Bali is the jewel in the crown of Indonesian tourism, attracting more and more visitors every year; for some, the number of fellow tourists is just too high and there is a strong desire to high-tail it right out of there. That’s where Bali’s western neighbour comes into the picture: Java, a long slender island with a good number of top-class destinations and best of all, hardly any other tourists. Catching a plane to Java from Bali is easy and fast, but has the downside of skipping much of the natural beauty along the way. The bus from Bali to Java solves this problem.
More adventurous visitors to Bali often don’t know whether it’s better to travel to Java or Lombok for their side trip into a less-touristed area of the country. Most people travel to Lombok to visit the relatively quiet beaches of Kuta and Sengiggi and perhaps to visit the nearby Gili Islands. Java is more about volcanoes, temples and colonial history with highlights being Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo, both in East Java province and not too far from Bali.
Getting to the main bus terminal in Bali
The easiest departure point from Bali to Java is the Ubung bus terminal in Denpasar. Buses from this terminal run with regularity from early morning until night, although as usual, buses are more frequent in the morning. Getting to Ubung bus terminal can be a chore in itself depending on your mode of transport and starting point.
The easiest way to get to Ubung is by using a Blue Bird taxi. From the Kuta area, a taxi will set you back about 60,000 rupiah, so long as the traffic is fluid. Given there are no taxis available in Ubud, hiring a car and driver is the best option from here and will cost around 150,000 rupiah after some hard bargaining.
For those wanting to use public transport to get to Ubung bus terminal, the fun starts the minute you start your journey. Two bemos are required to get to Ubung from Kuta: the first from Bemo corner on the corner of Jalan Raya Kuta and Jalan Pantai Kuta to the Tegal Sari terminal in Denpasar costs 10,000 rupiah; the second from Tegal Sari to Ubung bus terminal costs 6,000 rupiah. The bemos run regularly throughout the day and into the evening, although with less frequency later in the day.
From Ubud to Ubung is a more difficult proposition, mainly due to the scarcity of other passengers travelling this route, but it is possible to do. Firstly, catch a bemo costing 25,000 rupiah from outside Ubud market to Batubulan, preferably in the morning when bemo connections are more likely to be friendly. From Batubulan, you can get a bemo directly to Ubung for 6,000 rupiah, but these bemos dry up by mid-afternoon so get there early.
Ubung to Java
Once at Ubung bus terminal, the task of getting to Java is relatively easy. It’s better to buy tickets either after hopping on the appropriate bus or from an official ticket seller standing next to your chosen bus, rather than from the ticket offices lining the perimeter of the terminal, as these sellers have a reputation for inflating prices. Buses from Ubung travel to many destinations in Java such as:
Banyuwangi (for Kawah Ijen) – 4hrs – 60,000 rupiah (air-con express), 30,000 rupiah (non-air-con, not express, to the port only)
Surabaya (for Trowulan) – 12hrs – 145,000 rupiah
Probolinggo (for Mount Bromo) – 10hrs – 125,000 rupiah
Yogyakarta (for Borobudur) – 17hrs – 215,000 rupiah
The journey on these long distance buses is usually comfortable enough with air-con, soft coach seats and a place to store your luggage. But this all changes in peak Indonesian holiday periods when buses are cramped, stuffy and passengers are usually required to nurse at least some of their their luggage.
Heading to Java is a perfect way to spice up your holiday to Bali and now armed with this information, there is no excuse to not give it a go.
By Adam Poskitt
Last updated on 19th December, 2011.