The Lonely Planet on Sulawesi is profoundly vague on timetables between Sulawesi's various regions and the amount of time needed to have a good experience. Given the necessity of booking flights to and from Java (which have a high degree of volatility in terms of cost and visa restrictions -- maybe some people have the luxury of being laid back about that) a good itinerary is vital if you want to see anything beyond the main tourist beat (Tana Toraja - Makassar). I'm planning something similar and would really love some advice here.
#3 skeeze has been a member since 3/8/2009. Posts: 1
It's hard to advise you jessieo as two weeks is way too short a time to do the whole of Sulawesi and I don't know what their main interests are. Nor do I know what their budget is. I could write a 3000 word essay outlining every single option I can think of but I'd rather not!
Basically if you are on a budget and can't afford to fly you'll have to restrict yourself to either the north or the south of the island. Two weeks is not really enough time to fit in the Togians either, unless that's practically the only place you go to. (Logistics and boat schedules).
Skeeze if you tell me exactly where you want to go I'll try and help with the timetables if I can.
Why do you need to book flights from Java BTW? Air Asia fly to Manado and Makassar from KL and are easily bookable online. If you do need to get flights from Java then you can probably do it once you get there. It's very common to buy tickets at the last minute on domestic flights.
I once arrived in Makassar from Ambon and, on a whim, got on another plane instead of spending the night in Makassar as I'd originally planned. A flight to Bali which had been scheduled to leave before my flight even arrived had been delayed, so I just paid for a ticket and hopped onto it. Bit rushed, but the airline staff helped me get my bags and ran with me to get me through the departure gate!
Skeeze if you could tell m what
ahhh the edit function is more complicated than I thought -- and anyway it's more fun planning my trip to Sulawesi ;-)
jessieo - looks like we'll have some overlap as I'm heading there mid August for two weeks. I's tossing up between two weeks for Makassar down to Pantai Bira etal or two weeks for Makassar and across to Kendari/Bau Bau. Am not planning on heading north on this trip.
There's very little online about these places that isn't "dive-focussed" and the LP is, well, not great -- so I'm not bothering with too detailed an itinerary and will more likely just make it up as I go (admitedly I've the luxury of little in the way of time constraints).
Where are you thinking of going?
SBE - how many days would you recommend in Makassar in order to give the city a good look over?
Hmm, I'm not that keen on cities so I only spent a few days there even though I wasn't at all rushed for time. For an Indonesian city it's relatively pleasant and clean and it does have a certain "atmosphere". Broad boulevards and relatively little traffic compared to places like Medan or even Manado.
The city is quite spread out, depends how detailed a look you need to have. I guess the main "tourist attractions" are Fort Rotterdam and the museum ..it wouldn't take more than a day to check them out but it's quite interesting just exploring some of the smaller side streets too. The port area turns into a red light district at night I believe and might be a bit dodgy after dark ... I didn't verify... but I found this Chinese temple when I was wandering about there in the daytime.
I was invited to take look inside so I did. It's got some quite interesting exhibits including some rather garish buddha-like figures picking their noses and cleaning their ears etc.
The temple has several floors with good views of the city and nearby islands from the upper floors. This is a picture taken from upstairs showing the port and one of the nearby islands.
This is a picture taken near where I stayed.
It's quite central and within walking distance to the port and some good fish and sea food restaurants along the sea front which open in the evenings.
I spend a whole day checking out shopping malls while I was in Makassar, not because I enjoy shopping, but because someone I was travelling with had lost a bag on a flight and needed to buy stuff before continuing the journey north. There are some big modern shopping complexes scattered about the city and suburbs....none of which appear to sell decent snorkelling equipment!
A cheap and convenient way to get around the two largest towns on Sulawesi is by local minibus. These vehicles are called "pete pete" in Makassar and "mikrolet" in Manado. They have fixed routes and a fixed fare regardless of the distance travelled. It's a bit like a metro system except that the drivers will stop anywhere along their particular route to pick you up or drop you off so it's even more convenient. There are zillions of these minibuses so you never have to wait more than a few seconds for one. Avoid any with massive sound systems if you value your eardrums and hearing though .... I actually had to get off one pete pete in Makassar because the music was so loud it was physically painful. The back seat had been removed and replaced by a massive speaker which took up the whole of the back of the bus... god knows why the owner thought that would attract more customers!
You can get motorbike taxis (ojeks) or conventional taxis too of course. Shared long-distance taxis designed for 7 passengers are called kijangs but sometimes they'll try and squeeze in 9 or 10 passengers ... in which case you're much better off in an ordinary bus IMO. Fares depend on where you sit in kinjangs... the most expensive place is the seat next to the driver.
Somtam if you do Bira/Selayar then I reckon you'd probably have enough time to check out Toraja too. I thought you liked mountain scenery?
Take a Litha bus to Rantepao if you do decide to go there and want to go by public transport rather than motorbike. It's a very scenic route along the coast at first and then the road climbs up into increasingly spectacular mountains.
Litha have very comfortable A/C buses and they do two very good rest stops. The lunch stop is at an unusually clean restaurant right by the sea and afternoon tea stop is a at a place with great views over the mountains. The Litha bus to Rantapao takes about 8 hours and cost 80,000Rp late October last year at the bus station. If you get bus tickets through a GH it'll cost a bit more on account of commission ... probably 10,000 ($1US) or so extra.