Im new here but I have been reading at the forum for a while now (ever since me and my boyfriend decided to go and backpack in Southeast Asia this autumn). We have though problem deciding the itinerary and which countries to visit (yes, i have searched the forum for similare threads and already read them ). I have also read several guidebooks and a lot of different backpacking-forums without getting closer to the answer and thats why Im posting here to get your opinions.
So, what have we decided this far? We will travel at the beginning of October and go home at the end of December. We are first-time backpackers and have decided we want to visit Thailand the rest of the countries we are not sure of yet. We are not very adventures or like to party that much. Some one-day-hiking and a beer at the end of some days is our cup of tea varied with amazing beaches and snorkeling. We like national parks, vulcanos, less tourism etc.
We have talked about visiting Cambodia, Laos, Vietnamn but after some thinking (and more talking) we decided not to (probably). We rather go more south were it is (what we could gather) less tourism.
Since we travel in the fall a good place to start would be Indonesia and then travel north what I could gather from weather statistics etc. The only problem is that Indonesia is BIG. One idea was to first go to Bangkok (cheaper to have it as a first and last destination), be there a couple of days then travel to Yogyakarta, explore the surroundings, the travel forth. Go to Sumatra and then maybe Malaysia and then Thailand. Im not sure though. Is it possible to cover that huge distance? Should we fly between cities? Since we are no huge partypeople we decided not to go to Bali, is that stupid? We have been thinking about going to Flores and Gili Islands, or could we skip them? Borneo is also an option we havent really thought through yet.
I guess the overall question is: Where in Indonesia should we travel and how many places can one visit if you dont want to spend a lot of time in busses/trains/airplanes etc?
And I apologies for my English, havent written in it for a while.
#1 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
You could fly from Bkk to Jakarta or Yogyakarta and go overland through Java into Bali. The popular touristy areas of Bali probably aren't your thing, but it's not all bad either (check out the NW corner, and northern coast through to Amed).
From Bali you could check out Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida before heading to Lombok (via the Gilis's if you wanted, although they can be a bit touristy. Probably avoid Gili Trawangan). Spend a week or so navigating around Lombok then you make your way to Flores - which you would probably enjoy.
Last I knew you couldn't fly from Lombok to Flores, so you have a couple of options, depending on time, etc:
- make your way back to Bali and fly from Bali to Maumere
- go overland from Lombok to Flores (ferry and overland on Sumbawa)
- organise a diving/snorkle boat trip to Flores (haven't done it but boats are basic, and should be checked out carefully before booking one. Snorkelling/diving is supposed to be pretty good.
I did a similar thing over a two month period 2 years ago, at the exact same time of year (excluding Java) and it was a good comfortable pace, and the weather was near perfect the entire time (just a few heavy rains near the end). You would need to organise a 2-month visa before you left home.
Flores, Lembongan and Penida were the highlights for me. I've been back to Lembongan recently and was surprised at the amount of tourist development that occurred in the last 2 years though. It's still nice but I'd get there quick! I saw very few tourists in Flores and Penida (in fact, only 2 others during my 2 days circumnavigating Penida). I've posted quite a bit about this in the past so check out the forums.
If you are going to spend some time in Indonesia, especially in the less touristy areas, spend a bit of time beforehand to learn the language. It's fairly easy to pickup and it will go a long way to give you fantastic opportunities to communicate and mix with the locals.
You can get some very good language podcasts and guides hrough this website: http://www.learningindonesian.com/ (Also avail in iTunes). Highly recommended!
Good luck - and let me know if you have any more questions!
Thanks busylizzy for the answer! I will search the forum a bit more for your posts
The thing is with traveling to the east is that I guess we have to backtrack or fly directly to Sumatra from there. Is it a smart/possible option? I dont know if im “obsessed” to go via Sumatra but I want to visit national parks and orangutans which is in that part of Indonesia (correct me if im wrong). Im just wondering if we can get some sort of “similare” experience in Sumatra instead of Bali and the islands around it. We want to be in Indonesia about a month my guess is.
To be honest im a bit confused what we actually want, but I hope you get my idea.
#3 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
OK, I must have glanced over the 'Sumatra' bit in your post and didn't realise it was an important stop. I haven't travelled through Sumatra (and my Java knowledge is about 20 years out of date, other than what I read here) so there are probably better people to advise.
Having said that, personally I don't tend to worry too much about backtracking if it means that I get to the areas that are important to me, and the times that I want to be there.
You could look into flight options (Air Asia, Garuda and there is another Indo airline who's name escapes me) to see where they fly to/from in and out of Sumatra, look at the costs and then consider whether or not it's worthwhile to you. So, for example, if there are flights between Bali and Sumatra (or even Flores and Sumatra, although unlikely?!).
I think Bali is well worth a visit even for people that don't like tourists. In one month, I think a good trip would be to visit Bali, Java and Sumatra. Enter Bali, head west through Java, into Sumatra and then out of aceh into Kuala Lumpur. From there it's east to get back to Thailand. Not sure I'd recommend it for first time backpackers though. My mate came and visited me in Bandung in January and he travelled overland from Bali to my place -- first time backpacking and first time in Asia. He was freaked out a bit and didn't visit a lot places because he didn't know what to do. He also paid for a few tours etc because he didn't want to try and arrange things by himself.
Maybe it's different for different people, but I think Indonesia is harder to travel around than Laos and Cambodia. But I guess that's what also makes it so rewarding. There just isn't much of a tourist infrastructure outside of Bali.
We travelled from bangkok to sumatra via penang in malaysia and then onto bali and all the way to labuanbajo, flores to see the komodo dragons nearby in 3 months without rushing. That was 10 years ago and our first time in asia.
I definately recommand you spend some time visiting Sumatra! For me Lake Toba was the highlight of this trip.
indonesia doesnt attract the party animals you find in thailand (except in bali) and locals are friendly and like to talk to foreign visitors. Plus there,s sadly not enough tourists in indo i find, appart frm bali. You can give bali a miss as i think u will find it too developped. Though ubud and north are not too bad and there,s trecking option on central volcano.
In sumatra, lake toba, and the orang utang rehab centre of bukit lawang, 1hour outside Medan are a must. B. Lawang was tragically heavilly flooded a few years ago but survivors have rebuilt the village and going there would support them greatly! You can do jungle trecks there. In Toba, We stayed at bagus bay in tuk tuk, an amazing and cheap paradise!
The jungle of sumatra is pristine when it,s not been chopped off for palm plantations, travelling through the jungle of north sum is a bit chaotic! We never visited lake maninjau because we wanted to take the modern one of the two ferries to java.
In java i highly recommand mount bromo volcano! I have a cool address to spend a day or two on the Side of the mountain if you want. Yogya was ok but nothing special. We visited some volcanic area nr bandung with hot springs but most of java is far less wild than sumatra.
Gili air off lombok was cool and very relaxed but lombok wasnt. Frm the gilis You can do a day treck to gunung rinjani volcano on mainland.
Maybe you shld fly into bali (bromo is closer to bali than jkta) and work yr way west towrds sumatra or do a similar route as us or just pick n choose other island appart frm sumatra and fly between them. Although a fishhead soup on board a pelni ferry is an experience!
#6 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
Thank you everyone, this really helps me!
I think i like the idea about beginning with Bali as you said, Mooball. Since this is uor first time on the road maybe it is a good place to start with a little bit more tourists and then travel to the more unexploited areas. I dont know if its too much for us. Did your mate travel alone? We are at least two and my boyfriend is a bit more secured about these things then i am. Another question, is it possible to find unexploited beaches and such on Bali or do we have to travel to other islands? I think after Bangkok we want some beach and sun (with as less tourists as possible) for a while and i wouldnt want to travel too far from the city we decides to go to from Bangkok.
I also like your idea Sophief but im worried if we are too inexperienced to pull it of, and what i could gather about the weather i guess it should be better to travel from the south to the north as you said in the latter part of your message. I would love to have that adress onthe mountain side you talked about.
Anyone who get anything that has anything to add about Borneo? I read this travel magazine this morning about Borneo and it sounded amazing but i wonder how cheap/expencive it is compared to the other countries and the Malaysian mainland. Is it difficult/expencive to travel to and from? Can one be satisfied without travel to Borneo and just go to Java and Sumatra?
And a last question, how is the ferry between Bali and Java or should we take the plane?
Thank you again, i really appreciate this!
#7 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
My friend travelled alone and had a great time, but it was just a little stressful. Having said that, if you are both comfortable with the possibility of travelling across Indonesia in order to avoid other tourists, it should be OK.
How about you just travel through Bali, then through Java until Jakarta and then fly to Medan? That way you don't have to do those gruelling bus trips through Sumatra. From Medan you can easily visit Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba which are brilliant.
The ferry from Bali to Java is not a problem. They leave constantly 24h a day and safe are enough. It's only a 20 minute ride. As soon as you get to Java you can stay in Banyuwangi which is 6km south of the ferry port. The next morning you can get a guy on a motorbike to drive you to Kawah Ijen which is where the dudes carry big sulphur rocks out of a volcanic crater -- absolutely incredible. From there it is easy to get to Gunung Bromo, Gunung Semeru, Malang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Pangandaran, Bandung and then Jakarta. All of those places are worth a look.
Thanks mooball! We have decided to do something like you suggested in your most recently post. I think i will search the forum a bit more for less crowded places on Bali and if anyone have any suggestions just tell me. I guess it should be less toursits during the fall.
Thanks again, like i said, i really appreciate this. I feel alot less confused now
#9 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
I've read a bit more and found the island Nusa Penida. It supposed to be close to Bali and unexploited. Anyone who has got any experience with the island? It sounds very much what we are looking for.
#10 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
Refer to my post #2 above. I was there for 3 days, and saw 2 other tourists over those days. Accom is very limited but is good. I hired a scooter for the 3 days and spent the entire time exploring the island. I loved it - but speaking the language helped me immensely to interact with the locals and get the most out of the experience. Even the basics would make a diference here. Checkout Crystal Bay for some awesome snorkelling. Don't expect much in the way of restaurants, nightlife, etc. It's a pretty simple life over there - but worth visiting.
The Penida section on this website was updated recently and provides good and accurate information about getting around.
There are so many places that have very few tourists visiting them in Indonesia, including Bali. On Java, you will usually catch buses and trains with no other foreigners on board and it's not unusual to go days without seeing another tourist. A good example is Mount Semeru, Java's tallest mountain the big one you see in the background of many bromo shots. You'd think there'd be loads of tourists climbing it. But I was there in December and the guesthouse there hadn't had a foreign guest for a month!
So I think the situation is this. When you arrive in Bali you get the impression that Indonesia is over run with tourists. But as soon as you step a little way off the path, you can feel completely isolated and at one with the local community. Even in places like Ubud. You just usually need your own transport or be willing to catch rickety old buses to other places. A Bali roadtrip is a great idea to get off the beaten track.
@busylizzy: I read Travelfish's page about Nusa Pendia and it sounded amazing (just what we were after) but then i read somewhere else that it is not worth going there if your intresting in swiming or snorkeling since the beaches is not that great and its alot of seaweed "plantations". Is that true? Because then i started to consider the island Nusa lembongan, is it a good island as a second choice? I got that it is more focused on tourism but since its low season maybe it wont be a problem then?
@Mooball: Thanks for the realisation ( or how do you put it?). I have been quite afraid Bali would be like Europes Aiya Napa, the last place on earth i would want to visit.
#13 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
I just wouldn't stress too much about seeing other tourists. They will be there. You just need to be creative to avoid them and have more local experience. But just be aware that away from tourists, local people don't speak any English at all. Some don't even speak Bahasa Indonesia that well. Also, the food is local. Very local. And it might not be your tastes. Lastly, accommodation outside of the tourist zones can be extremely basic. If you're OK with a bit of dirt and squat toilets, this shouldn't be a problem.
Will be travelling in Central and West Java coming May, update me if you need any info, will check out for you when i'm there. Anyway just came back from Thailand last Feb, it was my first experience backpacking alone, and though it's taxing but awesome. Hope you'll have a great trip too
#15 KopiO has been a member since 1/3/2012. Posts: 12
I wouldn't got to either Penida or Lembongan just for the snorkelling - there's more to see/do than that. Having said that, there is some great snorkelling to be had from the beach at Crystal Bay (Penida), and several places on Lembongan (and Ceningan, over the bridge) if you travel around. I had Crystal Bay to myself when there; it's harder to get a beach to yourself on Lembongan, although I did manage to find a lovely beach on Ceningan where a new resort is in the early stages of being built - so there was no one there. Once the resort opens, it'll be a different story.
Mooball is right, though - you can't worry too much about other tourists being around. The worst type of tourists hang out in the popular resort areas (Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, etc) - these people don't venture far out of the area anyhow. It's easy enough to get out of those areas (even in Bali) and have a more local experience, and if you run into a few other tourists along the, they are probably looking for the same type of experience as you.
In Bali, head up the west coast past Tanah Lot - lots of OK beaches /villages to explore with hardly any westerners to be found (eg Yeh Gangga area). As already stated, a bit of language will help. We got lost several times trying to find our way through the maze of streets in this area, and speaking Indo made it much easier to get un-lost!
Not to hijack the thread or anything - but since we've got a reasonable conversation going here I thought I'd throw my question down.
I'm considering just walking onto Gili Trawangan at the very start of highish season (last few days of June) rather than booking, and have heard mixed reviews of either the bustle for rooms during that time or the plenty of discounts still available possibility that others report. Torn between wanting to get a quiet place on the north end for a couple of days, but also not wanting to be locked into a schedule so that I can take my time working my way across Java and adding a few days there if I decide to arrive later on Lombok and perhaps just skip G.T. and stay down in Kuta (where I am booking for the first couple days of July as I plan to end the trip there no matter).
Anyone with thoughts on arrival with no accommodation in June/July let me know.
I've haven't been there at that time of year, Casey, but did find that the cheaper accom was surprisingly busy in early Oct - which isn't high season at all. It took about 3-4 goes before I found somewhere that had a room. Maybe you can research places ahead of time, and phone/skype a few days ahead of time to make a phone booking? Then when you get there, check out other options knowing that you have something secured. Also - try to get the earliest boat that you can there to beat all the others also looking for a room!
Thanks again everyone. I got alot to think about now!
What do you mean busylizzy that you wouldnt go to Penida or Lembongan just for snorkeling?
I understand that we cant avoid all tourist, I don’t know if I want to when I think about it. I just don’t want to be in the middle of a party town or an overcrowded beach, that’s all.
And no problem about hijacking the thread, probably similar questionsto I have.
#19 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
What do you mean busylizzy that you wouldnt go to Penida or Lembongan just for snorkeling?
If you go to somewhere like Fiji, or the southern Thai islands, you are mainly going for the beach, white sand and snorkelling. Lembongan isn't in the same category as other islands for those things, in part because much of the coastline is dedicated to seaweed farming. Don't let that put you off though - there IS good snorkelling, etc to be had - but just in fewer places. I loved Lembongan because it was easy to explore my motorbike (compared to the busy-ness of Bali), the people are lovely if you take the opportunity to engage with the locals. I liked it less this last trip because the island is getting more touristy and development is almost rampant.
Don't let my comment put you off going - just trying to help set expectations!
Ok, i understand. If thats the case, should we instead consider going immediatly to Java instead or is it less seaweed plantations there? To be honest, i just want a lovely beach with a bit of snorkelling the first couple of days then it doesnt matter that much.
Just glad you're honest, its so difficult to make a dicision from home without any first-hand experience.
#21 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
Hi Eruve,did you see the post on TravelFish main page: Medewi: A great Bali getaway, which is on the west coast, on the way to the ferry to Java. That could be an option for you.
Start in Bali and head west, you are right, as someone else mentioned that isthe busiest place in terms of tourism. That way you will get gently acclimatized to Indo.
The place to stay in Bromo is called Yoschis Guesthouse. It’s not actually right at the top of Mt Bromo but just before on the side of the mountain. We stayed a first night in a very basic hostel somewhere else and having arrived so late we didn’t do the hike the day after and checked into Yoschis. I found this place very atmospheric and relaxing. Groups tend to spend half a night and then wizz down the mountain but spending the full day on Mt Bromo was a very memorable experience for us.
Have a safetrip!
#22 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
Thanks Sophie for the new input. Medewi really sounds what we are looking for both practically with the port to Java so close and with a nice secluded beach. I will write "Yoschis Guesthouse" down and bring on the trip and when we go to Mt Bromo ill try to find it.
#24 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
your're welcome Eruve.
So, as you have now decided to go to Bali, I would suggest you spend 1 or 2 nights in Ubud .
It's not too far from the airport and will give you a good idea of balinese culture (different from Java or Sumatra because of their hindou based religion). Ubud is a very small laid-back town, inland in the forest, with small temples, a market and very famous balinese dances played every evening for the tourists. There are lots of cheap guesthouses in people's home where you actually have your own bungalow inside a typical balinese courtyard with women working away and tending to everyday offerings to the gods.
it's very interesting and I think, should not be missed. Most of the beer drinking and surfing crowd stay on Kuta beach and wont go to Ubud, so you are safe there
#25 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
That sounds really great also. I put it on my "places-to-visit"-list (its getting quite long that list...).
It's nice the trip is getting closer (only half a year, haha), so to speech. We bought our backpacks this weekend and we tried to pack them as realistic as possible and we still had space left so theres one thing less to think of. I bought a Osprey 56 L, it supporter my back alot better then all another packs i tried on, i do hope the size isnt too large though.
Anyone have any suggestions about guidebooks? I borrowed both Lonely Planets and Roughguides on the library (for Southeast Asia) and i think i will by Roughguides. I thought it was easier to navigate.
#26 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
How exciting to be going to Indonesia my absolute favourite country.
Been 9 times and in 2006 spent 5.5 months travelling around.
In regards to Sumatra just be aware of the distances between the places.
Medan to Bukit Lawang is 3 hrs by bus and about 2.5 hrs by driver/car.
Medan to Lake Toba is 4-5 hrs by bus.
Medan to Brestagi is 1.5 hrs by bus BUT be aware it is best to visit Brestagi on the way back from Prapat ferry port for Samosir Island Lake Toba.
There are NO DIRECT buses from Brestagi to Prapat Lake Toba.
If you go from Brestagi to Prapat you will to take at 2-3 buses and it will take most of a day to get there and you may miss the 1 hr passenger ferry over to the island.
In regards to Bukit Lawang it is definitely a thriving place these days - will be 9 yrs in Nov since the flood.
If you get the time there is an amazing place about 2-2.5 hrs away from BL by motor bike called Tangkahan where there are at least 7 elephants and lots of amazing treks etc to do.
This is the most amazing website for North Sumatra with map too.
Click on all the different place names and you will find accomodation etc.
If you want a great beach and there are NOT loads of them in Indonesia - suggest Sumur Tiga on Pulau Weh - a short one hour flight from Medan to Banda Aceh.
Then 1 hr fast ferry over to the island.
Only 2 ferries a day so you will need to co ordinate your flights - I would get the afternoon ferry about 3.30, BUT be aware you need to be waiting for the ferry at less 45 minutes before it leaves because it has a tendency to leave early and if you miss it - such a waste of time and probably best not to stay in Banda Aceh.
Hoping this has been of some help to you.
In Just 3 days you can visit Jogjakarta - Borobudur - Candirejo - Prambanan - Sukhu & Cetoh Temples - Solo - Surabaya - Ngadisari/Mt Bromo - Kalibaru - Ijen - Bali - Lovina Beach - Lake Bratan & Ulun Danu - Tanah Lot - Ubud - Lake Batur - Besakih - Candidasa - Padang Bai - Lombok and Gili Island.
#28 jacinthemilton has been a member since 24/1/2012. Posts: 10
Can you please detail how one could possibly see all of this in 3 days?
For example just to see the sunrise at Gunung Bromo - the whole reason for going there requires an overnight stay so one can get up at 4 am to head up to the viewing platform and the same with Kawah Ijen.
Best to sleep in the huts at Pos Paltruding and walk up from there at 3.30-4.00 am and reach the crater's edge at sunrise.
If one arrives later, like I did by motor bike from Bondowoso at 11 am in July 2006 the mist is covering the beautiful emerald green lake below.
So that is 2 nights to see the special things of Gunung Bromo and Kawah Ijen.
So there is NO way anyone could see very much at all in 3 days.
I'm from Malaysia, there's really nothing much to see in Kuala Lumpur, even plainer than Jakarta or Bangkok, but strongly recommending Penang Island, It's one of the heritage town, much unlike other parts of Malaysia, still trying their best to preserve it's old buildings and culture. For nature, you may go to Penang National Park (located at Teluk bahang, there's direct bus from Jetty), which is neighbouring to the touristy Batu Ferringi, surprisingly not many people even the locals know about it, and during weekend, you may be the only person on the beach. it's probably less charm than beaches in Thailand, but definitely far less touristy than it. and there's lighthouse, the view up there is rewarding. There no entrance fee for the park.
for more info, u may check out: http://www.visitpenang.gov.my/portal3/
George Town Festival in facebook for latest events
if u still have spare time for Malaysia, try out the state of Sabah which has the oldest rain forest and best scuba diving spot in Malaysia (check out, Sepilok/Tawau/Semporna/Pulau Sipadan)
Hope above helps
#30 KopiO has been a member since 1/3/2012. Posts: 12
Thanks again everyone for sharing your experiences!
As i have said before im taking notes where to go from your suggestions so we have several options when we are there. I've realized that trying to plan where to go is impossible at this time so we will decide everything when we are there.
At present im looking for cheap flight tickets from Bangkok to Bali. I'm not that sure whats cheap and whats expensive to be honest. When searching for flights at air asia its about 126 euro at the moment ( 20 september). One of my friends said he never paid more than 50 éuro for similare destinations when he were in southeast asia two years ago. What should i expect? Should i wait longer before booking the ticets for better prices?
Im also having trouble finding the most up to date information about Thailand visa. Since we probably are going to enter the country more than once im looking at touristvisa with several entries. This because, what i could gather, you get 30 days when arriving at first, then 30 more days if arriving with a plane and thats it within a half year. Have i got it right?
#31 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
i think 126 EUR for BKK to Bali is a very good price. I am not used to travelling by plane in SE Asia but am very used to travelling by plane full stop. Considering the distance, go for it! You can expect to pay at least 50 USD (if not 100) for an internal flight or just if you are very lucky and get a special deal, like those people who manage to find that 1 GBP flight with Ryannair (this has never happened to me), you know what i mean?
i think that if you enter a second time into Thailand by air, you just need to get another 30 day visa so you dont need to ask for a multiple entry visa on your first arrival.
but if someone more knowledgeable about visas in Thailand could answer Eruve that would help.
PS: you are right about your itinerary, just decide which option you take once you are in the country, you might meet nice people going some place rather than the other and decide to follow them, that's the whole point about travelling.
#32 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
Thanks again Sophief!
I searched the internet a bit more about prices between Bangkok and Bali and your are definetly right, 126 euro is a good price. Im a bit mad at myself though because i know i saw some tickets for 90 euro a month ago the date we wanted to go.
I did find something else while i was searching. Gili Meno, could that be a good snorkelling and beginners option? Or is Gili Air a better option? To be honest i havent really got the difference between them. Im still thinking where we should go on arrival at Bali. Any first-hand experience or rumors you could share? [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]
#33 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
Airasia has flight ticket offer at the moment, from Bangkok to Bali
Oct 2012 about EUR100 one way; Nov 2012 about EUR60 one way.
#34 KopiO has been a member since 1/3/2012. Posts: 12
Thanks KopiO! Its just a tiny detali but we are looking for tickets for the 20 september. We should have booked this some time ago i realize now but there is not much to do. I do though appreciate what you did
#35 Eruve has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 16
Hi again Eruve,
We have been to Gili Air only and were very happy, nice relaxed atmosphere. the sea was very clear and perfect for snorkling however, the corals were all dead (well that was a few years ago, maybe it's better now). if you go there, choose a bungalow on the east side of the island as the west side is not sheltered by trees and mornings are very hot after sunrise.
Go inland to Ubud when you arrive in Bali or if you prefer to start with a beach, then choose a more secluded beach than Kuta (further north). From there you can decide where else you want to go in Bali.
#36 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
I'm traveling to Indonesia from BKK with stops in Koh Tao,Koh Phangnan, and Georgetown. In Indonesia we have about a week and were hoping to visit Bukit Lawang and Bali/Ubud before going onward to The Phillipines for another week however I've had difficulty finding what my options are for travel between areas. From BKK-Georgetown I have covered, but it's the Indonesia and Phillipines sector that I'm struggling. My itinerary is flexible as we were first time travelers to these regions and would appreciate any criticisms or advice!
#37 naiduss has been a member since 21/10/2012. Posts: 4
travelling in Sumatra is not as easy as thailand or Malaysia. if you want to spend just one week in Indo and cover BL and Bali, you'll have to fly from Medan (closes to Bukit Lawang) to Bali, I guess with Garuda. Overland through Sumatra is long and tiring and then you still have to travel through the whole of Java. There are a few pelni ships but considering they sail only once a week and you have just one week, that is really not an ideal option and will still take you about 2 full days to cover the distance.
You could also fly from Medan to somewhere in Java, Jakarta or further east, and overland from there to Bali, that way you could see Mount Bromo on the way which is very close to Bali and very impressive.
#38 Sophief has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 7
One week is a tough amount of time for those two things. It's doable, but you might want to do things like charter cars to cut the amount of time waiting for the bus to match your arrival, getting to the bus station, travelling on the bus. All that good stuff. You can fly from medan to jakarta with Air Asia from memory and there are plenty of options from Jakarta to Bali. I wouldn't worry too much about this part of the journey. Just hop online and check air asia and also http://www.tiket2.com/
From Bali to Philippines is another tricky one and your best option again might be air asia transiting through KL. I'm not familiar with that route, but I guess philppines air or cebu might do it.
It is a tight schedule for Indonesia. If you arrive in the afternoon in Medan, it may not be enough time to get out to Bukit Lawang unless you've got a car and driver lined up. So that would be one night in Medan. The next day you travel to BL and spend the night. The next day you trek and see orangutan and spend another night. The next day you go to the airport and hope to get a flight that leaves from midday onwards. If the flights line up, you'll be in Ubud that night, but it's a long trip. Then you'd have 3 or 4 nights in Ubud. It's pretty rushed and probably not ideal, but it's doable.
Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'll write back after i do some more research!
#40 naiduss has been a member since 21/10/2012. Posts: 4
I realize this is an old thread, but it has a lot of good information. I have a couple questions:
I am planning on traveling through Indonesia for around 7-8 weeks. I will be coming from Malaysia, and I can fly into Medan or Banda aceh. I want to see as much of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Gilis as I can. Is this a reasonable amount of time?
I read that it is best to fly into Bali and work west since Bali has a lot of tourism, and then it gets more and more off the beaten track further west. Would it be just as fine starting in Sumatra like I mentioned, knowing that it won;t be as easy (tourism wise) ?
#41 stever1000 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 28
Is the diving worth the extra time and effort off the coast of Banda aceh? Or will I be just as happy around Lombok/Bali/Gilis? It sounds awesome but it also sounds like it takes a bit of time to get there (scheduling wise)
#43 stever1000 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 28
I'm not a diving expert, but the diving off Labuanbajo in Flores is sensational and worth a visit outright on 7 week trip. One of the highlights of Indonesia for me so far. There a couple of Islands worth visiting - both are rustic little joints and have been comparatively blogged about here on Travelfish. Namely, Kanawa and Seraya Kecil. Just google Kanawa vs Seraya.
If you skip Aceh, Sumatra becomes about a 2 week trip really unless you really want to step away from the tourist areas. And in 7 weeks, you don't want to do more than 2 weeks in Sumatra anyway as Java can take up a lot of time as can Bali.
I really like your suggestion. If Sumatra may take around 2 weeks, how long should I budget for Java (incl travel) to see it?
Thanks for your help, I appreciate all your comments!
#45 stever1000 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 28
I really like Java, but many people don't give it a good go. Instead, I see many people catching trains from Jakarta straight to Yogyakarta which means many people don't see any of West or Central Java. For me, Java is worth 2 weeks in a 7-8 week journey. A good 2 week route is Bogor, Bandung, Pangandaran, Yogya, Dieng, Bromo, Ijen. With 2 weeks, you'd have to skip Jakarta as there wouldn't be enough to see the rest.