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4 weeks in Asia - where to go in Indonesia and the Philippines

Posted by nikneja on 22/8/2013 at 20:26


My boyfriend and I are planning a trip around the world and as part of it we are planning on spending 4 weeks in Asia. We are hoping to go to the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia. Has anyone got any tips or ideas on where to go? We will be there November/December time. We love the outdoors, trekking, nature, the sea, diving and snorkelling.

Any advice would be really helpful.


#1 nikneja has been a member since 22/8/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by caseyprich on 23/8/2013 at 01:51

Lombok & Gili's are a highlight for snorkelling and nice volcano to climb. Also, Yogyakarta is a great for cultural attractions with some possible day trips for trekking as well.

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Posted by alisonmilliken on 23/8/2013 at 02:11

If you like diving and snorkelling, head to Manado, in northern Sulawesi. Go to Bunaken Island. Around Manado there are also interesting volcanoes to climb, lakes to trek, tarsiers. We really enjoyed it

#3 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by chinarocks on 23/8/2013 at 10:48

Four weeks ain't much for all this, given that they are all large land masses and many islands scattered about.

I have no advice on the places as I have never been but I'm guessing you'd want to factor in a lot of travel time for moving around.

Alternatively, four weeks would be perfect for just Vietnam (I know you didn't ask this).

Best of luck.

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Posted by nikneja on 23/8/2013 at 13:41

Thanks for all of the advice, will check out all the places you have mentioned.

I have already been to Vietnam so wanted to go somewhere different.

So hard trying to decide what to do when there are so many incredible places to go to!

Anyone been to Raja Ampat?

Thanks : )

#5 nikneja has been a member since 22/8/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by SBE on 23/8/2013 at 19:25

I have. I was there a couple of years ago, but didn't stay in any of the posh resorts or do any diving because I'm not seriously rich enough! I stayed in very basic guesthouses (guest huts would be a better description because they didn't have proper doors or luxuries like fans and some didn't even have beds). Food wasn't at all good and I got severe food poisoning at one place. There were rats running about the room at night too if that's an issue for you and most of the places have outside mandis which are sometimes quite a distance away. No electricity at night of course, so don't forget to bring a torch. As a backpacker on a budget I found it impossible to island hop as much as I'd have liked because of the extortionate prices for boats. Compared to other parts of Indonesia I found it ridiculously overpriced and to be quite honest I thought the locals there were far too greedy. I don't mind very basic accommodation and minimal comfort levels and I'm more than happy that my money goes to improving the lives of locals rather than western resort owners but I won't be going back unless I hear that the attitudes of the homestay owners has changed. The sea there is thick with fish but all too often it was, Sorry no fish today! Sometimes it was, sorry no vegetables or bananas today either. They seemed to think westerners would pay whatever they asked, without providing anything in return. They seemed to think it was OK to charge $50 a night for full board when their only financial outlay was a packet of instant noodles. At the first place I stayed on Mansuar I heard that the owner of my resort had been charging his guests $20 a day to go snorkeling (with their own equipment) in front of his place the previous season. He doesn't own the sea and the guests were already paying him to be there. On Gam Island you get charged 150,000Rp to walk a few hundred meters along a path to try and catch a glimpse of a red bird of paradise. If you don't catch a glimpse and want to try again in the afternoon that'll be another 150,000Rp please. And they expect you to hire a "guide" to walk along the path with you as well...another 100,000Rp for his time. The general attitude I saw everywhere was that tourists would fork out ridiculous amounts of money for things that didn't cost them anything and they didn't seem to grasp that tourists paying $50/night actually expect something in return ... like semi decent food and maybe a chair to sit on. I love snorkeling and Raja Ampat had been top of my list of places to see before I died but I voted with my feet and only stayed a couple of weeks there rather than the month I'd originally intended.

This site has more info about places to stay and some useful general info about Raja Ampat if my little rant didn't put you off too much. I notice there are now way more homestays than when I was there. Maybe the extra competition has forced the local owners to lower the ludicrous prices and/or improve their services.

If money is no object then the best way to see and dive Raja Ampat is probably on a liveaboard though there are some upmarket resorts too. If Raja Ampat sounds way over your budget then the Banda islands have excellent snorkeling and diving too and are much cheaper alternative though they are a little more complicated and time consuming to get to (and leave).

Is there any particular reason why you want to visit Indonesia AND the Philippines AND Borneo? Sounds rather like you pulled the names out of a hat and don't really know much about them. One month really isn't much time to see Indonesia, never mind the Philippines and Borneo as well.

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,054
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Posted by nikneja on 23/8/2013 at 19:44

Thanks for the detailed reply. We will be backpacking not staying in any upmarket places and defo can't afford a liveaboard!
I will investigate the Banda islands.
I have already travelled to Vietnam, Loas, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia so we wanted to go somewhere new and my boyfriend has always wanted to go to Indonesia and the Philippines and I have always wanted to go to Borneo. We haven't chosen at random! You are right in that we don't know much about them which is why we are looking for any advice.. Sounds like you might have some better ideas of what we could realistically fit into 4 weeks?! Any ideas would be great - thanks

#7 nikneja has been a member since 22/8/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by goonistik on 24/8/2013 at 01:37

It depends what you want to see in when you dive. Palawan has some wreck diving, if that is what you want.

I'm hearing good things about Padre Burgos in Leyte.

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Posted by goonistik on 24/8/2013 at 01:37

It depends what you want to see in when you dive. Palawan has some wreck diving, if that is what you want.

I'm hearing good things about Padre Burgos in Leyte.

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Posted by SBE on 24/8/2013 at 17:12

I think it'll be rainy season in all the places on your wish list but some places will be wetter than others. Maybe use the weather to make a short list? I've heard Padre Bagos is good too but I think November-January is the wettest time of year there. Maybe here are other places in the Philippines that will be a bit drier. I don't know the Philippines very well but Coron (has wreck diving) had lovely weather when I was there in early February a few years ago, no rain at all ... I don't know what it's like in November/December. Have never been to Borneo at all but I think Sabah is a bit drier than Sarawak.

According to LP the Bandas have a different climate from the rest of Indonesia but I've never seen any evidence this is true and non of the locals think December-January is dry season either. I think it might be because the nearest weather station is in Ambon which is quite a long way away and I've noticed that the weather in Ambon is often quite different from the weather in Bandaneira. The Bandas might still be OK in November (rainy season usually doesn't really get going till late November/early December in Indo) but it's still a time consuming destination to get to so I'm not sure it's really really suitable if you want to see loads of different places in a month. The main Pelni ferry goes there once a fortnight from Ambon and there's a slower ferry once a month. I heard the other day that Merpati has started flights again but you shouldn't rely on them too much. Only very small planes (20 seats, 10kg baggage allowance) can land on Banda so they're usually fully booked and flights very frequently get cancelled because of weather or technical problems. If you have to get off Bandaneira by a certain date make sure there's a ferry leaving too.

Bali, the Gilis or Bunaken are much easier to get to and they all have some diving or snorkeling. Maybe Komodo would be OK in November too. It's not so much the rain as rough seas that are a problem in wet season. Dive boats can't go out and smaller local ferries get cancelled when the waves are too big. And boats sometimes sink too.

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Posted by afron on 24/8/2013 at 22:12

Hi nikneja,

Check out the islands of Alor and Pantar:

The diving there is world-class. Island-hoping from Flores to West Timor via Adonara, Lembata, Pantar and Alor is travelling at its best!

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Posted by captainbkk on 25/8/2013 at 06:41

as seems usual with these Qs-the more info there comes in the end, the better suited the replies.All places are certainly worth a trip. But 3 in 4weeks simply cannot be done. Also be aware that connections between these are very, very sparse to non-existent and not in any RTW-flightplan. Just first look how airasia flies and decide on that. Based on your allowed stop in that RTW-likely either BKK or SIN.
Indo in itself offers more as 4weeks can cover, and it also has the largest, but mostly uninteresting part of Borneo, they call it Kalimantan. If its merely just diving-then for me its the same like beaches-they look all the same, its just sand between your toes, so why even bother to make ardent difficult trips to go from place 1 to 2? Plus that locals hardly dive-you'll mainly meet western dive-afficionado's.

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Posted by jackwilliam86 on 17/12/2013 at 09:47

islands of Alor and Pantar,

#13 jackwilliam86 has been a member since 5/12/2013. Posts: 14

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