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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bali to Lombok by Ferry - the Backpacker's Way!

Recently I did a quick island hop and went over to Lombok,  Bali's neighbouring island.  Due to the small distances between the two and the cost of ferries, this is much easier than you might think.  The ferry takes between 4-6 hours depending on which ship you happen to take.

Firstly, I should note that I took the ferry, which is an interesting voyage to say the least.  It is around $3.50 per person one way - very reasonable. If you plan to go by motorbike
, it costs 86,000 IDR ($8 US approx.) one way for one person  and one motorbike.  However, if you plan to take a rental car, it costs a lot more - it costs around 550,000 IDR ($50 US approx.) for the car alone.  Here is a link for the full price list (although I think it's a bit out of date and prices have gone up slightly since) PUBLIC FERRY TO LOMBOK

Therefore, it works out about ten times more expensive to take a car than a bike!  This is something worth considering as most rental companies don't want you to take a car over there anyway and say that their insurance does not cover this.  However, I should add that all rental companies I have spoken to DO NOT offer insurance as we it know it in Western countries - they have told me that if I damage the car, I pay for the full cost (sounds like good 'insurance' huh?!)

Frequency of ferries is not a problem as they leave almost every 60 minutes 24/7 so you literally just pull up when you want and not have to wait too long (well, at least most of the time!)

Copyright Lonely Planet

I mentioned earlier that it takes between 4 and 6 hours per crossing - this is largely due to the varying quality of ferries used on this service.  On my trip, the outward journey meant I was sat on the floor propped up against a railing (outside) for the whole time but on my return journey however, I had a comfortable reclining seat in an air-conditioned lounge room with a TV!  This is just the sort of thing to expect when taking the ferry - you may get lucky, you may not!

Getting to the ferry is quite straightforward from Kuta and takes about 1hr30 on a good run on a bike or probably around 2h30 in a car.  Here's a map below to help you out!  Follow signs to Sanur, then follow the coast road all the way on the signposts for Padangbai (the ferry port).

Directions from Kuta to Padangbai (the ferry port) - 1h30 - 2h on a motorbike, traffic depending.

View Larger Map

As the ferry takes a relatively long time, I would highly recommend bringing on board with you a large bottle of water, a packed meal (buy one before you get near the port as there are all sorts of people selling rubbish food to tourists like yourself!) and a windbreaker or jacket of some sort, especially as you might be outside the whole time! Both ferries I went on had a small shop but this was much more expensive than buying  food & drink from anywhere before the ferry port but I would say buying from the onboard shop is better than buying from the guys in the video below!

Just before departure, it can be chaotic as lots of sellers try to push cheap and nasty food on unsuspecting travellers - avoid it by bringing your own! 

Avoid travelling around any Islamic public holidays as, with there being many from Lombok who live in Bali, a lot of people go home for long weekends, etc. and this makes for potential unpleansantly long queues.  I recently travelled just before the celebration of the end of ramadhan, known locally as Idul Fitri or Lebaran.  I was warned not to travel at this time (3 days before & 3 days after September 10th each year) as the queuing can be horrendous - I was lucky but don't think it will always be quiet, it really is a matter of chance and, as with so many things in Indonesia, you never know until you go!

Know before you GO!!!

It is definitely an adventure but once you get to Lombok, you won't regret it as there many wonderful things to see and do seemingly a world away from Bali, get over there!

Selamat jalan & hati-hati!


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