Getting to Flores from Bali/Lombok. Different options

How to get from Bali to Flores by public transport

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.

Different ways of getting to Flores

Flights 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 US$45-55, without check-in luggage. NAM air has connection flights (through Bali) to Labuan Bajo from several Indonesian cities.

Boat trip to Labuan Bajo, Flores

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/US$115 and includes transport (boat), food (three meals a day), drinking water, exclude Komodo National park fee (IDR 150 000/US$10). Campbell did this trip 2 years ago.

Public transport; ferries and buses

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).

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, IDR 46 000/US$3,5 per person. You arrive at Lembar harbor.
  • Then take a van (IDR 30 000/US$2,2) or mini bus (IDR 20 000/US$1,5) to Mataram, Mandalika bus terminal (Damri bus service),  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.

Accommodation in Mataram

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 Werdhi Guest House, good place not far from Mandalika bus terminal and the mall; rooms with AC, private bathroom, clean, flat-screen TV, wi-fi, good breakfast included in the price. If you don’t mind to pay a couple of dollars more you can stay in a nicer and newer place like Hotel Orizatha; private rooms, big beds, AC, cable TV, wi-fi, good breakfast, nice garden, central location.

Hotel Orizatha, Mataram
Hotel Orizatha, Mataram. Getting to Flores from Bali. Photo credit booking.com

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

Couple of buses and ferries involved.

  • Bus MataramBima, including 1 hour ferry (Lombok-Sumbawa), leaves every day at 3 pm, takes 12-13 hours, IDR 225 000/US$16.
  • Bus BimaSape (switch for a local bus), leaves once all passengers get on, takes 1h30min., IDR 30 000/US$2.
  • Ferry SapeLabuan Bajo, leaves at between 8-9 am, takes 6-7 hours. In total all the way including waiting time is about 24 hours, IDR 60 000/US$4,5. Check departure time for ferries in Mataram as we heard they changed it recently.
Bali to Flores by public transport. Jetty in Indonesia
Getting from Bali to Labuan Bajo by ferries and buses.

Accommodation in Labuan Bajo

There are many options for different budget and travel style. Our advice if you go in season from June to September book your accommodation in advance we didn’t and after spending two days commuting between Bali and Flores we had to walk around with our backpacks trying to find something available. Obviously the best places were fully booked.

Ciao Hostel – maybe not the most budget hostel in Labuan Bajo but it’s a different level of comfort; dormitories with AC or open-air dorms with mosquito net, good hot shower, lockers, wi-fi, very friendly and helpful staff, clean and cozy. The best about this hostel is awesome terrace with stunning views over the harbor and the sea, great place for watching sunset while sipping beer or cocktail.

Terrace at Ciao Hostel, Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia
Terrace at Ciao Hostel, Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia. Photo credit booking.com

If you rather stay in a quiet private and budget place World Bnb is a great option; small but cozy rooms, private bathroom, AC, wi-fi, good Internet, clean, friendly staff, free airport shuttle, continental breakfast included.

All details and tips on packing for a backpacking trip you’ll find in this post. ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

For a nice private and a bit more luxury place close to the beach check Wae Molas Hotel; big spacious rooms, AC, flat-screen TV, wi-fi, sitting area, electric kettle, private bathroom, outside swimming pool, garden, big breakfast included in the price. There are double and family rooms.

Outside swimming pool at Wae Molas Hotel, Flores
Outside swimming pool at Wae Molas Hotel, Flores. Photo credit booking.com

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 IDR 450 000 – 490 000/US$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, 225 000/US$16 (which includes one ferry from Lombok to Sumbawa and dinner). Once in Bima jump on a bus to Sape, IDR 30 000/US$2,2 1h30min. Bus goes all the way to the ferry terminal, where you can buy a ferry ticket, IDR 60 000/US$4,5. In total for all buses and ferries you’ll pay IDR 315 000/US$20, save 60 000 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.

Flores island, getting from Bali to Labuan Bajo
Approaching Flores island by ferry.

Getting back from Labuan Bajo to Bali

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.

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/US$38 or to Mataram for IDR 350 000/US$25.

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/US$4, it takes about 6 hours.
  • Bus Sape – Bima IDR 30 000/US$2,2, leaves as soon as gets full.
  • Bus Bima – Mataram IDR 225 000/US$15, including one meal on the way.

In total we paid IDR 310 000/US$21. As you can see you save only US$4 compare to buying one ticket all the way which might be less hassle though all the transport you use is exactly the same.

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.

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15 Comments

  • Hi! I am planning to do a fly (Bali)-flores and is looking for a cheaper way to get back to Bali. I just want to clarify since you wrote on ferry+bus that from Labuan Bajo I can get a $38 fare to Bali. From my understanding this will be arranged by the agency? If yes, would it still take me 2days to arrive to Bali?

    • Hello, Ven! Thank for the question! You´re right you buy it from one of the local agencies (there are a couple on the main street in Labuan Bajo), it’s be the easiest way but it’ll still take you about 2 days to get there. If you buy separate tickets it’ll cost you a bit cheaper but you’ll have to negotiate the price every time otherwise you might be overcharged.
      Good luck!

  • Hello, guys! Your post helped me a lot and I would like to share my experience and some prices. I took the ferry from Padang Bai (Bali) to Lombok. Now the price is 46k. In Lombok there is no bus to Mataram anymore (at least I didn’t find one), but the vans are still available for the same price you wrote (30k). I took a motorbike for the same price, as the van would wait for more people and there was nobody coming.
    In Mataram I went to Mandalika station. It was like a ghost station and there was just one place to buy the ticket. The price fixed on the window was 225 until BIMA and 375 until Labuan. They tried to charge 250, but anyway I paid what was written on the window. They took me to the office where I waited for the bus (the company was Titan Mas). Adventurous bus, as all mentioned above. From BIMA to Sale I took the bus and they charged me 30, but I just paid 25, that was the amount other people were paying. So… 30 is their tourist price. And the ferry from Sape to Labuan coated 60 and now it just departs once a day. They say that is at 6pm, but it departs at 8pm.

    Thanks a lot for the information!! The only momento got lost was in Mataram, cause I didn’t know which was the right station. And people say that there is the bus for 175 at 2pm, but I didn’t want to spend the night to take the cheapest.

  • your post is great! helped me a lot getting from lombok to flores. I bought the combo ticket all the way for 375k. One thing to note is that the bus ride from Mataram to Bima is quite crazy. Although they have proper AC/toilet travel buses, they try to squeeze in as many people as possible. On Lombok, the driver stopped every 5min and loaded more parcels, deliveries and people. Eventually people sat in the aisle, the toilet was not accessible anymore as they needed all the space for the stuff they transported. I was feeling lucky to have a proper seat. It came as no surprise that my overloaded bus had a blown up tyre in the middle of nowhere during the night. luckily they were able to fix it after 2hrs so I still got the connection ferry from Sape to LB. Ferry rides and the local bus ride from Bima to sape were very relaxed though, worth the experience!

    • Hi, Martin! Thank you for the comment and for sharing your interesting story! Totally agree with you, this bus ride is an experience on its own! We’re glad you made it! Sounds like it was quite an adventure!
      Cheers!

    • 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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