First Road Trip Ever: Jakarta – Bali

Earlier this September I and my husband decided to go on a road trip from our home in Jakarta to Bali because we were going to hold two events in the Island of Gods. It meant we had to stay quite long (about 3 weeks) and bring a lot of things. It turned out that one single car saved us a lot of money but costed us quite an energy. But it definitely was worth the journey.


I took the northern route (Pantura) from Jakarta to Bali and the southern route from Bali to Jakarta. I fully relied on Google Maps to guide us through from city to city until I finally arrived in Bali. These were the cities I passed (and visited some of them) during the journey:

Jakarta – Bali

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Jakarta (enter the Jakarta inner ring road) – Bekasi – Cikampek – Tol Cikopo-Palimanan (known as Cipali) – Tol Kanci-Pejagan – Tol Pejagan-Pemalang – (exit the toll road) Tegal – Pemalang – Pekalongan – Batang – Kendal – Semarang – Demak – Kudus – Pati – Rembang – Lasem – Tuban – Badad – Lamongan – Gresik – Surabaya – Sidoarjo – Bangil – Pasuruan – Probolinggo – Situbondo – Ketapang Port – Gilimanuk Port – Bali

On the way to Bali, some unexpected things happened and delayed the journey. I departed from Jakarta on August 30 at 12.30 pm and planned to stay for a night in Semarang (hotel – booked!). However, when I arrived in Batang area the traffic was so bad due to a fallen tree on the road and it was already around 10 pm so I had to stay for a night at a sketchy hotel around there.

Cipali toll road

I then continued the journey at around 7-8 am in the next morning to Surabaya and stayed in the city for a night as planned. My journey from Surabaya to Ketapang port was quite a challenge too. There was a celebration of the Independence Day of Indonesia in Probolinggo and Situbondo where people marched on the main streets while singing, dancing, and wearing costumes (seriously, I thought it was Jember Fashion Show since what they wore were similar) and it caused a very bad traffic jam because no police officers managed the traffic. I expected to arrive in Ketapang Port at around 4 pm but the reality was I arrived at 7 pm.

A view in Tuban

However, in Situbondo I passed through the access road of Baluran National Park and the view was so amazing! Trees were everywhere on the left and right sides of the road and soft warm rays of sunshine beaming through them while monkeys were sitting and walking everywhere. Simply mesmerising.
Back to the Ketapang Port, the trip from Ketapang Port to Gilimanuk Port was around 45 minutes and I didn’t know that it took about 4-5 hours from Gilimanuk Port to the city (Denpasar). The road from Gilimanuk to the city was total dark at night and there were too many trucks (and hubby was very exhausted as well) so I had to call it a night and stay at the nearest hotel I found (after maybe 2 hours of driving). Luckily, the hotel was okay this time. The next morning, it took around 2 hours of driving to get into the city.

Bali – Jakarta

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Bali – Gilimanuk Port – Ketapang Port – Banyuwangi – Genteng – Jember – Probolinggo – Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park – Pasuruan – Purworedjo – Lawang – Malang – Batu – Malang – Blitar – Tulungagung – Trenggalek – Ponorogo – Wonogiri – Klaten – Yogyakarta – Wates – Kebumen – Kebasen – Banjar – Ciamis – Tjiawi – Nagreg – Cicalengka – Tol Padaleunyi – Bandung – Tol Cipularang – Bekasi – Jakarta

Entering the Gilimanuk Port

I checked out from the hotel at 12 pm and went straight to Gilimanuk port. Apparently the view on the way to Gilimanuk was breathtaking in the afternoon. I don’t know why but Bali is filled with beautiful trees along the road. Approaching Gilimanuk Port, you will find scenic sea views on the left side.

Somewhere around Banyuwangi

When I arrived in Ketapang Port, I went further south to Banyuwangi and stayed there for a night. I actually was quite curious about Banyuwangi because people said its beaches were worth the visit. However, the beaches were quite far from the main road and I couldn’t stay for long in this city because I had a plan in Malang. So I continued the journey to Malang via Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and headed to Malang and Batu for a few days and ended the trip as the written route above.

How was it?

  • Both the northern and southern routes have positive and negative sides. The northern route is more developed in terms of the road since there are a lot of big factories there. The road is huge and great but you have to race with trucks and buses along the way. It takes a lot of confidence to be able to cut off huge trucks and buses. The views are okay, either you see houses, factories, paddy fields, or sea. Meanwhile, the southern route is more laid-back. The road is narrower and sometimes a little bit rocky compared to the northern route but less trucks and buses. The views are more beautiful because you will pass through mountains, reservoirs, forests, paddy fields, and cities.
  • If you are not in a hurry, going for a road trip is worth the try. You can visit a lot of places on the way to your destination. Spare some times to explore each interesting city bit by bit.
  • Driving on your own means less communication with local people. I found myself knowing much better about the local culture when I travel using public transportation because I can interact with them anytime I want.


Aside from preparing your car and money for a long trip (of course that should be the number one on your to-do-list), these are things that you need to prepare based on my experience:

  • Playlist. I downloaded hundreds of songs from Spotify to accompany the journey. But it also was interesting enough to hear local radio stations when I entered the cities.
  • Fully charged power bank or USB charging station. You’re gonna need it to keep your GPS (read: smartphone) on.
  • Drinks to keep you dehydrated all the time. There are a lot of mini markets on the road.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Vitamin and medicine. A tiring long trip makes us more vulnerable to cold and fever.
  • Always have breakfast before you start the journey. Big or small, doesn’t matter.
  • Be amazed with your surroundings, because there are so many beautiful things to see and find out.
  • Try the local food and visit some cultural places whenever you have time. Make an effort to google some interesting places along the way.

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