Ok, so I just migrated from the Vietnam forum because after much consideration I decided that I really wanted to spend more time in a beach and snorkelling/diving this year. So here is what me and my boyfriend want: peace and quiet, good beaches but not for surf, nature, culture, bicycle trips, cheap spa treatments, relax!
I have to tell you that I work in a hotel chain so I have special rates in these places: Jakarta, Yogyakarta , Surabaya, Bukit peninsula, Seminyak and Senggigi in Lombok.
After having read a lot of information we decided to forget Jakarta (lots of traffic, pollution, noise and not much to see apparently) and Seminyak (too trendy, too much surf and too close from Kuta for us). Is this correct?
We decided to keep Yogyakarta for the Borobudur temple that I really want to visit but I've been told that the city is a little bit crowded since it is the most visited city in Java. What do you recommend here? We were thinking about two nights.
Then since we both love train trips we decided to hop on a morning train to Surabaya to see a little bit of the Java scenery and do some shopping in Surabaya, apparently is the only think interesting to do there (we intend to pack very little things and shop in KL and Surabaya, is this a good idea?). We are just no sure if we spend one more night to go to the Mount Bromo and is one day enough to do that?
Then we take a plane to Denpasar and we have a hole for one night before our reservation in the Bukit peninsula so we don't know if we stay longer in Java or if we go to Sidemen or Munduk. We would like to start our stay in Bali somewhere secluded before passing through the Kuta-Seminyak-Sanur triangle to go to the south beaches. Do you have any recommendation?
Then we have 5 nights in the Bukit peninsula where we intend to relax, go on a day trip to Lembongan and visit the Bukit beaches for some relaxation time.
After that we take the boat to the Gilis and here lies one of my biggest doubts. I know that I don't want Gili T. I don't care about the partying and noise and I can not decide between Air and Meno. I am looking into booking Manta Dive Gili Air because I would like to do a recycling for my diving certification but I find the mellowness (does this word exist?) of Gili Meno quite appealing so we are thinking of booking 5 nights in Gili Air for the course and we have 3 nights in Senggigi and if we want to stay longer in the Gilis just cancel the Senggigi reservation, What do you think?
I would also like to spend some time in Lombok to manly see two things: go to Mawun beach and Tetebatu (we will not be doing the Rinjani though).
So this is more or less the plan:
13 may - 1 night in Kuala Lumpur because impossible to go the same day to Yogy
14-16 may - 2 nights in Yogy
16 may - 1 night in Surabaya
17 - 19 may - 2 nights in central or East Bali or West or...
19 - 25 may - Bukit Peninsula
25 - 30 may - Gili Air/ Meno
30 may - 1 june - Senggigi
1 - 2 june - near the airport in Bali
2 june - Kuala Lumpur
3 june - outbound flight
What do you think? I know that I will get criticized about the time spent in places so maybe I could scrap Yogy and Surabaya? The only thing is that I can not touch the hotel reservation in Bukit due to their availabily that's way I have to go to the Gilis and then come back and take the flight back to KL.
Would you recommend to fly to and from Lombok and take the boat? even if more expensive I am more inclined to take the fast boat since the plane now arrives near Praya in the south of Lombok but it would also be a possibility to rent a car and drive to Senggigi.
Also I will be renting a jeep in Bali so I don't know if I just stay put in Bukit and visit what I can from there (the maximum amount of days that I can have in Bukit is 8 between the 18th and the 26th may) is this feasible once we get away from the traffic near the airport and Kuta?
Thank you all very much for reading and I'll be waiting for your answers. :)
Having done all 3 Gillis recently I would go with the idea of doing both Air and Meno. I kinda like Senggigi, but prefer Meno.
You mention Mawun but I don't see any time for it in your itinerary - that whole southern Lombok area around Kuta Lombok is sweet and I'd rate it the equal of spending time on Meno. Only trouble is you are going to spend much of a day getting from the Gilis down there. At least you are fairly close to the airport for return.
I've travelled Lombok roads a few times - would not hire a car. From the new airport to Bangsal for the Gilis means going thru Mataram - hell my Lombok based driver had to stop and ask the way. Plus I wouldn't leave anything unattended near the "port" at Bangsal - Indo hire car set ups don't have drop off places all around the joint.
I'd go with a car and driver. Google Mimpimanis Homestay - Made does pick-ups from the new airport, is a safe driver with good English and a nice guy.
I don't know what would be the best deal re flying v fast boat to the Gilis. It's a hell of a long way from the Bukit to Padangbai time wise (heavy heavy traffic) so if you can't get a fast boat from near Kuta or Sanur, flying may be the go. A fast boat trip over the longer distance if the seas are up could be real uncomfortable too.
Note I saw a post on another forum saying the fast boats soon will deliver Gili passengers to Bangsal under govt decree - dunno when this starts. Mimpimanis would know.
Sideman is a grea location but too far on those traffic clogged roads to spend one day and a night. You have picked the best near-airport location ie the Buket. Ubud is too far too imho. Why not have a look at Sanur?
Thank you very much for all the detailed info about your experience, tezza, very useful. You confirmed what I have been reading about driving in Lombok so I will take the advice and just hire a car with driver during one day just to come or go from the airport (I think I will be going to the Gilis with fastboat and using a Lion Air flight to Bali from the new airport since my last night will be in Senggigi).
From what you wrote, it is rather difficult to go from one place to another in Bali. Is the traffic really that horrible in Bali. For instance how long would it take from Nusa Dua to Ubud with heavy traffic?
Thank you for that contact for Lombok as well and I'll look into Sanur . I've been told that Sanur was a little bit like Kuta (so that's why I didn't even consider it), is that really so?
If you plan on staying in Lombok for a few days, having a car is a great way to get around the island. I did this for a week and half and we had no problem finding our way around. We hired in Sengiggi and did a loop around Lombok then dropped it off back in Sengiggi. From there, we just hopped a bus up to Bangsal for the boat out to the Gili's.
Likewise, a hire car is also a good away to get around Bali, but the driving a bit hairier there!
Sanur is quieter than Kuta, but still fairly touristy.
Thanks busylizzy! Now I'm a little bit confused. My boyfriend doesn't like to have someone with us all the time, he prefers to drive himself and he tells me that in Thailand we drove in very difficult roads (and being from a country where we drive on the other side of the road doesn't make things easier) and we were able to do it. But I think the roads in Thailand were ok for the most part. I think we'll get there and see what we feel confortable with.
Anyone knows anything about shopping in Surabaya, we were planning on buying some of the things for our trip in Kuala Lumpur so I don't know if it's worth it to stop by Surabaya (even if I'd really like to go there just for the train trip).
Thanks a lot.
Have just spent 3 weeks in East Java. I liked Surabaya a lot although I have others that haven't liked it. You can at least spend a day doing the free city tour courtesy of the Sampoerna factory. It's a great attraction. The zoo is worth a quick look also. Then there is the temples of Trowulan which are a little bit out of town but pretty cool also.
There a plenty of malls in Surabaya including a new one called the Grand City. It's massive and contains plenty of modern shops. Computer stuff is cheap at the Hi-Tech Mall.
As for accom in Surabaya, there is a full range of accom at decent prices. Cheapest I found was 60,000 per night and the best place was without a doubt the Hotel Majapahit. Awesome!
If you're in East Java, you MUST MUST MUST go to Bromo and Ijen. They are highlights of Indonesia, without a doubt. They're quite easy to get to by public transport or a mixture of public and private and they are stunning. Also if you don't have a lot of time, you can simply do a tour which I think 90% of people do. And it's a crappy tour like you might think. The tours simplify transport so you're not on a variety of buses cruising around the countryside like I did.
Anyway, East Java is a great place. Just don't miss Bromo and Ijen.