Bali’s Mount Agung eruption: What to do

Mount Agung Volcano Eruption
Mount Agung Volcano Eruption - Stephanie Brookes

Article updated December 14, 2017 : We recommend contacting your airline for the latest flight information before heading to the airport; airline contact details can be found below and most airlines have up-to-date alerts and advice on their websites.

Quick links:
What do I do if my flight is cancelled?
How do I get home?

What about my travel insurance?
What if I’ve got an upcoming flight to Bali?
How do I get in touch with my airline?

My flight was cancelled, now what?

  • Determine what if any help your airline will offer if you are stuck on Bali. Don’t expect much, they are not bound to provide lodging or meals for natural disasters. However, if you have high frequent flyer status or premium-class tickets, the airline may be more forthcoming.
  • Find out how the airline is handling rebooking. Call centres may simply offer a standard line telling you to await the airline’s call and to not go to the airport. This may only serve to make the situation easier for the airline.
  • If your airline has a Bali sales office (some, like Thai Airways do), go there and find out how flights will be rebooked and how you can get your name on the list. If your airline has no sales office, go to the airport and see if you can find a representative.
  • If you can’t find a sales office or airport staff, keep phoning the call centre to confirm where you are on the waiting list to be flown out of Bali when flights resume.
  • If your airline gives you a firm rebooking, double-check that the flight will operate. You can use the airline website to check the flight status of their plane on its inbound flight to Bali. In 2015, some flights were turned around in the air when the ash clouds suddenly got worse or the wind shifted the dust into flight paths.
  • If Bali’s airport reopens but your airline isn’t flying, consider buying a ticket on another airline so you can leave sooner. However, if you can get to say, Jakarta or Singapore, your original airline may be willing to put you on a flight from there.
  • Contact your travel insurance provider to see what arrangements are possible for trip delays or refunds.
  • If you are on Bali and your visa will expire soon, contact your embassy or consulate for information on what arrangements are being made by the Indonesian government for people with expiring visas. Previously, officials said they would offer some form of visa extensions to stranded travellers.
  • Keep an eye on the Bali airport experience website to get the latest updates on real-time flight statuses.
Evacuation route from Denpasar airport in the event of an eruption
Evacuation route from Denpasar airport in the event of an eruption

How can I get home?

You’re going to have to leave Bali by land and head west to an airport on Java. Lombok’s international airport has the same ash cloud problems as Bali’s airport. Note that government officials on Bali have said that some sort of ferry service may operate to Surabaya and its airport if Bali’s airport is closed for an extended period. However note that government responses during other disasters have often been chaotic, so you are best making your own plans as outlined below.

  • Getting to Java from Bali requires first traversing the main highway that links Denpasar and the rest of the island to the ferry port in Gilimanuk in west Bali. This the only crossing point from Bali to Java. The highway is clogged with traffic on a good day, so now Bali’s airport is shut be prepared for long transit times.
  • There are lots of buses that operate this route from a variety of stops and terminals across Bali. There are no train options to the ferry port.
  • The government-run, 30-minute ferry from Gilimanuk to Ketapang on Java runs frequently. From here you can walk to Banyuwangi train station.
  • Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport in eastern Java is about 400km by car or bus from Denpasar, Bali. It has good links to major international hubs such as Jakarta and Singapore. Find a bus or bus-train here. You can probably find a car with a driver who will take four people plus luggage for US$200-300 from Bali. Start by asking at your hotel. Note: if Mount Agung’s eruption is especially large, it could also affect Surabaya.
  • Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (in Java’s west, about 1,200km from Denpasar, Bali is a motherlode of flights and is unlikely to be affected by any ash cloud from Mount Agung. Almost every airline serving Bali also serves Jakarta, so you may be able to work something out with your airline to get you ticket from Bali honoured for a new itinerary from Jakarta. There are many bus and bus-train connections that normally take about 24 hours. You might be able to negotiate for a car with a driver who can take four people for about $500 from Bali. This will take two days as you’ll need to stop for the night along the way. Ask for referrals starting with your hotel.
Travel Tip

A Bali-Jakarta or Bali-Surabaya ticket usually includes the entire journey from your starting point on Bali and the ferry ride to Java, so you don’t need to sort out each segment separately.

Where’s safe on the island?

Based on the shape of the land, experts can map where lava and debris are likely to flow. Major tourist areas such as Ubud and the entire south including Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua should be spared, along with the main city of Denpasar.

What should I be worried about?

The danger for the island and the surrounding region is the volcanic ash cloud, which can blanket a large area and endanger aircraft, as well as be dangerous to the respiratory system.

Are there any emergency phone numbers/websites I should be following?

>In 2015, when two volcanic eruptions—Mount Raung in eastern Java and Mount Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok—caused the airport to close and thousands of flights to be cancelled, the one consistency to the chaotic situations was the complete lack of any reliable way to get accurate information. There’s no reason to suspect that things will be any different if the eruptions at Mount Agung get worse.

Our best advice is to follow Australian ABC news, which has good ongoing coverage. You can watch a live feed of Mount Agung here, but note that the volcano is often shrouded in clouds which are not part of an eruption. A state of emergency remains in place.

Why is the airport closed?

Denpasar airport’s ability to service flights depends on the severity of the ash cloud situation. The opening and closing of the airport will be regularly reviewed by the authorities.

The problem for flights is the fine mineral particles in volcanic ash, which can destroy jet engines and cause planes to crash. How Bali flights are affected over the next few days and weeks will depend on the ash cloud.

In the 2015 volcanic eruptions, the ash clouds were relatively small but were still deemed an aviation hazard to flights serving Bali. Airlines all have differing standards on what level of ash constitutes a threat. Even on days when Bali’s airport remained officially open, many or all airlines cancelled flights. Australian airlines like Jetstar and Virgin were by far the most cautious and continued to cancel all flights even after well-regarded carriers like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines had resumed full schedules.

Should I stay on the island if I’m not in immediate danger?

Activities in Bali are unaffected by the volcanic threat, although travel in the immediate Mount Agung region have been restricted. The biggest reason to leave the island now would be to avoid transport problems after an eruption, which could make leaving then more difficult.

What about my travel insurance?
  • If you don’t have travel insurance now, it’s too late to buy it for coverage for the Agung eruption. Companies all set cut-off dates for policies based on when the threats of an eruption in Bali became what the industry considers a ‘known event’. Most companies stopped covering a volcanic eruption on Bali starting on 15 September, but dates vary.
  • If you have travel insurance, confirm that it will cover a volcanic eruption. Some policies have exclusions for natural disasters buried in the fine print that negate your coverage, even if the policy was purchased before the eruption threat became a known event.
  • If your policy covers volcanic coverage and was purchased in time, then most likely it will cover your expenses if flights are cancelled and you are delayed leaving the island.
  • Reimbursement for trip interruption and delays always is always limited to ‘reasonable’ expenses, which means if you were staying in two-star places in Bali, don’t move to five-star hotels and expect your insurer to pick up the tab.
  • Save the receipts for every single expense while you are stranded on Bali. Insurers will demand them for reimbursement.
  • If flights remain disrupted for a long period of time, check with your insurer about policy limits.
  • If you decide you can’t wait in Bali for your airline to resume flights or you want to switch to a different airline to leave Bali sooner, you’ll have to check with your insurance company first to see if any of these expenses would be covered.
What should I do if I’ve got a trip planned to Bali in the next few weeks?

Despite the recent eruptions, Bali is almost entirely open and ready for visitors, plus many locals depend on visitors for their livelihoods. Whether you go or not depends on your ability to handle risk. But if you are in Bali during an eruption, it could be very difficult to leave the island and ash fallout could be both dangerous and very inconvenient.

Note: If you didn’t buy travel insurance for your trip before the cut-off dates, then you’ll be completely responsible for all expenses if an eruption strands you on the island.

Airline contact details

Airlines decide when to cease and resume flight operations. Contact your airline directly for up-to-date information on flight schedules.

Are you in Bali right now?

Do you have any useful tips or updates to the evacuation plans? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll share it with the Rome2rio community.

Main photo: Stephanie Brookes, travel writer and blogger, Indonesia

Rome2rio, based in Melbourne, Australia, is organising the world’s transport information. We offer a multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options to and from any location. Discover the possibilities at rome2rio.com
  • Bec Bec

    Hi any advise on what would happen with VISAS?

    • Ellie Cobb

      Hi Bec Bec – apologies to have taken so long to respond. The volcano risk has now diminished, but in the case that Agung does erupt, the Bali immigration authorities said a few weeks back that they would make arrangements if an airport closure resulted in people over-staying their visas. They never specified exactly what they’d do, but it’s on record that they would make allowances.

      That said, who knows what might actually happen. If you are stuck, we recommend you check with a visa agent or immigration, and keep any emails related to your flight cancellation/airport closure as a record.

  • Ramesh Parikh

    Sir- Madam
    We five passengers all are seniour citizen have booking for Bali on 29th Nov by Thai Air ways is it advisable to travel?

    • Ramesh Parikh

      Will be able to contact Bali official agency who can give us more detail information on volcano status pl

    • Ellie Cobb

      Hi Ramesh. Currently Bali’s Denpasar airport is currently closed, so there is no way to travel to or from Bali by air. It will likely keep opening and closing, depending on the ash cloud – but then it’s up to the airlines to decide when to cease and resume flight operations. We recommend you keep checking with Thai Airways to see what your options are.

  • Vicki

    I’m currently in Ubud and need to get back to Sydney. My Virgin flight has been moved from last night to Friday night. Of course, with the airport being closed and with the danger of a large eruption this may not happen. My instinct is to get out and the idea of travelling to Surabaya appeals (though it sound arduous). I just can’t be stranded here for longer. Any thoughts….?

    • Christoph Sichting

      I am also thinking about that too but my destination is kho phangan.

      I have heard of 100 Buses of the Government that bring stranded people to Surabaya. Has some one Infos on that. rome2rio search gave a company going there for 200.000..

    • Ellie Cobb

      Hi Vicki – If you’re desperate to get home, then travelling overland to Surabaya is a good option. However, we recommend that people make travel arrangements/reservations before getting to the airport to ensure they can get on a flight. Contact Virgin to find out if they can put you on a flight from Surabaya (or Jakarta), or see if you can purchase a ticket with another airline. You should also contact your travel insurance provider to see what arrangements are possible for trip delays or refunds. Hope you find a solution that works for you!

      • Vicki

        Thank you for the good advice, Ellie. I’ll start working on that 🙂

  • Vicki

    I’m currently in Ubud and need to get back to Sydney. My Virgin flight has been moved from last night to Friday night. Of course, with the airport being closed and with the danger of a large eruption this may not happen. My instinct is to get out and the idea of travelling to Surabaya appeals (though it sound arduous). I just can’t be stranded here for longer. Any thoughts….?

  • Jane Byrne

    My mate needs to leave Bali urgently and travelled to Surabaya to catch plane….only to find plane fares in Indonesia that last week were only about 200aud are now 3000aud and rising. Is there a way to get from Indonesia to another country by land or boat…where plane fares may not be so high….

    • Ellie Cobb

      Hi Jane – Unfortunately there are thousands of stranded people trying to get home, so flight prices will be affected – and we definitely recommend that people try to make travel arrangements/reservations before they go to Surabaya (or Jakarta). Your friend should try contacting his/her original airline to see if they can transfer the ticket to leave from Surabaya rather than Bali, and also see if there are any cheaper flights out of Jakarta. They’ll have to check with their insurance company first to see if any of these expenses would be covered. Another option would be to get a flight out of Jakarta (or Surabaya) to a nearby hub such as Bangkok, KL or Singapore, from where they may find more affordable flights to their final destination. We always recommend making these arrangements in advance to confirm prices and availability. Hope your friend gets home soon!

  • Jane Byrne

    My mate needs to leave Bali urgently and travelled to Surabaya to catch plane….only to find plane fares in Indonesia that last week were only about 200aud are now 3000aud and rising. Is there a way to get from Indonesia to another country by land or boat…where plane fares may not be so high….

  • Glen Judo Chop

    Another option while Denpasar DPS is closed to air traffic, is the neigbouring island of Lombok. There are still limited flights operating out of Lombok Praya airport LOP which can be reached by ferry/taxi from Bali. From LOP, you can then fly to Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and more destinations in order to help get you home.

    • Victoria Lengei

      In the beginning pf the article is that Lombok airport is closed

      • Ellie Cobb

        Hi Glen and Victoria. Lombok airport has opened and closed several times in the past few days. It is currently open but this may not be the case for long due to the ash cloud.

  • Julie Heinjus-will

    We are in Nusa dua and looking at catching a bus to Jakarta. How do we go about doing this? Who do we speak to or see?

    • Francis Xavier

      You can contact us. TIA

    • Manveen Maan

      Hi Julie. We’ve outlined the best ways to get to Jakarta in the ‘How can I get home?’ section of the article. There are many bus and bus-train connections that normally take about 24 hours – hope this helps.

    • Liz Gibson

      Hi Julie. We’ve outlined the best ways to get to Jakarta above in the ‘How can I get home?’ section of the article. There are bus and bus-train connections that normally take about 24 hours – hope this helps.

  • Louise Coetzee

    I think that you guys should also be advising that going by bus ferry train or car overland from Bali at moment to Java to fly out from either Surabaya, Yogyakarta or Jakarta might have its own problems and delays due to the cyclones currently of Java causing floods and might have influence on the ferry crossing? People deciding to opt for these alternatives should be well aware that the roads from Bali to Jakarta and in between are already bad as it is so with floods and torrential rain you might be stuck as well? As far as I know Yogjakarta’s Adisutjipto Airport and Solo’s Adi Soemarmo Airport were shut due to the erratic weather, but have since reopened. So just be updated on area where you going or want to fly out and also take into consideration that hundreds of people might be doing same so might be same chaos as in Bali International just different location. Also bear in mind that flights will be quickly filled up and prices from alternative airports will be much higher due to demand 🙁

    • Manveen Maan

      Hi Louise, thank you for your message. You’re absolutely correct, the weather could have an effect on the different transport options outlined above. We advise all travellers to plan ahead, and contact their respective airlines before making the journey to their airport of choice.