I have been receiving lots of emails and Facebook messages for the past months. Some were from friends, friends of my friends or even unknown people that needed help to arrange their itinerary to travel around Indonesia. Everyone wants to plan their very own adventure and everyone has different interests but more or less these were the 2 types of messages I have been reading more.
First we have that one girl who wants to visit Bali in 12 days with her boyfriend and just chill out, go to all the fancy places listed on The Bali Bible and lay down at the beach for a whole week. That type of traveler wants to know the names of the best restaurants, spas and places to chill in Bali, and yes, she highlights that she doesn’t want to lift a finger while she’s on vacation. Bali is perfect for that, and we all have to admit that we love that lifestyle for a while, but I wouldn’t travel 12.000km from Spain all the way to Bali to just eat a Club Sandwich with nachos, drink some fresh papaya juice and swim in a pool sorrounded by palmtrees, because I can do that in Menorca or Mallorca too. Then, she wanted to stay at the same hotel during 10 nights, and that is something that I wouldn’t recommend. I’ve tried to convince and inspire her to go here and there, to explore different areas, to visit some temples, to get to know a little more of the local culture, etc. Basically, I’ve tried to guide her so she can make the most of her trip, yet respecting her interests.
Then, the other type of message I’ve been receiving a lot goes more with a type of traveler who literally wants to visit the whole country in only 3 weeks or maximum 1 month. That person typically plans to visit Java island, Bali, Lombok (with Gili islands included) and maybe Borneo or Flores. Fine. However, sorry to say…that’s not possible, otherwise you will miss many charming places just because you want to visit everything and fast. The truth is that Indonesia is huge, the traffic and land transport are rather slow, and even if you plan to use plane as a main transport, you will still need to save some time to reach rural areas with difficult access or to climb mountains. The mentality of this type of traveler is very open; he or she wants to move around a lot, is not a lazy person, is hungry to know about the local traditions, they want to eat Indonesian food, play Gamelan orchestras and they are okay with only several days of chilling out in a beach — after having reached the top of the Kawah Ijen volcano, if not the Rinjani. They are just too ambitious and I have to let them know that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, so it’s just a lot better to choose among 3 or 4 islands in order to enjoy more and know them in a much deeper way.
What is the perfect itinerary then? We don’t have the definitive answer, as we believe that every trip is something unique, unrepeatable and full of very personal stories. However, we should try to mix different activities to break with the monotony. We should plan a trip where we can have some days at the beach and some days by the mountain or rice fields. We should include some sporty plans (it simply can be from walking around Ubud rice fields to climbing to the top of a volcano), we can’t forget either to pay a visit to a spa for a relaxing massage, and at least we should give an opportunity to Indonesian food, which is deliciously awesome. There are many temples, ceremonies going on, spiritual places, events, workshops, festivals and incredible traditions we can’t miss. And since Indonesia is not only Bali, we should all at least try to visit between 2 to 3 islands. Also, depending on our budget, we all should combine staying in different accommodations (some days in fancy wooden bungalows by a swimming pool, and some other days in home stays where we can be closer to local families, share stories and be served the best banana pancakes ever). Generally, I would give the same advices to everyone:
- If you like volcanoes, trekkings and walking or getting dirty visit Java (you can go to Bromo volcano, Merapi volcano or Kawah Ijen among others) or Lombok (to climb the majestic Rinjani)
- If you are interested in historical, cultural and artistic places you should include Jogjakarta in your trip (you can stay there 3 days, and you can visit the artisans, the Sultan Palace, the Water Palace, Borobudur and Prambanan temples, the traditional markets and take a becak to move around the city).
- If you do like nature, the ricefields and the greenest Bali spend some days in Ubud and the soroundings. You can also visit Kintamani, Bedugul and some waterfalls.
- If you are NOT a party-goer, avoid Kuta and Seminyak in Bali, as they are full of lounges, clubs and nightlife.
- If you surf, you will love the south of Bali (Bingin, Uluwatu, Canggu, Padang Padang, Balangan…) Pangandaran, Cimaja, Batu Karas (west of Java), Mentawaii, South of Lombok and some parts of Sumatra.
- Foodies, go and discover Bandung and their culinary traditions.
- Would you love to swim in crystal clear waters with not many tourists? Go to Karimunjawa islands.
- Are you a wild explorer? Spend at least one week in Flores, visiting the inner lands from Maumere all the way down to Labuanbajo, to end the trip sleeping in a boat that will bring you to Komodo and Rinca islands.
- The only thing you know is that you want to get pampered with manicure, pedicure, massages and hair treatments? Your spot is Ubud and Bali in general.
- Are you looking for waterfalls to jump off, pink and pure white sand beaches (selong Belanak, Tanjung Aan) and fun motorbike rides to cruise the island? Yes. I’m talking about Lombok.
- Are you a yogini or are you interested in healthy food, vegan food and spiritual festivals. Remember one word “Ubud”.
- Do you want to buy clothes in outlets? There are several big outlets in Bandung city, where you can spend the weekend to go trekking in Tankuban perahu and visit the historical center, too.
- If you like quiet fishing villages with a calm atmosphere you should stay in Amed or the east of Bali.
- Are you passionate for snorkeling and diving? Your place is the Gili islands, where you can chill out, eat fish at the night market and walk around the islands to catch the best sunset.
- Where is the best place for clubbing or watching the sunset in a lounge by the beach? Probably you should explore Seminyak and Kuta.
- What are the most beautiful temples in Bali? Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, Tirta Empul, Taman Ayun, Tanah Lot, Besakih and Goa Gajah.
Please, if you are preparing your itinerary and you have questions just write us and we will try to guide you and give you some tips.