Let the adventure begin: Getting from Belitung to mainland Sumatra

 Route: Belitung – Bangka – Palembang


The moment has finally arrived and we are ready to leave for our honeymoon road trip. Danu has been working on his Toyota Avanza for months and transformed it into a little campervan which we lovingly call our Black Pearl. It will be our home and travel companion for the next month. Stay tuned for more details on our car conversion and a detailed packing list.

We start our trip on Pulau Belitung, so, to get to Sumatra we need to take two different ferries and cross Pulau Bangka. The ferry from Belitung to Bangka leaves at Pelabuhan Sadai. It’s advisable to book a ticket in advance and check the schedule regularly as there are only two ferries/week and the schedule might change due to the weather or technical issues. We were told to be at the port 2 hours before departure but at that time the ferry is still waiting for the tide to rise so the boat can dock properly. Then the ferry must be unloaded before we can finally drive Black Pearl onto it and try to get comfortable and settle in for a long crossing.

There are only a few people on the ferry as it’s affordable and of course much faster to fly between the two islands. That left some truck drivers and workers with their families and us as the only passengers. But even though there is a lot of space, we have a rough night ahead of us. The seats inside the boat all have armrests so it is impossible to lay down on them. Also, the waves are quite big so I prefer to stay outside in the fresh air to avoid getting seasick. We end up sleeping (or actually - laying down and turning around all night) on a very thin mat on the floor under some chairs on the top deck of the ferry. This was for sure not the way I imagined the first night of my honeymoon but looking around I see many others sleeping in similar positions. Two guys were even cuddled together on a metal table to help keep themselves warm. Looking at them made me stop feeling sorry for myself. Most of the other people on this ferry probably don’t have a choice and do this on a regular basis out of necessity to provide for their families. I realized how lucky I am to have the opportunity to choose to be here and start my adventure with Danu.   

Our "bed" on the ferry.

Even with these positive thoughts in my mind, I have to admit that it still was a very long, and mostly sleepless night. I am glad when the horn finally signals that we are approaching Bangka at around 5:00 am and we will be able to get off the ferry after 10 long hours. But again, some more patience is needed. I am able to climb off the ferry through a window, but Danu has to wait for another hour for the tide to rise so he can drive Black Pearl onto Bangka. Luckily a pretty sunrise is keeping me company while waiting for them to join me on land.   

Welcome to Pulau Bangka!

After this long ferry ride, we need to freshen up and reenergize for the 300km long ride across the island. We stop at a nearby beach, Pantai Tanjung Ru. Time for coffee and some breakfast. It’s a beautiful spot to have a cup of espresso and watch the day slowly begin. Unfortunately, the place is in need of a major clean-up.

Pantai Tanjung Ru

The roads on Bangka are in great condition but it still takes a long time to drive from one end to the other. Thankfully there are some interesting and fun things to see along the way. We cross through a village with a pineapple statue and literally, every house selling pineapples hung on sticks along the road. Then we make a little detour to Kolong Biru for a quick break. What a stunning place! Danu and I could both not believe how turquoise the water is. This lake is actually an old mining site for white clay. When the mining holes get filled by rainwater they turn into turquoise lakes. It’s a great place to walk around, relax, and have a coconut.

Kolong Biru

In the late afternoon, we arrive at Pelabuhan Tanjung Kelian. We are excited and proud of our awesome timing when we see the cars in front of us are lining up to drive onto the ferry. But the excitement soon turned into disappointment as the gate closed right before us. So, we wait. We have a coffee and Danu even sets up his camping chair to chill. After one and a half hours the gate finally opens and we are ready to board the ferry. But once again, nope! It turned out that that place in front of us, which we thought is the ticket office, did not sell tickets. The guy just laughed at us “You waited for so long and still don’t have a ticket. That’s just awesome!” Not so awesome for us… So we turn around again, trying to get our Antigen test results printed out and approved. Then we have to find the real ticket office and get into the waiting line again. All the hurrying around thankfully paid off as we somehow still managed to get on that same ferry. Danu is so exhausted after all this that he decides to go fancy and say goodbye to the backpacker lifestyle for a while. He rents a cabin from one of the crew members and goes straight to sleep while I watch the sun setting behind the lighthouse as Pulau Bangka gets smaller and smaller in the distance.

Waiting for the next ferry

After another 3 hours, we made it to Sumatra, our adventure playground for the next month! It’s dark and very misty when we arrive at Pelabuhan Tanjung Api Api. The atmosphere is almost spooky, and it seems like Black Pearl is flying over the many bumps as Danu speeds towards the city lights of Palembang. It’s way past midnight and we’re both relieved when the third hotel finally has a room available for us to get some sleep.

Do you want to find out more about our trip? Visit our channel and don't forget to subscribe :)



Travel info at a glance

Getting from Pulau Belitung to Pulau Bangka


departure from Pelabuhan Ru

arrival at Pelabuhan Sadai


2 ferries a week

How long

around 9 hours

How much

2.300.000 Rp. for 1 car + 5 people

Tip: Talk to the boat crew about the option to rent a cabin to make your trip more comfortable. Officially there are no cabins for rent on this ferry, but the boat crew often rent out their own cabins to earn a bit of extra cash.


Getting from Pulau Bangka to Palembang


departure from Pelabuhan Tanjung Kalian

arrival Pelabuhan Tanjung Api Api (78km from Palembang)


departs every hour

How long

around 3 hours

How much

909.000 Rp. for 1 car + 5 people

Tip: Buy your ticket before entering the car waiting line.



Fun things to do in Pulau Bangka

Kolong Biru (location): Turquoise Lake 

Puri Tri Agung (Location): Pagoda with ocean view 


Pantai Tikus (Location): beautiful, quiet beach close to Puri Tri Agung

Pantai Tikus Emas (Golden Rat Beach) Location: beach with seafood restaurants and a fun golden rat statue 

Post a Comment


Contact Form