Cheap transport options from Bali to the Gili islands (Gili Meno, Gili Air, Gili Trawangan)
The Gili Islands are a very popular tourist destination alongside Bali Island itself. Just a few hour drive will get you from bustling Kuta in Bali to the tropical paradise atmosphere of three micro-islands, lying 2 to 6 km northwest of the Lombok coast. These little islands surrounded by coral reefs submerged in clear turquoise waters have quickly become one of Indonesia's top destinations over the past few years. No wonder - tropical climate, abundance of sunny days throughout the year, ideal conditions for snorkeling and diving, friendly locals and generally relaxed vibe are some of the significant factors that have helped the Gili Islands to achieve their success.
The main question is how to get to the Gili Islands?
We can choose from many options, differing in travel times and costs. As is usually the case, the fastest and most convenient option is the most expensive one.
If your holiday in Indonesia is time-limited or you just don't want to waste all day traveling, then taking Speed Boat is the best choice for you.
If you are spending holidays in Amed, Tulamben, and Tirtagangga, you can use the Pacha Express service with a free transfer from Amed within the ticket price.
Bali Amed - Gili Trawangan / Air 45 - 60 min, 440,000 - 665,000 IDR / person / one way, (33 - 50 USD)
If your plan is to stay around Denpasar and move to SE Bali eventually, then you can use the services of Semaya One, Eka Jaya, Wahana Gili Ocean, Mahi Mahi Dewata with free transfers from / to the hotel including the following destinations: Denpasar Airport, Legian, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Ubud, etc.
They will arrange private transport to Padangbai for you, where you will board the Speed Boat.
Padangbai - Gili Trawangan / Air 90 min, 440,000 IDR / person / one way, Gili Meno (surcharge 25,000, not all companies go to Meno)
The same thing organizes the well-known agency Peramatour:
Kuta - Gili 450,000 IDR / person / one way (transfer + Speed Boat), http://www.peramatour.com
You can query Speedboat tickets directly in Padangbai for a price around $ 25/ one way.
Padangbai - Trawangan Semaya Company, no transfer, 332,000 IDR / person / one way
Recently, there have been new Speedboats routes scheduled from Sanur (5 km east of Denpasar), with stops in Senggigi and in Lembongan near Nusa Penida according to the chosen route.
Sanur - Trawangan (45-50 USD), 600,000 IDR / person / one way, Scoot Fast Cruises, http://www.scootcruise.com/
Travelers who have no spare time and are willing to pay some extra bucks can use services of Gili Getaway II company sailing from the port of Serangan Harbor (just 8 km east of Kuta) towards Trawangan without a single stop on the route.
Bali Serangan Harbor - Gili Trawangan direct, 2h, 675,000 IDR / person / one way, http://giligetaway.com/
I attach a few useful links to compare ticket prices of various companies. In general, an agent in Padangbai (port or homestay) was able to get a cheaper ticket compared to the online price (250K - 300K one way).
Backpacking.cz is an online portal about cheap and independent traveling, so of course, I have to mention the most economical local alternative too.
Cheapest option from Kuta (including Ngurah Rai International Airport) or Ubud to the Gili Islands
Kuta - Ubud 28,500 IDR
Ubud - Padangbai 40,000 IDR
Early in the morning, preferably around 8 AM, look for a turquoise blue bemo standing in front of the market on Jl. Ray Ubud right here (map). From there, bemos run all morning to the neighboring village of Gianyar (10K per person). On Jl. Ray Ubud you will also have the opportunity to catch an orange or brown bemo, always make sure they are heading in the desired direction. If you are lucky enough, you may come across a red or dark blue bemo going directly to Padangbai.
Let the turquoise blue bemo take you to the downtown of Gianyar. Here on Jl. Ciung Wanara - Gianyar or Jl. Ngurah Rai-Gianyar you can catch another bemo (red or dark blue) heading directly to Padangbai. Bargain as hard as you can, unless you like the idea of taking 100K Bemo Spesial. We talked to 5 different drivers until we eventually hopped on a public bemo Gianyar - Padangbai for 30K per person.
Padangbai - Lembar 40,000 IDR
In Padangbai, various hawkers and travel agency agents get as much attracted to you as flies are attracted to poop. Travel agencies will quote you a price for Padangbai - Lembar at 50K (you pay a commission of 10K for nothing), Padangbai - Gili Air at least 150K (mostly 175K).
Now, it is entirely up to you whether you prefer prearranged tours or not.
The Padangbai-Lembar slow public ferry operates 24/7 and costs 40,000 IDR per person. At the harbor, make your way through all the roadblocks and obstacles that the scammy locals have set up (in an effort to discourage tourists from buying a public transport ticket). And inside the harbor building, buy a ticket at the teller. Then walk through the driveway without any problems to the ferry. The cruise takes about 4.5 hours.
Lembar - Bangsal 75,000 IDR
Here we had to compromise a bit and amend our low-cost travel requirements (for the better) and opted for a direct, comfortable and private pickup delivery to Bangsal. Again, get ready for a word battle shootout. In Lembar the drivers might try on you such ridiculous prices as 350K for private transport to Bangsal. In 2015, I bargained the price down to 100K, in 2017 to 150K (private car for two).
If you prefer traveling locally, walk on towards the first junction (map), where you will find some bemos waiting all the time. For the trip to Mataram, you will pay 15-20K per person and from Mataram to Bangsal another 20K per person.
Bangsal - Gili Islands 12,000 - 25,000 IDR
After entering the Bangsal Port, to go to Gili Air (12K), look for the ticket office (booth) on your right - hidden behind the market and waiting room building. To go to Gili Meno (25K) and Trawangan (14K), enter the building on your left. Boats sail away as per the schedule or after filling up the capacity.
Total travel costs from Kuta to Gili Islands:
194,500 IDR to Gili Air Island
Saving 245,500 IDR per person/ one way.
In the case of organized transfers from SE Bali to Padangbai followed by the Speed Boat cruise, the travel agencies report the total travel time of about 5 to 8 hours.
Total travel time by the local route is around 12 hours.
Total travel costs from Padangbai to Gili Islands:
127,000 IDR incl. private transfer Lembar - Bangsal
Savings 48K per person compared to the standard prices available in the travel agency offices in Padangbai.
Public Boat Ticket Booth to go to Gili Air
Public Boat ticket counter to go to Gili Meno and Trawangan
At Bangsal harbor, you can also take a Speed Boat to go to the Gilis, which makes no sense since the public boat trip does not last more than 25 minutes. For this Speedboat service, you will pay around 85K (hawkers in the port will ask for 100K per person).
To hop between the islands, use the "Island Hopping" public boat for 35K per person (40K between Air and Trawangan). Only twice a day.
For more travel information on routes and fares in Indonesia click here.
Transport price list in Gili Meno
Transport price list in Gili Air