Indonesian travel stories

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  • Pasola, Sumba

    Pasola, Sumba

    The raw, wild Indonesian island of Sumba, in East Nusa Tenggara, is home to one of the world's last remaining megalithic cultures. The "pasola", an integral part of the local culture and religion, and a kind of war game, sees thousands of traditionally dressed people convene to witness horseback battles between two teams of men across February and March each year, ahead of the rice harvest.

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  • Climbing Rinjani

    Climbing Rinjani

    Trekking to the summit of Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia's second tallest volcano, is no small feat. But those who are in shape and looking for a change of pace from relaxing on the country's idyllic beaches will be treated to some truly fabulous views, other-worldly landscapes, and sore muscles for days afterward.

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  • Weekend in Nusa Penida

    Weekend in Nusa Penida

    That flash of white cliff you see from Bali's Sanur hulking in the far distance shouldn't be ignored if you have a sense of adventure and want to get away from the busy south part of the island. Nusa Penida, which centuries ago served as a gaol for the less desirable characters of the Gelgel dynasty, is easily reachable by boat from Bali or neighbouring Nusa Lembongan. Its mostly natural attractions can be seen over two days; here are some of the rugged limestone island's highlights.

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  • The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?

    The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?

    Gili means "little island" and while there are "gilis" all around the circumference of Lombok, when people talk of "the Gilis", they're not trying to showoff their linguistic prowess, but rather they're referring to three little islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

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  • Medewi: A great Bali getaway

    Medewi: A great Bali getaway

    I've always been a bit of a big wrap on Medewi in west Bali. It's one of those places that tends to get short shrift in guidebooks as a "surfer hangout" but when I spent some time there last year while motorbiking around Bali, it struck a chord with me and I decided it was more than just a surfer hangout. And so, this weekend, I returned with my family in tow.

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  • Bunaken


    After a week in Torajaland trekking and watching buffalos go to their heavenly reward, I decided to fit in a few days of diving off Bunaken Island in North Sulawesi. I arrived in Manado too late for the public boat, but spotted some divers at the airport, and tagged along on their hotel's boat for 15 euros. (Many prices on the island are in euros, though you can pay in rupiah.)

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  • Travel writing scholarship 2012

    Travel writing scholarship 2012

    If you've dreamed of becoming a paid travel writer, here's your chance! World Nomads, in conjunction with Rough Guides, and hsa*ba, are hunting for one wannabe travel writer with serious potential. The lucky winner will be given the chance of a lifetime, travelling to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to be mentored by three writers as they chronicle their experiences.

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  • Village trekking in Tana Toraja

    Village trekking in Tana Toraja

    After a few days in Rantepao, in the South Sulawesi uplands of Tana Toraja, we asked a trekking guide to come by the guesthouse to discuss an overnight trip. Under five feet, barrel-chested, chain-smoking, and pushing 50, our prospective guide extended his hand and said in a deep baritone, "My name is Yatim." Fatherless. He wrote out a string of villages he wanted to take us to, and told us to bring water, rain gear, good shoes, a flashlight.

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  • Ubud shopping guide

    Ubud shopping guide

    Ubud can seem a little intimidating when you're expecting a small village nestled into the hills, but instead find a traffic-snarled sprawl packed with endless homestays, hotels, restaurants, spas and shops selling the same mass-produced rubbish. You'll have to look elsewhere to find a good place to stay in Ubud, but if you'd like to do a spot of shopping, eating and relaxing on foot, one of the easiest (and main) routes to follow is the Monkey Forest Road - Raya Ubud - Jalan Hanoman - Jalan Dewisita loop.

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  • How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning

    How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning

    Travelling off the beaten path in Indonesia, there will, almost inevitably, come a time when you need to charter a boat. Want to spend the night on a white sand desert island, like Dodola, off Morotai in Maluku? You'll need a boat to drop you there and pick you up. Looking to visit a pearl divers village, snorkel with manta rays or whale-watch? You will, most likely, need to haggle with a boatman.

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  • A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi

    A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi

    Anywhere else, you probably wouldn't spend a full day of your vacation at the funeral of a 100-year-old woman you'd never met. But in the highlands of South Sulawesi, the weddings and funerals of the Torajan people are as much of a draw as the ancient wooden houses, improbable rice terraces, and white water rafting.

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  • Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft

    Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft

    Su stands before me, hand far too close for my comfort to a four-inch St Andrew's Cross Spider. "Here in Bali, we don't have dangerous animals -- just dangerous traffic," she quips. And so we begin our four-hour birdwatching ramble through the padi enveloping Bali's cultural heart of Ubud.

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  • Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods

    Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods

    "Make sure you have good brakes. Like life, it's mostly downhill." So said John (Jack) Daniels of Bali Discovery when I tweeted to say I'd be off to mountain bike from Kintamani to Ubud in Bali. And it's true, save a single near vertical 100 metres or so, the ride was almost all downhill — and you know what, that was good.

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  • Yogya's student scene

    Yogya's student scene

    Yogyakarta is home to the highest concentration of universities and higher education colleges in Indonesia and is renowned across the country as a scholastic hub. While most travellers aren't keen to hit up a Biology 101 class on their holiday, the huge concentration of students has created a hip scene that is worth checking out, especially for those travellers who may still be students themselves — at least at heart.

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  • Learn to surf in Bali

    Learn to surf in Bali

    It's been a full 24 hours since I finished my three-day "Learn to Surf" course and I've got most of the sand out of my ears, the abrasions on my knees are healing and I can just about move without wincing. Better still I can ride a wave all the way into the beach without completely embarrassing myself and best of all, I'm a good deal closer than ever before to being able to surf.

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