Besides taking a flight from Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport, you can select between a number of busses from Bali to Java. Indonesia is one of those countries in the world you should enjoy exploring on the ground via bus or train. Spectacular landscapes with mystical volcanoes and scenic rice paddies everywhere you looks, should sound seducing enough. Or?

We booked our trip with “Safari-Buses” which are running on daily basis between Denpasar and Yogyakarta. If you’re planning to leave from Denpasar, the buses will depart from the terminal of Ugung (you can purchase your ticket there). We however left from Melaya,  a small muslim-dominated town in north-west Bali, around 15 minutes from Gilimanuk, the ferry terminal. The past weeks we spent with Sri’s family in Blimbingsari, which is a mere 5 minutes motorbike ride from Melaya.

Ticket Safari Bus

We purchased the tickets two days prior at a cost of 250.000 IDR + 25.000 IDR “agent-fee” per person. Sweet deal as we’re talking about only US$ 25 per head on a one-way ticket.

The journey was estimated to take approx. 12 hours from Melaya (note: it takes about 2.5 – 3 hrs. from Denpasar to reach Melaya). A notable plus from the agent in Melaya was that he kept us updated via mobile phone about the position of the bus, prior to its arrival in Melaya.

Ferries at Gilimanu

The ferries running 24/7, on 7 days per week: only exception: Nyepi (Silent Day)

The bus was scheduled to leave at 17:00 but was delayed for 25 minutes. Actually quite acceptable, considering the traffic in and around Denpasar, especially during rush hour. We once waited more than an hour at night for a bus at the Cologne Bus Terminal, so again, 25 – minutes were perfectly fine.

Arriving in Melaya, the bus driver and his assistant were very helpful in storing our luggage inside the bus, our seats were pre-reserved and adjacent. But when I saw the seats I felt completely irritated:


I was –positively- shocked: never did I enter a bus with Business-Class like seats:

The space for my legs was amazing. I mean seriously, I could adjust the seat without feeling bad for the dude behind me. It was like turning the whole seat into an almost flatbed. I could stretch my legs plus had a huge legrest attached to my seat. The only negative point: we felt like being put into a freezer. Every guest got his/her own blanket, but seriously speaking, it’s too thin and you really freeze your butt off. So bring long pants and cover your feet: wear sneakers or at least bring some socks you can swop with your flipflops, when the bus stops for a break.

Inside Safari Bus

Lots of space for my legs

It took us about 15 minutes to reach the ferry terminal of Gilimanuk, basically the point where all the ferries heading to/from Java. We waited for about 20 minutes until we could board our ferry. At the meantime, lots of hawkers came on board the bus to sell cup noodles for about 7000 IDR (65 cents) and a few street-musicians, trying their luck for a bit of money in a blend of musical talent and begging.

Gilimanuk ferry terminal

Gilimanuk ferry terminal 

Once on board the ferry, all guests have to leave the bus and move to the upper deck. You’ll have a few choices to buy some small snacks and soft drinks for about 50-75% of the regular price. The ferry trip from Bali to Java takes about 35 minutes.

Inside ferry Bali-Java

Upper deck Bali-Java ferry 

Onboard entertainment

Onboard entertainment

At around 21.30 local time (Java is one hour behind Bali) we stopped for our dinner break, which was by the way included in the price of 250.000 IDR:  you can choose your items from a small but acceptable buffet; in our case we went for rice; glass noodles; fried fish; fried vegetables and tofu balls. You get an ice-tea along with your meal: Little bit negative though: the ice tea was refilled in an old glass bottle, having already some black marks on top.

Food at local restaurant

Black marked tea bottles

We finished the dinner (you have about 30min time), bought some snacks and drinks at the grocery shop and continued the trip. Indonesians are infamous for their, let’s say unique driving style, so don’t be wondered when you see your driver overtaking other busses or trucks and you think they might collide with each other any moment soon.

Our bus arrived sharp 06.30 in Yogyakarta, close to the airport. Even though the total time took 13 hours, it was the first time I was able to get some proper sleep on a bus and not waking up 2-3 times an hour, wondering how long I have slept only to find out it’s just 20 minutes since the last time I have had a look at my watch.

What was your best/worstest bus trip? Let us know in the comments below.

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