Getting to Flores from Bali/Lombok. Different options

How to get from Lombok to Flores
How to get from Lombok to Flores

There are different ways of getting to Flores (Komodo) island from Bali/Lombok; flight, boat tour, ferries+buses, which one to choose depends on your time and budget. Just be aware that if you travel in the high season (June to August) you have to book your flight beforehand.

Getting to Flores

Flight to Labuan Bajo (Flores)

The fastest and easiest way of getting to Flores and back, in high season (June to August) book you flight beforehand. There are no international flights to Flores though you can fly direct or with one stop from many Indonesian cities. The cheapest option is a direct flight from Denpasar (Bali) which has extensive route of both national and international flights. The cheapest flights are by NAM air, you can get a one way ticket for 45-55$, without check-in luggage. NAM air has connection flights (through Bali) to Labuan Bajo from several Indonesian cities.

Boat trip to Flores (Labuan Bajo )

More fun and adventurous way of getting to Flores or back is to do a boat trip. Boats leave every day from a town Senggigi (Lombok), you can buy it on Lombok or Gili islands from a tour agency or hostel. Standard tour is 4 days/3 nights. The price is around IDR 1 500 000/$115 and includes transport (boat), food (three meals a day), drinking water, exclude Komodo National park fee (IDR 150 000/$10). Campbell did this trip 2 years ago. For more details click HERE.

Ferries and buses

How to get from Bali to Flores (Komodo)

The cheapest and the longest option, takes 2 days one way and involves sleepless nights and some bargaining. We did it both ways, it was easy, no booking or arrangement beforehand though it was a peak season (August).

Bus from Mataram to
Bus from Mataram to Lembar. Getting to Flores

1st step. Bali (Padangbai) – Lombok (Mataram)

Public ferries from Padangbai (Bali) to Lembar (Lombok) leave every day, every hour or so, 24 hours. It takes about 4-5 hours, price IDR 40 000/$3 per person. You arrive at Lembar harbor. Then take a van (30 000/$2,2) or public mini bus (20 000/$1,5) to Mataram (Damri bus terminal) from where buses to Flores leave. Buses leave every day at 3 pm if you take an early ferry from Padangbai e.g. at 7 am you have a good chance to catch a bus the same day.

If you don’t make it the same day there are couple of guest houses in Mataram, in the center, not far from Mataram City Mall, from 100 000 for double. We stayed at Hotel Viktor (can find it at Google.maps), nice place, clean rooms, wi-fi, breakfast, kitchen. Double with fan IDR 150 000/$11.

2nd step. Lombok (Mataram) to Flores (Labuan Bajo)

Couple of buses and ferries involved.

Bus Mataram – Bima, including 1 hour ferry (Lombok-Sumbawa), leaves every day at 3 pm, takes 12-13 hours. Bus Bima – Sape (switch for a local bus), leaves once all passengers get on, takes 1h30min. Ferry Sape – Labuan Bajo, leaves at 8-9 am, takes 6-7 hours. In total all the way including waiting time is about 24 hours.

View from the ferry Sape - Labuan Bajo. How to get to Flores
View from the ferry  Labuan Bajo – Sape. Getting to Flores

Different options of buying tickets

  1. You can buy a ticket through an agency if you want to avoid any hassle of going to the bus terminal in Mataram. Then expect to pay between 450 000 – 490 000/$34-37 for a ticket. You can buy it in Sanggigi (Flores) or on Gili islands.
  2. Buy one ticket all the way from Mataram to Labuan Bajo at Mandalika bus terminal (Mataram), includes two buses and two ferries. The price is IDR 375 000/$28.
  3. Buy a separate ticket for each stretch. First at Mandalika terminal buy a bus ticket from Mataram to Bima, 175 000/US$13 (which includes one ferry from Lombok to Sumbawa and dinner). Once in Bima jump on a bus to Sape, 30 000/$2,2 1h30min. Bus goes all the way to the ferry terminal, where you can buy a ferry ticket, IDR 59 000/$4,5. In total for all buses and ferries you’ll pay 265 000/$20, save 100 000 compare to one  ticket option. In Mataram they’ll try to convince you to buy one ticket all the way saying it’s very difficult to buy separate tickets, that locals in Bima will try to rip you off, that ferry ticket office will be closed in the morning etc. All nonsense, we did it and it worked perfectly, in fact we went all the way with the people who bought one ticket, just paid less.

It doesn’t matter if you buy your ticket through an agency or at the bus terminal buses and ferries will be the same.

On the ferry from Sape to Labuan Bajo
On the ferry from Sape to Labuan Bajo. Getting to Flores

Getting back from Labuan Bajo

You have the same option as getting to; flight, boat trip or ferry+buses.

First two options work out the same; prices, time etc. In fact ferries+buses to and back are quite the same as well except for times and prices, for some reasons the way back is cheaper.

Ferries+buses

We did it both ways. At Labuan Bajo if you shop around you can get a ticket all the way to Denpasar for IDR 500 000/$38 or to Mataram for 300 000-350 000/$23-2,5. We bought separate tickets for each stretch. Ferry Labuan Bajo to Sape leaves once a day at 9.00 am, you should be at the ferry terminal at 7.30 am. Ticket Labuan Bajo Sape costs IDR 55 000/$4, it takes about 6 hours. Bus Sape – Bima 30 000/$2,2, leaves as soon as gets full. Bus Bima – Mataram 175 000 – 200 000/$14-15, including one meal on the way. In total we paid 285 000/$21,5. Bus arrives at Mataram bus terminal between 7.00-8.00 am. If you want to go to Bali (Padangbai) by public ferry take a bus to Lembar, mini bus costs 20 000/$1,5. Ferry Lembar-Padangbai leaves every hour, price 40 000, takes 4-5 hours.

For more info about Flores and Komodo islands click HERE.

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12 Comments

    • Hello, India! Thank you! In the beginning of this post there is a section Flight to Labuan Bajo where it says how to fly there from Bali there is a link to NAM airlines you can go to their site and check for the flights, it takes about 1h30min.
      Goodluck!

  • Hello, Thanks for all the information you gave! With two other friends we are planning to flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo( begin september), and then go back to Bali by hitchhiking and sleeping in a tent (if we can’t find somewhere to sleep) on land is it safe ? We planned around 12(max) days to do it will it be enough ? can’t find anything on internet about it. It will be so nice if you could give us some information.
    Thanks

    • Hello, Amin! 12 days will be enough to see the dragons, go snorkeling or diving and visit some small islands around. About hitchhiking and sleeping in a tent I don’t think it’s worth it! Most of the way you go by ferries so hitch won’t help. I’d rather take buses/ferries you can perfectly sleep there and don’t need to bother about accommodation at all. We went all the way back to Bali from Labuan Bajo without staying anywhere just non stop switching between buses and ferries. As I know Lombok is not the safest place so I wouldn’t sleep in a tent. Locals are not really keen on taking tourists for free we tried to hitch a bit on Lombok but all we could get was a cheaper taxi! So it’s up to you but I’d rather spent more time around Flores and take public transport back than spent 3 days trying to get to Bali.
      Cheers!

  • Great blog guys! Please tell me it’s not as complicated as it sounds haha! I’ll be attempting this when I go back to Asia early next year but now I’m nervous to go this route! As a first timer, would it be easier just flying, or is the experience worth it?

    • Hello, Caitlyn! Thank you ver much!
      This way with public transport for us was definitely much cheaper than flying because we were there in the high season and didn’t book a flight beforehand all tickets were super expensive! Another reason we did it because we like traveling local style:) But if you can buy a plain ticket in advance you’ll be able to get it for a good price so in your case it may be not worth to take our route especially if it’s your first backpacking trip.
      Good luck and enjoy Indonesia!

  • Hi there.

    Wonderful blog with great info. Could you lemme know if there are any earlier buses from Maldanika towards Bima, in the morning?

    Thanks

    • Hello, Aasiya! Thank you for your question!
      All the buses towards Bima were in the afternoon since there are a couple of ferries involved I belive the buses are linked to them. When we were at Maldanika there were no morning buses to Bima.
      Good luck!

  • Hello, thank you very much for the comments. It worked fine from Bali to Lombok, we are now in Maldanika bus station (in Damri there are no buses going to Bima) and they offer tickets to Bima at 175k the cheapest after bargaining. There is no official ticket counter here surprisingly, only dozens of annoying private vendors attacking you right when you arrive. So i guess we will take the best offer of 175k p/p and see what happens in Sape.

    • Hello, Leysan! Thank you for your comment! If there are no buses anymore from Maldanika bus terminal to Bima, we’ll change it in the article. About the price we paid 120k 8 months ago maybe it changed since then. There was only one “ticket office” don’t know how official it was but we didn’t buy our tickets there it was more expensive. Keep us informed about your way of getting to Flores and ticket prices, please! Good luck and enjoy Komodo!

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