Hello all. I am new to posting on this site, but have been actively reading for several months now. My boyfriend and I are leaving for our 3-4 month Southeast Asia trip in late August and I just have some questions concerning Flores, Indonesia.
We intend to spend a whole month in Indonesia and are flying into Denpasar, Bali, as that is the cheapest flight from Australia. From there we would (hopefully) fly into Ende (or Maumere if flights not available to Ende, but Ende preferable) and out of Labuan Bajo. Our budget is $70 AUD for the two of us, including accommodation, food, transport, etc.
My questions are as follows:
1. How safe is Lion Air? From looking at their site, they seem to have the flights we would want, at good prices, but I just have some concerns about the dangerous incidents that have occurred on the airline. I realise that this may have some media bias, but am interested in whether or not Lion Air is still considered a safe/reliable airline?
2. How long is ideal to spend in Flores? We will be travelling in Bali first before flying over, and so depending on how much time we spend in Bali, we would spend 15-20 days in Flores. The route would be Ende-Moni (Kelimutu)-Ende (backtracking)-Bajawa-Ruteng-Labuan Bajo-Kanawa Island-Rinca-Labuan Bajo.
3. How bad are the public buses? This will influence the answer to the previous question, I guess. We would be travelling by public transport across the island (as we cannot afford the $50 AUD a day travel budget for a private driver), but I have heard that the public transport is very gruelling. I am anticipating 6-8 hour bus rides (i.e. a full travel day from one location to the other), but am wondering if this is indeed bearable for the whole trip? Are there slightly more expensive but more comfortable/fast options?
4. Is the $70 AUD budget a day for two doable? This would be including transport costs for half-day trips out of the locations listed (e.g. traditional villages around Bajawa, spiderweb rice fields, etc). How much could we expect to pay for private transport to and from a location (approx 3 hour trip all up, I would imagine). We are not looking for overly fancy accomodation, backpacker to low-end flashpacker is fine. Cheap local food is fine.
5. How well will be able to cope with limited knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia? I am currently taking a short 10 week course and therefore will have some knowledge of very basic Indonesian. Will we be able to manage with this and a bit of creative thinking?
Thank you for reading and sorry for how long the post is
cannot answer all, just a selection
1.LION is VERY bad-last crash was just before approach to DPS a few month ago-clumsy pilot. It is banned by the EU-does not OZ have such a ''banned''list for airlines? Your travel-insurance might also be invalid on them. But there are scores of other local airlines in Indo that do not even have webbookings-you just pay like a bus at the airport-another frightening scheme for unknowing youngies.
4.budget: ever been outside of OZ? You really think you can live without western cravings? Flores is well off the tourist-trail, and cheap accomm is very dire. ANYthing there, like in Indo, is negotiable without ''fixed'' price and youngies like you, without any idea of what things really cost, are prone to sentimental overcharging-''these people are so nice and so poor!''
5.one will always manage, and there is the newtime rescue of that thing called ''HP''= handphone.
3.varies-but you forget the main thing; ROADS-which are often no more as dirttracks. Makes no use at all to ride a shiny fancy new Chinese AC-bus on that, nah? Off the main links its mainly truckswith some benches at the back.
#2 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
First off, you may be interested in the free PDF guide we've just released for exactly where you are going. You can see it/download it here.
Onto your questions:
1) We flew LionAir (well actually their subsidiary Wings Air for Bali to Labuan Bajo return and have just booked a bunch of segments with them for an upcoming family trip through Sulawesi in July/August. As captainbkk points out they do not have a fabulous safety record -- but then no Indonesian airline does and Garuda + AirAsia do not offer flights for everywhere. When I fly domestically in Indonesia my order of preference is Garuda, AirAsia, LionAir and then the boat.
2) Your route is pretty much what we did and 15 days would be ideal -- 20 perfect. We went to Komodo rather than Rinca and loved it. Kanawa Island runs good trips -- you can read more about that here.
3) We had a car with driver as we had the kids with us and that cost 625,000 rupiah per day. I didn't catch the buses, but another Travelfish writer who was there did and she said they were not tooooooo bad. There are also minibuses and you can take a share taxi (where you just buy a seat) and these options are more comfortable without costing the earth.
4) Assuming you're taking the bus rather than private car, $70 per day is plenty. Accommodation is basic -- most we paid was about 350,000 rupiah for a family room, but you'll find adequate stuff in most towns for 150-200,000 rupiah mark. Day trips: Motorbike taxi to the hobbit cave (from Ruteng and absolutely worth doing) was 100,000 return for example. Food is cheap, but not all that noteworthy. One place that may blow your budget a little is Kanawa as their food is a bit pricier and the cost of the tours add up, but I'd say worth it.
5) You'll have no problems language wise dealing with hotels and what not. That's great that you're doing a course and I'm sure the locals will appreciate the effort!
Re Capt's note on the roads -- the main Trans Flores "Highway" save one rough patch is of a very good sealed standard. I was surprised just how good the road was. Secondary roads are sometimes rough, but others, eg Bena to Bajawa and the back way is excellent.
More questions ask away - we absolutely loved our time there and can't wait to get back there.
Depending on when you are going, reservations at Kanawa are close to essential
Thanks somtam, your answers have been very helpful.
We will be there from 7th September until 27th September approx, so I am unsure if that is peak time in Flores or not (i.e. if we need to book accommodation for Kanawa or not).
A couple more questions:
1. Would you recommend anti-malarials for Flores? I personally am very prone to mosquito bites and was wondering if therefore this would be a good precaution. I have previously taken Malarone in the past with no side effects worse than very vivid dreams.
2. I understand that Flores as a whole is quite conservative and therefore I will dress accordingly, but how does that apply to beach areas (e.g. Kanawa island)?
3. We will be taking unlocked mobile phones and buying sim cards from each country as we go. Which Indonesian mobile provider has the best coverage on Flores (and Bali).