“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
PRINT & GO
Before your departure, do not forget to check/bring with you :
– Boarding Pass and Hotel Reservation
– Visa (if applicable)
DAY 1: YOGYAKARTA
Indonesia is a group of islands, all very beautiful and completely different from each other. Of course visiting all of them will require months, but when you don’t have such availability you are obliged to make a selection and mine was Java and Bali, probably the most popular but certainly wonderful islands. My trip started in the island of Java. After some negative feedback I have heard about Jakarta, I decided to skip this city and begin my trip from Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is a typical Indonesian city: big, crowded, old, chaotic and smelly, but at the same time vibrant, dynamic, and with very kind and friendly people. On your arrival day, you can take it easy and just have a tour in the city center, mainly in Malioboro street, a long street crowded with small stalls selling a variety of goods. In the evening several open-air street side restaurants, called lesehan, operate along the street. This is the street of the artists. Street musicians, painters, and other artists exhibit their creations on this road.
DAY 2: YOGYAKARTA – PRAMBANAN AND BOROBUDUR TEMPLES
The second day will be tiring and very long, but you will have the chance to visit two marvels of the Buddhist and Hindu cults: Prambanan and Borobudur temples. The best way to reach these two destinations is to book a day tour with a tour operator in Yogyakarta ( you can also ask the hotel to assist you with that), there are individual or shared tours leaving very early in the morning (around 3AM) and returning at around 3PM. Don’t even think of renting a car, streets are very crowded and old, and people drive like crazy. The reason why the organized tours leave so early is because in the way to the Borobudur temple they will make a stop in a forest from where you will have to climb a little bit (not more than 20mins) and enjoy the sunrise. The view is spectacular: the more the sun rises the more you will able to admire how the sky, the forest, and the volcanoes change their colors.
After the beautiful sunrise the trip to Borobudur temple continues for another hour. Borobudur Temple is world’s biggest Buddhist monument. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. This awe inspiring monument is truly a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha.
After visiting this wonderful temple, you can have a lunch break and take the bus again and drive to the Prambanan temple. As the largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia, the beautiful and graceful temple of Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. Located not far from the Borobudur temple, the proximity of the two temples tells us that on Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another. The temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma -¬ the creator and Wisnhu – the sustainer. The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples. This marvel was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.
Due to the short availability, I had to stop my visit to Java. If you have more time I strongly suggest you to continue the trip (by bus or by plane) towards East Java, where you will be able to admire the unique Mount Bromo and the wonderful Ijen Crater, known for his blue explosions at the sunrise.
DAY 3: BALI – UBUD
The third day I took an early flight to Denpasar, the main city of the island of Bali. If you follow my advice and you travel through East Java you will probably arrive by ferry and bus from the Ijen crater area. Denpasar and its coast are very known among young tourists who want to spend their time on the beach and have parties, therefore if you are that kind of tourist I strongly suggest you to stay in Denpasar or in Kuta and enjoy the sandy beaches of Bali. From my side, I wanted to find something more quiet but with easy access for excursions and I decided to take a taxi from the airport and after 2hrs arrive in Ubud (please bear in mind that taxis in Bali are ridiculously cheap and the roads are very narrow and with no signs, so try not to rent cars and do not hesitate to use taxis to move). I had already had an idea about Ubud in “Eat, pray and love” and I decided to give it a try. Eventually, the place was so wonderful that I decided to cancel my other accommodation in Denpasar and other cities and stay there all week. The visit of Ubud itself takes just one day, but at the same time it is a good hub to explore the rest of the island through day trips. Ubud can be a very crowded and touristic place as well, but in some seasons it is still manageable. The city is not very big and all concentrated in few main streets. The streets are very small and the traffic of scooters and cars is crazy, but you don’t need to stay along the street, the charm of the city is in the places inside the houses or hotels or forests. Ubud is basically concentrated into 2 opposite areas: the first one corresponds to the city center and the market, and the second one corresponds to the Monkey forest area. Since the second one is more quiet, I decided to stay there, which means that I started my exploration of the city with the Monkey forest. This is a beautiful forest in the heart of the city hosting Hindu temples and decorations with monkey statues. The monuments and the nature are very beautiful, but the biggest attraction of this forest is certainly the hundreds of monkeys walking around. They are literally everywhere and have no fear of people. They will not hesitate to hang on your bag, jump on your shoulders, grab your leg, especially if you have food with you. If this happens, the important is to stay quiet and not touch them (if you touch them they have the automatic reaction of biting you), they will leave after a while.
After a tour in the monkey forest, take the Monkey Forest road, a long street (one of the main ones in Ubud) plenty of souvenir shops and delicious bars and restaurants. You can have lunch there and taste one of the many delicious Indonesian delicacies. After lunch, you can continue the road and after a 20mins walk you will arrive in the city center. The first place that you must visit in the city center is the famous Ubud Market. During the day, the Ubud Market is a set of streets with kiosks selling souvenirs, paintings, and art crafts in general, but if you go there before 7AM this market will be filled with delicious food and spices typical of Bali and Indonesia. This is an experience that you cannot miss in Bali.
Besides the Ubud Market, you can visit the Royal Palace and the Temple. Apart these main spots, the charm of Ubud is, as I said, inside its wonderful houses. Each house has a majestic entrance, with typical Balinese masks, and a court with beautiful gardens and religious statues. You can easily see them by entering in some guest houses (they let you in even if you are not a guest) or by taking a little courage and ask the locals to have a look at their houses, people there are very kind and friendly so don’t hesitate to talk to them.
After this long day you can enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the hundreds restaurants in Ubud. The Balinese cuisine is very tasteful and varied, so try to enjoy your staying and taste as many things as possible. Mc Donald’s and other fast food chains are banned from the menu! Another interesting activity is to watch one of the several Balinese dance show.
DAY 4: VISIT BALI : UBUD AND COAST
The second day in Bali can be spent partly in Ubud and partly in other fantastic places in the surroundings. Having excursions in Bali is extremely simple: the entire city of Ubud is filled with travel kiosks selling individual or group excursions. The itineraries are always the same, as much as the prices. You can go to one of these kiosks and book your excursions for the rest of the days. Since I was travelling alone, I booked shared tours: these are group tours of maximum 6-7 people with small vans taking you to many places in the island. The prices are very cheap, from 5 to 15 euros for a whole day trip. If you prefer more independence and wish to schedule your own itinerary you can also have a taxi driver the entire day, it will cost you around 30-40 euros (depending also on your destination). In the morning of the second day, I would suggest to stay in Ubud. Wake up early, enjoy the Ubud market and afterwards continue through the main street in the city center, after 20mins you will arrive to Antonio Blanco museum. Antonio Blanco is a Filipino artist (born form Spanish parents) of the XX century who moved to Bali and created his own eccentric style, which can be seen nowadays in his house in Ubud. Blanco was considered the Dali or Bali for his craziness, his weird paintings and objects, his explosion of colors. His house combines the Spanish style with the Balinese style, all accompanied by a fantastic garden with view on the city.
For the afternoon you can book an excursion taking you to some beautiful places outside Bali and ending to the coast for a great sunset. The first stop can be the view on the rice terraces in Bongkasa. After the rice terrace you will stop in the Holy Monkey Forest in Sangeh. This Nutmeg Forest is formally as a Tourism Garden Nature, which is also as a holy area of temple for worshiping to the god. It is executed from local people from Sangeh Countryside and its surrounding area. Once you reach this place you will be surrounded by cute monkeys. Make sure to have a few peanuts to feed them but bear in mind that you cannot touch them. The monkeys will come next to you and very kindly they will seat on you while eating.
The tour continues to the Royal Family Temple in Mengwi (Taman Ayun). The Royal Temple of Mengwi is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name Pura Taman Ayun literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’. Part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits, Pura Taman Ayun was built as a series of garden terraces with courtyards on different levels. The entire complex was designed to symbolize the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity
After this stop you will visit a coffee and spice plantation in Gulingan. The visit is very interesting, since a guide will show you the different plants of coffee and spices and show you how they are produced. Eventually you will be able to enjoy a coffee and tea tasting. Coffee in Bali is very special, and it is made in many different ways. The most special coffee is the Luwak coffee. This is the world’s most expensive coffee. The main factor of its high price is the uncommon method of producing such a coffee. It has been produced from the coffee beans which have been digested by a certain Indonesian cat-like animal called then palm civet. The feces of this cat will be collected, finished and sold as luwak coffee. I am not a fan of coffee but I can definitely say that the taste of this coffee is amazing. As I said it is very expensive, but buying it in Bali is quite affordable.
After this interesting visit, it is time to drive to the coast, more precisely to Tanah Lot and its beautiful temple. The temple is built on the rock with 3 acre size and reachable in a few minute by walk, because it is just 20 meters from the coastal lip. This temple is very famous among tourist destinations in Bali with spectacular view of sunset. At some nooks of coral reef around Tanah Lot Temple there are holy tame snake in black and white color where according to the local society believe that it as a deity property and as the guard of the temple from the bad influence. The sunset in Tanah Lot will be spectacular, make sure not to miss it.
DAY 5: VISIT BALI – KINTAMANI
On the 5th day, you can visit the northern part of Bali, more precisely the Kintamani area and its volcano. The best excursion you can do is the night one, where you will climb the volcano in the night and reach the top at sunrise in order to enjoy a fantastic view. For logistics purpose, I was not able to do this tour, but I decided to visit the place with a shared day tour. If you go for this option, the first place where you stop is the Goa Gajah, a.k.a. the Elephant Cave. At the façade of the cave is a relief of various menacing creatures and demons carved right into the rock at the cave entrance. The primary figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave.
Afterwards you will stop in the Rocky Temple. Gunug Kawi is an ancient rocky temple situated in Pakerisan River, near Tampaksiring village – Gianyar Regency in Bali. This archaeological complex is carved out of the living rock, dating back to 11th century. The temple with majesty and richness in history has been proposed by Governor of Bali to be listed on the World Heritage Sites. The monuments are shaped in relief on a solid rock hill, commonly called “candi”. There are shaped like burial towers, telling identity of the royal personages honored here. Those are mostly found all over Central and East Java.
After this stop, you will arrive at the great Mount Batur and lake. The mountainous region around Kintamani, centering on the spectacular volcanic caldera of Mount Batur with its deep crater lake and bubbling hot springs, is rugged with a high and wild beauty. Mount Batur is actually just a small volcano, but its setting is in the heart of a huge crater 14km in diameter. Adjacent to the volcano is the large crescent-shaped Batur Lake, all surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim. The sheer size of the crater conjures up images of the massive eruption of the original Mount Batur that occurred tens of thousands years ago. The volcano is still active today as Balinese all over the island who still remember the great eruption of 1917 will testify.
After a lunch break with the view on the volcano, you will visit the Ulundanu Batur temple. Ulun Danu Batur Temple is one of the biggest Hindu temple in Bali. The temple is a very special place, with a very beautiful and stunning view of Lake Batur and the surroundings, with a great atmosphere. Many people visit this temple for its ambiance and air of serenity.
DAY 6: VISIT BALI – BESAKIH AND EAST BALI
After having visited the coast and the north of Bali, you can explore the eastern part of the island, full of natural and architectural beauty. The tour starts with the visit of Old Court of Justice in Klungkung. The former Royal Courts of Justice is more commonly known as Kerta Gosa and besides being of historic and archaeological interest it is a delightful place set in a courtyard of ponds. The centrepoint of Kerta Gosa is the elaborately decorated ceiling featuring the wayang style of painting. The decorated ceiling has terrifying artwork depicting good versus evil. As you admire the murals you could almost imagine the criminals facing trial cringing before the judges realizing the seriousness of their actions. The Hall of Justice sports gruesome paintings highlighting what happened to sinners. Above these panels is the story of Bima Swarga, who goes to hell to search and redeem his parent’s souls.
From Klungkung you will have a lunch break next to a beautiful rice terrace. Enjoy the fantastic view!
The next destination, which is the main attraction, is the Besakih temple. This is the biggest Hindu temple in Bali. It owns beautiful view from the top of temple area where you can see the wide nature panorama until to the ocean.
Time to go to the beach now! The next stop will Candidasa, a touristic city on the coast. There you will be able to enjoy the fantastic Balinese coast and its beautiful sea.
From Candidasa, the driver will take you to Goa Lawah, a.k.a. the Bat Caves. Goa Lawah is one of Bali’s most important temples. It features a complex built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats. This temple was established in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan, one of early priests who laid the foundations of Hinduism on the island. The view and the noise of the bats can be quite disgusting, but the temple itself has a unique charm.
During these day excursions you will be taken also to batik hand factories, where you will be able to see how people create these wonders typical of Bali island.
DAY 7-DAY 8: VISIT BALI – LOVINA
After having spent days visiting forests and temples, you need at least 2 days to enjoy the beach. As I said, most of young tourists stay in Kuta, a very nice area where you can sunbath, swim, surf, and enjoy the nightlife. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest you to go to the Northern side of Bali to enjoy the seaside, mainly in Lovina. Why Lovina? For two main reasons: first of all the road to Lovina is very beautiful and will give you the chance to visit other interesting places of Bali (e.g. the Ulundanu Beratan temple and the lake, or the Hot Spring in Banjar) ; second, Lovina is the place where at the sunrise you can enjoy the beautiful view of dolphins swimming near the coast. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you cannot miss it. You can go there by shared tour or by taxi or also by bus. Make sure to stay there at least 2 days.
DAY 9-DAY 10: ACTIVITIES IN BALI
Besides the day excursions, you can also enjoy some extra activities. You will find brochures everywhere about other activities such as cooking class, bike tour, kajak…you have a huge choice! Bali is a paradise island, great coast, great forests, great temples, great food, every day is a unique experience in your life, so make sure you enjoy each second of your trip.