Driving around Bali on a scooter was great, and cheap. In two weeks I visited a few places on my own, free from the bubble of a car-and-driver.

There’s so much more to see on Bali. But for my second month in Indonesia I wanted to visit different parts of this gigantic country.

My original plan was to take buses West from Bali across Java to Jakarta. There’s certainly a lot of great sites to see there. But I had more fun in the Philippines riding a motorbike on my own than riding buses. I didn’t want to go back to buses here.

When I heard it was possible to easily ride a motorbike onto ferries to visit different islands, I was intrigued. When I heard about the Eastern route from Bali, I was hooked, and knew I had to do it.

Going West is the popular route. Java is where all the famous sites are. Few tourists venture East. It’s possible to ride all the way to Alor, at the end of the archipelago, or even Timor. But I’d have to ride back, so I settled on the three multicolored volcanic lakes of Kelimutu as my goal.

Me and my scooter.
Me and my scooter.

The Plan

I don’t like to book in advance, in order to preserve flexibility. But I like to have a plan. A little research showed there’s only one road to follow, and there are clear places to stop when going East from Bali. So I put together an itinerary.

  • Sumbawa Besar – I’d drive across Lombok without stopping on the way out. Sumbawa Besar is the capital of the island of Sumbawa. It, and the entire island, are not a tourist destination. There are no big sites to see. I was looking forward to observing how locals lived off the tourist path.
  • Bima – another city on Sumbawa with no tourist attractions. I didn’t see that as a negative.
  • Labuan Bajo – A port town on the Catholic island of Flores. There is a nascent tourist industry there for diving and boat trips to Komodo National Park, so I’d be encountering some bule.
  • Komodo National Park – A boat trip to these islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a big goal of mine on this trip.
  • Ruteng – I’d be leaving the tourist trail again, driving across the lush island of Flores to Ruteng, a town without major attractions.
  • Bajawa – It’s possible to visit traditional villages from this town.
  • Moni – A tiny strip of guesthouses that is the jumping-off point to Kelimutu. I’d have to turn back after this.
  • Wae Rebo – I really wanted to spend the night in this remote traditional village, which isn’t in Google Maps, or any other map. Getting there was quite an adventure!
  • Lombok – I’d save Lombok for the end of my trip. I was hoping to climb the volcano here, but I didn’t have the energy. Instead I spent a couple days in the beach town of Kuta, Lombok.

Making The Plan Possible

A problem is that the bikes available for rent in Kuta, scooters only, are in poor repair. If you tell the shifty touts who hawk bikes, along with illicit drugs and prostitutes, that you want to take the bike off Bali, they say it’s not possible. I think you could just not tell them, because all you need is the original bike registration papers. Then you could pay a mechanic to change the oil, tubes, breaks, and buy your own tools.

Finally, you’d have to figure out a way to secure your bag to the bike. While riding around Bali, I learned you cannot wear a backpack on a motorbike. The shoulder pain makes driving miserable.

Instead of giving the dodgy guys my business, I contacted Kris of Motor Adventure Bali. He made everything easy by providing a scooter in a good state of repair, as well as all the tools I could possibly need, including a spare gas tank (which I didn’t need). His business is motorbike adventures across Indonesia, so he didn’t have a problem with me leaving Bali.

Kris’ scooters come equipped with actual luggage racks and straps, not the jury-rigged contraptions you see in Indonesia. I could firmly secure my bag to the rack, which meant I could refuel without having to unstrap the bag.

The trip took me three weeks and was incredible. It was probably the best travel I ever did. But I won’t say more now. Stay tuned for more installments of the Motorscooter Diaries to read about this amazing adventure!

I didn’t receive any compensation for plugging Motor Adventure Bali. Kris just made everything so easy that I recommend him for anyone contemplating a trip like this.

Ready to go!
Ready to go!
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.


  1. Hey there! Looking to do this same trip but wondering how you got your bike back to Bali. Did you leave it in Flores? Or did you have to ferry it back? Cheers!

  2. Hello! So nice to read you thanks ! Im about to do the same. I just decided to leave bali.. . Tonight 🙂
    But was wondering when you arrived in sumbawa. How long did it take you to drive the whole island? how was the road? Lots of petrol on the way? and last but not least if you want to take it slowly and maybe sleep on the way… As it’s not touristy, did you find a place to sleep in sumba? I speek a bit of indonesian and I feel ill figure out but as a woman traveling alone, I’d like to know if it’s easy Or not especially for accommodations. I don’t want anything fancy. Just a safe bed 🙂 same on Flores. Do you only find places to sleep in touristy zones only or you find little ruma on the way?
    Traveling in bali with no precise plans is easy but yeah Don t know about the east yet!
    Thanks a lot,

  3. Enjoy your trip, and relax! I rode across Sumbawa in like two days but wish I would have slowed down. There’s not really any attractions, but it’s authentic. It’s easy to find places to stay and petrol.

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