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A little help please! Planing a month long trip from java to bali and possibly flores.

Posted by clayeee on 22/5/2014 at 01:14

Hi all!

I'm from Singapore and is in the midst of planning a month long trip in indo. I absolutely love bali and have been going there for years. This is my first time going on a long trip alone, so i'm quite frighten but super excited at the same time.

I just quit my job and have a month long break in between before my next job. So i figured it'll be a damn good opportunity to spend it exploring indo. Been following this forum for weeks and the more i read, the more confused i get.

I'm planning to do the Java to Bali overland trip and finally ending my trip in Bali. Along the way in java, the must sees for me are Borobudur, Dieng Plateau, Bromo and Kawah Ijen. When researching for these bits. Getting to a city is easy, like by bus or train. But for all my must sees, do i book a tour with my guest house or can i just rent a motorbike and go by my own?

For example, do i check into a guesthouse near Bromo and book a tour at the front desk. Or do i book a tour with accommodation included? I love exploring with a scooter at my own pace and plan to do this around yogja city. But what are some of the sights that i should probably be better off with a guide? I have an Indo sim card from my bali trips to access google maps when i lost on the bike. Is yogya or anywhere in java google maps ready?

Also, i'm a huge foodie and i love the ocean. Any good markets or local foods that i shouldn't miss? And lastly, i'm considering flying in to Flores from Bali to check out the island for a few days before spending a long surf stay and relax in Bali (hopefully 10 days or more). Is it a good idea or should i just save it for the next trip?

Thank u all in advance! Really appreciate the help!


#1 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by captainbkk on 22/5/2014 at 06:13

So you are Singy and Chinese? That may make a lot of difference in food and assumed'' not to miss'' things.
1.go into a bookshop and buy a guidebook, like that of LP. SIN is very well stocked for those. It about answers all your nagging Questions. it also gives suggested routings for 3/7/15 days etc.
2.what to do all depends on how you like to travel and you level of comfort or nervousness. In general Chinese young ladies tend to be overcautious and see this world full of dangers. The more nervous you let yourself show, the more advantage the Indo's will take of you (not much else as mainland Chinese, BTW). That guidebook will have details fo where to find guesthouses (though the price will have gone up) and about feasible ways of public transport and what to pay (will also be more now).as for Flores: thats quite far from bali and needs flites-just leave it till youre again on Bali and how much time/money youve left by then. You'll have to fly back into bali anyway from there to gain SIN -AirAsia or TR. And maybe local Indo is so offputting primitip for you, that you rather spend the time on trusted Bali......
PS- SIN is full of Indo's-make some friends and have them tell about their country -they will have many more warnings as I can even think of.

#2 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

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Posted by clayeee on 26/5/2014 at 02:37

Thanks alot @captainbkk ! I travelled quite a fair bit on tight budgets when i was younger around Europe. And every now and then for short week trips around S.E.A and China. Just never done it alone and for a month before.

Will defiantly get the LP book as a base guide.

My main concern is still to get a guide or not at certain destinations. As much as i love the freedom of taking the trek on my own, i'm just a little concern about getting lost up in the mountains as the hike normally recommends starting at wee hours in the morning. And also the cost of getting a guide might be too much for a single traveller to bare.

But i guess i'll just have to get there and assess the situation first before making any decisions!


#3 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by mooball on 26/5/2014 at 05:37 TF writer

Well, guides are recommended for many of the large volcanoes unless you're an experienced volcano climber. Bromo is a separate matter as it's really not that hard to climb - maybe 10 minutes.

You won't need to book tours for the trip you're doing. To get to Dieng, I'd just ride a motorbike from Yogya and stay a couple of nights, for example. For Bromo, just make your own way to Cemoro Lawang by public transport, book into a place such as Yoshi's and then either arrange for a jeep to pick you up the next morning or walk to whichever vantage point you choose.

Java in particular is exceptionally well connected by buses. They go all over the place, so you really don't need to worry about getting from A to B. Worst case scenario is that you ask a guy with a motorbike if he'll take you somewhere for a fee. The going rate is between 100,000 and 150,000 rupiah per day.

#4 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by clayeee on 26/5/2014 at 22:28

That's absolutely helpful @mooball ! I don't fancy tours and if possible, i'll always steer clear of it.

U mention that i can rent a motorbike and ride to Dieng. Does google maps work well in Yogya? I have plans to explore the city and also to borobudur and nearby beaches (if any) on a scooter. But knowing indo, i'm aware that their street signs are not exactly the most trustworthy form of wayfinding. And also, i don't speak bahasa so it'll be quite tough to communicate with the locals.

A few months back, i was in bali with my partner and we got so damn lost up in the mountains. Was on the scooter at the bottom of mount kintamani, took the wrong way up thinking that once we get to the top of the mountain we will hit the main roads easily. When we finally found a local that spoke english, he told us we were hitting Lovina(5 hrs away from where we were staying in Canggu)! It was dark, wet and our mobiles can't get any signal. Pretty darn scary but like u said, they were friendly and willing to guide us back to kintamani for a small fee.

As much as i love getting lost and found. I'll be doing this trip alone and it'll be comforting to know that i have something to save myself in my pockets when i get lost in god knows where.

#5 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by mooball on 26/5/2014 at 22:57 TF writer

Yes, it works quite well. The problem is that some of the roads indicated on the maps are tiny tracks. Best to stick to main roads and minor short cuts. The bike ride to Dieng from Yogya is fantastic, especially if you get around the back of some of those massive volcanoes. It usually rains in and around Dieng, so make sure you have a rain poncho... I wouldn't worry about the language barrier too much. If you're afraid, learn some simple questions like, "how far to Dieng?" That sort of stuff is really easy to learn.

Since you love the ocean, maybe you should try and get to either Pangandaran or Batu Karas on West Java's south coast. They're both on the way to Yogya from Jakarta. Good seafood there as well. To get there, either spend a night or two in Bogor or Bandung or... catch a bus direct from Jakarta. Probably best to break it up a bit given that you have a bit of time.

#6 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by clayeee on 27/5/2014 at 03:41

Thanks for the tips on Pangandaran and Batu Karas! I have 2 indo colleagues and they often talk fondly about Bandung. Will research more about that place before pinning it down on my itinerary.

And also, for the google maps/motorbike tips. Feeling alot more secure now that i know i won't be entirely on my own without any form of lifesaving device (the iphone, lol)

Just a few more question. where is a good location to base myself in Yogja for the 1st few days? Is there any ferry from banyuwangi to gili islands?


#7 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by mooball on 27/5/2014 at 03:48 TF writer

I live in Bandung and it's one of those places that many people don't love. Mainly because the area around the train station is a nightmare and that's where most people stay. It's a great place to base yourself if you're interested in searching for good food, cheap clothes and perhaps heading out into some rural areas. Most people won't spend more than 2 or 3 nights in town.

For Yogya, just check out the guesthouses across from the train station. It's where all the cheap places are, it's central and there is plenty of stuff you'll need like motorbike rental, tickets for onward travel etc.

You can't get a ferry from Banyuwangi to Gilis. If you don't want to stay in Bali, you'll need to catch the ferry from Banyuwangi to Gilimanuk on Bali (just over the other side of the water), catch a bus to Denpasar and then a bus to Padang Bai for a boat to the Gilis. You might even need to catch a bus between different bus stations in Denpasar... bus situation there is a bit of a nightmare. Depart Banyuwangi at 7am and you'll be in Gilis by the evening should everything go to plan. If not, spend the night in Padang Bai and catch a boat the next morning.

#8 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by clayeee on 1/6/2014 at 22:15

Thanks once again @mooball ! just got myself the LP indo guide and a indo phrasebook.

too be honest, i'm still busy at work and i have yet to sit down and plan this whole thing out. my last day in the office is on the 9th and i'm leaving on the 11th. i only have rough idea of where to go and what to see. so i'll just let nature take it's course and see where it takes me!

and thanks for the tip on Batu Karas! that's gon be my first destination when i touch down in jarkata!

#9 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by clayeee on 4/6/2014 at 03:34

Hey guys! esp @mooball !

So i've sat down and planned a rough itinerary, please take a look and see what am i doing absolutely wrong!

11Jun - Arrive in Banduang afternoon. Take a bus straight to Pandagaran then an ojek to Batu Karas .
(Alternatively, i can stay the night and hop on Air Susi to Batu Karas for 45USD one way)

12, 13, 14Jun - Batu Karas

15jun - Travel by bus to Wonosobo and base myself there for 2 nights.

16jun - Dieng

17jun - Borobudur

17jun - Night Bus/train to Semarang then ferry to Kalimunjawa

18-20jun - Kalimunjawa

21jun - Night bus to Yogya from Semarang

22jun - 1 day in Yogya to explore the city

23jun - Bus/train to Malang then onwards to Ceremo Lawang for Bromo

24jun - Bromo

25jun - Bus to Bondowoso for Ijen

26jun - Ijen

27jun - Bali via Banyuwangi

For most of the travels between town to town, i've factor in a days worth of travel. Is it necessary/too much?

Is it better to go straight to Yogya > Mageleng (for borobudur) > Dieng for 3 days. Then onwards to Semarang for Kalimunjawa?
Or is my current plan easier? Sorry but i always get the impression that it's easier to get to Malang from Yogya.

For Ijen, do u recommend staying a night or can i just head straight to Banyuwangi and onwards to Bali once i'm done seeing the blue flames?

I have to arrive in Bali (morning) by the 27th june as i'll be meeting my partner who's flying in to join me. I don't mind getting into bali a day before she gets in so i can settle down first. Is there anything i can shift around to free me a day or 2?

And lastly, i have never dived and i would really like to get a open water dive license while in indo. Since i'll be in Kalimunjawa, i would like to get it done there. However, after much googling, i can only find one hotel that provides the course and it takes 4 days. Any other options u guys know about?

Thanks alot in advance!

#10 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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Posted by mooball on 4/6/2014 at 04:29 TF writer

Right. I have a few comments. It takes about 7 hours to get from Bandung to Pangandaran , so if you arrive in the afternoon you're going to have a tough time getting to Pangandaran at a reasonable time. I'd leave Bandung in the morning for sure.

Don't base yourself in Wonosobo. I know that's what Lonely Planet says, but whoever wrote that is wrong. Just wrong. The whole beauty of Dieng is that it's freezing cold, you stay in a freezing cold room and you get the family whose house you're staying in to bring you hot drinks and piping hot food... It's brilliant! And besides, it's a pain to go up and down the mountain from Wonosobo to Dieng if Dieng is the real reason you're in the area. Just stay in Dieng. It's cheap, close to what you want to see, you can rent a motorbike and it's a great experience. Just be careful on the buses between Pangandaran and Wonosobo - you'll be changing in Banjar - as I got pickpocketed for the first and only time on this route... Also, buses to and from Pangandaran are habitual overchargers. The prices listed on Travelfish were correct at the time of writing and have only changed marginally since then. You may be charged double or triple if you have no idea of correct prices.

The 17th looks like an impossibility. First of all, it'll take about 4 hours from Dieng to Borobodur. You'll want to spend at least an hour there even if you're rushing. Then you want to get to Semarang from there... which is possible... but will take a while. And then you have to see if there is a ferry running from Semarang which is not always the case. Ferries are more regular from Jepara ... but still not every day. So yeah, the 17th is probably going to fail. Plan to arrive in Semarang in the evening, head down to the port and find out the latest on the ferry... and if they say go to Jepara, go to Jepara first thing the next morning.

After Karimunjawa, you're heading back to Yogya which is very close to Borobodur. Don't separate these. After Dieng, head to Yogya and stay there for 3 nights, 2 days. 1 day for Borobodur and Prambanan and 1 day to explore the city.

If you want to explore Bromo from Cemoro Lawang, heading to Malang is probably not the place you want to do that from, although it is possible via the back way (I wrote about this for travelfish - google it). Basically, there are a few different ways to get to Bromo and almost all accommodation is in Cemoro Lawang. The VAST majority of people travel via Probolinggo up to Cemoro Lawang. You can also nick up the back way from Malang, but there is no public transport doing this route, although it is sometimes possible to get a share jeep. The best way from Malang is on the back of a motorbike (explained in detail in that post). From there you head into the caldera itself, past Bromo and then up the other side of the caldera to Cemoro Lawang. It's a fantastic way of getting there and in my opinion perfect for those that are a little adventurous. If you don;t want to do that, just grab a tour from Yogya and they'll get you to Cemoro Lawang the traditional way in about 10 hours.

Now for answers to your specific questions:

Do factor in a day of travel for most town to town travel.
Personally I'd go from to Dieng to Yogya, Yogya to Semarang/Karimunjawa and then from there to Malang or Probolinggo (depending on the way you choose to get up Bromo). Buses criss cross Java, so getting a bus between all of those places is no problem.
For Ijen, I recommend getting an ojek all the way from Bondowoso to Ijen and then onto Banyuwangi. It's going to cost you a bit (maybe 180,000 to 200,000 rupiah) of money, but it's the best way in my opinion if you're into totally independent travel. It is possible also to stay at Ijen base camp. They have some huts there which are perfect for people wanting to see blue fire. No need to stay in Bondowoso in that case -- just get public transport as far as you can go, switch to an ojek and you're there. Or catch an ojek from Bondowoso direct to base camp. You should have no problem finding transport to take you back down from Ijen to Banyuwangi.
If you need to shift your schedule at all, drop Karimunjawa. You won't have enough time to get Open Water anyway. Karimunjawa really is one of those places where you need to be a little flexible with timings as the ferries aren't so regular.

#11 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by clayeee on 5/6/2014 at 02:30

Thanks again @mooball !

Getting to Bromo from the back sounds lovely! Will defiantly try to do that!

Will be back with more questions!

Cheers and lots of love from Singapore!

#12 clayeee has been a member since 21/5/2014. Location: Singapore. Posts: 9
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