Gilimanuk is a port town and most people visit the town for the ferry terminal in Gilimanuk Bay.
It’s fair to say that it’s not one of the tourist hot spots on the island and it may never be, but there are things to see and do in the area and it’s certainly one of the cheapest places to be in Bali.
Our guide will tell you what to expect from the Gilimanuk area and help you find the best of this unsung destination.
Where Is Gilimanuk?
Gilimanuk is in West Bali and it sits on the Westernmost tip facing Jave over the Bali Strait.
The vast majority of visitors are just passing through on their way to Jave which is only about half an hour on a boat from Gilimanuk and many never even see more than the bus terminal and ferry terminal.
How To Get To Gilimanuk
Gilimanuk is quite out of the way and you may find it hard to get a Grab or Gojek out to the town.
If you’re coming from Java, you will probably arrive in the town by boat and there are regular services from Banyuwangi (Ketapang).
If you’re coming from most of Bali, you will probably need to hire a private car and driver to get to Gilimanuk. This is not much more expensive than a ride-sharing app.
If you’re in or around Denpasar, then you might want to visit the old bus terminal and catch a bus. The buses are reasonably cheap (less than 100,000 IDR) but the services are not particularly regular.
The good news is that you will often find private car drivers around the bus terminal who will take you from the old bus terminal to Gilimanuk for much less money.
The bus terminal in Gilimanuk is right next to the ferry terminal.
How To Get Around Gilimanuk
If you don’t intend to explore the local area, then there’s no need to do anything but walk in Gilimanuk, the town is small and the traffic is fairly light for Bali.
If you do want to go further afield, we recommend engaging a private driver with a car as ride-sharing apps here aren’t great.
We never recommend using a scooter in Bali as it’s hard to stay road-legal (and you’re not insured if you’re not road-legal) and accidents are common.
When Is The Best Time To Go To Gilimanuk
There’s never a bad time to visit Bali but given that Gilimanuk is really a destination for budget travellers, you might as well come in the dry season and enjoy the cooler temperatures and extra sunshine.
It’s never going to be expensive to stay in the port town, so you might as well come at the best time of year.
What To Do In And Around Gilimanuk?
Karang Sewu Beach
It’s not the most beautiful beach in Bali thanks to a fairly limited strip of shore being covered, but there’s a pleasant jetty where you can take some great ocean-view photographs.
Pura Tirta Empul Ulu
There are some fabulous statues to be found at this temple and it’s also a place where you can witness a water purification ritual.
Pura Tirtha Segara Rupek
This attractive temple is one of a number of temples on the doorstep of the national park you can also find Tirta Pingit Sanjiwani, Pura Bingin Kembar, Pura Alas Angker, Pura Markendya, Pura Kanjeng Ratu Roro Kidul (queen of the south coast), Pesinggahan Dukuh Sakti, Taman Beji Sudamala, Pura Penataran Agung and Pengayatan in this complex.
It doesn’t get many visitors and it’s one of the highlights of the area around Gilimanuk.
Monumen Operasi Lintas Laut
This is a small monument that isn’t worth a trip to Gilimanuk to see but is worth seeing if you’re in the area, it celebrates independence from the Dutch colonialists.
Pura Sumur Kembar
This temple near the national park has two wells which are for bathing and purification rituals.
There’s not a huge amount to see and it is a long way from the beaten path.
Candi Gelung Kori Gilimanuk
As you enter Gilimanuk you will find the “road temple” with four supporting pillars in the form of a Naga. It makes for a great photograph.
West Bali National Park
The park is only a twenty-minute drive from Gilimanuk and is host to al the endemic species of Bali and some spectacular scenery.
Snorkeling At Pulau Kalong (Bat Island)
You can hire a boat from Gilimanuk or join a boat trip to Pulau Kalong which is famous for its flying foxes (the island is part of the Komodo province of Indonesia) and snorkelling opportunities.
Snorkeling At Pulau Burung (Bird Island)
Bird watchers and swimmers might prefer to get a boat from Gilimanuk to Pulau Burung which is a popular spot on bird migration routes.
Museum Situs Purbakala
This small museum houses the earliest evidence of human existence in Bali. There is a collection of human habitation samples and skeletons. It’s super cheap to get in and this small museum is a great place to kill some time before the ferry departs.
Take A Boat From The Ferry Terminal
The ferry departs every 20 minutes for Java and tickets are very cheap with individual tickets at 12,000 IDR, cars at 250,000 IDR and bikes at 52,000 IDR.
Where To Stay In Gilimanuk (Only Basic Guesthouses)
This is not a premium destination in Bali and you’ll find only basic guesthouses to stay in around Gilimanuk Bay.
That means very few facilities but also very low prices for cheap fan-cooled rooms, which is becoming more unusual in Bali.
The Arya Guest House
This is a pleasant guest house with a small garden and each room has its own shower and bathroom. They can arrange trips to the national park.
Where Is It? Gilimanuk, Melaya, Jembrana Regency, Bali 82252, Indonesia
Bali Gecko Homestay
Fan-cooled rooms are the order of the day, but the rooms are large and there’s a pleasant outdoor terraced seating area.
Where Is It? Pemuteran, Gerokgak, Pemuteran, Gerokgak, Buleleng Regency, Bali 81155, Indonesia
Hotel Niki has its own restaurant which can come in handy and a decent garden and terrace.
Where Is It? Jl. Pogot Gg. III No.99, Gilimanuk, Kec. Melaya, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82252, Indonesia
This very basic hotel offers free private parking and a shared lounge area to meet other guests.
Where Is It? Jalan Gilimanuk – Negara KM.3, Gilimanuk, Gilimanuk, Jembrana, Gilimanuk, Kec. Melaya, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82253, Indonesia
Hotel Sari Banyunwangi
This may be the best hotel in the area and it’s one of the only ones with air conditioning.
Where Is It? RCCP+G23, Jl. Pogot, Gilimanuk, Kec. Melaya, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82252, Indonesia
Green Bay Gilimanuk
There are 16 rooms at this hotel and they have three levels of rooms with some qualifying for air conditioning and hot showers.
Where Is It? RCMM+JHG, Gg. 1, Gilimanuk, Kec. Melaya, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82252, Indonesia
Where To Eat In Gilimanuk
Perhaps, the key pleasure of being in Gilimanuk is the chance to chow down on some Ayam Betutu, a unique local dish. (The word “Betutu” means smoked).
The hot and spicy chicken is prepared by boiling it in a spicy broth for several hours and then it’s wood-smoked for hours after.
It’s then served with rice and a side of water spinach. It was invented by a local lady Mrs. Tempeh and you can try the most authentic version of this dish in the world, at her restaurant Ayam Betutu Men Tempeh.
However, there are only two restaurants actually in Gilimanuk, so we’ve included some others on this list that are within a fairly short drive of the town.
A surprisingly good local restaurant with a great range of coffees from the Balinese plantations.
They also have a vegan menu for plant-based eaters.
Where Is It? PFMR+84H, Melaya, Jembrana Regency, Bali 82252, Indonesia
This is a fabulous Balinese restaurant that offers cooking lessons in addition to a well-thought-out menu.
They do a great breakfast and they have a kids menu.
Where Is It? Jl. Wana Segara, Kuta, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Bali Tower Bistro
This place has a great view over the national park and the food is very good too, with a wide range of eating options.
We enjoyed a cocktail here gazing out at the world.
Where Is It? National Park, JL. Raya Gilimanuk Singaraja, Desa No.Km. 17, Pejarakan, Kec. Gerokgak, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Ayam Betutu Men Tempeh
The birthplace of the unique local dish that is the hot and spicy chicken of Ayam Betutu.
If you’re in town, you really should eat here at least once.
Where Is It? Jl. Rajawali, Gilimanuk, Kec. Melaya, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82252, Indonesia
This family-run restaurant in Gilimanuk offers tasty local dishes for a very low price but the portions are very generous.
Where Is It? Jl. Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pejarakan, Kec. Gerokgak, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81155, Indonesia
If you want a pizza or a souffle, this is the closest place to get it near Gilimanuk. The service is excellent at this restaurant.
Where Is It? Jalan Widuri Simpang Tiga, Medewi, Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali 82262, Indonesia
Ayam Betutu Bu Lina Gilimanuk
They add a Chilean touch to the unique local spices and we think their Ayam Betutu is as good as it is anywhere in Bali.
Where Is It? Gilimanuk, Melaya, Jembrana Regency, Bali 82252, Indonesia
This simple warung offers a wide-range of international food options and there’s a very pleasant outdoor area to sit in.
Where Is It? Jalan mimpi, Pejarakan, Gerokgak, Buleleng Regency, Bali, Indonesia
How To Get From Gilimanuk To Denpasar?
You can take a bus or a private car from Gilimanuk to Denpasar. It’s not a very long journey and it won’t cost very much (100,000-200,000 IDR).
How Do I Get From Ubud To Gilimanuk?
You have three options. Firstly, take a Grab or Gojek from Ubud to the Ubung Terminal for buses and then get a bus to Gilimanuk from there.
Alternatively, you can engage a car and driver to take you to Gilimanuk or you can book a Grab or Gojek all the way to Gilimanuk.
How To Book A Trip To Gilimanuk?
If you want to spend some time in and around Gilimanuk or if you want to spend time in any part of Bali, we always recommend that you talk to the folks at Bali Res Centre.
This locally owned and operated travel service can get you competitive prices on flights, accomodation, tours and more and since they specialize in Balinese travel, they can help you avoid any holiday nightmares like building sites outside your bedroom.
Final Thoughts On Gilimanuk
Gilimanuk isn’t a popular venue for tourists in Bali and to some extent that’s quite justified. However, if you want to see the real Bali and enjoy a boat trip to Java, it’s worth exploring.
The cheap fan-cooled rooms of the local guest houses are among the best value in Bali and it’s nice to explore the local villages and underwater world offshore from the Gilimanuk area.
Budget travellers might welcome the chance to explore the real Bali and when you’re done, ferries run every 20 minutes or so to Java or you could always get a car to Canggu and come and join us for a party at FINNS Beach Club, the world’s best beach club.