On our way to the sixth stop in our SEA by Train vacation in IndonesiaUbud.

Flying from Jakarta to Bali takes less than two hours. Bali is ahead by an hour, so you’d get there three hours later.

If you’re not a big fan of flying, want to spend your money on something other than plane tickets or just loves riding a train (like myself), then perhaps you’d consider traveling from Jakarta to Bali without flying, by train. Well, you’d still have to take the ferry, of course…

Jakarta to Ketapang Port

Indonesia Railways offers a combined Train-Bus-Ferry package from Jakarta to Bali’s capital, Denpasar. Since you’re already taking the Jakarta-to-Bali-without-flying-route, why not enjoy the rest of Java by having a stop-over at some of its must-visit places? That’s what we did!

From Jakarta, we took a train to Yogyakarta and strolled the streets and alleys of Malioboro before heading off to see the awe-inspiring temples of Prambanan and Borobudur. Then we were talked into availing a 1.2M Tour, taking us to two active volcanoes. The surreal sunrise and the Sea of Sand at Bromo and the warm smiles of the Sulfur miners of Ijen left an indelible mark in mind.

The train will take you only as far as Banyuwangi, from there it’s a short bus or taxi ride to Ketapang port. If you chance upon a bus waiting outside Ketapang port, ask if they are heading to Denpasar. Some buses are loaded onto the ferries so you don’t have to wait for one once you get across. During our travel, there were a lot of people waiting for buses at Gilimanuk port.

Ferry Crossing

Ferries cross from Ketapang to Gilimanuk in Bali every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. The loading and unloading takes much longer than the 30-45 minute ferry ride.

The ferries are much like the Philippines’ ROROs, they’re not in tip-top shape. It doesn’t get too crowded given the frequency of ferries crossing the strait. The upper deck affords a great view of Java to the west and Bali to the east.

The unloading of the bus from the ferry was much quicker. Before the bus left the port area, a police officer checked documents from everyone on-board. The other passengers were fishing out paper documents from their bags. We prepared our passports, but the officer was mainly concerned about the locals.

Bus to Denpasar

You’d immediately feel a different vibe once you’re in Bali. There were several artists who boarded the bus playing different instruments asking for small donations. As with most places we’ve been to in Indonesia, everyone is very welcoming. The man sitting across us asked what places we’ve been to and offered suggestions on where to go.

The bus ride from Gilimanuk to Denpasar took four hours, there’s a lot to occupy you though. You’d pass along beaches, countless temples and large sculptures along the way. There’s also a shift in architecture, really giving you a feel that you’re in a new place.

Famished by the four-hour journey, we had dinner at one of the many Warungs outside the bus station. The two meals plus bottled iced tea only costed us IDR 27,000.

Jakarta to Bali without flying is doable. Although it requires a great deal more of patience and enterprise, the experience can be very rewarding. I wouldn’t have thought that I’d hike towards two active volcanoes! It’s also one of the best way to get to know the locals.

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26 Comments

  1. Rainbow Journal

    Flying truly is the most convenient, especially for long distances. I think each mode of travel has their own charm. I don't regret taking the no-fly route from Jakarta to Bali. :)

  2. Don Garcia Jr.

    I love to travel but I prefer flying to save time :)

  3. Rainbow Journal

    I don't get to travel by ferry a lot too. Though I can swim quite well, I can relate with your feeling of fear. We experienced crossing the sea while there was a storm. Until now, I can't believe why the coast guard allowed for our vessel to cross given the weather.

  4. Rainbow Journal

    There's just something about traveling by train-bus-ferry. It feels like you're really getting to know the place as most locals utilize these modes of transport.

  5. Rainbow Journal

    That's true, even though it can be time consuming, traveling by train or ferry allows you to appreciate the view even more. :)

  6. Rainbow Journal

    Hi Phylicia, great that you were able to find inspiration through this post! Hope you'd enjoy your Bali trip!

  7. Phylicia Marie Pineda

    I'd like to visit Bali soon. it's up there on my list of beaches to try. It's more iteresting to travel this way than flying so I might do this instead

  8. Meryll Catalan

    Sometimes I like to travel on ferry and train that way I can appreciate the view very well :) Hope I can travel to Bali soon :)

  9. Slick Master

    Sometimes, I used to find comfort and more adventure in dealing with train-RORO-bus rides more than airplanes (maybe it's because I only rode an airline for twice in my lifetime)

  10. Jennifer Lopez Gana

    Once palang ako nakakasakay ng ferry. For me na non-swimmer, medyo takot ako. :-)

  11. Rainbow Journal

    Naku, baka naman mainip ang anak mo sa byahe mula Bandung papuntang Banyuwangi. Pero sa palagay ko ay matutuwa naman sya sa pagsakay sa ferry. :)

  12. Jerome Lupisan

    Hindi ko pa nasusubukan itong ganitong paraan. Noong pumunta ako sa Bali mula Bandung (3-6 oras mula Jakarta, depende sa traffic), e nag-eroplano kami. Meron palang ala-ROROng byahe. Masubukan nga. Gusto kong pasakayin ng ferry ang anak ko para maranasan niya. Itatanim ko sa utak ko ang alternatibong ito para sa hinaharap.

  13. Rainbow Journal

    Do check my other posts on our Indonesia trip, should you decide to go. :)

  14. Andrew Carganilla Baler

    Wow such a nice view! But I still prefer air transpo.. :) want to visit Indonesia too!

  15. Rainbow Journal

    Our first option is to always take the train. That's why when we found out that going from Jakarta to Bali without flying is possible, we went for it!

  16. Rainbow Journal

    Traveling is such an enriching experience, isn't it? Do check my other posts about Indonesia, you might find something there to add to your itinerary. :)

  17. Rainbow Journal

    Apart from this Jakarta to Bali Without Flying article, you might find my other posts about Indonesia interesting and helpful in your itinerary planning. :)

  18. Rainbow Journal

    I agree, although the train travel form Jakarta to Bali is much longer, it affords you the opportunity to see the places in between.

  19. Rainbow Journal

    Indonesia is the largest archipelago and Bali is just one of the many beautiful islands.

  20. Kaycee Enerva

    I didnt know indonesia is that huge of a country, good to know :) I prefer flying too though

  21. Jhojo Villas

    l also prefer to travel by train rather than plane even if it takes a long trip. I feel more secure and at peace when I ride the train compared to travel by plane. Cheers! :D

  22. April Ibañez

    Bali is on my travel wish list! Hope to visit it soon! I'll thank note of this, thanks for sharing! :)

  23. Maria Rona Beltran

    bali and jakarta are my next destinations in my se asia travel bucket list. last year i was in singapore and malaysia :)

  24. Fernando Ceballos Lachica

    It's another way to travel to Bali from Jakarta. At least you experienced more than flying.

  25. Rainbow Journal

    I agree, traveling is very enriching. I don't mind the mode of transportation when I travel, but if there's a decent railway system, we always go for that! Trains are great! Hahaha! That's why we decided to go for a Jakarta to Bali by train when we went there. :)

  26. Lauren Ashley

    I really love travelling. Whether it's a travel by flying or by land or water. It is fun travelling in ferry s :)

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