred metres. Eventually you'll reach a spot right next to the taxiway, overlooking the international apron and across from the runway. The very last part may involve a bit of paddling or scrambling over rocks if the tide is high!
The sun's behind you pretty much all day, and good runway shots are possible of anything F28 size and up from here with a 300mm zoom lens. The taxiway is another matter, however, as you're literally right next to it - there's not even a grass strip to separate you. Boeing 737s and smaller are OK, but you're about as close as you can (safely?!) be to a moving aircraft here - a Boeing 747's wingtip up to the outboard engines would pass right over your head if you chose to stay here, and if the wind's in the wrong direction, jet blast would be a significant hazard! Take a fish-eye lens ...

In the less likely event of landings on runway 27 there are probably similar opportunities for landing shots from the road that runs around this end of the airport, although I doubt if there are many chances for ground shots here.

Pelita Air  F-28
Bouraq  Boeing 737
Garuda Citilink  F-28
Merpati  F-28
Garuda  Boeing 737

b) For nice approach shots to Runway 09 you can walk right down to the end of the breakwater/runway. The fence here consists of vertical wooden slats with gaps (of varying sizes!) between them, and you should be able to find somewhere suitable to get what you want. Be warned that there is absolutely no shelter whatsoever here, and it can get unbearably hot - the glue on the soles of my shoes actually melted while I was down here!

Garuda  DC-10
Singapore Airlines  A340
Mandala Airlines  Boeing 737
Malaysian Airlines  Boeing 737
Learjet 35

c) One of the great things about Denpasar is that it's not difficult to get an airside pass, and for a reasonable price. For your money you get access to the whole ramp for the day (or until you leave) with no restrictions on photography, plus a visit to the control tower. You'll be assigned a car and a driver to take you where you want to go, and a very good service they provide too!
If possible you should write or at least phone before your visit to let them know your intentions, but my letter didn't seem to have been received (which is not really surprising in Indonesia anyway!), so I just went to the terminal inspector's office (the small building just inside the airport entrance) and asked for one. This cost (2001 prices) 100,000 Rp + 10% tax (total about 11 USD) for the photo permission, and 11,000 Rp (1 USD) for airside access. This was given relatively painlessly, although they did try to sell me the video permit (for a rather more pricey 400,000 Rp) initially, without mentioning that there were two types of permit. Surprisingly perhaps, given the presumed increase in security here after the Bali bombing, this permit still seems to be available, although prices, and how to obtain it, may be slightly different from my experience described above.

Jatayu Air  Boeing 737
Air Mark Indonesia  Casa 212
Airfast  Boeing 737
Merpati  F-27
Garuda  A330

d) At the far end of the ramp from the terminal is the general aviation/helicopter area. This can be seen from the airport perimeter but it's probably impossible to get any photos of this area without being airside. It seems to be pot luck as to whether anything is here during a typical visit, although the Antonov has been based for quite a few years now.

FASI/Skydive Bali  An-2
Indonesian Navy  Bo105
Cessna 402
Cessna 172
Intan Angkasa  Hughes 500

Wrecks and Relics

For some reason a former Indonesian Air Force Vultee Valiant is preserved as a rather unusual 'gate guard' at Denpasar, which is essentially a purely civilian airport. However, despite being located right next to the airport approach road it's actually very easy to miss this one if you're not aware of it. This is because it's on the right-hand side of the road as you arrive, and most enthusiasts are likely to be looking intently off to the left, which is where the airport itself is. I didn't even realise it was here at all until my second trip to Bali, despite having been to the airport more than once the first time!

ex-Indonesian AF  Vultee Valiant
Last visited on 6 April 2002 Top of page


Click on the icons below to see maps relating to Denpasar airport. Note that these are all external links to other sites, and will open in a new window.

Area Map  
General map of the Denpasar area

Courtesy of:
Maps by Travel

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Ngaurah Rai Airport Profile
Basic page with just a brief history of the airport and its specifications, together with an out-of-date (2000) listing of airlines operating here.

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